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Recovering Damages for Victims of Truck Accidents

Causes of Truck Accidents and Costs to Injury Victims

The problem of commercial truck accidents has worsened in recent years, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that truck accident fatalities rose by 27 percent from 2009 to 2016. Multiple factors contribute to truck crashes, but in some cases, the cause amounts to negligence that could impose financial responsibilities upon a trucking carrier and its insurer. A consultation with an Allentown truck accident attorney can inform you about your legal position after a big-rig accident has left you hurt and unable to work. Speeding, distracted driving or a range of other driving mistakes could make a trucking company responsible for your medical bills and lost income if you were involved in a truck accident.

Distracted Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has identified truck driver distraction as a major source of accidents. A study conducted in 2009 concluded that distracted truck drivers caused 71 percent of large truck accidents. Accident researchers define distraction as anything that takes attention away from the task of driving. When attention is not being paid to traffic and road conditions, both control of the vehicle and reaction time are at risk. There are numerous specific examples, but they include:

  • Adjusting the radio
  • Making telephone calls
  • Contacting the dispatch office
  • Texting or reading text messages
  • Eating or dealing with a beverage behind the wheel
  • Paying too much attention to advertising along the highway

Another study done in 2006 determined that driver inattention was the primary factor in collisions and near-misses. It concluded that four out of five incidents of this type involved some sort of driver inattention during the three-second period prior to the occurrence. Most people don’t realize that, when traveling at 55 mph, a lapse of a few seconds will allow them to cover the length of a football field. Following a three-year effort to collect data on this topic, it was estimated that distractions external to the cab were involved in 11,000 truck crashes nationwide.

Allentown truck accident attorneyDistractions that could have contributed to your accident might not have been readily apparent to the police officers or emergency personnel who responded to the scene of your accident. An investigation led by an Allentown truck accident attorney could uncover clues that support your claim of negligence and bolster the case. A personal injury lawyer might request access to a driver's cellphone records or consult with an accident reconstruction professional.

Speeding Truck Drivers

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study published by the FMCSA attributed 23 percent of big truck accidents to driving too fast for road conditions. Even under ideal circumstances, truckers often feel pressure to exceed the speed limit for commercial vehicles because of tight delivery deadlines. Regulations mandate the number of hours drivers can work. Violations of these rules could support your claim for damages.

Failing to Look or See

Research about truck accidents blames 14 percent of wrecks on inadequate surveillance. This term describes a driver failing to notice vehicles and pedestrians or not checking for them at all. Accidents resulting from lane changes or turning in front of oncoming traffic might have happened because of inadequate surveillance.

Unfamiliar Roads

When truck drivers take on new routes and enter new towns and cities, they lack familiarity with local hazards and traffic patterns. This could lead to accidents. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, unfamiliar routes were involved in 22 percent of crashes. Although traveling unfamiliar roads does not necessarily mean someone is a negligent driver, the situation could make a person more dependent on maps and a GPS system. Using navigation aids increases driver distraction.

Drug or Alcohol Use

Although the FMCSA found that only 1 percent of accidents arose from alcohol intoxication and 2 percent from illegal drug use, over-the-counter medications posed a larger threat. Researchers concluded that these legal medications contributed at least partially to 17 percent of accidents.

Survivors Face Financial Hardships

After a serious injury, bills can pile up quickly. You might be required to take a medical leave from work, diminishing your income. If your injuries appear likely to keep you permanently out of the workforce, you will want to achieve a settlement that factors in the loss of lifetime earnings. Even a partial disability could derail your current career and reduce your future income.

Depending on the severity of their injuries, victims could continue to accumulate medical bills long after the costs of the ambulance, hospitalization and initial treatment. Some people need:

  • In-home nursing care or other assistance
  • Additional medical equipment and supplies
  • Long-term physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Residential adjustments to accommodate a wheelchair

Severe injuries after a wreck with a commercial vehicle might qualify you to seek recompense for pain and suffering. Because the dollar value cannot be precisely measured, this is a form of noneconomic damages. To determine how pain and suffering could be addressed under Pennsylvania law, an Allentown truck accident attorney would consider issues such as impairment, disfigurement, mental trauma, physical pain, disability and the overall effect on your life compared to your healthy state before the accident.

Although your health has the greatest value, a truck accident settlement could also include payment for the damage to your property. The responsible party might have to reimburse you for the repairs to your vehicle or the vehicle's replacement cost.

Contact Us

Our firm deals with these issues on a regular basis, and we furnish personal attention to each case. If you are seeking local representation, an attorney at our Allentown office is prepared to give your situation a thorough evaluation. Arranging an initial legal consultation could help you understand your rights to the compensation you deserve. Call us at (610) 435-7400 or send an email today.

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