In recent years, the Lehigh Valley, including the city of Allentown, has become a distribution facility hub attracting more trucks and tractor-trailers to roadways increasing the potential for serious accidents. Automobile drivers share the heavily used Pennsylvania Roadways of Interstate 78, Route 222, Route 309, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, with large numbers of bustling commercial trucks navigating their way to delivery locations.  Pennsylvania has commercial trucking laws in place to protect the public and drivers of commercial trucks from causing accidents on the highways.  Commercial trucking companies are deadline-imposed businesses and sometimes there may be errors due to the violation of safety laws, allowing tired drivers, or overloaded cargo on the highways thereby increasing the chance for accidents to occur.

The United States Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Administration announced in October 2018 that 2017 highway fatality numbers are down compared to the two years prior, but still estimates over 500,000 truck accidents every year with approximately 500 fatalities, of which 81% occur in multi-vehicle crash situations. Every 16 minutes a person is injured or killed from a truck accident.  Most of the time the truck accident is caused by a passenger vehicle and approximately 16% of the time the fault falls with the driver of the truck.  Trucks fall into two classes, those weighing 10,000 pounds or less, and those weighing more than 10,000 pounds which may move them to the Commercial Motor Vehicle category and change some of the laws and damages to be sought after in personal injury situations. A tractor-trailer is approximately 65 feet in length and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, causing any type of crash between it and another moving vehicle, stationary object or person to be more catastrophic and/or fatal in terms of injuries. Injuries stemming from these type of accidents include wrongful death claims, brain and spine injuries and amputations to name a few of those that are majorly life-changing.  If you have been involved in an accident involving a truck you may need the help of an experience professional to help you with the damages caused by possible negligence and reckless driving.

Pennsylvania commercial trucking laws purpose is to protect the public and reduce motor vehicle accidents. There are state and federal regulations that require tractor-trailer trucks to be inspected and maintained on a regular basis.  Drivers of trucks have imposed hourly restrictions, and size and weight limits based upon cargo are logged and weighed on highways.

Common violations of Pennsylvania trucking rules include:

  1. Improper Maintenance
  2. Driver Fatigue
  3. Distracted Drivers
  4. Commercial Company Negligence
  5. Unsecured Loads
  6. Driving in Extreme Weather

Federal regulations require tractor-trailer trucks to carry various levels of insurance coverage, based on the transported cargo. The state of Pennsylvania requires a tractor trailer truck to carry a much higher minimum liability insurance policy than a typical automobile. If you have been involved in an accident with a truck that causes you lost wages, physical pain, change in lifestyle, or wrongful death to a loved one based on negligence, you are entitled to compensation based on the negative impact to your life.

When an individual fails to exercise the degree of care expected of someone in a similar situation, and it results in an injury of some sort, it is called “negligence.” The basis for most civil lawsuits and negligence laws are established at the state level. Pennsylvania negligence laws stipulate that damages are proportionate to the claimant’s degree of fault, but Pennsylvania utilizes the 51% rule, whereby an injured person can be up to 50% responsible for an accident and still collect damages in a Pennsylvania personal injury claim but if you were more than 50% responsible for the accident, you are not able to recover compensation for your accident expenses.

What should I do if I am involved in a truck accident in Allentown, Pennsylvania?

  1. If you are able, check on the condition of the people involved in the accident;
  2. Call the police or emergency responders if needed;
  3. Get a written accident report;
  4. Remain at the accident scene;
  5. Exchange driver and insurance information;
  6. Get witness contact information;
  7. Call your insurance company to set up a claim;
  8. Seek out medical treatment if necessary;
  9. Take pictures of the scene, and the vehicle damages;
  10. If the truck is a Commercial Vehicle, get a PA State Trooper report;
  11. Call an accident attorney to determine “fault” and actions toward a proceeding to address damages and injuries sustained.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a truck, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer to fight for your rights. The laws and regulations related to the trucking industry can be difficult to understand. The experienced legal professionals of Metzger & Kleiner may be able to help.

Lehigh Valley Office

137 North Fifth Street Allentown, PA 18102

Phone: 610-435-7400

Sources:

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/42/00.071.002.000..HTM

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts

https://www.nhtsa.gov/