Strengthened safety regulations and advances in automotive technology have made the roads increasingly safer. However, when accidents involve eighteen-wheelers and other heavy trucks, car safety does little to protect the occupants of the automobile. Statistics show that the number of fatal injury crashes in Pennsylvania involving heavy trucks have remained fairly consistent despite the overall decline in motor vehicle fatalities. Simply stated, it's important to know what to do after a truck accident in Pennsylvania before it happens.
Immediately After a Truck Accident: The Basics
Depending on the seriousness of the accident, the first thing you should do is stop and (if possible) move your vehicle off the roadway and to a safe spot. Call 911 to request the police and medical help required. Then, render aid to anyone who's injured (be careful not to move them unless they're in immediate danger). The next step is to exchange certain information with the driver, such as driver's license numbers, license plate and vehicle information, and insurance information (you can use a cell phone camera to record this information). You'll also want to get the contact information for the employer of the driver.
No matter who you think was at fault, speak with witnesses, take pictures, write down details of what happened, and generally gather as much information as you can while the incident is fresh in your mind. You'll need this when you file your claim and possibly to defend against a claim.
Liability and Pennsylvania Truck Accidents
Pennsylvania uses a modified comparative fault model when determining negligence and liability for damages. This means that the plaintiff's award for damages will be reduced in relation to their percentage of fault for the injuries (the percentage of which is determined by the court). However, plaintiffs won't collect a dime if they're found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. Keep in mind that insurance claims adjustors base their decisions on what a court may decide if the claim were to get that far.
Pennsylvania Truck Accident Laws at a Glance
You shouldn't need a law degree to understand the laws that affect your life, especially when you need information fast. That's why we've provided some key, "legalese-free" information on Pennsylvania truck accidents below.
Pennsylvania Statutes, Title 75:
- Section 3742 (accidents involving death or personal injury)
- Section 3742.1 (accidents involving death or personal injury while not properly licensed)
- Section 3743 (accidents involving damage to attended vehicle or property)
- Section 3744 (duty to give information and render aid)
- Section 3746 (immediate notice of accident to police department)
- Section 3756 (accidents involving certain vehicles)
- Section 3757 (compensation for incident removal costs)
- Section 3802 (driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance)
|Causes of Action and Damages
If you've been injured as the result of a truck accident, you may be able to file a claim for damages if the truck driver (or another involved party) was negligent. The truck driver's employer, the owner of the truck, the manufacturer of the truck, the truck maintenance company, and other parties also may be held liable.
Examples of negligence include:
- Driver fatigue;
- Speeding or other traffic violations;
- Impaired driving;
- Failure to provide drivers adequate rest between trips; and
- Faulty truck design or improper maintenance.
Economic recovery, or damages, may include the following:
- Medical and home care expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Diminished earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Wrongful death.
|Federal Trucking Regulations
Truck drivers and their employers must adhere to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, as well as Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) regulations. You'll want to establish whether the truck driver violated any of these regulations before filing a claim, which include:
- Maximum number of hours the driver may work within a specific time frame;
- Truck driver's alcohol and drug use history;
- Truck driver's driving history;
- Maintenance schedule for trucks and trailers; and
- The level of training the driver received.
|Statute of Limitations
Within 2 years if anyone was injured or killed in the accident (also, within 2 years for property damage).
Keep in mind that for wrongful death claims the "clock" starts running at the time of the victim's death, which may come later than the date of the accident.
See also Pennsylvania Civil Statute of Limitations.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Pennsylvania Truck Accident Laws: Related Resources
Get Professional Legal Help After a Truck Accident in Pennsylvania
It's crucial that you understand your rights if you've been involved in a Pennsylvania truck accident. For instance, failure to file a claim within the statute of limitations may prevent you from recovering for your injuries. Get started today by speaking with an experienced Pennsylvania injury attorney near you.