Advocating for the Rights of Trucking Accident Victims in Pittsburgh
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, more than 7,000 accidents involved heavy trucks in the Commonwealth in 2019. One hundred twenty-two of those crashes each led to at least one fatality. Pittsburgh’s 446 bridges and multiple high-traffic tunnels (like the Fort Pitt, Squirrel Hill, and Liberty Tunnels) add to the risk of truck-related auto accidents.
Accidents involving tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, cargo trucks, tankers, and other big rigs can be among the most devastating. Because of these vehicles’ size and weight and the speeds that are usually involved, collisions involving large trucks are generally far more destructive than other motor vehicle crashes.
They are also among the most complex personal injury cases to resolve. Truck drivers may be independent contractors working for businesses that operate rigs owned by other companies (carrying cargo owned by someone else). It takes experience, patience, and a thorough understanding of liability and transportation law to advocate successfully against the numerous insurance companies involved.
Multiple factors can lead to heavy truck and tractor-trailer accidents. Like other motor vehicle accidents, many are caused by driver error. Others result from vehicle failure, where safety mechanisms fail or cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Some are also caused by a driver’s failure to properly secure the cargo or a company’s decision to overload or improperly balance a load.
Negligence and Vehicle Failure
Long-distance truck drivers travel thousands of miles in all kinds of driving conditions, which causes a lot of wear and tear on their vehicles. By law, the owner of a tractor-trailer or semi-truck must follow a specific, industry-standard maintenance schedule. Owners and operators must maintain, inspect, and keep records showing when brakes, tires, and other equipment are checked, fixed, and replaced (including the frame, tires, wheels, paneling, lights, axles, suspension, and steering systems).
Frequently, drivers or owners delay or skip required maintenance. Failure to keep the vehicle in a safe and proper operating condition can result in liability for the vehicle’s owner and driver in the case of an accident. Negligence like poorly maintained brakes may contribute to the inability to stop the vehicle safely. PENNDOT notes that the primary factors in heavy truck vehicle failure crashes relate to tires and wheels, brakes, powertrain failure, and unsecured or overloaded trailers. A recent large-scale study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that brake issues were a factor in 30 percent of large-truck accidents.
Driver Negligence and Error
There are many ways a driver’s negligent acts can cause traffic accidents. They may not be adequately trained to drive such a large vehicle or appropriately respond when something goes wrong. They may fail to perform a proper pre-trip inspection, or they may not correctly ensure the truck’s cargo is balanced and adequately restrained (which can cause an unsafe cargo shift, leading to a jackknife or rollover accident). Cargo overloading can also reduce a driver’s ability to stop the vehicle safely.
A driver’s failure to take appropriate breaks and get adequate rest may contribute to fatigue-related accidents. Driving too fast for the conditions, failing to slow down for construction or other road hazards, and other poor decision-making can also lead to collisions.
Obtaining Compensation for Your Injuries after a Trucking Collision
If you have been involved in a collision with a large truck or tractor-trailer, hire an experienced attorney to represent you. You may be entitled to compensation for injuries like broken or bloody noses, lacerations, whiplash, eye and face injuries, brain and head injuries, herniated discs, whiplash, broken bones, and neck, back, and spinal cord injuries. You may also be entitled to lost wages and damages for pain and suffering.
These accidents are incredibly complex and often require expert witnesses and analysis, including reconstructing the causes and conditions that led to the collision. They usually involve multiple large insurance companies, which can make pursuing your claim difficult. Parties and witnesses may be located across the country. If you file a lawsuit, you may have to pursue your case in a court outside your home area.
Our experienced truck accident lawyers understand how to handle the communication and negotiation involved in these collisions. We will help reduce the stress and confusion of dealing with multiple insurers to let you recover from your injuries and move forward with your life.
If you are in an accident in Pittsburgh or the city suburbs, on the Pennsylvania Tollway, an interstate highway, or any other Pennsylvania roadway, contact us immediately. Any delays may significantly reduce your potential damages. A knowledgeable attorney will review the facts of your case, help you understand your options, and vigorously pursue compensation for your injuries.