Some of the most traumatic and deadly accidents that occur today involve large trucks. Commercial trucking is an important vessel for the fluidity of our economy, and it is necessary, albeit dangerous, to keep them on the road. When passenger vehicles or motorcycles get into collisions with commercial trucks, the injuries tend to be severe and sometimes fatal due to the immense size and weight of trucks.
The emotional, physical, and financial damages suffered by individuals who are victims of a trucking accident can be massive. It is important for victims to retain an attorney to ensure that they are properly compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage incurred as a result of their injuries. If you or someone you love has been injured in a collision with a truck, call the Chester County truck accident lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
The model and size of the vehicle or motorcycle that is involved in a collision with a truck will often play a role in what type of injuries are suffered by victims. The speed at which the truck comes into contact with the vehicle as well as the location of impact also plays a role. Below is a list of the most common injuries suffered in this type of collision:
- Broken and fractured bones
- Internal injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Rib and torso injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Seat belt and airbag injuries
- Head wounds and brain damage
- Amputated limbs or extremities
- Wrongful death
This list is not exhaustive as there are countless ways in which a victim can become injured during a collision with a large truck. In its 2017 Pocket Guide to Large Trucks and Bus Statistics, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that large truck and bus crashes cost about $118 billion per year. Fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses cost $44 billion per year, injury crashes cost $46 billion per year, and property damage only crashes cost $28 billion per year.
It doesn’t take much for a car accident to occur. A sleepy truck drive slightly swerving into the adjacent lane can cause a butterfly effect of colossal proportions on a major highway. Some of the most common causes of large truck accidents are as follows:
- Brake problems
- Excessive speed in inclement weather conditions
- Unfamiliar roadway
- Prescription drug use
- Inadequate surveillance
- Illegal maneuver
- Tire problems
- Inattentive driving
- External distraction
- Work pressure from carrier
- Internal distraction
- Illegal drugs
- Cargo shift
- Roadway problems
Types of Compensation Available for Truck Accident Victims
The most common legal theory of liability by which commercial truck accident victims recover is “negligence.” To find that a truck driver is at fault based on a negligence theory, a victim must show:
- The truck driver owed a duty to the victim;
- The truck driver breached the duty owed to the victim; and
- The victim suffered damages as a result of the breach.
Sometimes, a victim will hold multiple individuals liable for injuries sustained in a trucking crash. Potential defendants could include the truck driver’s employer, contractors, insurance companies, and/or manufacturer of the truck or other materials.
There are two types of damages that a victim of a trucking accident can be entitled to – compensatory and punitive. The purpose of compensatory damages is to make the victim “whole”. Compensatory damages are divided into two subcategories – economic damages and noneconomic damages. The types of economic damages that a plaintiff can be compensated for include:
- Present and future medical expenses
- Property damages
- Present and future lost earnings
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Household services
- Wrongful death damages
- Any other calculable and foreseeable economic loss as a result of the accident
Victims can also recover nonmonetary damages although these are more difficult to calculate. Some examples of nonmonetary damages a plaintiff can collect may include:
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Emotional distress
In some cases, a plaintiff may also recover punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish and make an example out of the defendant so as to deter others from committing similar acts in the future. They are awarded when the defendant’s conduct is particularly outrageous and egregious. Many states put a cap on the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded in a case. Pennsylvania does not have a cap; however, the United States Supreme Court has held that punitive damages cannot exceed a 10:1 ratio. This means that punitive damages cannot be more than ten times the initial award given.
Chester County Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love was injured in a truck accident in the Chester County area, call our truck accident attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will fight tirelessly for you to receive the compensation you deserve. Call (215) 274-0072 today for a free consultation.