What Should You Do if You Get into an Accident Caused by a Flatbed Trailer?
At the Reiff Law Firm, we possess more than 34 years of legal experience representing flatbed trailer accident victims against negligent truck drivers, trucking companies, mechanics, manufacturers, and others. Our attorneys wield a thorough understanding of the complex regulations surrounding truck accident litigation in Pennsylvania, and approach every claim with a formidable, hard-hitting strategy. We have an outstanding track record of obtaining multi-million-dollar awards and settlements in truck accident lawsuits, and now, we are ready to put the same dedication to work on your claim.
Contact us online today to arrange a free legal consultation, or call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to speak with an attorney. We are here to help you and your family – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What Causes Flatbed Trailer Crashes?
Flatbed trailers are commercial trucks featuring flat, wide beds used to haul heavy cargo, such as logs, pipes, construction materials, or industrial machinery. Due to their immense bulk and power, flatbed trailers often cause catastrophic injuries in collisions with smaller vehicles, such as passenger cars or SUVs.
Flatbed trailers can crash for numerous reasons, but most accidents boil down to a single factor: careless human error, or negligence. Driving mistakes, manufacturing errors, truck design flaws, and failures to properly load or inspect vehicles can all cause or contribute to serious accidents that would otherwise have never occurred. Examples of errors and issues that can lead to flatbed trailer accidents include:
- Dangerous design flaws in truck parts, such as braking systems
- Distracted driver – While drivers are prohibited from using cell phones and other handheld electronic devices, distractions can still occur. A distracted driver is not focused on the road and is not able to avoid roadway hazards.
- Fatigued driver – While NHTSA rules are intended to reduce the number of fatigued drivers, some drivers and companies skirt the rules.
- Driving while intoxicated
- Failing to check mirrors for other vehicles
- Failing to secure cargo properly
- Failing to stop at red lights or stop signs
- Mechanical defect – Frequent and routine vehicle inspects should minimize the number of occurrences of spontaneous failures, but some companies do not perform inspections as required. In situations like these, the vehicle may unexpectedly malfunction or operate in an unintended manner.
- Speeding, particularly in poor weather or around sharp corners
- Poor weather conditions – Bad weather can reduce visibility and increase stopping distances. When adverse weather conditions are present, the likelihood of an accident increases.
The foregoing are merely a few examples of factors that can play a role in a vehicular accident.
Who Regulates Commercial Flatbed Trucks on Pennsylvania Roads?
The regulation of commercial trucks in Philadelphia that are hauling goods, such as flatbed trucks, is handled at both the federal and the state levels. At the federal level, the NHTSA promulgates safety rules and regulations that must be followed by commercial trucking operations.
- Time of service – 49 C.F.R. Part 395.1 sets forth the rules for hours of service for truck drivers or the hours that a driver is permitted to operate a commercial vehicle. There are three main limits which can briefly be described as a driving session limit (11 hours), a driving window (14 hours), and cumulative limits (60 hours/7 days; 70 hours/8 days). These rules are intended to reduce driver fatigue.
- Cargo securement procedures – NHTSA’s cargo securement rules are based on the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations. The regulations set forth performance criteria, requirements for securing devices, cargo placement rules, immobilization requirements and more.
- Vehicle safety requirements – NHTSA also regulates the vehicle itself to ensure that the commercial truck is in good, working condition.
- Safety procedures for specific cargo types – The regulations also set forth securement requirements for specific cargo types. These requirements address metal coils, logs, concrete pipes, intermodal containers, vehicles in transport, and many other types of cargo.
Aside from the federal safety oversight, there is also legislation at the state level in Pennsylvania regarding roadway and highway safety. For instance, like many states, Pennsylvania has a statute which addresses when it is necessary to cover cargo with a tarp. The general rule in the state is that an individual may not carry or load “any loose material in any vehicle on or across any highway in this Commonwealth.” While there are certain times a vehicle must use a tarp, like when it is hauling loose material, in other circumstances common sense should prevail by following the principle that no load should be able to blow, fall, or spill out of the vehicle.
Filing a Flatbed Trailer Accident Lawsuit in Pennsylvania
If you or someone you love was injured in a flatbed trailer accident in Pennsylvania, the automobile accident lawyers of the Reiff Law Firm can determine who was responsible and fight to hold the at-fault parties liable. Our mission is to secure compensation for your losses, delivering justice while maximizing your financial recovery. We will fight aggressively and tenaciously to show that your family is entitled to damages, investigating the accident causes and gathering critical evidence to strengthen your case.
To obtain compensation in a flatbed trailer lawsuit, it is necessary to prove that the defendants – such as trucking companies, individual truckers, parts manufacturers, or commercial truck mechanics – were somehow negligent, leading to your accident and injuries. Establishing that one or more parties were negligent will be vital to the success of your case.
While the full definition is more involved, a simple way to define “negligence” is as a careless action that falls short of reasonable standards, leading to preventable harm or death. For example, the negligent failure to properly load, secure, and inspect truck cargo may be an element of your flatbed accident claim, depending on what caused the crash.
Flatbed Accident Injury Claims We Handle
Sadly, many of the injuries resulting from flatbed trailer accidents prove fatal or permanently disabling for their victims. The risk of catastrophic or fatal injury is highest for the occupants of other vehicles, but also threatens the truck drivers themselves. Due to size difference and lack of protection from impact, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists are at highest risk of death or disabling injury. Types of flatbed trailer injury claims our attorneys handle include:
- Broken bones (fractures)
- Burn injuries
- Crush injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Limb amputation
- Loss of fingers or toes
- Internal bleeding
- Paralysis and spinal cord injury (SCI)
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Punctured or collapsed lungs
- Road rash injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries
- Wrongful death
PennDOT Statistics on Car Accidents Caused by Trucks
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) publishes an annual report containing car and truck accident statistics for the year. The report sheds light on how frequently trucks and cars collide in Pennsylvania – and on how many deaths and injuries result from these types of accidents.
PennDOT’s “2017 Pennsylvania Crash Facts and Statistics” report, which is the most recent version currently available, distinguishes between “heavy” trucks (such as tractor-trailers) and “light” trucks (such as pick-up trucks). According to the report, heavy trucks were involved in more than 6,800 crashes during 2017, including 2,860 injury crashes and 145 fatal accidents. There were 1,060 accidents in which a heavy truck struck a passenger car, and more than 1,300 accidents where a passenger vehicle struck a heavy truck. Flatbed trailers and other heavy trucks were also reported to be the striking vehicles in more than 600 collisions with light trucks, 10 collisions with motorcycles, and eight collisions with bicycles.
Flatbed Trailer Truck Accident Attorneys in Philadelphia, PA
Serving all of Pennsylvania, the Lancaster car accident lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm are committed to pursuing justice for injury victims. If you were hurt in a collision with a flatbed trailer, or if you lost a loved one in a fatal accident involving a flatbed trailer, our team is available 24 hours to provide legal guidance and compassionate support. Call our law offices today at (215) 709-6940, or contact the Reiff Law Firm online to set up a free legal consultation.