Dump truck accidents are more common in Philadelphia than most people realize. These heavy trucks are known for accidents that cause severe injuries — even fatalities, in some cases. Their size and structure make them susceptible to rollovers. They also have blind spots requiring skillful and well-trained operators to prevent serious accidents. Imagine being struck by a loaded 65,000-pound dump truck. As these trucks go through Philadelphia’s crowded streets, taking up much space and sometimes leaving debris behind, there has been a recent upturn in the number of accidents caused by dump trucks.
If you or someone you know in Philadelphia has gotten into a car accident caused by a dump truck, call the award-winning Philadelphia dump truck accident lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm. We proudly serve the community and have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients over the past four decades. Call (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free consultation.
How Dump Trucks Can Cause Serious Accidents on the Road
Dump trucks are used regularly to haul necessary materials such as dirt, sand, gravel or asphalt. They have a hydraulically-operated bed that lifts heavy loads. Dump trucks are often involved in overturns, especially when this hydraulic bed is overfilled, or the driver is not adequately trained to operate it. Since dump trucks are usually paid depending on the cargo, they tend to exceed the limits of their vehicle, which significantly increases the risks of serious accidents.
Driver inexperience and lack of proper training are the reasons dump truck accidents occur more frequently than those involving other types of trucks. Proper driver operation is essential to avoid accidents because dump truck drivers have to watch their speed depending on their cargo and road conditions.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), over 78% of dump truck rollovers occur due to driver error. In spite of FMCAs programs to improve dump truck safety by regulating the load size and the transportation of hazardous materials, Philadelphia continues to have a high incidence of dump truck accidents. Some of the reasons for this include:
- High-risk areas on roads
- High speed
- Unsafe behavior
- Vehicle design and load effect on rollover potential
It takes experience and skill in vehicle design, road conditions, and driver behavior to understand your legal options comprehensively. Your interests are best represented by someone who understands the intricacies of dump truck accidents. The Reiff Law Firm’s attorneys are familiar with Philadelphia’s roads and truck accidents. We also work with accident reconstruction experts who assist us in determining our clients’ legal options, because there are actions that can constitute reckless behavior warranting your lawyer’s time and effort to pursue punitive damages. Reasons for this can include a number of factors:
- Failure to maintain brakes and tires
- Violations of trucking regulations
- Ignoring malfunctions for a long period of time
Deadlines for Dump Truck Injury Claims in Philadelphia, PA
If you have been in an accident with a dump truck in Philadelphia, you should be aware of the Pennsylvania laws that can impact your financial recovery. For example, you only have two years from the time the accident occurs to file a lawsuit in civil court. This limited timeline is a constraint you can’t miss, or your lawsuit will be “dismissed.” Dismissal means your lawsuit will not be reviewed in spite of meritorious legal claims. While there are some exceptions to this rule, these are very limited. Talk to an attorney if you have questions.
Suing for a Dump Truck Motor Vehicle Accident in Pennsylvania
Given Pennsylvania’s “no-fault” insurance laws, you likely have to go through the dump truck’s insurance company. In no-fault states, each the driver can seek compensation of medical bills and lost wages irrespective of who is legally responsible for the accident. Having an experienced auto accident attorney representing you can be crucial at this juncture because insurance companies are more complex than most Pennsylvanians realize.
In Pennsylvania, drivers have a choice between “full tort” and “limited tort” liability. There are differences in the amount you can recover from the insurance company. For example, you may not be able to recover compensation for emotional distress and pain and suffering. Also, commercial insurance companies will try to undermine your losses and leave you with insufficient recovery for your injuries. With the support of experienced dump truck accident lawyers, you can avoid dealing with unexpected and underhanded attempts to minimize your injuries and/or avoid paying what you rightfully deserve.
Trucking companies typically hire aggressive lawyers to defend their side and avoid legal responsibilities in order to limit how much they give you. Our experience in handling truck accidents gives The Reiff Law Firm’s attorneys the upper hand in fighting for your rights and thwarting any attempt to limit compensation for your injuries.
Dump Truck Accident Causes
Dump trucks are most frequently used for construction, mining, or delivery purposes. These trucks often carry dirt, sand, stone, coal, or demolition debris to and from construction sites, mines, and power plants. This loose material can fall out of a truck bed if it is not properly secured by a tarp or if the truck is overfilled. This means that the dust, dirt, or rocks could fall off the back of the truck. At highway speeds, even smaller stones can cause severe damage to a windshield. Larger pieces of falling debris could punch straight through a windshield, injuring the occupants. Even if the damage is minimal, the driver could be scared into swerving, causing a severe accident.
Dump trucks are also extremely large, extremely heavy vehicles. This means that the driver’s sight is limited to what he can see through the front and side windows and with the side-view mirrors. With no rear windows to check the blind spots and no rear-view mirror to check behind, dump trucks are nearly blind to most of the road. The sheer weight of these trucks means that, in an emergency, they cannot turn as well or stop as quickly as a car. A large truck can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds on many roads, meaning its stopping distance could be up to around 20-times the normal stopping distance of a car.
Some dump trucks carry a dump trailer, which is much like a typical tractor-trailer’s trailer, but with the utility of a dump truck. This means that the truck faces the same dangers as a big rig due to the joint between the cab and the trailer. If the trailer fishtails, it can be difficult to control the vehicle. If the trailer folds against the cab, the truck could easily crash, drawing other vehicles into the pileup.
With roadside construction, the back of dump trucks often have signs warning of sudden stops. These stops are often made far too quickly, and without signaling. This can put drivers behind the truck in a tough situation where they have two choices: slam on the breaks and hope not to crash or be crashed into, or swerve around the truck and hope not to crash. These are unacceptable risks.
Obtaining Compensation for Dump Truck Accidents
Most large trucks on the road are owned by trucking companies. The US government and state governments create strict regulations for trucking companies, dictating maintenance schedules, limits on how long drivers can stay on the road, required weight limits, and other rules. Many trucking companies intentionally or negligently violate these rules, putting unsafe trucks and truck drivers on the road. These drivers become fatigued from driving too long, or their trucks break down from improper maintenance. If this is the cause of your injury, you might have a case against the trucking company.
When dump trucks are used for construction, the construction company may own the dump truck and hire its drivers, rather than a trucking company. These construction companies often carry insurance for accidents that occur during their construction operations. This insurance might extend to accidents caused by their dump trucks and other equipment. If not, the truck will still carry insurance that may be able to compensate you in case of an accident.
Construction workers and dump truck operators are also at risk for serious injury because of the moving parts and heavy materials in a dump truck. If you were injured by a coworker’s negligence, talk to an attorney about how you might be able to recover compensation for your injuries.
If You Were Hit by a Dump Truck in Philadelphia, Our Attorneys Can Help
At the offices of The Reiff Law Firm, you will receive high-quality legal assistance guided by an accomplished team of personal injury attorneys with over 40 years of combined experience. You may not realize how costly and complicated your recovery will be. It is essential to have the right legal representation who will calculate the true financial, physical, and emotional impact of your injuries. We will only accept fair payment when we win compensation for your injuries. You can focus on healing and recovering as we aggressively fight for your rights.