Anytime you are driving on the road there is the chance that you will be involved in an accident. There are many trucks and commercial vehicles that use Pennsylvania highways and roads, so it is not surprising that accidents are an inevitable problem when driving. However, not every accident is the same and the injuries from an accident can be severe and life-threatening, particularly when there is a tractor-trailer involved.
Interstate 70 is an interstate highway that runs from east to west across the southwest part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. Recently parts of the Pennsylvania turnpike include Interstate 70 have proposed increasing the speed limit to 70 miles per hour. Therefore, it is easy to imagine that if you are involved in an accident involving a tractor-trailer traveling at a high speed that you will likely experience severe injuries.
Causes Of Truck Accidents
Tractor-trailers and commercial vehicles are not the same as the common passenger vehicle. Trucks are much larger, are less maneuverable, and require a greater stopping distance. Additionally, commercial vehicles often have greater blind spots, which can make it hard for even the most experienced driver to see you before merging into or out of a lane. As you know, there are many factors that can lead to a car accident and driving on the highway can be dangerous. Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Unsafe Driving acts
- Driving inattentively
- Merging improperly into traffic, causing a truck to maneuver or brake quickly
- Failure to stop at a stop sign or light
- Failure to slow down in a construction zone
- Unsafe speed
- Following too closely
- Failure to slow down in response to environmental conditions
- Changing lanes abruptly
- Driving in the “no-zones” (left quarter, right front quarter, and directly behind)
- Unsafe turning,
- Unsafe passing
- Pulling into traffic from a roadside in front of the truck without accelerating sufficiently.
- Driving while impaired by alcohol or other drugs
- Changing lanes in front of truck, then braking
- Unsafe crossing, primarily crossing traffic with insufficient headway
- Driving left of center into opposing traffic
- Failure to permit a truck to merge
- Failure to discern that the trailer of a maneuvering truck is blocking the roadway
- Nearly striking the front or rear of a truck or trailer while changing lanes.
- Maneuvering to the right of a truck that is making a right turn (the right turn squeeze)
- Operating at dawn or dusk without headlights
- Crossing a lane line near the side of a truck or trailer while passing
- Driving between large trucks
- Nearly striking the rear of a truck or trailer that is stopped or moving slowly in traffic
- Nearly striking an unattended or parked truck at the roadside.
- Abandoning vehicle in a travel lane or impeding traffic.
While most commercial vehicle drivers are highly trained, they are people too who can make mistakes. Additionally, because of the pressure and demand for truck drivers to deliver their cargo as quickly as possible, truck drivers can often spend long hours on the road which can lead to them driving less carefully which ultimately leads to injuries.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Although it may seem that truck accident injuries are similar to car accident injuries, the fact is that the sheer size difference between trucks and other motor vehicles means that truck accident injuries are typically more severe and are more likely to result in death.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you are most likely able to file a claim against the truck driver or their driving company in order to get compensation for your truck accident injuries or loss. The following is a list of common truck accident injuries and what you can do about them.
- Broken Bones – Broken bones are one of the most common injuries stemming from an automobile accident. Because of the amount of force from the impact or the airbag bones in the arm, nose, collarbone, and even ribs can easily be broken. However, when there is a tractor-trailer involved the damage can be even more severe and major bones including the femur, hip, and spine may be broken and require expensive surgery and a lengthy recovery time.
- Neck and Back Injuries – Neck and back injuries are very common injuries in car and truck accidents. The neck is very susceptible to injury and when it is exposed to a sudden jarring force from an accident it is very likely that the bones, muscles, or tendons can become damaged. Often people experience a form of injury known as whiplash, which can lead to broken bones, pinched nerves, and even paralysis.
- Internal Injuries – On the scene of an accident emergency workers and passerby’s are often looking for trauma to the outside of the body, such as a broken bone or a bleeding wound. However, blunt force trauma can cause internal bleeding and damage that can be just as severe if not more severe than an external injury. Internal organs such as the bladder, spleen, liver, kidneys, and lungs can all be severely damaged from internal injuries.
- Concussions and Brain Injuries– Head and brain injuries are some of the most devastating and hard to understand injuries. While modern medicine largely understands how to repair a bone or heal a cut, the brain is an incredibly complex. Brain injuries can vary greatly from minor concussions to traumatic brain injuries or (TBI). Whenever there is a large vehicle like a tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle involved there is a greater chance of a concussion or TBI.
- Paralysis and Spinal Cord Injuries – these injuries are similar to neck and back injuries and are usually the result of internal injuries to the bones, muscles, or nerves running down the spinal cord. Because of the delicate nature of these bones and nerves, if they are damaged you may experience partial or complete paralysis to different areas of the body. Depending on the severity of your injuries you may have to undergo expensive surgeries, lengthy physical rehabilitation, or even make extreme life changes.
- Wrongful Death – Unfortunately, truck accidents can lead to the death of a loved one, the drivers, or the passengers of the car. If you have lost a loved one as a result of a vehicle accident you may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim.
No matter the circumstances, whenever you are involved in an accident involving a tractor-trailer you are likely to experience severe injuries. You may require expensive surgery, lengthy hospital stays, lengthy and painful rehabilitation, and may even have to dramatically change your life. Fortunately, the law has been designed to help compensate those who have incurred an injury as a result of an accident.
What Can I Be Reimbursed For If I Am Injured In A Truck Accident
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to receive damages and compensation from the truck driver, their company, or insurance companies. Under the law of negligence, any party that is negligent will be expected to compensate the innocent person for their injuries. You may be entitled to the following types of damages:
- Economic Damages – economic damages are monetary damages and are generally paid to cover or reimburse, present and future medical costs, and lost and future loss of wages. Thus, under the law, you may be entitled to receive economic coverage for medical expenses that you paid before filing the lawsuit. Additionally, if you will require future medical care because of your accident you may be able to recover compensation for future medical expenses. Economic damages can also be awarded for lost time at work. If you are involved in a serious accident it is very likely that you will miss time from work due to your injuries. If you have lost wages as a result of your injuries and time spent recovering you may be entitled to receive some compensation for the wages that you lost. There is no cap on how much can be awarded in damages for economic damage reimbursement. The family of a person killed in a truck accident may receive payment for a loss of consortium or services of his or her spouse. Furthermore, funeral expenses may be paid, in the event of a death due to a truck accident.
- Non-economic Damages– Being in an accident can be a traumatic event that can greatly affect your life. Under the law, you may be entitled to receive non-economic damages for any pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment in life, which you have suffered because of your truck accident injuries. Because these injuries are different than those mentioned above such as medical expenses they are known as non-economic damages.
- Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are a form of compensation that is essentially given to punish the at-fault driver in instances where their behavior is considered intolerable. If you were involved in an accident involving a tractor-trailer driver who was drinking, driving recklessly, or who engaged in aggressive driving behavior with the intent of injuring you, you may be able to receive punitive damages.
When you have suffered damages as a result of a truck accident you may be able to recover some or all of the money that you have lost from the truck driver, the truck company, or the insurance company.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney to Fight for You
If you have suffered severe injuries, incurred medical expenses, or lost a loved one as a result of an accident involving a tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle. The lawyers of Reiff & Bily’s The Truck Accident Team may be able to fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation call 800-896-6173 or contact us online today.