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TRUCK ACCIDENT QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

What are some of the dangers associated with large trucks on the roadways?
What are some of the causes of tractor trailer collisions on Scranton’s highways and secondary roads?
Why is a traffic accident involving a commercial truck more likely to cause injury than one involving a passenger car?
Are there any state or federal regulations governing truck drivers?
What are the regulations regarding prohibited conduct for truck drivers?
What role does alcohol and drug use play in tractor trailer wrecks?
Are there trucking regulations governing the number of hours a truck driver can operate in a 24 hour period?
How do I handle trucking companies or their insurance carriers after a truck accident?
What is the statute of limitation in Pennsylvania for filing a personal injury claim because of a tractor trailer accident?
Why should a tractor trailer collision lawyer be hired as soon as possible?
Who can be sued in an accident involving commercial trucks?
What kind of a lawyer should I hire?
Is the investigation of a truck accident important?
Are expert witnesses necessary to prove fault in a truck accident case?
What are the qualifications of Munley, Munley & Cartwright, PC?
Where will my case be filed?
How much does your firm charge to handle a tractor trailer truck accident personal injury claim?

What are some of the dangers associated with large trucks on the roadways?
  • No-Zones - Large trucks have no-zones, or blind spots, that are located around the front, back, and sides of the truck. When a car is in the No-Zone, the truck driver is usually unable to see it. At these times, a large truck could turn into a passing car and a serious accident could result.
  • Squeeze Play – Tractor trailer trucks need to swing wide to the left in order to negotiate a right turn. When truck drivers make wide right turns; they are often unable to see smaller vehicles directly behind or beside them. When a car cuts between the tractor trailer and a curb, the car can be caught in a squeeze, and a serious accident can occur.
  • Stopping Distance – Big rig trucks need a greater stopping distance than other vehicles. If there is not enough stopping distance between a car and a large truck, the car risks being involved in a rear-end collision.
  • “Off-track” -  Occurs when a truck turns at high speed and swings into an adjacent lane unexpectedly.  Unlike passenger vehicles, 18 wheelers require up to 40 percent more space to stop.  Following too closely results in inadequate stopping distance between large trucks which then rear-end vehicles in front. 

Read more about the dangers and causes of commercial truck accidents: Sharing the Road with Giants

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What are some of the causes of tractor trailer collisions on Scranton's highways and secondary roads?

There are many different reasons for accidents involving large trucks include negligence on the part of the truck driver or the other vehicles involved. Others include:

  • Aggressive drivers
  • Unrealistic schedules
  • Failure to inspect tires, brakes and lights
  • Tailgating
  • Long work-shifts
  • Driver fatigue
  • Cell phone use
  • Failure to install blind spot mirrors
  • Jackknifing
  • Speeding and ignoring reduced truck speed limit

A 18 wheeler truck traveling at 70 miles per hour has twice as much energy as one at 50 mph. In addition, automobiles are designed under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to encounter like size vehicles, not 80,000 pound trucks. Added hazards include the absence of rear and side bumpers and high front bumpers that punch into automobile passenger compartments. Together these factors account for the high percentage of serious injuries and deaths in these crashes.

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Why is a traffic accident involving a commercial truck more likely to cause injury than one involving a passenger car?

Trucking accidents are different from auto accidents in many ways. One of the most serious being the extent of damages and injuries when a truck and an automobile collide. A typical fully loaded large commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, while an average passenger automobile weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Due to this size disparity, and the basic laws of physics, any collision between a commercial truck and another vehicle is likely to result in serious, even fatal, injuries.

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Are there any state or federal regulations governing truck drivers?

There are many regulations, both state and federal, that trucking companies are required to follow. Some of those laws include the following:

  • Trucking companies are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulations concerning equipment and hours of service.
  • Semi truck drivers are required to maintain a driver’s log.
  • Federal regulations require commercial trucks to carry certain levels of insurance coverage, depending on the nature of the materials hauled. These regulations protect victims of large truck crashes from truck owners who may not have the financial resources to pay damages out-of-pocket.
  • The Commercial Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program requires that individual States, and other political jurisdictions unify to develop and implement programs that will ultimately improve motor carrier, CMV, and driver safety and establish a safer and more efficient transportation system.
  • Commercial driver’s license standards are federal regulations in place to reduce or prevent truck collisions and resulting injuries and/or deaths by requiring drivers of certain vehicles to obtain a single commercial motor vehicle driver's license.
  • Both Pennsylvania state and/or federal law, depending on whether the truck was involved in intrastate or interstate transport may govern tractor trailer wrecks.

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What are the regulations regarding prohibited conduct for truck drivers?

A driver will not be allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle if he/she engages in prohibited conduct. Prohibited conduct includes:

  • Reporting for duty with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater,
  • Possessing alcohol unless it is part of a shipment, including medications like cough syrup or cold medicine that contain alcohol,
  • Consuming alcohol while performing safety-sensitive functions,
  • Consuming alcohol within 8 hours preceding an accident,
  • Reporting for duty while using any drug that affects the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, or
  • Refusing to submit to any DOT mandated alcohol or drug test.

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What role does alcohol and drug use play in tractor trailer wrecks?

Intoxicated Drivers.  Over a period of one year, a study of truck driver fatalities was conducted by The National Transportation Safety Board and The National Institute on Drug Abuse in eight states. Comprehensive drug screenings were performed on blood specimens taken from 168 fatally injured drivers. One or more drugs was detected in 67% of these fatally injured drivers and 33% of these drivers had detectable blood concentrations of psychoactive drugs or alcohol.

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Are there trucking regulations governing the number of hours a truck driver can operate in a 24 hour period?

Hours of Service.  Driver fatigue and drowsiness are conditions that result in reckless behavior such as failure to keep in the proper lane and running off the road.  Tired truckers are of such concern that in April of 2003, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted new hours of service regulations to curb truckers’ problems with fatigue.  While these laws have helped reduce the number of accidents, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board still blames driver fatigue as a probable factor in 20-40% of truck crashes.

Since 1939, Federal law has placed restrictions on the hours of service that a trucker may operate his truck. Recent changes have been made to these rules for the first time in over 60 years. The new rules are designed to reduce the effect of cumulative fatigue and prevent many of the accidents and fatalities to which fatigue is a contributing factor for big rig drivers.

Truck driver fatigue can have devastating consequences to others on the road. In 2003, there were over 4,600 fatal wrecks involving large commercial trucks.

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How do I handle trucking companies or their insurance carriers after a truck accident?

You should immediately consult with an experienced Scranton truck accident lawyer. Truck companies have their own investigators and attorneys working hard to dismiss liability. One of the worst decisions individuals can make is to negotiate directly with trucking companies, insurance adjusters, or the trucking company lawyers. Most trucking companies are highly skilled at truck accident investigation and claims. Anything you say or sign may be held against you further down the road.

We have been handling complex trucking injury litigation since 1980. We have obtained many settlements and verdicts worth millions of dollars. Our Scranton truck wreck attorneys are Board Certified and our firm is listed in the Best Lawyers in America. We are an AV rated firm by Martindale Hubbell and have combined experience of over 100 years.

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What is the statute of limitation in Pennsylvania for filing a personal injury claim because of a tractor trailer accident?

Whenever a person is injured in any type of accident, it is in their best interest to file a claim as soon as possible. When a claim is filed quickly, evidence is more easily gathered to prove the case. However, PA law puts a time limit or statute of limitations on when you can file a claim. A personal injury action must be filed within two years of the date when the injury occurred. In Pennsylvania, personal injury actions include medical malpractice and products liability claims as well personal injury. Pennsylvania does, however, have a "discovery rule," which, in limited cases, extends the time for filing a personal injury action. Under this rule, the statute of limitations will begin to run at the time the plaintiff knows, or should have known, that he or she was injured and that the injury was caused by another's conduct. If you do not file a lawsuit in PA within the required time, you will lose your right to sue and recover money damages for your injuries.

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Why should a tractor trailer collision lawyer be hired as soon as possible?
The major trucking companies will immediately have lawyers hired and working for them. The scene must be secure. Photographers and statements must be taken as soon after the accident as possible. Many important pieces of evidence helpful to you can be lost, misplaced or be purposely destroyed.

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Who can be sued in an accident involving commercial trucks?
The person and/or company responsible and at fault for causing the truck accident can be sued. This includes the truck driver and the trucking company, the owner of the trailer, the shipper, as well as any other driver, person or entity who in anyway contributed to the accident, such as the manufacturer of one of the vehicles involved in the accident, the manufacturer of a tire that contributed to the accident or the owner of any public or private property whose negligence contributed to the tractor trailer accident.

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What kind of a lawyer should I hire?
You should choose a law firm that has handled many trucking injury cases. These cases require a Scranton 18 wheeler accident attorney experienced in the Federal Motor carrier Safety Rules and Regulations. They also require lawyers familiar with fleet maintenance procedures. Munley, Munley & Cartwright has experienced lawyers to handle the investigation and litigation of your claim. We have successfully represented truck accident/injury suits throughout Pennsylvania.

See our Verdicts & Settlements

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Is the investigation of a truck accident important?
It is critical. A thorough investigation must be performed to establish the fault of another. An investigation will include the examination of the scene and vehicles involved, and obtaining of statements from witnesses. Be sure that you do not move your vehicle after the truck accident. It will be a major part of the investigation.

Trucking companies will perform their own investigation immediately after the tractor trailer accident. It is important that you retain a Scranton tractor trailer lawyer who immediately investigates the case to evaluate liability and any potential at-fault defendants.

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Are expert witnesses necessary to prove fault in a truck accident case?
Often, unless there is no question that one party was completely at fault, a plaintiff in any serious injury or death case involving a truck should retain an expert with expertise in the design, manufacturing, and operation of trucks and the rules of the trucking industry.

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What are the qualifications of Munley, Munley & Cartwright, PC?
We have been handling complex trucking injury litigation since 1980. We have obtained many settlements and verdicts worth millions of dollars. Our Scranton truck wreck lawyers are Board Certified and our firm is listed in the Best Lawyers in America. We are an AV rated firm by Martindale Hubbell and have combined experience of over 100 years.

In a truck accident case, you need experienced, knowledgeable lawyers representing you against the trucking companies. Munley, Munley & Cartwright is your best defense. We can help get you the compensation you deserve.

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Where will my case be filed?
This will be determined by where the accident happened and the residence addresses of all parties.

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How much does your firm charge to handle a tractor trailer truck accident personal injury claim?
Munley, Munley & Cartwright charges clients of personal injury claims on a contingency basis. What that means is the Scranton truck accident attorney is only paid if he or she wins money damages for you – the client. The fee agreement is usually a percentage of the amount recovered. This makes it possible for anyone to hire only the best lawyer. It gives everyone access to the justice system and representation that is equal to the best that insurance companies, doctors and other defendants can hire. In addition, you can contact the lawyers of Munley, Munley & Cartwright for a free consultation by calling toll-free at 1-800-318-LAW1.

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