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Who is Liable For Commercial Trucking Accidents?

  • Published: June 7, 2022
Who is Liable For Commercial Trucking Accidents?

In 2019, approximately 158,000 people were injured in large or commercial truck accidents, up from 134,000 in 2016. Due to their sheer size, trucks can be especially dangerous in crashes. Compounded with the rise of aggressive and distracted driving, commercial trucks can pose a big risk if not safely operated. Commercial trucks include more than the infamous 18-wheelers or semis you see on the highway. Delivery trucks, tractor-trailers, garbage trucks, and more are categorized as commercial trucks. Generally, If a large truck is owned by a company and operated by employees as a condition of their employment, the truck is considered commercial. 

What Causes Commercial Trucking Accidents? 

Commercial Trucking Accidents are often caused by overworked, exhausted truck drivers. Many truck drivers are paid per mile–not by the amount of time spent behind the wheel. As a result, commercial truck drivers are incentivized to deliver packages quickly and spend as little time as possible per route. 

Common causes of commercial truck accidents include drivers: 

  • Falling asleep at the wheel or driving while fatigued
  • Texting or using a cell phone 
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving under the influence of illegal substances 

Trucking accidents can happen at any time and anywhere. According to the National Safety Council, truck accidents are almost equally distributed in urban and rural areas, though most crashes occur off  interstate roads. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of trucking accidents happen during the day, though there are smaller numbers of accidents in the earlier months of the year. 

So, Who is Liable For a Commercial Trucking Accident? 

According to a legal principle, known as vicarious liability, Pennsylvania employers can be held liable for the injuries inflicted by their employees. That means trucking companies (and other companies) can be held liable for the accidents caused by their employees, even if they did not have a direct impact on the accident!

Employers in Pennsylvania can be held responsible for both negligence and intentional harm caused by their employees if the action of the employee furthered the mission or goal of the organization. For example, if a truck driver delivers something for his company, and gets into an accident on their route, the company may be liable for the driver’s negligence. Though many states do not hold employers liable for wrongful acts committed intentionally, Pennsylvania is an exception. 

What if the Commercial Trucking Company is Not Located in Pennsylvania? 

Commercial trucking incidents are complex because trucks are regulated by both state and federal rules. If you’ve been injured in a commercial trucking accident, but the company’s headquarters reside elsewhere– do not worry. The company will be subject to all the laws in the state in which the accident occurred, even if their headquarters are based elsewhere. An experienced attorney can help you navigate complex jurisdictional questions. 

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Injured in a Commercial Trucking Accident? 

In the event of a crash, make sure you find safety first. After pulling off to a safe shoulder on the road, be sure to get the driver’s contact information and license plate number. Even though the truck driver may not be directly responsible for covering the costs of damages associated with your injuries, you should still get their information. 

Write down the information of a supervisor or company representative too! Many trucking companies include phone numbers to complaint lines on the back of their vehicles. 

Additionally, in a trucking accident, you should always call the police. Even if you are not injured, calling the police is essential to insurance claims down the line. Police officers will file a report and record what happened at the scene. 

Usually, a commercial trucking accident requires an extensive investigation. The investigation begins the moment the accident occurs and the police are required to come out to trucking accidents and submit an accident scene reconstruction.

Gathering evidence is important in preserving your claim. After a trucking accident, you may be able to recover compensation for lost wages, medical bills and fees, physical and emotional suffering, and more. 

Do I Need an Attorney if I’ve Been Involved in a Truck Accident? 

Yes! An experienced attorney can help you navigate the many difficulties of a trucking accident. Attorney Crichton has extensive experience advocating for clients and securing lucrative personal injury settlements. He will investigate your accident, contact relevant witnesses and experts, and prepare for settlement or litigation.

Connect with Attorney Crichton for a FREE Case Consultation! 

Call (267) 225-3317 today for a personalized case consultation. All of  our personal injury cases are taken on a contingency basis! That means we don’t get paid unless we get you money.

Troy Crichton

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