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Who May Be Liable for a Truck Accident in Cranberry Township?

— March 25, 2022

In truck accidents you may have more than one liable party.

Cranberry Township, PA – In 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation registered 6,089 crashes involving large trucks. Over 130 people were killed and 2,400 injured in those crashes, leaving as many families in pain and facing sometimes significant financial problems. Even when they are not fatal, truck accidents are more likely to cause catastrophic injuries, such as broken limbs, traumatic brain injury or spine damage. When it comes to large claims, you can be sure the insurance company will fight you for every penny, so it is advisable to look for the best truck accident lawyers in the Cranberry Township area.

How can a truck accident lawyer help?

If you are injured in a truck accident in Pennsylvania you have the right to file a personal injury claim with the insurer representing the party at fault. This is where having a skilled truck accident lawyer will be crucial. You need someone with extensive knowledge of state and federal laws and enough experience to be able to conduct a thorough investigation into the crash. 

Police reports are very important and your truck accident lawyer will certainly want to have a look at their findings, but establishing who might be liable for damages goes beyond that. The police report might mention that the trucker made a certain error, but your lawyer will want to know why.

How is liability determined in a truck accident?

In truck accidents you may have more than one liable party. Sure, there’s the truck driver and he may have made an error, but if you dig deeper his employer might be partly to blame as well.

Row of green trucks; image by Brian Stalter, via
Row of green trucks; image by Brian Stalter, via

For instance, if the report says the trucker changed lanes abruptly, you may have a case of aggressive driving and it’s entirely the driver’s fault. Yet, it may very well be that the driver was exhausted and closed his eyes for just a couple of seconds. That’s enough time for a tragedy if the truck slips into the other lane or fails to brake when there’s an obstacle on the road. 

Driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of crashes in the US and your Pennsylvania accident lawyer will request data from the electronic logging device (ELD) on the truck to see how many hours that man had been on the road in the past 24 hrs and in the past 7 days. Under federal road safety regulations, commercial drivers are not allowed to drive for more than 11 hours in one shift, followed by a 10-hour break. If the ELD data shows otherwise, your lawyer will investigate if the trucker was under pressure to skip rest and drive through the night. If that is the case you may have a case against the trucking company, not just against the driver.

The same goes for accidents caused by some sort of mechanical failure. If the truck’s brakes fail or a tire blows out, the driver may be responsible for failing to inspect the vehicle, but ultimately it’s the company’s fault as they are required by law to provide regular maintenance to the vehicles.

Finally, if the accident was somehow caused by an improperly balanced or secured load, you may have a case against the shipping company or the owner of the  cargo.

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