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Who Is Liable for a Commercial Truck Accident?

April 10, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

In the middle of February, a truck accident occurred on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The accident occurred when a wheel flew off a commercial tractor-trailer, crashing through a vehicle’s windshield. A family of five was in the car and the accident left a woman and child severely injured.

The accident has shaken many around the state, as it sheds light on just how serious accidents between commercial trucks and smaller passenger cars are. This particular accident also has many asking, who is liable when a commercial truck accident occurs? As with many other questions in personal injury law, that answer is found in legislation.

Legislation Pertaining to Trucks

One piece of legislation pertaining to commercial trucks comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This federal agency has an Hours of Service regulation, which places stringent restrictions on how long commercial truck drivers can remain on the road. This regulation is meant to prevent driver fatigue, which has been proven to cause a number of accidents on the road.

Drivers are also expected to keep logs documenting the time they are on the road. In every commercial truck on the road, these logs are electronic and have been since January of 2016. This makes it more difficult to falsify these logs, but if truck drivers find a way to do this, it is considered a criminal offense.

In September of 2010 the FMCSA also made it illegal for truck drivers to text while they are behind the wheel. The FMCSA has also ruled that truck drivers cannot have a blood alcohol concentration level higher than 0.04 percent. Truck drivers are randomly tested for BAC levels to ensure they are abiding by this law. Drug tests are also given to truck drivers, although companies must have reasonable suspicion before asking for a drug test, or the driver must have violated a drug policy in the past.

There is a regulation that pertains most to the recent accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It also comes from the FMCSA and the regulation states that trucking companies must ensure their trucks, and every part of their trucks, are in safe operating condition at all times. This includes inspecting and maintaining their trucks, as well as keeping records of all inspections and maintenance.

Liability in a Truck Accident

Regulations such as those laid out by the FMCSA are in place to keep everyone safe on the road. When a truck driver or trucking company fails to follow those regulations, it is considered negligence because they are no longer trying to keep everyone safe.

In many cases, people automatically assume that truck drivers are to blame for accidents because they’re the ones behind the wheel. However, sometimes the truck driver is not to blame, but the trucking company is at fault. Due to the fact that it’s the trucking company’s responsibility to inspect and maintain their trucks, in the crash that occurred on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it’s likely that the trucking company is to blame.

However, there are times when a truck driver and the trucking company are to blame. When it is found that the trucking company did not take proper care in hiring qualified and competent drivers, or the trucking company did not properly train their drivers, it is possible that both the company and the driver are to blame when an accident occurs.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyers Today

Any time a truck is in a serious accident, those in the smaller vehicle are going to sustain serious injury. These injuries can permanently impact a victim’s quality of life, and are very costly to treat. A Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer can help accident victims claim compensation that can help with the financial burden of the accident.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123. We know the rights of accident victims, and we will fight to protect yours. Contact us today so we can begin discussing your case.



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