Best Truck Accident Lawyers Philadelphia, PA Of 2024 (2024)

If you’ve been in an accident and need to find legal help, you may find yourself asking a question that seems silly at first: was the other vehicle in the accident a truck? Rest assured, this is not a silly question, as there are different laws and different kinds of lawyers at issue depending on the answer.

So, do you need to hire a truck accident lawyer in Philadelphia, or should you look for a car accident lawyer or another type of personal injury lawyer?

Truck accidents don’t include accidents involving pick-up or passenger trucks. Generally, when talking about trucks in the context of truck accidents, they include large commercial vehicles called:

  • 18-wheelers
  • Big rigs
  • Box trucks
  • Delivery trucks
  • Semis or semi-trucks
  • Tractor trailers

If you’ve been in an accident with a commercial vehicle that fits one of these categories, it’s important to make sure any lawyer you work with has experience with trucking accidents in particular.

Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is how long the state allows between the injury and when you have to file a lawsuit. You’re probably most familiar with this idea from shows or movies about criminal law—the state has to decide to charge someone with the crime before the statute of limitations runs out. In criminal cases, the statute of limitations starts to run (tolls) when the crime is committed or discovered.

Similarly, personal injury statutes of limitations may start when the injury happens or when the injury is discovered.

There are two different starting points because sometimes the injury isn’t known for years or even decades, and it wouldn’t be fair for, say, someone prescribed the wrong medication to be barred from suing because the harm wasn’t known until five years later and the statute of limitations for personal injury is only three years. In that kind of case, the person would have the full statute of limitations to file a suit, starting when they discovered the injury that the medication caused them.

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injury. This means that you have two years from a truck accident to file a lawsuit in court. It isn’t enough to have hired a lawyer at that time or to have negotiated a settlement—if there’s nothing in court when the statute of limitations runs out, you won’t be allowed to sue.

Pennsylvania Laws for Truck Drivers

Truck drivers are often engaged in driving across state lines. This usually means that truck drivers have to follow both federal laws and the laws of the state they’re in.

  • Licensing: A truck driver must have a commercial driver’s license in order to operate any vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds, is a school bus, can carry more than 15 passengers or is designated to carry hazardous materials. In Pennsylvania, there are different classes of CDLs that correspond to the weight of the vehicle driven.
  • Driving Time: The federal government regulates the amount of time a driver can operate a truck in a 24-hour period.
    • Drivers can only drive 11 hours out of 14—this 14-hour window begins after a driver has 10 consecutive hours of non-driving. So a driver can only operate 11 out of every 24 hours.
    • Drivers must take a 30-minute break if driving for over eight hours.
    • Drivers can operate 60 hours in a seven-day workweek or 70 hours in an eight-day workweek. The workweek resets after taking at least 34 hours off.
  • Weight Limit: Pennsylvania caps commercial vehicle weights at 80,000 pounds. This includes the trailer as well as the truck pulling it and any cargo inside.

Identifying Fault for a Truck Crash

In Pennsylvania, fault is determined using the modified comparative negligence rule. This means that a plaintiff is limited in how much they can recover by how much they are responsible for the accident. However, if the plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for the accident, they can’t recover at all.

Imagine a wreck where Tom, driving a sedan, is rear-ended by Mitch, driving a tractor-trailer that was following too closely. At trial, it turns out Tom had slammed on his brakes when he dropped his cell phone. The jury finds Tom 40% responsible for the accident, which means that he can only recover 60% of his total damages.

Another issue that can come up concerning fault in a trucking accident is whether there’s anyone responsible for the accident other than the driver of the truck. There are many possibilities as to who can be at fault, and fault could be shared by some or all of these parties:

  • The driver could obviously be at fault for driving badly
  • The company the driver works for could share some fault if they are requiring the driver to work too many hours or if they provided inadequate training
  • The company that loaded the trailer could be at fault if the load is too heavy or improperly loaded. Thousands of pounds of cargo shifting during transit could easily lead to an accident that’s completely out of the control of the driver.
  • The manufacturer of a part of the truck could also be at fault if the accident was caused by a poor design or manufacturing defect.

How Can an Attorney Help You?

Hiring a Pennsylvania truck accident attorney will immediately allow you to focus on recovering from your accident. Even if you’re not injured, an accident can cause plenty of complications like having to figure out payments for a car loan and making arrangements to repair or replace a damaged vehicle. If you’re hurt, there’s also treatment and recovery to consider.

That’s more than enough for most people, so being able to let an attorney handle negotiating with insurance, documenting the accident, communicating with all parties and the police, and making sure that all necessary procedures and laws are followed can be a huge relief. Your truck accident lawyer will have experience in these sorts of cases and can advise you on:

  • What bills related to your accidents you should keep and in what format
  • How to deal with documenting lost wages or other less-obvious damages
  • The fairness, based on their experience and the facts of your accident, of any settlement offers you receive

Even if you decide to go through these steps all alone, you may come to the point where the other party and their insurance are not offering enough to cover your expenses. This is when having an attorney becomes invaluable. While you can try and negotiate with the insurance company on your own, your attorney’s counteroffers will have more weight—the insurance company may see the presence of a lawyer, especially one with a track record of success, as raising the possibility of going to court and potentially spending a lot of money on defense.

Best Truck Accident Lawyers Philadelphia, PA Of 2024 (2024)
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