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Top Causes of Truck Accidents

Understand your accident better. Contact our Pennsylvania truck accident law firm.

Truck accidents happen for many reasons. Sometimes, truck drivers make mistakes. Other times, there's something wrong with the truck due to poor maintenance, a design defect or a mechanical problem. Whatever the reason, you should not have to suffer - physically or financially - if you're the victim of a serious truck accident in Pennsylvania.

At Marcus & Mack, our experienced Pennsylvania commercial trucking accident attorneys are committed to providing clients with exceptional representation. We investigate all types of complicated truck accidents in Johnstown, Altoona and throughout the state. We have handled a range of truck accident claims. We know what evidence to look for and how to take that information and transform it into a solid legal case. We help the injured every day. That's our job.

Established in 1977, our law firm has successfully resolved many different types of truck accidents. We thrive on complicated cases. We're proud of our well-earned reputation for getting the job done right.  That's why we strongly urge you to contact us immediately. We want to help you get your life back on track.

What are common causes of truck accidents?

If you were injured in a truck accident in Pennsylvania or lost a loved one, don't wait to contact us. A delay could affect the outcome of your case. Truck accident cases have a specific time limit, known as a "statute of limitations," for taking legal action.

Drug use

Drug use by truck drivers has been a major factor in serious truck accidents. Drivers spend long hours behind the wheel. They sometimes use stimulants to stay awake. Often isolated from others, some drivers may begin to abuse drugs or alcohol. They may take illegal drugs (marijuana, cocaine, etc.) or abuse prescription medications. Drug or alcohol abuse by truck drivers may take place for years before an accident happens. Because they may have "gotten away with it" for years, they may feel their drug or alcohol consumption while driving is harmless. But they, in fact, put everyone on the road in danger. The threshold for commercial truck drivers to be considered drunk is 0.04 percent Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), half the legal limit for other drivers in Pennsylvania.

But in many cases, commercial truck drivers take certain drugs - particularly amphetamines - in an effort to remain alert or drive longer hours.  In either case, the results can often be disastrous. If you suspect your truck accident was caused by a truck driver under the influence of drugs, contact us. We can thoroughly investigate your case and help you hold the truck driver accountable for his or her actions. The trucking company also may be liable for not performing a background check on the driver. The trucker may have a history of drunk driving or drugged driving violations, but the employer may have turned a blind eye.

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Driver fatigue

Commercial truck drivers often work long hours, driving hundreds of miles day after day. As a result, some truck drivers are at risk of falling asleep while driving and causing serious or even fatal truck accidents. These accidents are often especially severe since the truck driver is asleep at the wheel and does not slow down before crashing into other vehicles.

Truck drivers are supposed to take mandatory breaks every 8 hours and not drive more than 11 hours in a 24 hour period, according to federal hours of service (HOS) rules created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Unfortunately, many truck drivers ignore these rules and put people's lives at risk.

Our experienced Pennsylvania truck accident attorneys at Marcus & Mack know how to thoroughly investigate such complicated cases. Whether it's demanding to see written logs verifying that the truck driver took breaks or obtaining a copy of the official accident report, we vigorously fight for the rights of accident victims.

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Mechanical failure

Tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers and other large commercial trucks must be properly maintained. Otherwise, mechanical problems can occur that result in serious truck accidents. In fact, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation states that mechanical problems such as steering failure and brake and tire defects are contributing factors in many accidents. Some of the most common types of mechanical failures on trucks include:

  • Defective brakes - Truck brakes need to be checked and replaced regularly in order to avoid brake failure.
  • Tire blowouts - Worn tire treads and tires improperly inflated (either tires inflated too low or too much) sometimes blowout, often causing large trucks to veer out of control into other vehicles.
  • Failure to perform routine inspection and maintenance - Truck drivers and trucking companies have an obligation to maintain their trucks. Otherwise, accidents can occur.
  • Defective truck parts - Sometimes, truck manufacturers are to blame. Specifically, defective design or defective truck parts can cause trucks to malfunction or operate in an unsafe manner.

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Failing to properly secure cargo

Tractor-trailer trucks need to be loaded by qualified, experienced people who know how to distribute the weight in the truck evenly and properly secure the contents of the truck. Otherwise, the truck's contents can shift easily, causing the truck to become unstable, especially when these trucks attempt to stop or round a sharp corner. Often, improperly loaded trucks will overturn, resulting in a serious truck rollover accident. An accident due to unsecured cargo can result in a complex case with multiple layers of liability. An attorney will need to investigate the party that loaded the truck, which may not be the driver or the driver's employer. The owner of the trailer and cargo may also be at fault in the accident.

Our attorneys know what evidence to look for in order to build a strong case against the trucking company or the company that improperly loaded the truck. We know what records to request, what questions to ask and how to assemble this information into a compelling legal case.

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Overloading a trailer

Strict weight limits exists for all commercial trucks. If a truck is overloaded (or improperly loaded), the risk of a potentially catastrophic accident increases.  Overweight trucks can easily tip while a driver is trying to negotiate a turn or safely stop. Overloaded trucks may rollover or jackknife. The extra weight makes them harder to stop, which may cause a deadly rear-end accident.

All trucks have a maximum operating weight limit.  Vehicles are assigned a "gross vehicle weight rating" number. If a truck exceeds the limit, the risk of an accident increases significantly.

Our experienced Pennsylvania truck accident attorneys know what evidence to look for and how to hold trucking companies responsible. Wherever your Pennsylvania truck accident took place - on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Somerset or on Route 219 in Johnstown - we can help.

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Speeding

Speeding might seem like a minor infraction. But when tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers and other large trucks travel too fast, the drivers don't have enough time to stop safely and avoid a crash.

Speeding truck accidents also often involve many other common causes associated with commercial truck accidents. In particular, overloaded trucks or trucks driven by reckless drivers are often the fastest - and most dangerous - trucks on the road. Drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs might exceed the speed limit as they try to beat delivery deadlines.

A telltale sign of how fast a truck was going before an accident is the skid marks left by the truck on the road. Other times, speeding trucks driven by drivers asleep at the wheel have no skid marks but cause extensive damage. In either case, our truck accident lawyers know what to look for and who to consult with if we need an expert opinion.

In handling a speeding truck accident case, we typically will investigate the trucking company. Sometimes, a driver's employer will put pressure on the driver to deliver the cargo quickly and may turn a blind eye to speeding infractions. The company may not have properly checked the driver's background for a history of speeding violations.

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Reckless driving

Weaving in and out of traffic, turning without signaling, running red lights and aggressively tailgating are just some examples of reckless truck driving. When truck drivers fail to follow the rules of the road and cause a serious accident, the drivers and their employers must be held accountable.

At Marcus & Mack, our accident attorneys relentlessly fight for injury victims injured by careless or reckless drivers. In the case of reckless truck accidents, we look closely at the trucking company. Did the employer conduct a thorough background check on the truck driver? If the driver had a history of reckless driving, the company should have known about it - and should have taken action to prevent the accident.

Evidence matters. That's why we conduct thorough investigations in search of the details needed to build a strong case. Don't let a reckless driver ruin your family's life. Take back control and contact our law firm today.

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