Every year, large trucks — 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, flatbeds and other rigs — are involved in crashes that cause fatalities and serious injuries. The United States Department of Transportation and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) report that in 2013, there were 3,964 people killed and an estimated 95,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks in the United States. In 2013, approximately 1 out of every 10 fatal crashes involved a large truck. Nearly 342,000 large trucks were involved in police-reported traffic crashes in the United States, accounting for 9 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes, and 3 percent of all vehicles involved in injury and property-damage-only crashes. Of the 3,964 truck-related fatalities in 2013: 71 percent were occupants of other vehicles; 17 percent were occupants of large trucks; and 11 percent were non-occupants.
As the above-described NHTSA statistics reveal, large truck crashes can have fatal or devastating consequences for occupants of other motor vehicles and pedestrians. The federal government imposes minimum safety standards for commercial motor carriers to ensure that: (1) commercial motor vehicles are maintained, equipped, loaded, and operated safely; (2) the responsibilities imposed on operators of commercial motor vehicles do not impair their ability to operate the vehicles safely; (3) the physical condition of operators of commercial motor vehicles is adequate to enable them to operate the vehicles safely and the periodic physical examinations required of such operators are performed by medical examiners who have received training in physical and medical examination standards; (4) the operation of commercial motor vehicles does not have a deleterious effect on the physical condition of the operators; and (5) an operator of a commercial motor vehicle is not coerced by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary to operate a commercial motor vehicle in violation of these safety regulations. 49 U.S.C.A. § 31136 These federal motor carrier safety regulations appear at 49 CFR § 390.1 et seq. and address a variety of safety issues including, without limitation:
Federal and state laws and safety regulations impose a duty upon truck companies and other commercial motor carriers to act responsibly, and keep our highways and roads safe for other motorists and pedestrians. When these laws and safety regulations are negligently or intentionally violated by truck companies and commercial motor carriers, devastating accidents may result, causing death, permanent injuries and life-altering consequences to innocent people. Examples of negligence or intentional misconduct by large truck companies and truck drivers that lead to fatal or horrific crashes include, without limitation:
When a fatal truck accident occurs, the loss of a loved one can be devastating and life-altering to the family and friends of the deceased — especially if it was preventable and the result of the tortious or criminal conduct of the truck driver or corporation. At Charles Law Offices, we are committed to helping you through this difficult time in your life, and understand that no amount of money can ever compensate you for the loss of your loved one. Unfortunately, the law’s only means of attempting to make the spouse, children or parents of the deceased whole is to award them the monetary damages they have sustained as a result of their family member’s death. Such damages may include the value of the services the deceased would have provided to the family had he or she lived, as well as special damages such as medical and funeral expenses. In a survival action the estate’s personal representative may seek to recover for the estate money damages for the deceased’s conscious pain and suffering, and a loss of gross earning power from the date of injury until death (minus expenses for personal maintenance), and from the time of death through the decendent’s estimated life expectancy.
In non-fatal truck accidents, the personal injuries suffered by occupants of motor vehicles or pedestrians can be permanent, disabling, and life-altering. Examples of such injuries include, without limitation: severe and chronic pain; amputation; neck or cervical injuries; shoulder, arm and hand injuries; back injury and herniated discs; brain damage; fractured or broken bones; burns; psychological and emotional injuries, such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Depression and other traumatically induced mental disorders; coma, concussion and closed-head injuries; facial lacerations; scarring and disfigurement; eye injuries; leg, knee and hip injuries; spinal cord injuries; paralysis; and child injuries. In attempting to make the injured party whole following a truck accident, the law may award the victim damages for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and future earning capacity, permanent disfigurement, embarrassment and humiliation, loss of life’s enjoyments and pleasures, and loss of consortium.
In certain cases — survival actions or non-fatal truck accidents — punitive damages may be awarded for conduct that is outrageous because of the truck driver’s or trucking company’s evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of others. Punitive damages are not allowed in wrongful death actions.
In general, truck companies and commercial motor carriers are responsible not only for the condition of the vehicles that they maintain and use, but also for the conduct of their employees performed within the course of their employment — this is known as the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior,“ a Latin phrase which means “let the master answer.” Therefore, when a truck accident occurs, more than just the truck driver’s negligence may be involved. The trucking company also may be legally responsible for the harm caused by the truck driver and suffered by innocent motorists and pedestrians in the crash. When that happens, the injured victim may be facing a multi-million dollar truck corporation’s team of insurance adjusters, lawyers, investigators and experts, who may try to minimize the truck driver’s and trucking company’s negligence in causing the crash, and reduce or eliminate the money damages paid to the innocent party.
For almost 40 years, Attorneys Fredrick E. Charles and Dennis G. Charles of Charles Law Offices have successfully represented clients in civil litigation who have suffered wrongful death, serious personal injuries and/or property damage, including harm caused by large truck companies and commercial motor carriers. We have successfully represented our clients in personal injury litigation against some of the world’s largest corporations including, without limitation, truck companies, national and international car manufacturers, railroad companies, oil companies, utility companies, pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies, and manufacturers of consumer products. The attorneys at Charles Law Offices use some of the nation’s finest experts in the fields of science and engineering, accident reconstruction, medicine, physics, bio-mechanics, pharmacology, toxicology, psychiatry, psychology, and other forensic disciplines in successfully representing injured plaintiffs in truck accident and personal injury litigation.
Our track record of big wins and huge financial settlements for our clients in personal injury litigation, including truck accidents, speaks for itself. We know how to stand up to multi-million dollar truck companies and commercial carriers, and win the money damages that you, or your loved ones, are legally entitled to receive. If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a truck accident, trust the experienced and skillful trial attorneys at Charles Law Offices to help. We’ll review your case for free and guide you on the path to receiving full money damages for your loss. Call us today at 1-610-437-7064 or simply complete the form located to the right.”
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with a lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the attorneys at Charles Law Offices.
The Charles Brothers’ devotion to the law is derived from a family history in the legal system and of service to others. Their father, Charles “Chink” Charles (depicted in the lower left-hand corner of the photograph) held a 35 year career in law enforcement, and was selected to serve as the personal bodyguard for former United States Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson during their campaign visits to Allentown.