Large commercial trucks are incredibly dangerous. If not properly maintained and driven with the utmost care, large trucks can cause catastrophic and deadly traffic accidents. If you get injured in a commercial truck accident in Pennsylvania, fault will need to be determined before you can recover insurance benefits. Find out from our experienced Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys how insurance companies determine fault in truck accident cases to better understand the legal process ahead.
Pennsylvania Is a No-Fault State
First, recognize that Pennsylvania is unique in that it is a no-fault state. It is one of only 12 such states in the country. Under the no-fault car insurance law, all injured parties file claims with their own insurance providers, regardless of fault for the crash. All drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to pay for their own injuries after an accident. There is an exception, however, if a victim’s injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold. This is the case for most commercial truck accidents.
If a victim’s injuries are significant or permanently impairing, he or she will have the right to file a claim against the at-fault driver. A third-party claim is also possible if you have full tort insurance coverage, which allows you to bypass the state’s no-fault law. In either of these situations, you will need to prove that someone else is at fault for the commercial truck accident to recover financial compensation from that party’s insurance company.
What Is the Insurance Investigation Process After a Truck Accident?
Once an insurance claim is filed, the insurance company will assign a professional to the case. This individual is known as the insurance claims adjuster. The adjuster will be responsible for assessing the case to determine if the claimant qualifies for compensation. An insurance investigation of the truck accident will then ensue.
Evidence an insurance adjuster will often look at to determine fault in a truck accident claim includes:
- Police crash report
- Surveillance footage
- Photographs from the crash scene
- Eyewitness statements
- Property damage to both vehicles
- Accident reconstruction
If you file a claim with the trucking company, expect them to try to blame you for the accident. Insurance companies maintain their profitability by denying liability. You may need to hire a Pittsburgh truck accident attorney to help collect evidence to prove fault for you, such as the truck’s black box and the trucking company and truck driver’s records.
Identifying Liable Parties After a Truck Accident
Many commercial truck accidents are caused by driver error. Truck drivers can make many critical mistakes behind the wheel, such as violating their hours-of-service restrictions, driving while fatigued, driving while distracted, breaking traffic laws, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, and tailgating.
If it is discovered that a truck driver was negligent and that this caused the crash, he or she could be held liable. In most cases, however, trucking companies take the blame for accidents caused by their drivers. The legal doctrine of vicarious liability states that an employer can be held responsible for the negligence of its on-duty employees.
Even if a truck driver was independently contracted, the trucking company that hired the driver could be held liable. If a cargo problem caused your truck accident, on the other hand, such as a lost cargo load, you may be able to hold the cargo company liable. Other possibilities include equipment manufacturers, the government and a third-party driver.
Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident? Contact an Attorney
Correctly identifying the party or parties at fault for your truck accident can help you recover the financial compensation that you deserve for a serious injury. You may be able to name multiple defendants in your case, depending on the circumstances. This could lead to greater insurance coverage available. For more information about determining fault and liability for a commercial truck accident in Pittsburgh, contact Dallas W. Hartman P.C. for a free case consultation.