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Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Commercial Truck Drivers Injured By Negligent Motorists - Know Your Rights

From behind the wheels of their big rigs, truckers bear witness to the chaos that takes place on Pennsylvania’s Interstates and highways, from distracted driving to dangerous maneuvers like swooping in front of an 18 wheeler to dive for an exit.  And even though truckers are frequently blamed for accidents, just as often it is a negligent motorist who is at fault.  If a dangerous driver caused an accident that left you with injuries, it’s important to know what options are available to you under the law. An experienced truck accident lawyer can be your biggest ally if you find yourself in this situation.

Worker’s Compensation

Pennsylvania’s worker’s compensation laws provide relief for workers who are injured on the job.  This includes truck drivers, whose workplace is generally the open road.  So if you’re injured while hauling a load, a worker’s compensation claim could be one route to financial stability until you can get back on the road.  Pennsylvania’s worker’s compensation system provides payments to cover both lost wages and medical costs, as well as “specific loss” payments for permanent injuries that leave the driver unable to use his or her arms, legs, sight, or other important bodily functions.

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, may also be an option depending on how long you have been working.  SSDI is available to workers who are left unable to do ANY work due to a disabling injury, and are expected to remain unable to work for at least one year.  Establishing eligibility for the SSDI program can be difficult, however, because the program requires disability recipients be incapable of performing any kind of work.  The Social Security Administration frequently denies claims on the grounds that the disabled worker could perform some manner of mild clerical tasks, so having the assistance of an experienced disability attorney is often a good idea when applying for SSDI.

Legal Action

The courts offer a way to hold negligent drivers directly accountable.  Although many Pennsylvania drivers give up their rights to sue for personal injuries sustained in car crashes by participating in the Limited Tort program, there is an exception to that program for commercial vehicles.  That means truckers who are injured in accidents with negligent drivers will usually not be precluded from filing personal injury claims.

To succeed in a negligence lawsuit against another driver, a trucker must prove four points:

1. The other driver owed the trucker a duty.

In the vast majority of truck accident cases, the duty that is owed is a duty to drive in a safe and responsible manner, which applies to all drivers in Pennsylvania.

2. The other driver breached that duty.

To show that the other driver breached his or her duty to drive safely, it is generally sufficient to show that he or she violated Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code or other rules of the road.

3. The driver's breach caused the trucker damages.

Although violating traffic laws is typically enough to show that the other driver breached his or her duty to drive safely, to succeed in a lawsuit requires going a step further.  In addition, the trucker must show that it was that breach that directly caused his or her injuries.  For example, if a driver just happens to be speeding next to a trucker who loses control, the driver can successfully defend him- or herself by showing the speeding was unrelated to why the trucker crashed.

4. The trucker sustained injuries or other damages.

Finally, to win a lawsuit the trucker must prove that the accident caused him or her to suffer actual damages.  These damages can be physical injuries, financial costs associated with seeking medical treatment for those injuries, damage to the truck, or any other problems that can be shown to have been directly caused by the driver’s negligence.

If you’re a trucker who has been injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver, the good news is that Pennsylvania law offers you a variety of options to help get you back behind the wheel again.  The bad news is that taking advantage of these options is usually easiest with the help of an attorney.  Our firm has been representing truckers injured on Pennsylvania highways for years, and our attorneys are available now to help you sort through your own accident.  Schedule a consult with the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates today.


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