If big rigs and other large commercial vehicles are not loaded properly, they could rollover. Unsecured cargo can also fall or spill from the truck, causing an accident or exacerbating injuries. Truck accidents due to improper loading in Pittsburgh, PA, have the potential to cause severe injuries to crash victims. If you suffered injuries in a Pennsylvania truck accident and believe improper loading and unsecured cargo might be to blame, you may have a viable case for compensation.
The truck accident lawyers from Berger and Green can help you identify the liable parties in your truck accident case. If you have a valid case, we will file your insurance claim and fight for full compensation for your documented damages. We offer free case evaluations and complimentary consultations. Contact us today at 412-661-1400 to get started.
Types of Insurance Claims and Recoverable Damages After a Truck Crash
The auto insurance system in Pennsylvania is unique, in that is it a choice no-fault system. Every driver carries a minimum amount of no-fault coverage that provides money for medical care—up to the limits of the policy. This is usually not enough to cover the serious injuries that occur in a truck accident, but you must still turn to your Medical Benefits coverage before filing any other claims.
Then, if you can prove the improperly loaded cargo caused the accident, you can file an insurance claim based on the liability policy of the at-fault party. No matter if you opted for full tort or limited tort insurance, you can hold the at-fault party accountable for your injuries. You may be able to recover damages that include:
- Medical bills your Medical Benefits will not cover;
- Ongoing or future care costs;
- Lost wages and future lost wages;
- Property damage, such as the repair or replacement of your vehicle; and
- Other accident-related costs.
If you opted for full tort coverage, you can also recover additional damages from the liable party. Known as non-economic damages, these include pain and suffering and emotional distress. You may also qualify to recover these damages if you meet one of the limited tort exceptions outlined in Pennsylvania’s auto insurance laws.
The most common limited tort exceptions we see in truck accident cases are:
- The victim suffers injuries that meet the state’s serious injury threshold, which includes “death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement;” or
- The truck is registered out of state.
We can also help you identify any other limited tort exceptions that may apply in your case. It is our goal to try to recover the full compensation you deserve, including pain and suffering damages when possible.
Who Is Liable If Improper Loading Caused a Crash?
Identifying the liable party or parties in an improper loading case can be complex. Often, more than one person plays a role in loading, securing, and inspecting the cargo. Depending on the facts of your case, any of these people —and their employers—may be liable for causing the crash and for the damages you suffered.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Driver’s Handbook includes strict regulations about how often drivers must inspect the cargo they haul. This includes performing a pre-trip inspection to ensure proper distribution and secure tie-downs. Failure to complete these inspections, or failure to notice a problem, makes the driver at least partially responsible if an accident occurs. The other people who loaded the trailer and secured the cargo also share responsibility.
Since Pennsylvania follows the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, we can hold the driver’s employer liable for any failure to properly secure a truck’s cargo. This doctrine states that employers are responsible for the negligent acts employees take as a part of their job. This means the employer of the people who loaded the trailer, as well as the employer of the truck driver, are often the primary liable parties in this type of accident.
We can help you identify the liable parties in your crash. We know how to build a case against multiple parties, and how to distribute fault. If you are not sure who is responsible for your injuries, we can get to the bottom of it for you.
How to Prove Negligence in Your Case
Most truck accident cases hinge on proving the truck driver and other at-fault parties acted carelessly or recklessly. Improper loading cases are no different. They require us to prove the four elements of negligence:
- The liable parties had a certain duty to load the trailer in a safe way, according to federal and state regulations;
- They failed to load the trailer properly or adequately secure the cargo;
- This failure led to the accident and your injuries; and
- You suffered physical and financial injuries in the accident.
To prove these four elements, we fully investigate your case. This may require calling in a number of experts, including a survey team to examine the crash site, accident reconstruction specialists, medical experts, and trucking industry professionals. We also contact the trucking company and issue a spoliation letter demanding the preservation of any possible evidence in the case. Often, this evidence could include:
- Data from the truck’s computer;
- Cargo inspection logs;
- Information about the delivery, such as the type and amount of cargo;
- The driver’s rest logs;
- Dash cam video;
- Post-accident drug and alcohol tests;
- Truck maintenance records; and
- Other information about the truck, trailer, cargo, or driver.
Once we have all the information necessary to prove negligence and liability, we can move forward with your insurance claims. Usually, we are able to aggressively negotiate with insurance companies to recover a fair payout for our clients at this point.
If the insurance company refuses a fair settlement, the Pennsylvania statute of limitations gives us two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit.
Talk to a Truck Accident Lawyer in Pittsburgh About Your Improper Loading Case.
The truck accident team from Berger and Green offers free case evaluation for victims of this type of crash. If you believe an improperly loaded trailer caused your wreck and your injuries, we can help you understand your legal options. Call us today at 412-661-1400 for a complimentary case review.