Experienced Harrisburg Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers
Representation for Victims in Harrisburg, Lancaster, York & Carlisle
Commercial vehicles are mostly heavy trucks that pose a danger to all drivers on the road. Their size, weight, and mass are much greater than passenger cars. When a commercial truck and a car collide, the occupants of the car take the brunt of the force, making them susceptible to catastrophic or permanent injuries, or even death. To protect drivers and passengers on the road, commercial trucks are highly regulated and commercial truck drivers must meet high qualification standards.
At the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, our Central Pennsylvania commercial truck accident lawyers have the experience and resources to help accident victims get justice. We work with investigators, traffic reconstruction experts, truck part experts, and others to help determine how the accident occurred and who is responsible. We file claims against the trucker and all other responsible parties. Our lawyers have a long track record of success negotiating strong personal injury settlements and trying cases before juries.
Commonly Asked Questions About Commercial Truck Accident Claims
- What types of trucks quality as commercial trucks?
- Why are commercial trucks so dangerous?
- What are the driver qualification rules for commercial truck drivers?
- What unique rules apply to commercial trucks?
- Who is liable for a commercial truck accident in Central Pennsylvania?
- How does an attorney fight for truck accident victims?
What types of trucks qualify as commercial trucks?
According to The Balance, vehicles are generally classified as “commercial vehicles” based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The GVWR includes the weight of the truck, the cargo, the fuel, and even the passengers. The GVWR is usually set by the manufacturer. The GVWR focus is on the strongest weight-bearing components. The GVWR is not the actual weight of the truck. The main classifications are:
- Class 1: This class of truck has a GVWR of 0–6,000 pounds or 0–2,722 kilograms.
- Class 2: This class of truck has a GVWR of 6,001–10,000 pounds or 2,722–4,536 kilograms.
- Class 3: This class of truck has a GVWR of 10,001–14,000 pounds or 4,536–6,350 kilograms.
- Class 4: This class of truck has a GVWR of 14,001–16,000 pounds or 6,351–7,257 kilograms.
- Class 5: This class of truck has a GVWR of 16,001–19,500 pounds or 7,258–8,845 kilograms.
- Class 6: This class of truck has a GVWR of 19,501–26,000 pounds or 8,846-11,793 kilograms.
- Class 7: This class of truck has a GVWR of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds or 11,794–14,969 kilograms.
- Class 8: This class of truck has a GVWR of greater than 33,001 pounds or 14,969 kilograms and includes all tractor-trailers.
Vehicles that have a GVWR of more than 10,001 pounds must comply with federal and state regulations. Truck drivers need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for Class 7 and Class 8 GVWR vehicles. Vehicles that transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, may also qualify as commercial vehicles. In addition, vehicles that transport hazardous materials may be commercial vehicles too. Generally, the vehicles must be used for a business – profit or nonprofit – as opposed to being used for personal reasons.
Examples of commercial trucks include many semi-trucks, rigs, dry vans, flatbed trucks, and refrigerated trucks. Some pickup trucks may qualify as commercial vehicles.
Why are commercial trucks so dangerous?
Commercial vehicles are dangerous because of their weight, size, and mass. Heavy trucks are very difficult to operate, which is why drivers need a CDL. They are difficult to control, especially in heavy traffic, when making turns, on inclines/declines, and around curves. When commercial trucks rollover or jackknife, which is more likely than lighter trucks or cars, they can create a nightmare situation for the driver and any vehicles near the driver.
If a truck spills its cargo because the driver loses control of the truck, the cargo is not properly secured, or because of an accident – the spill can create havoc for everyone near the truck too.
Most commercial trucks have blind spots that make it extremely difficult for a driver to see in back of the truck, directly in front of the truck, and to the sides of both trucks. Commercial trucks are generally much longer than other trucks, which means that they are more difficult to steer and turn. Most commercial truck drivers need to use multiple lanes to help steer their trucks through a turn.
When a commercial vehicle accident occurs, the occupants of any nearby cars, pedestrians, and bicycle riders are much more likely to die or suffer severe injuries than if the occupants and others are struck by a light truck or a car.
What are the driver qualification rules for commercial truck drivers?
Drivers of commercial trucks are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) – normally in the state where the driver lives. The CDL is generally valid in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. CDLs have been regulated by the FMCSA since 1992. The FMCSA sets the state standards for licensing CDL operators.
“Drivers are required to obtain and hold a CDL if they operate in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce and drive a vehicle that meets one or more of the classifications of a CMV described below. Restrictions are placed on a CDL when a driver takes the Skills Test in a vehicle which lacks critical equipment present in particular types of CMVs.”
There are different classes of CDL licenses according to the FMCSA:
- Class A. This classification is generally for “combination” trucks such as tractor-trailers.
- Class B. This classification is generally for single vehicles.
- Class C. This classification is generally for vehicles that transport hazardous materials or transport 16 or more people.
According to DMV.org, the core requirements for a Commercial driver’s license permit are that the applicant must:
- pass a skills test
- provide a 10-year driver history
- have a valid current standard driver’s license
- pass a medical examination by a qualified medical examiner
After at least a 14-day waiting period, a driver who has a CDL permit can apply for a CDL license. The applicant must pass a road test, a basic controls exam, and a vehicle inspection test.
CDLs also have endorsements for certain types of trucks/vehicles that require additional testing – over and above the standard CDL tests. A CDL license may also have restrictions such as a Restriction Code L that indicates a lack of knowledge about air brake systems.
What unique rules apply to commercial trucks?
Drivers with a CDL license must comply with numerous federal and state laws, including the following:
- Hours of service. These FMCSA rules regulate how long truck drivers of commercial vehicles can work/drive before they are required to stop for rest. The rules are designed to help ensure drivers are alert when they drive. Drivers who operate while tired are more likely to get into an accident and more likely to fail to respond to an emergency than alert drivers. Many trucking companies push their drivers to drive non-stop without taking sufficient rest breaks. For example, the HOS rules require “breaks of at least 30 consecutive minutes after 8 cumulative hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time)...” There are exceptions to these rules that may apply to certain drivers.
- Driving while intoxicated. The DUI standard nationwide for most drivers is a .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) level. Commercial drivers, according to the FMCSA, must meet a stricter .04 BAC standard. This means if a commercial driver’s BAC is at or above .04, the driver may lose their CDL driving privileges.
- Notification of convictions. CDL drivers are required to notify their employer within 30 days of any conviction for a moving violation.
- Truck inspections. Truck drivers must complete an inspection checklist after each day of driving. The inspection list includes checking the quality of any coupling devices; the conditions of the brakes, tires, and treads; the safety equipment, the mirrors, and any trailers.
Owners of commercial trucks must comply with numerous regulations too, including:
- Cargo loading standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific regulations that govern loading and unloading different types of cargo.
- Electronic logs. Both the trucking company and the driver are required to keep detailed logs of their hours.
- Truck maintenance records. All commercial trucks must be regularly inspected and repaired when necessary. The companies that own the trucks must keep records of the inspections, repairs, and any maintenance.
- Other standards and regulations such as environmental regulations.
Failure of the truck driver or trucking company to comply with these regulations is normally evidence that either the driver, the trucking company, or both are liable for the commercial truck accident that caused your injuries – or the death of a loved one. Commercial trucks can be checked for weight (usually at weigh stations) throughout Pennsylvania, including in Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, and Carlisle.
Who is liable for a commercial truck accident?
The starting point in most truck accident cases is to file a claim against the truck driver. Drivers may be negligent for many reasons, including driving while distracted (for example, texting while driving), driving while intoxicated, driving while fatigued, speeding, tailgating, failing to yield, driving too fast for weather conditions, and many other reasons.
At The Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, we regularly file claims against the truck owner if the owner of the truck is different than the driver. While some commercial truck drivers own their own truck, many commercial truck drivers work for a trucking company that employs a CDL driver or hires the CDL as an independent contractor. The owners of any vehicle involved in an accident are generally liable for the negligent acts of their employees. They may be liable for the negligent act of any contractors as well.
By definition, commercial truck drivers are working for a business. This means if a truck driver causes an accident, our seasoned lawyers will file claims against all the commercial companies involved in the delivery. Common commercial defendants (in addition to the truck driver and truck owner) include:
- The company that hired the trucking company or driver to make the delivery.
- A broker that arranged to connect the shipping company with the truck driver or truck delivery company.
- The company that receives the load of machines, equipment, merchandise, or other cargo.
- Other companies that may have been involved in the delivery
How does a lawyer fight for truck accident victims?
At The Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, our seasoned commercial truck accident lawyers work aggressively to determine how the accident happened. We investigate the accident site, speak with all relevant witnesses, and question all the parties to the lawsuit and all relevant witnesses. We examine the vehicles involved in the accident, demand to review any black boxes or videos that may have information about the accident or the truck, and demand to see any other documents or physical evidence that helps our clients assert their claim.
We represent drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. We also represent the families if a spouse, parent, or child was killed in a truck accident.
Our lawyers understand when and how to negotiate with the insurance adjusters. We are highly respected for our ability to try your case before a jury.
Is The Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter near me?
We represent truck accident victims and the families of deceased victims throughout Central PA, including Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, and Carlisle. For your convenience, we have multiple office locations:
5 Kacey Ct,
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
4800 Linglestown Rd,
Harrisburg, PA 17112
326 W Chocolate Ave,
Hershey, PA 17033
We make arrangements to see you at your home or another location if you are not mobile. We also speak with clients by phone and through remote video communications.
Speak with Our Harrisburg Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyers Today
At The Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, our lawyers guide you through each phase of the litigation process. We demand compensation for all your medical bills, lost income, physical pain, emotional suffering, vehicle damages, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of consortium. We work with your physicians to show what injuries you have, what treatments you needed and will need for the rest of your life, and all the ways the injuries have affected your life. We file wrongful death claims on behalf of loved ones tragically killed in a commercial truck accident.
To review your rights after a truck accident, call The Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter today at (717) 537-0928 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent accident victims and families in Central PA: Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, and Carlisle.
“He made a long drawn out process seem easy!”- Lechele
“Confident, thorough, and trustworthy.”- Tara
“Honest, straightforward and fights for YOU!”- Melissa W.