The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

I-676 Fuel Spill Causes Pileup, Injures 3

A fuel spill near the I-76/I-676 interchange caused a 10-car pileup that resulted in three people taken to the hospital, Philadelphia's WCAU reports. Pennsylvania State Police claim that a bumper had fallen off a tractor trailer and ruptured the vehicle's fuel tank. In turn, the afternoon rain combined with the spilled fuel created slippery roads that led to the pileup.

There is currently no update as to the condition of the three hospitalized victims from the pileup. I-676 has reopened after being shut down for around two hours.

What kind of legal worries could the truck driver be dealing with? Here are three general considerations when it comes to commercial truck crashes:

Commercial Truck Crash Liability

Because the driver of the truck that led to the fuel spill was driving a commercial truck, there may be special considerations to keep in mind that may not be relevant if it were just a regular automobile. These factors include:

  • Size. A commercial truck, fully-loaded, can weigh around 80,000 pounds or more, while an average passenger car weighs only around 3,000. A commercial truck accident, therefore, is likely to be far more severe.
  • Freight. A commercial truck may also be carrying contents that are far more dangerous -- such as flammable materials.

These factors may come into play if the truck driver or his or her employer are sued for the injuries in the crash.

Driving a Company Car

In this case, there may also be a question of what is liability borne by the employer. Chances are, the truck driver was driving a company truck for employment purposes, rather than for his own personal benefit. Under the theory of respondeat superior, employers may be held liable for their employees' acts if the actions were conducted within the scope of employment.

That determination is, however, a matter of circumstance and will depend on a number of factors. For example, despite the employee getting into an accident in a company car, was he deviating from his or her employer's instructions?

Dangerous Road Conditions

Lastly, something to keep in mind when it comes to operating any motor vehicle is to be cautious when it comes to certain dangerous road conditions. This includes wet or icy roads due to inclement weather, poor conditions due to potholes or loose gravel, a lack of road maintenance, or spills and loose cargo from other cars and trucks.

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