If you or someone that you care for has been injured as a result of a truck accident, contact the Long Island truck accident lawyers at Cellino Law. They are ready to help you file for compensation from the driver of the truck, the company that they work for, or both.
We will work with you to identify any other defendants who may be held liable for the injury that you incurred. If a truck driver is found to have been negligent, then they can be held responsible for your injuries. You can prove that a truck driver was negligent if you can show that they broke traffic rules, or acted in a way that a reasonable driver would not have.
You have the option of filing against a trucking company because of the negligence of their employees who are when at work considered to be acting on behalf of the company they work for. If there is a safety policy that the company failed to enforce, for example, if the company failed to check the driving records of a trucker before hiring them, then the company could be considered to have been negligent.
This makes the company liable for the injuries that you suffered from. Trucking companies typically have insurance policies with large limits, so they are well-positioned to pay out on insurance claims. The Long Island personal injury firm of Cellino law will help you to decide who it is best to claim against.
Table of Contents
How is a Truck Accident Claim Different From a Car Accident?
Accidents that involve trucks are often more complicated than an accident involving cars, which is why it is so important to talk to a truck accident lawyer that has experience in dealing with those cases. There are a few things that make truck accidents more complicated:
Trucks are bigger and heavier; a fully loaded truck can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs, and even when empty a truck can weigh 10,000 lbs. This means that truck accidents tend to be far worse, and there is a lot of physical evidence requiring evaluation following an accident.
Truck drivers have employers ready to protect them, and a legal team, as well as investigators, whose goal is to protect the company from any consequences of an accident.
Trucking operations typically involve more than one party, so the liability of an accident in New York could be shared between several parties involved with the cargo-hauling operation.
There are many regulations associated with the trucking industry, and when investigating wrecks it is important to work with someone who has an understanding of those regulations and the records and reports that must be maintained by the drivers and the companies that they work for.
If you work with Cellino Law, we will make sure that the process is started properly and that the correct records and evidence are obtained in their unadulterated form. We will get a court order that ensures we have access to unredacted documents, and the wreckage, and that we can see the Event Data Recorder, which is the truck’s ‘black box’, along with any dashboard recording systems so that we can piece together exactly what happened.
In addition, we will interview the employees of the trucking company, as well as other relevant third parties, to get an insight into anything that might have contributed to the accident.
If the accident was complex, then we will work to get the help of accident reconstruction consultants, as well as forensic experts that can put together the puzzle and create detailed reports using engineering and physics. These reports can include CGI animations that show the accident, and, when combined with witness testimony can help to give the courts a better understanding of exactly what happened.
Identifying the Cause of the Accident
There are so many factors that could cause a truck accident that it is easy to overlook potential causes. Some factors that will be factored when determining liability include:
In this respect, car accidents and commercial truck accidents are similar. Accidents are often caused by a driver doing something wrong or failing to take action. Truck drivers may cause an accident by performing an illegal or unsafe maneuver such as making a lane change in the wrong place, failing to yield right of way, or running a stop sign. A driver who does not look in his rearview mirror before turning could also cause an accident.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), speeding is the leading cause of truck accidents. Driving too fast is dangerous in any vehicle, but for a truck, which can take a long time to slow down, things can be even worse, especially in areas with congested traffic, or if there is inclement weather. If speeding and tailgating take place at the same time, there is a massively increased likelihood of a rear-end collision.
Driving While Distracted
The FMCSA classes this as “distraction/inattention”, and this is the second most common cause of accidents. Things like texting while driving can greatly increase the risk of an accident. Truck drivers spend a lot of time on the roads, and often become distracted, even if they do not get out their phones. Simply daydreaming and not paying attention to the roads can be enough to cause an accident.
Driving While Fatigued
The FMCSA sets hours of service laws that are intended to make sure that truck drivers get enough rest. If a driver tries to stay on the roads when they are very tired, perhaps because they have a deadline to meet, then they are increasing the risk of an accident.
Drugged Under the Influence
Alcohol testing for truck drivers is very common now, so it is rare for a motorist to drive while under the influence of alcohol. Truck drivers are not tested for drugs as often as they are tested for alcohol, however, so the use of drugs – recreational drugs and over-the-counter or prescription medications alike, is common. These drugs can impair judgment and reaction times, making accidents more likely since the user’s ability to drive safely is impaired.
Truck rollovers and jackknife incidents are often caused by a cargo shift, so when these happen the cargo is one of the first things that the investigators will look at. If the cargo has not been secured properly or was loaded incorrectly, then it could move around on the trailer or even break free. Excessive shifting of the cargo can change the center of gravity of the truck, which makes it harder or even impossible for the driver to keep it under control.
Another thing that can happen when the cargo shifts, is for it to spill off into the road. This can cause serious accidents, because not only does it sometimes make the truck harder to control it means any cars that are behind the truck may have to swerve to avoid being hit by falling cargo. If the materials that are spilling out into the road are hazardous, then they may cause damage in their own right. Of course, swerving cars can cause a pile-up or other incident, as other motorists are then required to try to react to the chaotic scene in front of them.
Problems with the truck itself cause fewer accidents than human error, but they are not unheard of. An accident can happen if the brake systems, tired, lighting, coupling system, wheels or power train fails. According to one study published in 2010, more than half of all trucks involved in an accident had a mechanical issue that was in violation of FMCSA regulations. Almost one third had conditions which meant the truck was not road worthy. If a truck is not maintained properly or if it has faulty parts or systems, then there is a greatly increased risk of accidents.
Poor Road Conditions
Roads that are baldy designed or badly maintained can increase the risk of accidents. Potholes, overgrowth of trees or vegetation, or poor views at intersections are all things that could be cited as having led to an accident. In those cases, the local government or the contractors that were responsible for maintaining that area could be considered liable for the traffic accident.
Faulty Work Zone Designs
If contractors are working on a roadway, they should follow protocols to keep the area around them safe so that their workers are protected and so are the road users. Motorists should be given enough time to slow down, and there should be sufficient space between the workers and any traffic passing by. Barriers should be put in place to facilitate this, and there should be consideration given for the fact that there may be congestion, and that trucks need more time to slow down than smaller vehicles.
When someone is seeking personal injury compensation as a result of a truck accident, they have the option of pursuing the driver of the truck, the company they work for, the contractor that loaded the cargo, the manufacturer or distributor of any defective truck parts that may have caused the accident, the government, or any other third parties that may have been somehow responsible.
Cellino Law has a team of attorneys that have experience in dealing with truck accidents, investigating incidents, and identifying liable parties.
Injuries Commonly Caused by Truck Accidents
Trucks and cars cannot be compared when it comes to their size and weight. In an accident that involves a car and a truck, it is almost always the occupant of the car that sustains the most severe injuries. Because of the huge potential for causing damage that trucks have, truck companies are required by law to have insurance policies with very high limits.
Cellino Law has represented numerous truck accident victims and has obtained compensation for serious injuries, including:
- Head injuries such as concussion
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord damage and back injuries
- Emotional trauma, anxiety, and PTSD
- Facial disfigurement
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones, dislocations, and fractures
- Loss of limbs
Someone who suffers injury in a truck accident may require extensive medical treatment, long term care, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Our attorneys will work to make sure that you get the compensation that will allow you to cover the cost of injuries and any damages that the accident may have caused.
Large Truck Regulations
Tractor-trailers are large, powerful, and resent a danger to other motorists. Because of this, there are regulations in place at a federal level that trucks are required to adhere to. The legal load limit for trucks is 80,000, and there are limits on the number of hours that a truck driver can spend on the road without a break, as well as daily hours limits, and limits for a weeklong period. Truck owners are required to perform regular maintenance checks on their vehicles, and to repair their vehicle if there is a problem with it.
Trucking companies do not always follow the regulations. It is common for companies to order drivers to stick to deadlines, even if they are overdue for a break or if the deadlines are simply unrealistic. The pressure that drivers are under can cause them to use illegal practices such as overloading their trailers, breaking speed limits, driving when fatigued or for longer than they are allowed to drive by law, and driving during dangerous weather.
What Should You do if You’re Hurt in a Truck Accident?
If you are involved in a truck accident, the first thing that you should do is get to safety by the side of the road, assuming you are able to move.
Contact Emergency Responders
It is important that the police know about the accident, whether you have suffered from an injury or not. Making an official report will start the process of pursuing a compensation claim via insurance or via a personal injury lawsuit. the police and emergency responders will attend the scene of the accident.
Seek Medical Advice
It is common for trucking accidents to lead to serious injuries, so it is a good idea to let a paramedic examine you. Even if you do not think that you have been seriously injured, shock and adrenaline can mask internal injuries. The side-effects of a concussion or other brain injury may not be immediately apparent either.
Documenting the Scene of the Accident
If you are able to do so, take photos and video footage of the scene of the accident, and of yourself if you have suffered any injuries. These photos can be used to document the damage to your vehicle and to show your injuries.
Exchange Contact Information
You should ask the truck driver, and the driver of any other vehicles involved, for their name and contact information. You should also ask for the contact information of their employer, and get their insurance information. Provide your details to the other driver.
If there are any witnesses at the scene, or if someone stops to help, get their information as well. The lawyer will get in touch with them at a later date to get a statement that could help your case.
Notify Your Insurance Company
As soon as you feel up to it, contact the insurance company. Make it clear that this was a truck accident, not a car accident.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
If the accident was in New York, then call a Long Island personal injury lawyer so that they can help you with your case. Truck accidents are not the same as car accidents, so it is a good idea to get a lawyer who has a lot of experience in dealing with this kind of accident.
Why Should You Work With a Long Island Truck Accident Lawyer?
More than 5,000 people lose their lives each year in New York because of truck accidents, according to DMV figures. Crashes that involve trucks are more serious than car accidents because of the sheer size and weight of a truck. If you are involved in a truck accident, working with a lawyer in Long Island, NY, that has experience in dealing with this kind of accident can help you to pursue the compensation you are entitled to for damages, including:
- Medical expenses both for the immediate injury and any long-term disability
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress and mental anguish
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Modifications to your home and vehicle required because of injuries that you have sustained
- Property loss or damage
- Permanent disability
- Loss of income or career, be that short term loss of earnings, or long term disability
How Much Can You Receive in a Truck Accident Claim?
The amount of compensation you are entitled to after a truck accident depends on your personal circumstances. There are two kinds of damages – punitive and compensatory. Most people will pursue compensatory damages, which are intended to cover medical costs and other costs directly incurred because of the accident. If someone suffers extremely bad injuries, or if you are claiming because a loved one died in a truck accident, then there is the option of suing for punitive damages. This type of claim is intended to punish the responsible party for their negligent or reckless behavior, and this is harder to prove, which is why such claims are less common.
If a Truck Driver was Intoxicated at the Time of the Accident, Who will be Held Liable?
It is against the law for someone to drive a truck when they have a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or higher. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident where the truck driver was drunk, then both the driver and the company that hired them are liable for the damages and injuries that were caused.
Who is Liable if a Malfunction Causes a Truck Accident?
Depending on the nature of the malfunction, the driver, the truck owner, or the company that the driver works for could be considered to be liable in this case. If the truck owner or the employer of the driver had failed to inspect the truck in the way that they should have, they could be liable. In some cases, it could be a third party. For example, if there were defects with the tires, the manufacturer of them could be liable for any damages.
Should I Speak With the Truck Insurance Company Before an Attorney?
If the insurance company of the other party tries to contact you, tell them that you have representation. Tell your attorney that the other insurance company has been in touch. Do not sign anything without the attorney checking it first, because you may limit what you are able to get as compensation. Your lawyer can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Review Your Truck Accident Claim With Cellino Law
Cellino Law has a team of experienced Long Island car accident lawyers who know how to handle truck accidents and can help you by collecting evidence relating to the accident. We will obtain photographs and video surveillance footage of the scene, and bring in experts who can help to reconstruct the accident.
We will obtain log books, time cards, route schedules, manifests, trip sheets, and other documents, not just for the day of the accident, but the days and weeks leading up to it, so that we can determine whether the driver was following correct working protocols.
We will also obtain inspection reports for the truck that was involved in the accident, and the checklist for the truck, making sure that the truck was properly cared for and that the company was following proper protocols. Any failures in terms of driver policies and truck maintenance can be used to indicate negligence.
Truck accidents can have a devastating impact on the life of the injured person, and financial compensation is intended to go some way towards reducing that impact and making the healing and rehabilitation process that little bit easier. Personal injury lawsuits can help people to get the financial aid that they need to cover medical bills, adapt their home, and make up for lost earnings while the injured person recovers.