If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Cellino Law has the Manhattan truck accident lawyers that can help you get everything you deserve. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may be able to file a claim against the driver of the truck, the company operating it, or other defendants who might share liability for your injuries.
You can file a claim against a truck driver when their negligence was the cause of your accident and injuries. A claim like this hinges on proving that the driver was negligent, breaking rules or acting in a way that a responsible driver wouldn’t.
You can seek compensation from trucking companies after a truck accident because their drivers can be considered employees acting on their behalf. The company’s share of the blame may be greater if it failed to correctly implement or enforce reasonable safety policies. If the company did not conduct a proper check of the driver’s safety record before hiring them, for example, then their negligence contributed to the accident.
Company negligence makes the trucking firm liable for your injuries and damages. Most trucking companies carry high-limit insurance, putting them in a favorable position when it comes to handling injury claims. Trust our personal injury attorneys in Manhattan to analyze the specifics of your case and chart out the best path for you.
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What Makes Truck Accident And Car Accident Claims Different?
As a general rule, auto accidents that involve cargo trucks are much more complex than those involving privately-owned cars. These complexities make it even more important for you to seek counsel from an experienced lawyer if you’ve been involved in such an accident. All of the following factors make truck accidents more complex:
Trucks are larger and heavier than passenger vehicles. An empty tractor-trailer weighs roughly 10,000 pounds; when loaded, a truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or even more. Larger vehicles mean more complex and severe damage.
Trucks are usually owned by large corporations with extensive defense resources. A freight company will have experienced lawyers and even accident investigators standing by to defend the company and the driver.
Under the laws in Manhattan, NY, operating a truck usually involves multiple parties. This means that liability for an accident will likely be shared by one or more entities.
Legal cases related to truck accidents include a large body of laws and regulations that do not apply to passenger vehicle accidents. For example, there will be extensive documentation maintained by drivers and owners, all of which will need to be reviewed in a truck accident lawsuit.
If you choose to employ the Cellino Law team, we will leap into action to secure the documentation you need and protect it from tampering. We will seek court orders to gain access to every relevant piece of evidence, including accident wreckage. We will contact the trucking company seeking as much recorded data from the truck as possible. Most trucks have an Event Data Recorder (EDR), which functions similarly to an airplane’s “black box” in documenting accidents. If the truck was equipped with video cameras, we will also secure their footage.
Our truck accident team will collect comprehensive statements from everyone involved in the accident, including company employees and any relevant third parties. We want to gather as much information as possible that may clarify exactly how the accident happened and who should be held accountable.
For particularly complex accidents, we will bring accident reconstruction experts and forensic specialists into the team to ensure we have an accurate understanding of the accident. Professionals like these will model the accident with advanced tools and all the available data. They may also provide testimony and animated reconstructions if your case ends up going to court.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Many different elements can cause or contribute to a truck accident. Examples include:
Despite all the added complexities, commercial truck accidents are like car accidents in that driver error is often to blame. Many truck accidents come down to the truck driver doing something wrong or failing to do something right. Improper driver behavior like changing lanes incorrectly, ignoring signals, or failing to yield can cause serious accidents. A driver may even be negligent by failing to maintain proper awareness of the road around him. The following behaviors are all examples of driver negligence:
According to data collected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), speeding is the number one cause of truck accidents. (The FMCSA is the regulatory body governing the trucking industry across the nation.) Speeding may make it impossible to stop a commercial truck safely in heavy traffic or inclement weather. Speeding combined with tailgating is a perfect recipe for rear-end truck collisions.
The FMCSA’s technical term for this is “distraction/inattention.” This is the second most common cause of truck accidents. The use of electronic devices, including but not limited to cell phones, is a serious danger for commercial drivers as well as private ones. Although the problem is well-documented and regulations have been put in place to discourage distractions, distracted driving still happens. Truck drivers are also susceptible to simply failing to pay attention — a condition sometimes referred to as “highway hypnosis.”
Driving for too long without rest has a serious adverse effect on a truck driver’s safety decisions. This is why the FMCSA imposes strict Hours of Service, but some drivers still push themselves beyond their limits. Drivers can take to the road while fatigued on their own initiative, or they may be ordered to (directly or indirectly) by their employers.
Driving Under The Influence
Commercial drivers are tested frequently for alcohol use. But drugged driving is a problem for truck drivers as well. Many drivers involved in accidents end up testing positive for illegal stimulants, including meth, cocaine, and amphetamines. Drivers may also be driving in an impaired state without even knowing it due to the effects of prescription medication or over-the-counter drugs. And there are a small number of truck accidents that involve drunken truck drivers.
Elements outside of driver negligence that can contribute to a truck accident include:
Certain forms of truck motion, typically rollover and jackknife, force investigators to examine how securely the truck’s cargo was packed. (Jackknife is a condition where the cab and trailer of a semi-truck turn in toward each other, mirroring the motion of a folding knife.) Cargo that is improperly secured or improperly placed can alter the truck’s center of gravity, particularly if it breaks loose and starts to move freely. Changes in the load can make it impossible for the driver to control the vehicle, resulting in a crash.
Loose cargo that leaves a truck can pose a serious danger to other vehicles on the road. They may be hit by falling items or get into an accident while attempting to avoid the cargo. Trucks carrying hazardous materials may cause serious injury to individuals or the environment (e.g. contaminating a waterway).
Equipment breakdowns are much less common than human error, but they do happen, and they can cause truck accidents. Trucks are complicated vehicles and many forms of failure can lead to accidents. Failures in the tires, brakes, lighting systems, coupling systems, and more may all pose a serious danger. Equipment problems often contribute indirectly to accidents.
According to a 2010 study cited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than half of the trucks involved in accidents have mechanical problems that violate FMCSA safety regulations. Over 30 percent of the trucks involved in accidents had problems severe enough that by regulation, they should not have been on the road. Besides breakdowns caused by insufficient maintenance, vehicle failure may also be caused by defective parts or manufacturing errors.
A road that is improperly designed or poorly maintained may contribute to or even cause a truck accident. Irregularities in the road surface (like potholes) can cause a loss of control; overgrown vegetation can obscure a driver’s view or conceal important signage. In an accident caused by poor road conditions, liability may lie with the government body or subcontractor responsible for maintaining the road.
Unsafe Road Work
The contractors that maintain and repair roads have very strict safety protocols to follow. Drivers have to be warned of the presence of construction and/or workers and given sufficient time and space to slow down. Traffic and workers need to be separated by a safe distance and appropriate barriers. The safety measures protecting vehicles and road workers need to take into account the needs of commercial trucks as well as passenger vehicles. If safety protocols were not followed properly and caused a truck accident, the contractor may be liable.
Compensation for injuries caused in a truck accident can be pursued with a case brought against a range of different parties. The specific truck driver and the company operating the truck are both likely candidates. Third parties may also be brought in by the specifics of the case. Examples include a government that failed to maintain a road, a manufacturer who produced defective truck parts, or a contractor that loaded a truck’s cargo improperly.
The Cellino Law team includes many skilled and experienced truck accident lawyers. They will take the lead in identifying the liable parties in your accident and directing your efforts toward the right defendants.
Injuries Caused By Truck Accidents
Trucks are, obviously, in a completely different class than passenger vehicles. Where an average passenger car weighs roughly 3,000 pounds, a loaded truck and trailer can weigh well over 80,000. This simple fact is why injuries in truck accidents tend to be more severe when the victims are in a smaller vehicle. Fatalities are all too common in truck accidents. The high average severity of truck accident injuries is why freight companies are legally required to have high-limit insurance coverage on their trucks.
Cellino Law has represented clients suffering a range of different truck accident injuries. Examples include:
- Burns from fires and explosions
- Severe bleeding
- Head injuries, e.g. concussion
- Brain injury
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
- Loss of limb or amputation
- Emotional trauma
- Facial injury
Injuries like these can easily be severe enough to require first-rate medical treatment, long-term therapy, and rehabilitation work. Our Manhattan car accident lawyers will fight to ensure that you and your family recover as much compensation as possible so that all of your expenses are covered.
Federal Laws That Apply To Commercial Trucks
Because of their size, weight, and power, tractor-trailers are a significant source of risk on the road. This is why the federal government imposes strict rules on how trucks are to be operated. Trucks on public roads cannot carry more than 80,0000 pounds of cargo. The number of hours a commercial driver can spend behind the wheel is limited; drivers have consecutive, daily, and weekly limits. The owner of a commercial truck needs to repair mechanical problems as soon as they are detected, and the law also mandates very frequent maintenance checks. The goal of these laws is to protect everyone on the road, including truck drivers.
Unfortunately, many freight companies seek to enhance their profits by turning a blind eye to safety regulations. Some companies even encourage their drivers to break the law. Illegal practices that are unfortunately common in the trucking industry include:
- Exceeding cargo limits
- Driving through dangerous weather conditions
- Ignoring legal limits on driving time
- Skipping legally-mandated breaks
- Driving while fatigued
What To Do After A Truck Accident
When you are involved in an accident that includes a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle, following a few commonsense rules will protect your legal rights and keep your options for seeking compensation wide open. Do the following:
Report The Accident By Calling 911
The police must be notified of any truck accident, regardless of whether or not any damage or injury has been inflicted. A call to 911 will produce an official report on the accident, and that documentation may become vitally important if you get involved in an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Calling 911 will ensure police officers and first responders come to the scene of the accident.
Seek Medical Attention
Although truck accidents often cause severe injuries, you may not be aware that you are injured in the immediate aftermath. Make sure you are checked by a paramedic at the scene; you may also want to get examined at an emergency room. Medical examinations need to be thorough to detect insidious injuries like brain trauma or internal bleeding.
Document The Scene Of The Accident
If you are capable and can do so safely, take photos and videos of the accident scene. First-hand documentation can do a great deal to verify damage sustained to vehicles and property and any injuries.
Exchange Contact Information
Ask the truck driver for his name and personal contact information, as well as the contact information of his employer. Collect insurance information, too. Do not hesitate to provide your own information.
Seek Out Witnesses
Try to get contact details for anyone who saw the accident. Get information for people who stopped to help, too. Your lawyer will want to be able to reach every witness and take his or her statement.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Call your insurer as soon as possible to notify them of the accident. Emphasize that a truck was involved.
Seek Legal Representation
Truck accidents are complicated enough that retaining an experienced Manhattan truck accident lawyer is virtually a necessity. A trustworthy attorney will shield your rights and help you pursue fair compensation.
Why Do You Need A Manhattan Truck Accident Attorney?
Every year in New York, DMV records show that more than 5,000 people die in road accidents that involve commercial trucks. The weight and size of trucks lead to more frequent and more severe injuries when they get into accidents, particularly those involving smaller vehicles. Truck accidents can do far more damage than those that involve only passenger vehicles. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you need an experienced lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve. Common damages incurred by truck accidents include:
- Medical bills past and future to treat injuries sustained in the accident
- Costs of physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Home and vehicle modifications required to accommodate accident injuries
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress and mental anguish
- Damage or loss of property (e.g. vehicles)
- Permanent disability
- Loss of income, including time off work and loss of future earnings
How Much Can I Recover Through A Truck Accident Injury Claim?
The total amount of recoverable compensation depends entirely on the circumstances of your specific accident. Under New York law, you can pursue two types of damages: punitive and compensatory. Compensatory damages cover the costs you’re forced to pay by the accident. This includes easily-defined expenses like medical bills, but also more open-ended costs like lost earnings and intangible damages like pain and suffering.
Punitive damages are available when you or a loved one suffer extreme injuries or death. Punitive damages aim to discourage the sort of negligence and recklessness that led to the accident; most personal injury suits do not include punitive damages.
Who’s Responsible If A Truck Driver Causes An Accident While Drunk, The Driver Or The Company?
Truck drivers are breaking the law if they drive with a blood alcohol content equal to or greater than 0.04 percent. When the truck driver involved in an accident was above the legal limit for alcohol, both the driver and the company that hired him can be held liable for the accident’s damages and injuries.
I Was Injured In A Truck Accident Caused By Mechanical Failure. Who’s Responsible, The Driver Or The Owner?
In a situation like this, many parties could be held liable for the accident individually or in combination. The driver may be held responsible for failing to react appropriately. The owner or operator of the truck may be responsible for failing to maintain it properly. The manufacturer of defective parts may even be held liable for damages incurred when they fail. (This is particularly common with tires.)
How Should I React If The Trucking Company’s Insurer Attempts To Contact Me?
By far, the safest way to communicate with insurance companies other than your own after an accident is through an attorney. Tell the insurer that you have representation, and then let your lawyer know about the attempted contact. Never sign documents provided by someone else’s insurance company without having a lawyer review them — you may be signing away your right to pursue fair compensation. Let your attorney talk to insurers for you.
The Benefits Of Having The Cellino Law Legal Team On Your Side
The attorneys on the Cellino Law team have amassed considerable experience representing clients who have been injured in truck accidents. If you hire us to represent you, we will build the strongest possible case for you by collecting all the evidence. We will have the scene of the accident investigated, interview witnesses, seek out video surveillance of the accident, and even hire expert consultants to reconstruct the event.
We will secure all relevant documentation from the trucking company and the driver involved, including time cards, logbooks, trip sheets, route schedules, manifests, and more. We will aim to collect every possible piece of documentation created in the 30 days before the accident. We will recover all of the truck’s maintenance records and all reports generated on the truck’s condition after the accident. Our Manhattan injury law firm is thoroughly familiar with truck accident cases and know exactly which documents are going to help your case.
Truck accidents can have a devastating effect on their victims, and they deserve compensation for the injuries and losses they suffer. When you get into a truck accident that was not your fault, there is no reason for you to bear the burden of another party’s recklessness or negligence. You need financial support to deal with damages, pain, suffering, medical bills, and lost earnings. A good personal injury lawsuit can help you get that support, and Cellino Law would be proud to help you build one.