If you or your loved one got injured because of a truck accident, then Cellino Law has a Rochester truck accident lawyer ready to help in filing for a compensation claim from the driver of the truck, the trucking company, or even both. We will also help you identify any other possible defendants who could be held liable for your injury. If a truck driver is negligent, then they can be held responsible. You prove that a truck driver was negligent by showing the rule they broke or acted in a way that a reasonable CDL driver would not have.
You can also file a claim against trucking companies basing on their negligence of their employees, who are considered to be acting on their behalf. If there was a policy on safety that the company failed to implement or enforce, e.g. conducting thorough checks on the driving records of the driver before hiring them, then the company can be considered negligent.
This means the company becomes liable for the injuries you got. These trucking companies usually have insurance with large limits, and this means they are in a better position when it comes to paying out the claims. Our personal injury attorneys in Rochester will help in deciding the best option for your case.
Table of Contents
Are Truck Accidents Claims Different from Car Accidents?
Crashes involving trucks tend to be way more complicated than passenger car crashes. This is why it is important for the victim to talk about a truck accident lawyer who has experience dealing with similar cases. Why are truck accidents more complicated?
- The average truck is bigger and weighs more. When loaded, it can weigh more than 80,000 pounds and up to 10,000 pounds when empty. This is why truck accidents tend to be worse, and there is a lot of physical evidence that needs evaluation after the accident.
- Truck drivers have employers to back them up. They have a legal team and investigators who will be looking at protecting their drivers and the company from any consequences from the accident.
- The operation of trucks will involve more than one party when hauling cargo in New York, and the liability of the accident might have to be shared between two or more parties.
- When investigating truck wrecks, it is important to have a good understanding of the regulations that cover the entire trucking industry, and this includes records and reports that have to be maintained by both the companies and drivers.
When you work with us, our team of Rochester, NY, lawyers at Cellino Law, we will get started with the process fast and ensure the relevant records and evidence are not tampered with. We are going to get a court order that gives us access to those documents including the wreckage. We will also ask the company to give us the Event Data Recorder (EDR) or “black box”. This has information on the operations of the truck before the accident. We will also get access to information such as dashboard video systems.
We will also interview the employees of the trucking companies and any other third party, which will help us get more information about the actions that contributed a hand in the accident.
Truck accidents can be complex, and in some situations we are going to get the help of accident reconstruction consultants and forensic specialists who will help in determining how and why the accident happened. These specialists are going to come up with comprehensive reports that are based on physics and engineering. They will also help in providing CGI animation and witness testimony that will give the court a better picture of what happened.
What Are Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Rochester, NY?
There are factors with put into consideration when investigating a truck accident. Some of these factors are:
Negligence by the Truck Driver
Commercial truck accidents and car accidents are the same, it is usually caused by something that the driver did wrong or failed to do. There are truck drivers who end up causing accidents because they were doing an illegal or unsafe maneuver like doing an improper lane change, running the stop sign, or not yielding the right of way. It can be even a driver not looking long enough or closely before making a turn.
Some of the common acts of truck driver negligence are;
This is the leading cause of truck accidents, and this is according to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), the body responsible for the regulation of the trucking industry. Driving too fast makes it hard to stop in conditions such as inclement weather and congested traffic. The driver will not be able to slow down the truck enough to avoid an accident. When speeding is combined with tailgating, it results in rear-end collisions that involve trucks.
This is referred to as “distraction/inattention” by FMCSA and it is the number two reason for truck accidents. Distracted driving like texting while on the wheel has is a serious problem. Although there have been regulations put in place to deal with the problem and the dangers of texting and driving documented, the problem is still there. Inattention is when a person is daydreaming or thinking about anything, and this makes the driver neglect the operation of the car, and this can cause an accident.
Drowsy or Fatigued Driving
This is one of the side effects of driving for long without resting. Doing this is a violation of the FMCSA Hours of Service Laws. There are instances where the driver is the one who decided to drive for long hours, while sometimes the driver has been directed by the employer to be on the road to meet their deadlines. This makes it hard for them to take breaks.
this has become more common in truck drivers compared to drunk driving because drivers have to go through strict tests for alcohol consumption. There are many truck drivers involved in accidents who have been found to be under the influence of amphetamines, cocaine, and meth. They use these substances to keep awake and drive for long hours. There are some truckers who use over-the-counter or prescription drugs that have effects such as drowsiness or impairing their ability to drive, and some don’t even know. While it is rare, there have been cases of drunk driving by truck drivers.
When there is a truck jackknife (this is when the trailer and cab of the truck look like a folding knife because of sliding) or rollover accident, investigators are going to start by determining whether the cargo shift might have caused the accident. If cargo is not loaded properly or secured well, it can move around and even break free, which leads to a change n the center of gravity of the truck. This can cause a rollover, or jackknife accident because the truck loses its control, and ends up crashing.
When the shifting cargo breaks free or spills, it can pose a risk to other motorists because they can get hit by the falling cargo or swerve the car attempting to avoid hitting the truck and ends up being a crash. Hazardous materials spills can cause a lot of damage, including fouling waterways and personal injury.
Although factors related to the truck are way less compared to human error, they can occur. Accidents can happen when there is a failure of brake systems, tires, power trains, wheels, lighting, coupling systems, etc. There was a study in 2010 that was cited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that showed that more than half of trucks involved with the accident had mechanical problems that violated regulations by FMCSA, and more than 30% had a condition that should have had the truck off the road. Accidents can be caused by tucks when there are faulty manufacturing of parts or systems, or when the maintenance needs are ignored.
When there is a lack of maintenance of a road, or the design of the road is faulty, it can result in an accident. If there are trees or vegetation on an intersection obscuring the view or a pothole that causes the driver to lose control. The government and local contractors responsible for that road can be held liable for the crash.
Faulty Work Zones
When contractors are working on constructions or maintenance of a roadway, there are design protocols they have to follow, like offering motorists warning and time to slow down, and also ample space between traffic and workers. They should also have barriers in place. Some of the things that need to be put into consideration when setting up a work zone include the time it takes for trucks to slow down, anticipated traffic congestion, speeds on the highway, etc.
A personal injury case can be pursued to seek compensation from the trucking company, the driver of the truck, and/or a third party like a contractor who loaded the cargo, the government, the manufacturer, or distributor of the defective truck parts.
With Cellino Law, you will be getting a team of experienced and skilled truck accident lawyers to help with your investigation into the accident and help in identifying the parties liable.
What Are Common Truck Accident Injuries?
You cannot compare a car and truck on size and weight. A loaded semi-truck can weigh over 80,000 pounds, and a car will weigh about 3,000. This is why in accidents involving a car and a truck, the occupant of the car are the ones who usually sustain severe injuries, and they sometimes become fatal. Since the can result in severe injuries, truck companies have been forced by law to get insurance policies that have high policy limits.
Over the years, Cellino Law’s car accident lawyers in Rochester have represented truck accident victims who sustained serious injuries like:
- Head injuries, including concussions
- Traumatic bleeding and brain injury
- Burns from explosions
- Spinal cord damage and back injuries
- Emotional trauma
- Facial injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Loss of limbs and amputations
People who suffered from these types of injuries have to get extensive treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care. Our attorneys will do everything possible to make sure you and your family get the maximum compensation that is going to cover your injuries and any damages you might have suffered as a result of the accident.
The Upsurge of Truck Accidents in New York
There was a report by the New York Times that showed more people are going to die in traffic accidents that involve trucks this year than all of the deaths that have happened because of domestic airline crashes in the last 45 years. The FMCSA did a review of trucking accidents and found that in 2013 alone, 98,000 people were injured or killed by large trucks. In New York, the Department of Motor Vehicles reported that more than 5,000 people were injured or killed by large trucks in New York, in 2014 alone.
Facts on Large Truck Accidents
Accidents that involve large commercial trucks are responsible for more than 130,000 injuries and over 5,000 deaths every year in the US. More than a third of the injuries can be defined as being severe. Tractor-trailers or big rigs weighing more than 10,000 pounds is just 3% of motor vehicles registered, but they are responsible for 25% of fatal vehicle crashes.
This is because of their size and weight. With its weight of 80,000 pounds when loaded, a truck becomes more than 20 times the weight of the normal passenger car, which weighs at three or four thousand pounds. The tractor-trailers or big rigs are very powerful, and when they are involved in an accident, they strike the other cars with a force of 20 cars.
Statistics on U.S Trucking Accidents
From data released by The US Department of Transportation, 121 fatalities in crashes involved trucks in 2017. In 2016, the number was 106, which means there was an increase in the number of fatalities. The year that had the highest number was 155 in 2017, with 2014 being the least with only 98 fatalities. 841 of these fatalities were inside the large trucks.
The number of fatal crashes that involved commercial trucks, the LTBCF reported that there were 112 fatalities in New York in 2017, and this was an increase of 12 fatalities from the previous year, which saw 100 fatalities, but this was less by one compared to 2015. The same years had the highest and lowest totals, with 137 crashes in 2007 being the highest while 91 crashes in 2014 was the lowest number.
There were 69 crashes that involve large trucks in multi-vehicle crashes in New York in 2017. This year also saw 42 single-vehicle fatal accidents involving large trucks. In 2017, New York has a population of 19,849,399, which means that there was a rate of 5.64 fatal accidents that involve commercial trucks for every one million people. This rate is a little lower than the 5.73 it was in 2010.
Some states had a high number of fatal accident rates in 2017. Some of the highest are Wyoming (29.35), Mississippi (31.71), and Oklahoma (30.53). The states that had the lowest rates were District of Colombia (0.00), Massachusetts (3.94), and Hawaii (4.20).
The report by LTBCF for 2017 showed that there were 4.889 large commercial trucks and busses involved in fatal accidents, and this had increased by 9% from the previous year. While the numbers for 2017 were lower by 7% from the 2005 peak of 5,231, it was still 42% higher than the lowest number of 3.432 in 2009.
The most recent data show a total of 119,000 accidents that involved trucks and busses in 2016, 180,000 people injured as a result of bus and truck accidents, with 125,000 buses and large trucks being involved in accidents. This year also saw a total of 418,000 PDO (Property Damage Only) that involved trucks and buses, while there was a total of 443,000 trucks or large buses involved in PDO accidents.
The report from IIHS for the year 2017 showed there were 2,797 deaths from accidents that involved large trucks, with car occupants accounting for 68% of the deaths, while large truck occupants accounted for 17% (683). Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists accounted for 14% of the deaths. This report also showed that 97% of fatalities in truck accidents involving two vehicles were the car occupants. 74% of the deaths were those involved with tractor-trailers, 25% were single units, and the rest unknown.
The report from IIHS showed 32% of the fatalities in accidents involving large trucks were in freeways and interstates, 52% were on major roads, and 15% occurred on minor roads.
Federal Regulations on Large Trucks
Tractor-trailers are usually more powerful and large and pose more danger to motorists, the government has put in place strict regulations that operators and trucks have to stick to. The load limit for a truck is 80,000 pounds, and there is also a limit on the number of hours a truck driver can do consecutively and, in a day, and week. Truck owners have to do regular maintenance checks on the trucks on a regular basis and make repairs if there is a problem with the truck. These regulations are there to protect the truck driver and other road users.
The unfortunate thing is there are many trucking companies that are not adhering to the rules, and they encourage their drivers to circumvent the regulations so they can beat their deadlines and maximize their profits. Some illegal practices are;
- Overloading the trailers
- Driving for more hours than allowed by law
- Driving in dangerous weather
- Driving while fatigued
- Not taking the required breaks
What Steps Do You Need to Take After Being Involved In A Truck Accident?
If you or your loved one has been in an accident involving a large truck or commercial vehicle, there are some things you need to do to make sure you and your claim for compensation or suit are protected.
Calling 911 to report
If you have been in a truck accident, it is important to let the police known about the accident, whether you have sustained injuries or not. This ensures an official report is made, and this will prove to be important when you start the process of pursuing your compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. When you call 911, the police and emergency responded are going to come to the scene of the accident.
Seeking Medical Care
Trucking accidents will end up leaving the victims severely injured. This is why it is a good idea to let a paramedic check you, or you can visit the emergency room after the crash. A full body examination is going to be done because there might be injuries that might not be visible at the time, e.g. internal injuries and brain injuries.
Documenting the Accident Scene
If possible, take photos and videos of the accident scene. This will help in documenting the damages to your vehicles and surrounding property. It can also help in documenting any injuries you might have sustained.
Exchanging contact information
You should ask the truck driver for their name and contact details, and also the name and contact information of their employer. It is also important to get insurance information. You should also provide them with your details too.
Seeking witness information
If there were any witnesses at the time of the crash or if a person stopped to help, then you should also get their contact information. The lawyer is going to contact them for their statements.
Notifying the insurance company
You should let the insurance know as soon as possible. Make sure they know that it was a truck accident.
Contacting a Truck Accident Lawyer
If you were involved in an accident in New York, then it is best you talk to an experienced lawyer handling such type of cases. A Rochester truck accident lawyer will be able to help you with your case.
How Can A Rochester Truck Accident Lawyer Help My Claim?
There are over 5,000 people losing their lives every year in New York because of accidents involving large trucks, and this is according to DMV. The crashes involving trucks are serious because of their weight and size, and this is why the damage they leave is greater when compared to damage by small cars. If you were injured in a truck accident, then a lawyer will help in pursuing compensation for damages. Some of them include;
- Medicals bills, current, and future, as a result of the injuries sustained from the truck accident
- Pain and suffering, which includes mental anguish and emotional distress
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Home and vehicle modifications, including wheelchair ramps and lifts
- Permanent disability, property loss or damage, and injury
- Loss of income or career, including loss of earnings from time off work
What Damages Can I Receive For A Truck Accident In Rochester?
This is going to depend on your situation. The two types of damages a person can pursue are punitive and compensatory. There is a good chance you are going to pursue compensatory damages, which intends the responsible party pay for costs you have incurred because of the accident. This will involve tangle things like medical bills, lost earning, and intangibles like pain and suffering.
If you lose a loved one or they get extreme injuries, you can pursue punitive damages. These damages are there to punish the party responsible for the negligent or reckless actions, and this is why they are not included in most suits.
If An Intoxicated Driver Causes An Accident Are They Held Liable Or Their Employer?
A truck driver is not allowed to drive when they have a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or more. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident where the driver was drunk, the driver and the company that hired them are going to be liable for the damages and injuries sustained from the truck accident.
Who Is Responsible For A Truck Accident Caused By A Part Malfunction?
Depending on the circumstances, the driver, the owner of the truck, and the company they work for could be held liable. If the truck owner or employer company failed in inspecting the car correctly, they could be held liable. If there were defects with the tires, the manufacturer can be held liable for the damages.
Should I Talk To An Insurance Provider Without Legal Representation?
The best way of communicating with the other insurance companies is when letting them know you have representation. You should let your attorney know that the insurance company is trying to contact you. You should never sign anything without having a lawyer by your side because you might end up limiting what you can get as compensation. The lawyer will be the one communicating with the insurance company on your behalf.
What Cellino Law’s Rochester Truck Accident Attorneys Can Do for You
Cellino Law has a team of lawyers who have a lot of experience dealing with truck accident cases. Our Rochester injury firm will build a strong case by uncovering the necessary evidence. We will interview witnesses, photograph the scene, getting video surveillance of the accident, and working with experts to reconstruct the accident scene.
There are some documents that need to be obtained, and this includes Log Books Time Card, driver’s Trip Sheet, and Route Schedule, along with the logs, manifests, and other documents prepared by or on behalf of the driver in the last 30 days before the accident.
We are going to get inspection reports, and this includes inspection reports of the truck involved in the accident, inspection report on the day the accident happened, and the checklist of the truck after the incident. Our team of lawyers has the skills and knowledge needed to identify the documents that will help with the case in an effective manner.
Injuries from truck accidents can have a devasting impact on the life of the person involved, and this is why they are entitled to financial compensation. You should not be bearing the burden of someone else’s negligence or recklessness in a truck accident when you were not even at fault. A personal injury lawsuit can help in getting the financial assistance needed for paying medical bills, damages, and lost earnings.