Whenever you or your loved one suffers injuries following a truck accident it is essential that you contact Cellino Law. Our team of New York truck accident lawyers has the capacity to assist you with the documentation of your claim against the truck driver or company. If there are other parties to be held responsible for your injuries, we go all the way to identify them. Truck drivers who act in a negligent way should be held responsible for the injuries inflicted on the claimant. Proving their negligence requires you to prove that the driver broke a code or acted in a way that any other sensible CDL driver wouldn’t have.
In some cases, you may also file a claim against a trucking firm if the employee was negligent and therefore contributed to the accident. Such a case may arise if there was a safety policy that the company overlooked and failed to implement, including a thorough check of their drivers’ driving records before hiring. Failure to run checks may amount to negligence, and the company may be held liable.
In such cases, companies are mostly held liable for the injuries suffered by the claimant. Insurance policies for trucking companies involve high limits, which means that they are usually in a better position to settle such claims financially. Our New York personal injury attorneys will help you pick the most viable option for your case.
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Establishing the Cause of a Truck Accident
There are many factors that should be kept in mind when investigating a truck accident near New York. Some of these include:
Truck Driver’s Negligence
Commercial truck accidents and passenger car accidents have one thing in common: they result from something a driver did or failed to do. Some truck accidents or crashes result from breaking traffic rules by the driver or by driving recklessly, such as switching lanes carelessly and without indicating. Some accidents may also arise because the truck driver failed to give right of way or speeding past a stop sign. Another common cause of truck accidents is failing to drive far ahead enough when making a turn or making a turn too soon on the road.
Below are common actions that indicate truck driver negligence:
It is the main cause of truck accidents and crashes as per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the body responsible for governing the trucking sector. Speeding often makes it difficult for drivers to stop in emergencies, especially during extreme weather conditions and heavy traffic. In such conditions, truck drivers find it hard to slow down safely to prevent an accident or collision. Speeding, plus tailgating, makes a rear-end collision involving a truck very possible.
It is also referred to as “inattention or distraction” by the FMCSA and is the second top cause of truck accidents. Distracted driving may be caused by texting behind the wheel, and has proven to be a serious issue. While authorities have highlighted and documented the potential outcomes and even put regulations in place, the issue persists.
Inattention is when one is focusing on something else or daydreaming, and this easily steals the driver’s attention, which makes them cause an accident easily.
Whenever a truck driver drives for extended periods without getting sufficient or any rest, they are often vulnerable to causing accidents. Any driver who does that goes against the FMCSA Hours of Service laws. In some instances, truck drivers may be under instructions from their employees to drive more hours to beat deadlines. However, in some cases, truck drivers may opt to do more hours behind the wheel for reasons best known to them.
This negligent behavior is rampant with some truck drivers. Truck drivers are required to take alcohol tests before getting behind the wheel, and drunk driving is not as common with truck drivers. However, some cause accidents by driving under the influence of cocaine, meth, and amphetamines.
Such drivers use these substances to help them stay awake and energetic, helping them go for more hours without needing sleep or rest. Some truck drivers even take over-the-counter drugs and other prescribed drugs unaware of their side effects, causing drowsiness or impaired sight. Such cases may be rare, but those of drunk driving and driving under the influence of other substances are often reported.
In a truck jackknife situation – where the truck slides and the trailer and cab assume a folding knife – or in case the truck rolls over, the first guess for the cause of the accident would be cargo shift. When cargo is improperly loaded or poorly secured, it moves about easily and can easily break free. Such movement shifts the truck’s center of gravity, which can easily cause a jackknife or rollover accident as it loses control and ultimately crashes.
Whenever the shifting cargo breaks free, it becomes a real hazard on the road as it may end up hitting other road users or forcing other cars to swerve dangerously off the road in a bid to avoid hitting the cargo. Cargo spillage involving trucks ferrying hazardous substances such as harsh chemicals may end up causing injuries to road users and contamination of waterways.
Truck-related mechanical issues often occur, although they are not as common as human error. Coupling systems, braking systems, tires, lighting, power trains, wheels, and other systems may fail. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety carried out a study in 2010, which indicated that more than half of the trucks involved in crashes had mechanical problems that went against the FMCSA rules. 30% of these trucks also had mechanical issues that should have rendered them unroadworthy.
Where faulty or poorly manufactured parts have been used on trucks, accidents are bound to occur. This also the case where trucks are poorly maintained or go unmaintained for long durations.
Poor road conditions or faulty designs of the roads increase the chances of an accident. Trees and vegetation make it difficult to have a clear view of the other road. Potholes on the can easily cause drivers to lose control and are common accident-causing road conditions. Local or government authorities tasked with the maintenance of such roads can be held responsible for accidents.
Hazardous Work Zones
Contractors are required to observe and stick to certain codes and design protocols when constructing roads or when doing routine maintenance. For instance, they have to put clear warnings and signs on the road for motorists to see and slow down in time. They also have to maintain a safe distance between their working space and the traffic and install barriers where necessary. Contractors have to keep some considerations in mind when setting up their working zones. Some of these include the time it takes for a truck to slow down and stop completely, the density of traffic, and even speed limits on highways.
You can file a personal injury claim against the truck driver, trucking company, and any other party that contributed to the accident, such as a contractor who loaded the cargo, authorities, supplier, or the manufacturer of poor-quality truck parts.
If you wish to hire for the services of Cellino Law, you get to work with a team of proficient and seasoned truck accident lawyers who are ready to help you with the investigation into the accident and establish the parties responsible for the accident.
Common Injuries Caused By Truck Accidents
The size and weight of a truck is far much greater than that of cars. A semi-truck can weigh well over 80,000 pounds when loaded, while a car weighs about 3,000 pounds. For this reason, car occupants suffer more serious injuries than the occupants of the truck whenever an accident involving a truck occurs. In some cases, the car occupants don’t even survive the accident.
Given that truck accidents can be fatal and often result in severe injuries, government laws make it mandatory for trucking firms to have insurance policies with high policy limits. Over the years, Cellino Law has represented truck accident victims who have sustained severe injuries, including:
- Spine and back injuries
- Traumatic brain injury and bleeding
- Head injuries, including concussion
- Facial injuries
- Emotional distress
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
Victims who suffer such severe injuries require extensive treatment, rehabilitation, and may even need life-long care in some instances. Through their skills and experience, our attorneys ensure that the victims and their families receive their much-deserved compensation for the injuries suffered and other damages that came as a result of the truck accident.
Federal Regulations Concerning Large Trucks
Big trucks like tractor-trailers are more powerful and pose a greater risk to other road users. As a result, the government put in place very strict regulations that are to be followed by all truckers and operators. In terms of their weight, a truck should not exceed a load of 80,000 pounds.
Additionally, the number of hours that a truck driver can be on the road constantly in a day and week are limited. Truck owners are also obliged to schedule regular maintenance inspections for their trucks and do the necessary repairs in case of any mechanical issues. The government came up with regulations to ensure that truck drivers and other motorists are safe while on the road.
Sadly, most trucking firms blatantly flaunt these rules and pressure their drivers to violate these regulations to ensure that they stay ahead of deadlines and enjoy maximum profits. Here are some unlawful activities by truck drivers:
- Fatigued driving
- Failure to take the necessary breaks and rest
- Exceeding the allowed daily or weekly driving hours
- Driving in extreme weather conditions
- Driving overloaded trailer
Crucial Steps to Take After Being Involved in a Truck Accident
In the event that you or someone close to you is involved in an accident in New York involving a truck or a large commercial vehicle, there are various steps that you should take to make sure you remain safe and your compensation claim remains valid.
Whether you’ve suffered injuries from the truck accident or not, it is always advisable that you call the police and brief them on the accident. This way, an official report is filed, which becomes very important, especially as you begin the process of seeking compensation by filing a claim with the defendant’s insurer or a personal injury lawsuit. By contacting 911, emergency responders act fast and arrive at the accident scene promptly.
Seek Medical Attention
Truck accident victims often suffer serious injuries, which is why it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Victims should be examined or receive urgent medical care in the emergency room. Some injuries such as brain injuries and internal injuries don’t show immediately, and it is therefore important that victims get a full-body examination.
Document the Accident Scene
If you can, take pictures and videos of the accident scene. This helps in providing and preserving evidence on the extent of damage caused by the accident. It also comes in handy in documenting any injuries you have suffered.
Exchange Contact Details
Request the truck driver to provide their official name and contact information, not forgetting the name and valid contact details of their employer. It is also important to get their insurance details and give your information to the parties involved in the accident.
Get Witness Information
If there were witnesses present at the time of the accident or if there were people who came to help, you need to take their contact information. Such information comes in handy for your lawyer when they need to record their statements.
Notify the Insurance Company
Inform the insurance company that an accident occurred and that it involved a truck as early as possible.
Get in Touch With a Truck Accident Lawyer
Whenever you are involved in an accident in New York, reaching out to a proficient and experienced lawyer should always be in your cards.
How Can an Attorney Help My Truck Accident Claim?
As per DMV, over 5,000 people die every year in New York due to accidents involving large commercial trucks. Given their weight and size, any accident involving a truck often results in serious injuries. What’s more, such accidents are characterized by greater damages as compared to accidents involving smaller vehicles.
In the unfortunate event that you got injured in a truck accident, a lawyer will help you seek compensation for the damages you’ve suffered. Below are some of the damages your lawyer will help you recover:
- Medical expenses incurred now and those projected in the future as a result of the injuries suffered.
- Loss of wages and capacity to work.
- Rehabilitation and physiotherapy expenses.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional and mental distress.
- Permanent disability.
- Loss or damage to property.
- Costs of repairing vehicles and property, such as the installation of lifts and wheelchair ramps.
Who is Liable For a Truck Accident Caused by a Malfunctioning of the Truck?
It depends on the situation, and the truck driver, the trucking company, or the truck owner can be held liable for the accident. The truck owner can be held liable if they didn’t check their vehicle for any mechanical issues. If the truck’s tires are defective, then the manufacturer can be held responsible for the accident.
Should I Contact the Truck Company’s Insurance Provider After an Accident?
It is okay to communicate directly to other insurance companies but only to inform them that someone else represents you. Inform your lawyer if the truck’s insurance company attempts to contact you. Never sign any document unless your attorney asks you to do so as it could ruin your chances of winning your claim. Your attorney will handle the negotiation and communication with the truck’s insurance company.
Are Truck Drivers Always At Fault?
In an accident between a passenger vehicle and a large truck, who is most likely at fault? Opinions vary widely on the topic. Some believe that, due to strict licensing requirements and driver training, truck drivers are better drivers and less likely to be at fault for an accident. Others believe that long hours on the road leads to increased driver fatigue and recklessness from truck drivers when compared to passenger vehicles.
Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. But what do the facts show?
In 2006, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. In the study, data from nearly 1,000 crashes was collected and analyzed to code driver actions, environmental conditions, and other associated factors for the crash. In two-vehicle crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle, the truck was assigned the critical reason in 44 percent of the crashes, and passenger vehicles in 56 percent.
The most common associated factors in truck accidents included:
- Driving too fast for weather or road conditions
- Making an illegal maneuver
- Legal drug use
- Unfamiliarity with the roadway
Clearly, assigning blame after a truck accident is not as clear cut as some would think, with both truck drivers and passenger vehicles being close to 50 percent responsible for the accident.
How is Fault in a Truck Accident Determined?
After an accident, accurately determining fault can be critical in recovering maximum compensation. In order to help establish fault after a truck accident, experienced personal injury lawyers can investigate different types of evidence, including the following.
There are strict federal regulations in place regarding driving time and break time for truck drivers. An examination of the driver’s logs can show how long the driver was on shift, if he or she took the required breaks, and if driver fatigue could have played a role in the crash.
Witness testimony or camera footage
A lawyer may be able to find witnesses whose testimony can shed some light into the events that led up to the accident. Better yet, there is likely footage from street cameras or dash cams that can show the accident clearly, removing any doubt.
Cell phone logs
An examination of cell phone logs can determine whether the driver was distracted by his or her phone before the crash. For example, do the logs show that the person spoke on the phone or sent a message in the moments leading up to the accident?
Vehicle inspection and maintenance logs
Commercial vehicles are subject to stringent inspection and maintenance requirements. A lawyer can look into the truck’s maintenance and inspection logs to see if there were any mechanical issues that could have led to the accident as well.
Are Truck Drivers Responsible for Damages?
After suffering an injury in a car accident, one of the first questions a victim has is: Who is responsible to pay for the damages? In the case of a New York truck accident, the answer to that question will depend on a number of factors.
How serious were the injuries?
Since New York is a no-fault state, a claim is made to your own insurance company after an accident through personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. If the resulting injuries are deemed to be serious, such as fractures, disfigurement, or disability, the total costs might outweigh the PIP coverage. However, additional compensation can be recovered by means of a third-party lawsuit.
What caused the accident?
There are a number of negligent actions that could cause a truck accident. For example, the truck driver could be speeding, driving under the influence, or failing to follow the rules of the road. Or, the trucking company itself may have used negligent hiring practices or irregular maintenance on the vehicles.
Under vicarious liability in New York, the employer is held liable for the negligent acts of employees committed within the scope of their employment. This means that as a general rule, the trucking company can be held responsible for paying the truck accident damages. This is often to the advantage of injured victims, as any compensation in excess of the insurance coverage is more likely to be recovered from a commercial company than from an individual driver.
Who is At Fault for Truck Accident Damages in a Truck Stop?
Truck stops are safe havens for truckers who need a place to rest during or after a long day on the road. Some stops offer restaurants, showers, and entertainment for drivers who decide to park in their lot for the night. While they might be a place where you can relax and unwind, these facilities can hide many hidden dangers.
Semis can sustain heavy damages while in the relative safety of a truck stop. A vehicle does not even have to be moving to end up in a collision. Plenty of over-the-road truckers have been rocked awake in the middle of the night by inexperienced drivers backing into their cabs.
Sadly, truck stop accidents are becoming more common. While these businesses have been upgrading the amenities they offer to drivers, the size of many parking areas has not changed in several decades, having been designed to maximize space with the goal of cramming as many big-rigs into them as possible. Trucks have also gotten longer and wider since most stops were built.
Small lots, bigger trucks, and an influx of inexperienced drivers joining the industry – the combination is a recipe for disaster. If your truck has been damaged or you sustained injuries at a truck stop, you may be able to hold the responsible driver or his company liable for damages.
How Can Cellino Law’s New York Truck Accident Lawyers Help You?
At Cellino’s Law, we have a team of proficient lawyers who have years of experience dealing with truck accident cases. Our personal injury firm in New York will help you by gathering sufficient relevant evidence about the accident to build a water-tight case for you. We ensure that all the witnesses are interviewed, pictures of the scene are taken, and the accident’s video footage is sourced. We also collaborate with other specialists in reconstructing the accident.
Accidents caused by trucks result in serious injuries and also have a devastating effect on the victims’ lives. For this reason, you deserve to get full financial compensation as you shouldn’t carry the burden resulting from another party’s negligence when you didn’t contribute to the accident. Filing a personal injury lawsuit helps you receive compensation for the damages suffered so that you can pay for present and future medical costs, lost wages, and other damages.