Commercial trucks pose unique dangers to other vehicles on the road. Weighing up to 80,000 pounds, the average big rig is more than 20 times heavier than the average passenger vehicle. This weight difference can be disastrous for the latter in a collision. If you suffered serious injuries or a loved one died in a recent truck accident, contact the New York City personal injury attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C., to discuss your truck accident case.
Trucking companies in New York know how to combat personal injury claims. They often have aggressive attorneys and plenty of resources to fight liability for damages. It can be difficult to go up against a truck company’s insurance provider without legal representation. The insurance company may try to offer a lowball settlement or unfairly deny your claim. Hiring a lawyer to represent you during settlement negotiations can help you achieve fair results. It also lets you relax and focus on healing while your lawyer takes care of complex legal processes.
Almost all truck accidents are preventable. They occur when one or more parties fail to fulfill their duties to others on the roadway. Unsafe trucks, reckless drivers, and dangerous roadway conditions can contribute to deadly commercial truck crashes. Although a truck accident can happen for many reasons, some reasons are more common than others.
Drunk, drowsy, or distracted driving accidents can be fatal. It is always the trucker’s responsibility to obey federal motor carrier laws and traffic rules. They must pay attention to the road, follow hours of service regulations, and inspect their trucks daily. Trucker negligence or recklessness can cost others their lives.
A trucking company could also be guilty of negligence that a causes truck accident. Examples include lack of fleet maintenance, low-quality truck repairs, negligent hiring or training practices, pressuring drivers to break the rules, and lost cargo loads.
Truck accidents can also arise from third-party negligence, such as a defective vehicle part, an unsafe roadway, or a reckless motor vehicle driver. More than one party could share fault for the same truck accident in NYC.
Determining liability for your recent truck accident may take help from investigators. If you have serious and disabling personal injuries from the wreck, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the trucking company and/or another defendant. To obtain compensation, your lawyer must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached this duty, and caused your damages.
Accidents commonly occur in the following scenarios:
A truck driver pulling out onto the street from a driveway or parking lot in front of another vehicle or a cyclist.
The city allows double parking in some areas, however when a truck operator does so illegally, it causes unsafe conditions for other drivers on the road. Another vehicle may rear-end the truck or be forced to go around it although their view is blocked and end up in a collision.
When a truck stops suddenly, it gives little time for other drivers to react, often resulting in rear-end accidents. In general, the driver of a vehicle that hits the rear of another car or truck is presumed to have been negligent. However, liability in sudden stop cases may fall on the truck driver, depending on the reason behind their behavior or how the truck was positioned. Large trucks often take longer to come to a complete stop.
Truck drivers who are aggressive are especially dangerous due to the sheer size and weight of their vehicle. In these types of incidents, typically involving speeding, tailgating, unsafe lane changes, etc., either or both the trucker and the trucking company may be liable. For example, truckers may feel that because of how large their vehicles are, other drivers need to get out of their way. In other cases, truck drivers may feel pressured into driving aggressively when their employer has given them unrealistic travel schedules and delivery deadlines.
There is always the risk of fatigue for truck drivers, due to long shifts or violating the maximum number of consecutive hours that a commercial driver can work. Fatigue has a huge impact on driving, similarly to drunk driving, as it drastically slows reaction times. It also results in poor judgement, limiting a driver’s ability to calculate speed and distance. Some truckers even resort to illegal drug use to keep themselves awake.
Both police officers and insurance or attorney-hired accident investigators, set out to establish the cause of a truck accident by working backwards and reconstructing the incident based upon the available evidence. This entails:
Reconstruction is the next step. With the gathered evidence and by using physics and mathematics, a visual analysis of the crash scene is created to determine exactly how and why the crash occurred, as well as how fast the vehicles were going.
Trucking companies will try anything in their power to avoid liability in a truck accident, such as denying employment of the driver. Since employers are responsible for the negligent actions of their workers, a trucking company may claim that the driver is an independent contractor rather than an actual employee. While that is the case with some truckers, a company cannot incorrectly classify their driver to avoid a potential claim.
When the employment status of a truck driver cannot be denied, a trucking company’s insurer may try to raise a “scope of employment” defense. This is a legal concept that defines when an employee is or is not acting on behalf of their employer. For example, if a driver causes an accident while on a break or when returning a leased truck to its owner, their employer may attempt to avoid responsibility by claiming the employee was on not on-the-clock. Nonetheless, these are work-related duties and the driver is legally considered to be working. On the contrary, when a trucker is acting outside of their scope of employment, such as using the vehicle on their day off for a personal activity, then liability will fall on the truck driver.
Lastly, some trucking companies will simply place blame on you and other parties. That can include manufacturers, cargo-loaders, third party maintenance crews, and drivers of other vehicles. In extreme cases, the driver’s logs (records of duty) or the data from the EDR (“black box”) are destroyed. Action must be taken quickly, by either requesting that the trucking company preserve the data or requiring them to through a court order.
$15 Million Settlement – Tow Truck Collision
Client survived a traumatic brain injury from an accident with a state-owned tow truck.
$13.1 Million Verdict – Multi-Vehicle Collision
A multi-vehicle collision resulted in our victim losing both legs after being hit by her own car, which was in turn hit by a vehicle that was forced to swerve around a jackknifed tractor-trailer. The truck had abruptly stopped and we were successful in proving the truck driver’s liability. At the time of the accident, our client was standing in front of her vehicle on a highway, following a fender-bender she was involved in.
$8.8 Million Recovery – Illegally Parked Truck
A motorcyclist suffered paraplegia and permanent spinal cord damage when they hit a vehicle while maneuvering around an illegally parked truck.
$5.9 Million Verdict – Disabled Tractor-Trailer
After sustaining a broken neck and eventually traumatic neck arthritis from an accident involving a disabled tractor-trailer, our client was awarded nearly six million dollars. The injury occurred on a rainy night when the rental vehicle our client was a passenger in, crashed into a disabled tractor-trailer. She was not wearing a seatbelt at the time, as there were nine total passengers in the car that was only equipped with enough for six. The jury found that the tractor-trailer (45%), rental car company (45%), and rental car driver (10%) were all partially liable.
$5.5 Million Recovery – Rider Dragged By Truck
A motorcyclist experienced crushing injuries to both legs and needed one amputated, due to a truck hitting then proceeding to drag the rider.
$4.1 Million Recovery – Unsecured Load
A motorist endured several herniated discs in his neck when a metal piece from a truck traveling alongside of him struck his vehicle. His injuries required multiple surgeries.
$4 Million Recovery – Sanitation Truck Rollover
A 57-year-old mother of two was killed when a sanitation truck flipped over onto her vehicle. The operator knowingly drove a truck which had defective brakes.
Successfully proving negligence during a truck accident claim could result in compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost income, property damages, and pain and suffering. You may also be eligible for punitive damages if the defendant was grossly negligent or reckless. Although a claim will not reverse your damages, it can help you and your family move forward.
Contact our NYC law firm if you believe someone else may be responsible for your truck accident losses. Whether you suffered catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one, we can help. Let us review your case for free during a no-obligation consultation. Call (212) 732-9000 anytime to set up your appointment.