- July 27, 2022
- Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are usually more complicated than accidents that only involve passenger cars. Besides truck drivers, numerous other parties may be held responsible for a truck accident, including trucking companies, truck manufacturers, third-party vendors, and local governments.
Read on to learn more about who can be responsible for a truck accident and how fault is determined in a truck accident. Along the way, we’ll discuss New York’s contributory negligence law, common truck accident injuries, damages available to truck accident victims, and what to do when insurance adjusters call. We’ll also cover how the right New York truck accident attorney can help you regain your losses.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?
Most truck accidents require a lengthy and thorough investigation to determine who caused the accident. An experienced New York truck accident injury attorney can help you determine if one of the following parties was responsible for your accident:
Truck drivers who work extended hours may be prone to negligent behavior such as drowsy driving, speeding, and improper passing.
Drivers may also cause accidents by:
- Using mind-altering substances like alcohol and drugs
- Driving aggressively
- Merging too quickly
- Driving recklessly at night
- Carrying unsafe loads
- Attempting to make wide-angle turns
- Dealing with challenging traffic and weather conditions, such as slick roads, fog, and broken traffic lights.
Trucking companies or carriers have a duty to follow the regulations of the trucking industry. As such, they must:
- Make sure that all of their drivers are qualified to drive the trucks: Trucking companies should only employ drivers with proper training. They need to avoid hiring drivers who have Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and driving infractions.
- Conduct drug testing on operators: Carriers must conduct random drug tests on truck drivers throughout the year.
- Conduct background checks on drivers before hiring: New York State law requires all transportation network companies (TNCs) to conduct pre-employment criminal history background checks for drivers.
- Ensure that the trailer is properly loaded: Trucking companies are responsible for ensuring that trailers are securely loaded. Failure to do so can result in rollovers, jackknife accidents, and more.
- Keep proper maintenance of its trucks: According to New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles, each motor vehicle registered in New York State must be inspected at least every 12 months. The inspection must be performed by a certified motor vehicle inspector in a licensed inspection station.
- Avoid pressuring drivers to disregard the FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations: The FMSCA has strict hours-of-service regulations for property-carrying drivers, including:
- An 11-hour driving limit: Drivers can only drive up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- A 14-hour limit: After 10 consecutive hours off duty, drivers are not allowed to drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty.
- A 30-minute driving break: Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after driving for eight cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.
- Maintain proper registration and licensing of its trucks: Last but not least, carriers that operate commercial trucks in New York State must have a USDOT Number and be registered with the FMCSA. The USDOT Number is a unique identifier for collecting and monitoring a company’s safety information acquired during crash investigations, audits, compliance reviews, and inspections.
Truck Manufacturers and Distributors
Some truck crashes are caused by the failure of a part or system of the truck, such as brake failures, tire blowouts, and problems with the steering system.
If the manufacturer didn’t issue a recall and the problem is discovered across multiple trucks of the same model and make, victims of the crash can sue the truck manufacturer and distributor for damages.
On the other hand, if the manufacturer did issue a recall and notified the owner of the truck about it, the fault would fall on the carrier and the mechanics for not addressing the problem. If the truck driver owns the truck, the driver would be held liable.
Cargo Loaders and Shippers
Some truck companies work as contractors to load and ship cargo for other carriers. Each party in such arrangements — including the cargo originator, loader, shipper, and transporter — is responsible for following relevant state and federal regulations and will be held liable if negligent. If problems with cargo cause a truck accident, lawyers will examine records from each party.
Some large carriers outsource tasks to third-party vendors. This may include:
- Administrative work, such as conducting alcohol and drug tests and recruiting drivers
- Maintenance tasks, such as truck repair
- Fleet operations, such as dispatching.
Any of these vendors can be held responsible if their negligence contributes to an accident.
Sometimes, a trucking company believes that a problem has been fixed, only to find out later that that wasn’t the case. In such scenarios, a mechanic may be held liable for the issue that led to the crash.
Government Agencies and Contractors
If a road hazard — such as broken pavement or a soft shoulder — contributes to a truck accident, the state or local government responsible for that part of the highway may be held liable.
In the same vein, contractors hired by the government may be held liable if:
- The work they performed or failed to perform contributed to the accident
- The work zone they set up caused the crash.
Other drivers may be held liable if they contributed to the accident. Like truck drivers, they may have caused the accident due to negligent behavior, such as:
- Driving under the influence
- Taking detours at night
- Drowsy driving.
How Is Fault in a Truck Accident Determined?
To determine which parties can be held liable for a truck accident, a skilled New York truck accident lawyer will gather evidence to prove negligence. They will typically look at the following:
- Truck camera footage
- Accident reconstruction specialists’ expert testimony about what caused the crash
- Documents about how the trucking company hires, trains, and supervises its drivers
- The trucking company’s inspection and maintenance records
- Driver logs
- Alcohol and drug screening results
- Witness testimony
- Black box recorders or electronic control modules (ECMs), which are devices installed in trucks to record occupant and technical vehicle information
- Results of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigations, if applicable
- Police reports and other accident reports.
How Does New York’s Contributory Negligence Law Affect Damage Recovery?
New York is one of the few states that follow pure comparative negligence in cases involving shared fault.
This means that you can recover damages from anyone who is partially at fault. However, if you are found to be at fault, your damages will be reduced according to your share of fault. For instance, if you’re found 80% at fault for a truck accident that cost you $30,000, your damages would be reduced to 80% of $30,000 — $24,000.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Serious truck accidents can cause a range of injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Chest injuries
- Skull and brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Head and neck injuries
- Burn injuries
- Wrongful death.
Damages Available to Truck Accident Victims
When a truck accident causes life-altering injuries, victims will have to shoulder exorbitant medical fees. Unfortunately, most health insurance policies won’t pay the full bill.
That’s where seasoned NY state truck accident lawyers come in. The right personal injury attorney will fight to win compensation to cover all of your expenses, including:
- All current and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Emergency room costs
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Loss of your future earning capacity
- Physical therapy.
What Should I Do When Insurance Adjusters Call?
After a truck accident, insurance adjusters will try to shift as much liability to you as possible. The more blame they can shift to you, the less they’ll have to pay.
To avoid this, don’t talk to them about the accident. Just give them your contact information and, if you already have a lawyer, your lawyer’s contact information. A veteran New York personal injury lawyer will be able to handle all communications and negotiations for you.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit in New York?
New York law gives you three years to file personal injury lawsuits. This time limit — known as a statute of limitation — exists to ensure the reliability of physical and witness evidence. It also removes the indefinite threat of a lawsuit.
Three years can seem like a long time, but you should get take action as soon as possible. So if you or a loved one was hurt in a commercial truck accident, reach out to a New York truck accident attorney immediately. This will give your lawyer more time to gather strong evidence for supporting your claim.
Talk To An Experienced New York Truck Accident Attorney To Get Help Today
Finding New York State lawyers for your truck accident can be challenging, especially if you’re new to filing lawsuits. Luckily, Kaplan Lawyers P.C. is here to help. We have over 30 years of experience in helping people get the compensation they deserve.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.
Attorney Jared S. Kaplan
Attorney Jared S. Kaplan has focused his career on advancing his legal knowledge though the day to day practice of law. Jared is a partner in the law firm of Kaplan Lawyers PC in Syosset, New York and has been a practicing attorney for nearly 20 years. His career started in litigation, so Jared is aware of the pitfalls in litigation and uses that knowledge in the representation of his clients in complex matters. [ Attorney Bio ]