Truck accidents can be some of the biggest and most catastrophic of all vehicle crashes. It is often the occupant of the passenger vehicle who suffers injury or death when there is a collision between a car and a large truck, due mostly to the size and weight of commercial vehicles.
For those who have been involved in a large truck accident, we compiled a list of commonly asked questions to address some concerns that you might have on this issue. If you have any specific questions about a crash you were involved in, please give us a call or fill out the online contact form on this site to talk to one of our attorneys. We offer free consultations.
What is the difference between a crash involving a large truck and crashes involving two passenger vehicles?
In addition to the incredible damage that can happen when a heavy truck collides with a smaller vehicle, there can also be many different legal and insurance-related concerns. Truck drivers, for example, are professional drivers, and they often work for large trucking companies who have a system set in place to handle crashes involving one of their trucks and/or drivers. It is in their best interest to minimize their liability and the payments that they make to the other party involved in a crash.
How do large trucking companies approach these cases?
It can vary, depending on the company and their relationship with the driver. Most companies have legal teams and insurance companies who seek to shift blame onto the other driver after a crash. In some cases, a company will go so far as to deploy a person to the scene of the crash to solicit signatures from those involved in an effort to reduce their liability and, ultimately, reduce the payments they make to other drivers.
What should I do if I am involved in a crash involving a large truck?
First, make sure everyone is safe and call 911. The police will need to respond to the scene to file a report, which you should keep a copy of. Gather the information from the driver of the truck and ask any witnesses for their contact information. If you are able to do so, take pictures of the scene. Seek immediate medical attention for any injuries that you have suffered. It is also typically in the best interest of a person involved in one of these crashes to contact an attorney.
Should I speak to representatives from a trucking company?
No. You are under no obligation to speak to anyone but the police. Be truthful and honest to the police, but say very little to anyone else. The words you say to the other driver – or to representatives of their company – will be used against you later in the process.
Are all truckers considered employees of a trucking company?
No. Many truckers are self-employed and work as contractors for a trucking company. Some companies might attempt to leverage that relationship with a driver to minimize their liability, but they are not necessarily absolved from the role they play in a crash involving their trucks or drivers. Whether a driver is an employee of a company or they are a contractor is an issue that will likely have little bearing on the actions of your attorney. A trucking accident attorney will still investigate the circumstances surrounding the crash to determine who was at fault and who should pay for your damages.
Do I need an attorney to handle my claim?
No. However, the insurance company employs an army of attorneys, claims specialists, and experts to win the case; in order to get the compensation that you are entitled to, you will need to hire an attorney that specializes in this type of law. Our legal team has decades of experience and a proven track record of maximizing settlements, and we are in the best position to guarantee that you get everything that you are entitled to.
How long do I have to bring a claim?
The statute of limitations (or time in which a claim must be brought from the date of the accident) is 3 years for a personal injury claim. If a claim is being brought for wrongful death, the claim must be brought within 2 years from the date of death. If the claim is being brought against a municipality, the time to bring a claim is significantly shorter, depending on who the claim is against. This is one more reason you should consult with an attorney immediately after an accident.
Can I bring a claim even if the other driver wasn’t 100% at fault?
Yes. New York law follows the pure comparative negligence rule, which states that an injured party will receive compensation for their injuries in proportion to their percentage of contribution to the accident. For example, if a jury believes that a claimant was 10% at fault, the other driver is responsible to pay 90% of the claimant’s damages.
Do I have to pay any legal fees if I lose my case?
No. Our attorneys work on a contingency fee, which means that if you don’t win your case we don’t get paid.
How much is my case worth?
If any attorney tells you that they know how much your case is worth before reviewing all of the documentation, then they are lying or they’re incompetent. However, our legal team has decades of experience and will maximize the value of your case.
How long will it take to settle my case?
Every case is different, but our legal team utilizes the most advanced technology and aggressive legal strategy to expedite our clients’ cases, generally resolving cases much faster than any other firm.
How will my medical bills get paid?
Whether you were the driver or passenger in the car, your medical bills will be paid for by the insurance company for the car that you were in. However, you must file a No Fault application with the insurance company within 30 days from the date of the accident; if you fail to do so, you have waived your right to file the claim for benefits.
Does No Fault pay for anything else?
Yes. No Fault will also pay for lost wages, prescription costs, transportation to medical providers, and reasonable expenses for household services.
What is the legal definition of a serious injury?
A serious injury has been defined as death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
How will I know if my injuries will be considered serious?
Many of the injuries sustained in truck accident cases become progressively worse with time, so it is difficult to determine their seriousness shortly after the accident. However, the truck accident attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC recommend that you retain an attorney immediately so that all filings are completed to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to.
How can I get my car fixed?
If you have collision coverage, we would recommend that you contact your insurance company and submit a claim under your policy. If you don’t have collision coverage, you will have to file a third– party claim with the other driver’s insurance company. However, a third-party claim can take significantly longer to resolve, and the insurance company will try to twist your words against you. We recommend that you contact a legal professional before contacting the insurance company directly.