Truck Accidents in New York City
Tractor-trailers play a vital role in the shipment of goods throughout the country. However, the size of these trucks and the amount of commercial traffic on our roadways present a tremendous risk to other drivers, especially if the truck driver makes a serious mistake. For the occupants of passenger vehicles, crashes involving large trucks can be some of the deadliest on our roads.
The New York truck accident attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC have helped a countless number of victims who have been injured in truck accidents. We have the skill and experience necessary to help you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
Fast Facts About Large Truck Crashes
- On average, there are more than 3,500 deaths on U.S. roads in large truck crashes every year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
- Nearly 85 percent of fatalities in large truck crashes are either occupants of a passenger vehicle or pedestrians.
- Over 80 percent of fatal large truck crashes happen on interstates, freeways and other major roads.
- In 2014, there were 11,848 crashes involving large trucks in New York.
- Of those large truck crashes in New York, 3,760 resulted in personal injury and 74 were fatal.
Common Causes of Large Truck Crashes
There are many possible reasons for a crash involving a tractor-trailer, and one single crash can have multiple contributing factors. However, many of these factors come in the form of human error. Here are a few examples of factors that could lead to a truck crash:
- Traveling Too Fast for Conditions. Speeding leads to a large percentage of trucking crashes. In 2014, 990 large truck crashes in New York were caused by unsafe speeds. Many trucks are equipped with devices that limit the speed at which a truck can travel, though that doesn’t necessarily prevent a driver from exceeding speed limits on smaller roads.
- Drowsy Driving (or Driver Fatigue). Truck driver fatigue is a major concern in the trucking industry and the center of much debate. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration says that nearly 30 percent of drivers could have some form of sleep apnea, a condition which disrupts sleep, decreases daytime alertness and leads to fatigued driving.
- Driving Inappropriately for Road Conditions. Whether driving in a crowded city or on an icy road, most truck drivers are experts at navigating the random conditions they encounter on the job. However, some drivers, especially young drivers, might fail to adjust their driving habits according to the demands of the weather or traffic conditions.
- Impaired Driving. Impaired driving among truck drivers has decreased greatly over the past few decades but, just like any other subset of drivers, some still get behind the wheel of their automobiles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Driver Inexperience. Veteran drivers have been through almost every imaginable scenario on the road, but younger drivers are more likely to make mistakes, and those missteps can be costly for other motorists. New York City is a very challenging environment for truck drivers to navigate. For drivers who lack experience driving a commercial vehicle in New York, these challenges can be overwhelming.
- Distracted Driving. Every driver, including truckers, must be completely present behind the wheel. Diverting attention to mobile devices, stereos or other passengers even for a moment can lead to catastrophic and fatal traffic crashes. In 2014, nearly 2,000 large truck crashes in New York involved driver inattention and driver distraction.
Most serious commercial truck accidents occur in rural areas — 61% according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) 2017 safety fact sheet. There are several reasons for this.
- Speed limits aren’t enforced as strictly as in cities and on interstates.
- This leads to truckers (and motorists overall) driving faster.
- They’re also less attentive and subject to more distractions.
- And when driving after dark, all these factors can be amplified, which is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tells us more truck accidents occur at night.
Investigating the cause of a trucking accident is complicated and requires a specialized skill to determine the liable party. There may be multiple parties involved — the driver, the owner, the company that leased the truck, the company that loaded the truck, or even the truck manufacturer. Our New York truck accident lawyers have the experience and knowledge to confirm who was at fault and to hold them accountable.
Consequences of Truck Accidents
When a large truck collides with another vehicle, it is typically the occupant of the smaller vehicle that is injured, due in large part to the size and weight of the tractor-trailer. For this reason, the injuries sustained in these types of crashes can be some of the worst of all crash types. They include:
- Spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries are often permanent and debilitating. They can lead to paralysis and a lifetime of medical treatment and ongoing care.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries cause many problems for vehicle accident victims. They can impair motor functions, memory and the ability to interpret or use language.
- Internal damage. Internal injuries can be difficult to detect immediately following a crash. They may also cause the failure of several bodily functions and lead to death.
- Multiple bone fractures. Fractures to wrists or ankles, or hip fractures, can be painful, costly and impact a person’s ability to do their jobs and perform basic, everyday tasks.
In addition to these injuries, victims can face incredible pain, suffering, medical bills, ongoing medical care, loss of income and loss of work capacity. When crashes turn fatal, surviving family members also encounter devastating consequences resulting from the loss of their loved ones. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact the New York truck accident lawyers at Kaplan Lawyers PC. We understand the complex issues that stem from insurance coverage and the role of each defendant, and we will see to it that you receive compensation for your damages. The New York truck accident attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC have decades of experience and are here to help. Our consultation is free and there is no charge to you unless we win your case.
Top 5 Mistakes Made After a Truck Accident
- Admitting fault at the scene of the accident before you have all the facts
- Not filing an accident report with the police
- Assuming you will feel better after sustaining an injury and not seeking medical attention
- Believing that the insurance company will deal with you fairly
- Not hiring an experienced New York truck accident attorney who will complete all filings to protect your rights and ensure that you will receive the compensation that you deserve.
Another big mistake injured victims make is speaking to the trucking company (or its insurance company). Both are trying to cover themselves and hope to get you to say something that can compromise your claim and allow them to avoid their responsibility for paying you tens of thousands of dollars (at least). If you receive a call from the trucking company, their insurers or their lawyers, you need to tell them that your lawyer will be in touch shortly, and then get one – fast!
Defective Products Also Cause Serious Trucking Accidents
Not surprisingly, sometimes defective parts on a commercial truck break and cause a serious accident. Manufacturing defects can occur when low-quality materials or parts are used to lower costs. Though they may be in compliance with federal minimum safety standards, they still could pose significant safety risks. In addition to law enforcement and your attorney, federal transportation officials are likely to be involved in the accident investigation. So it is possible the manufacturer, in addition to the trucking company (and/or driver), may share the blame and liability for compensating all accident victims.
Wrongful Death and Trucking Accidents
When someone is killed after being hit by a commercial truck, his or her survivors are rightfully allowed to be fairly compensated by those who are responsible for their beloved family member’s sudden, tragic death. This can include any party found liable: the trucker, his or her employer, and any third parties such as a defective parts manufacturer or the service company which installed it.
Compensation can include:
- All medical bills
- Loss of projected income of the deceased family member
- Expected loss of consortium and support the deceased provided his or her family
- Loss of companionship
- Funeral costs
- Pain and suffering that the deceased experienced prior to death, as well as that of the surviving family members.
Contact an Experienced New York Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you should not have to pay the costs for the mistakes of a negligent driver or trucking firm. Our New York truck accident attorneys are here to help you hold them accountable for the losses they caused you. Contact Kaplan Lawyers PC today to learn more about how we can assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
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, so 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 so you should consult with an attorney immediately.
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 contributing 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 states 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 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 client’s cases, generally resolving cases years 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.
Why does my insurance company have to pay the bills if the other driver caused the accident?
The insurance companies were involved in the drafting of the legislation that created this policy. The benefit to injured parties is that they can get the treatment that they need even if it is unclear who caused the accident because liability will not determine who pays. However, in accidents involving large trucks your insurance company can seek reimbursement for all payments from the insurance company for the truck.
Why would the insurance companies want that?
The insurance companies agreed to the legislation because the law also limits access for injured parties to the court system. The statute states that an injured person can’t proceed with a lawsuit unless they have sustained a serious injury as defined by the legislation, which significantly restricts an individual’s ability to collect money for pain and suffering.
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 pedestrian accident cases become progressively worse with time so it is difficult to determine shortly after the accident. However the pedestrian 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 3rd party claim with the other driver’s insurance company. However, a 3rd party claim can take significantly longer to resolve and the insurance company will try to twist your words against you so we recommend that you contact a legal professional before contacting the insurance company directly.