Injured By A Truck? Get Skilled Legal Help.
Tractor-trailer truck accidents are far more complicated than standard automobile cases. The truck may be from a different state, carrying product from a second company that was secured by a third company and insured by a fourth company.
Trucking companies that follow new safety regulations have helped reduce the number of big truck accidents. But no matter what attempts are made to prevent truck accidents, the increasing number of motorists and tractor-trailer trucks on the nation’s highways has been leading to more and more devastating accidents.
Shipping schedules that require fast delivery, along with unpredictable travel and weather conditions, can cause a driver’s workday to extend up to 16 hours a day. This leads to driver fatigue (causing decreased attention spans and slower reaction times), one of the leading causes of big truck accidents.
In addition to driver fatigue, the physical limitations of a tractor-trailer truck are a major cause of accidents. Cargo sometimes spills onto the roadway; “blind spots” are much larger; big chunks of ice often accumulate on truck roofs and fly off into other cars’ windshields; and tractor-trailers can “jackknife” on slippery roads or sharp turns, creating extensive damage and potentially serious or fatal injuries.
- Frequently Asked Trucking Accident Questions
- Truck Accident Investigations In New York City
- New York Trucking Regulations
- New York City Truck Underride Accidents
Common Questions Answered By A New York City Truck Accident Attorney
In the aftermath of a truck accident, all parties involved will be faced with the difficult task of picking up the pieces and working toward recovery. Such a task can be particularly difficult for the victims of truck accidents because lawsuits and claims involving big truck collisions can be particularly complex.
Many trucking companies have aggressive lawyers already on their side, and this means that you, too, will need an equally skillful attorney on your side. At Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP, you can find exactly that. Questions you have about your case can be answered with the authority that you need to feel confident about moving forward with your claim.
Why do I need an attorney to help me with my case?
Trucking companies are always armed and prepared for a potential accident. Many of these companies already have attorneys working for them who can be extremely aggressive and underhanded when defending their trucking company clients.
After an accident, the trucking company will be thinking about saving itself from an expensive lawsuit. This means that the company, along with its insurance provider and attorneys, will be prepared to go to battle. This is why you will need your own skilled and experienced legal representative. Without an attorney on your side, you probably won’t be able to get the compensation to which you are entitled.
What if the insurance company makes me an offer?
Right away, you can expect to receive a lowball settlement offer from the insurance company that is representing the trucker and the trucking company. Without legal representation, you could be at a clear disadvantage, because the insurance company will try to get you to settle quickly. This often means settling for much less than you deserve. To ensure that the right party is held responsible for the right amount of money, work with a truck accident lawyer from our office.
How do I know if the trucker or trucking company is at fault?
As the victim of a trucking accident, it is not your responsibility to determine who is at fault for the accident; this is a task for your attorney. A lawyer’s job is to review the details of the accident for the purpose of establishing who or what was at fault. After that, your lawyer will help you build your case and seek the compensation that is rightfully owed to you as an accident victim.
If I was driving in the blind spot of the truck when I was hit. Does that mean I don’t have a case?
Driving in a trucker’s blind spot, or “no zone,” is certainly dangerous. However, it does not mean you cannot seek compensation with an accident claim or lawsuit. Accident investigations often reveal that the trucker was in violation of one or more of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). If this is the case, they should still be held at fault for the accident that injured you.
Regardless of the circumstances of your accident, there may be important details you don’t remember or don’t know about. This is why an attorney should be involved in your case. They will help look at every bit of evidence and explain your options about filing a legal claim.
Who pays me if I’m awarded compensation for my accident?
With truck accidents, multiple parties may be held responsible for the accident and your injuries. That is one very good reason to get help from an experienced truck accident attorney. They will know who to include in the lawsuit and will help hold each party responsible for their portion of the compensation you are owed.
What should I do after a truck accident?
The actions that you take after a truck accident could dramatically affect the outcome of your case. Obviously, medical treatment should be sought at the time of the accident. Don’t move your vehicle until law enforcement arrives. Take pictures of the damage to all the vehicles involved and the scene of the accident, even if you don’t make it back there for a couple of days. As soon as you can, contact one of our lawyers, so we can guide you through every step of the legal process. With us handling the details, you can concentrate on your recovery process.
Truck Accident Investigations In New York City
After a truck accident in New York, have us start an investigation. The faster an investigation is conducted, the better chances you have of successfully securing compensation through a claim or lawsuit. Without sufficient evidence to support any claims that are made, your case is much more likely to be dismissed or ruled in favor of the trucking company or truck driver involved.
In the hours and days following a truck accident, other investigations will be conducted. Unfortunately, the intent behind these investigations can be misguided or mismanaged. The law enforcement officers who typically report to the scene of a trucking accident may not be familiar with investigating truck accidents.
Often, trucking companies have already dispatched their team of investigators and attorneys to take immediate action. When these representatives report to the scene of a collision, they will be looking for any sort of evidence that could suggest that the trucker and truck company are not at fault for the accident that occurred.
Our lawyers are used to acting quickly to secure important evidence. Don’t trust the investigations completed by others.
Reviewing The Trucking Company’s Records
Nearly every truck accident is caused by someone’s mistake. Often, the mistake is made by the trucker or the trucking company. Sometimes, someone or something else is at fault, such as dangerous road design.
Determining who is responsible requires a thorough review of the trucking company’s records as soon as possible following the accident. The records may reveal inadequacies that resulted in the accident. Records that our truck accident lawyers look at include:
- Company hiring practices: Was a proper background check of the trucker conducted?
- Driver training requirement: Did the company provide proper driver training? Did it hire a driver who didn’t have enough truck driving experience?
- Drug and alcohol testing requirements: Did the company conduct continuous and frequent sobriety checks on its drivers, apart from the required test when they were hired?
- Driving records and accident history: Did the company employ drivers with a history of driving offenses?
- Best practices: Was the company known to encourage drivers to operate their vehicles beyond the standard hours of operation? Did the company allow drivers to overload their trucks in order to deliver more products faster?
Based on what is found in the company records, the trucking company may be held responsible for the accident. These records can make a huge difference in the outcome of a claim or lawsuit. This is why it is extremely important to collect as much information from the trucking company before the records are destroyed or “lost.”
Assessing The Information From A Black Box
Electronic on-board recorders, also referred to as black boxes, can reveal important information in a truck accident investigation. Black boxes monitor trucker drive times and hours of operation. They allow the trucking company to monitor their employees and let investigators know if truckers are driving faster or longer than they are legally permitted to do so.
Black boxes are virtually indestructible and usually survive even the worst accidents. The devices systematically record the events immediately before, during, and after truck accidents, storing the information. While this information is easily available to the trucking company and its insurance provider, it can be extremely difficult for the victim of an accident to access this information without help from a personal injury attorney.
Importance Of Interviews And Depositions
We cannot stress enough the importance of moving quickly after a truck accident has occurred. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the better your chances are for a successful outcome. Our legal team moves quickly after an accident, taking care to immediately investigate the situation and the circumstances that led up to the crash.
It can be immensely helpful to obtain statements from witnesses of the truck accident as well as the law enforcement officers who were first on the scene. This is done through interviews and depositions (questioning witnesses under oath.) The mental pictures and accounts of the accident provided by witnesses often serve as invaluable information during a case. Properly recorded statements can be submitted for review in court, which allows the judge and jury to better understand the circumstances of the accident.
As more time passes, it becomes harder for us to find the witnesses and if we do, for them to remember the details of that day. Depositions preserve oral statements, which can be used as evidence in court. With the help of an accident attorney from our firm, the necessary photographs and witness statements can be gathered in a time-efficient manner that can be used to your benefit later on in the case.
You Need To Act Fast
The daily logs that truckers are legally required to keep must be kept for a period of up to six months. After that time, it may be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get the records from the trucking company.
Important information could be lost or destroyed between the time of the accident and the trial. Let us help you preserve the evidence that can help your claim.
New York Trucking Regulations That Govern Truckers And Trucking Companies
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) require truck drivers and the companies that they work for to follow a very specific set of rules. These regulations govern not only commercial truck drivers, but also the maintenance and repair of trucks and the companies that own them. FMCSR defines everything from the number of hours that truckers can safely operate their vehicle to the size and weight limitations imposed on commercial vehicles.
These rules were designed to help ensure the safety of truckers and the people who share the roads with them. However, truck accidents still happen. When they do, one of the first things to be investigated will be whether the FMCSR were followed. While there are usually a few different reasons for each crash, a violation of the rules is often one or more of the contributing factors. Following are top areas of trucking rules that, if violated, cause truck accidents:
Alcohol And Drug Use
Just like all drivers, truckers are restricted from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The difference, however, lies in the blood alcohol content (BAC) limits that are applied to each class of drivers.
While most automobile drivers are limited by a .08% BAC, truckers are not permitted to drive with a BAC over .04%. Truck drivers are also randomly tested for alcohol and drugs while employed as truckers. The regulations are so strict, in fact, that they also forbid a trucker from operating a commercial vehicle within four hours of drinking an alcoholic beverage. Even certain prescription drugs and amphetamines are regulated by federal law.
Hours Of Service
The rule regarding hours of operation is one of the most important regulations in the FMCSR. This helps keep truckers from driving commercial vehicles when they are overly tired. These time limits are referred to as hours of service.
The rule says that no commercial truck driver can operate his or her vehicle for more than 11 hours, nor can they work more than 14 hours a day when non-driving duties are included. In addition, hours of service stipulate that all truckers must take off 10 continuous hours before driving again. Logbooks and black boxes are used to record the number of hours that a trucker remains on the road on any given day.
Maintenance And Repair
The maintenance of commercial vehicles is an important preventative measure for accidents, as are safety inspections. During routine maintenance and safety inspections, issues such as worn-out tires and failing brake systems should be noticed. The federal regulations that have been established in this area currently provide minimum inspection standards for trucking companies and their drivers. Unfortunately, these safety standards are often ignored, making accidents more likely.
Large trucks that are driven on interstate highways can net a gross vehicle weight of no more than 80,000 pounds. There are exceptions that involve trucks that pull two or more trailers across some states. Unfortunately, because trucking companies can make more money when large amounts of cargo are delivered at once, the FMCSR weight limits are often violated. Overloaded trucks take a lot longer to stop and can roll over on tight curves.
We Investigate FMCSR Violations
If it is determined that one or more of the FMCSR rules was violated, that may be the cause of or a contributing factor to the accident in which you were involved. Our skilled lawyers collect evidence of violations that will help accident victims recover compensation.
New York City Truck Underride Accidents
Due to the massive size and weight of tractor-trailers, any accidents that involve these large vehicles can be extremely deadly. One common type of truck accident is an underride accident.
What Is An Underride Accident?
This is when a smaller vehicle is forced beneath the trailer of an 18-wheeler. Semitractor-trailers should have a metal underride guard that hangs down beneath the back of the trailer in order to keep smaller cars, trucks, and SUVs from traveling under the trailer in a rear-end accident. This bar is designed to withstand a certain amount of pressure upon impact in order to prevent serious damage and even death to drivers and passengers of other vehicles.
When a rear-end accident occurs and the bar fails (or is missing), then the smaller vehicle may travel beneath the trailer, and, depending on the speed of impact, it could travel all the way forward until it hits the truck’s rear wheels. Because the bottom of the trailer is about the same height as the hood of the car, it can scrape off the top of the small vehicle in seconds. Drivers and passengers do not have time to duck.
Underride accidents can also occur when a passenger vehicle goes under the semi tractor-trailer from the side. This can happen if an 18-wheeler suddenly switches lanes or a car moves over quickly to avoid a collision with a different vehicle. Some tractor-trailers are equipped with side underride guards to prevent such accidents, but they are not mandatory. The trucking industry has resisted legislation to require side underride rails.
Why These Accidents Occur And What You Can Do
Studies have shown that guard bars often fail even at very low speeds – far less than what they were designed to do. Guard bars often fail because the standards in place allow individual parts to be tested according to specification rather than as a part of a whole functioning system. Individual pieces may test well, yet as a system, the guard cannot withstand a fraction of what it is supposed to withstand. Interestingly, trucks that are built to Canadian specifications withstand more than those that are built to U.S. standards only.
Let Us Help You With Your Recovery
If you or your loved one has been severely injured or killed in a truck accident, speak with one of our skilled lawyers. We will listen to you and educate you about your legal options.
At Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP, we genuinely care about our clients, and you can be sure that we will stand by you and work with you to pursue the results that you need for the future. To schedule a free initial consultation, call 212-571-7171 or contact us online.
We have recovered millions for our clients — let our experience work for you.