According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, 3,760 non-fatal injury and 74 fatal injury large truck crashes occurred throughout the state in 2014. In those 74 fatal crashes, 91 percent (72) of the fatalities were drivers and passengers in other cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
A truck’s large size offers a driver much more protection, typically leaving the other parties in the car or on the road to suffer the brunt of the damage. Before you file your claim with the insurance company, contact a New York truck accident lawyer at Buttafuoco & Associates for help and support for your claim. Call 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free consultation and answers to any questions you might have.
What causes truck accidents?
Truck drivers must undergo special training and obtain a commercial vehicle license to be eligible to drive these large trucks. Even with this additional training, truck drivers are still prone to acts of negligence that cause crashes. The following are some common causes of truck accidents.
- Tailgating smaller vehicles
- Making sharp turns at high speeds
- Fatigue from driving past the legal limit of consecutive hours
- Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Improperly maintained truck or safety equipment
- Use of handheld mobile devices while driving
- Aggressive or reckless driving
- Improperly loaded cargo
Due to the heightened risk of catastrophic injuries from an accident, federal regulations hold truck drivers to a higher standard of conduct and safety than typical drivers. Unfortunately, many drivers violate these regulations and cause severe accidents.
How do trucking regulation violations factor in a truck accident case?
One of the first regulations that a New York truck accident lawyer will look at for evidence of a violation is hours of service. Under federal regulation, a driver must:
- Spend 10 hours off-duty before going on duty
- Only be on-duty for a maximum of 14 consecutive hours
- Only spend 11 of the 14 on-duty hours actively driving
- Take a 30-minute rest break after eight consecutive hours of driving
These hours of service regulations help reduce the risk of fatigued drivers causing accidents on the road because they were too drowsy to react or fell asleep at the wheel.
Other common violations include:
- Failure to perform background checks on new drivers
- Failure to provide proper training and instruction to drivers
- Allowing drivers to transport hazardous cargo without proper licensing and training
- Falsifying records of driver duty logs
- Failure to document vehicle inspections and make necessary repairs
Who might be liable for a truck accident?
Multiple parties can own, operate, and maintain commercial trucks. Some truck accidents have several potential liable parties, including:
- The truck driver
- Truck mechanics or maintenance teams
- Owner of the truck or trailer
- Company who leased the truck or trailer from the owner
- Manufacturer of any truck component
- Shipper or loader of the truck’s cargo
Note that federal laws hold trucking companies responsible for their employee’s actions. If the truck driver caused the accident, his employing company would also be liable.
Determining liability involves identifying the cause of the accident and which party’s negligence caused or contributed. One of the easiest ways to begin determining liability is to review the truck’s records for evidence of federal regulation violations.
The average person involved in a truck accident will not have the resources needed to obtain these records. You will need to act fast and dedicate a large chunk of your time to focusing on the accident, which you likely do not have.
How does a New York truck accident lawyer benefit my case?
One of the most important things a New York truck accident lawyer can do early on in your case is to send a letter of spoliation. This letter prevents the trucking company from destroying records that may pertain to your case. By law, trucking companies only have to retain records for certain periods of time:
- Property records: three years after disposition of property
- Personnel records: one year
- Accident reports: six months
- Hours of service records: six months
Once we preserve these records, we will work with other experts to review the details of your accident and compare the records to federal regulations, looking for any violations. After we have gathered evidence of negligence, we will estimate the value of your damages and bring the claim for compensation to the liable parties.
Trucking companies employ legal teams of their own to handle accident claims, as they might be involved in several claims a year. New York trucking accident lawyers will give you a significant advantage over settling the claim on your own, as they know what to expect in a truck accident claim and will be able to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
Buttafuoco & Associates has extensive experience with truck accident claims in New York. Call us now at 1-800-NOW-HURT to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.