NYC Truck Accident Attorney
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Large trucks, including big-rigs, tractor-trailers, trash trucks, and delivery trucks, travel New York highways and roadways daily. Traffic is likely to increase as businesses adjust back to the normal routine following the pandemic lockdowns and supply chain shortages, possibly increasing truck-related accidents, more so in heavily trafficked areas like Manhattan and neighboring boroughs.
In New York City, there were 439 pickup truck accidents, 108 van-related accidents, and 16 fire truck-related accidents in November 2021 alone. With such high figures, it’s hardly surprising that trucks are involved in 74% of motor vehicle collisions, 76% of property damages, and 81% of vehicle-related injuries.
If you or a loved one sustains injuries in a truck accident in NYC, you need a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer by your side. Truckers are typically insured in the millions, making responsible parties reluctant to admit liability. Multiple parties can also be vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence, which calls for legal counsel to help identify all those accountable for compensating you for your losses. Contact us directly to discuss your case and legal options.
Types of Truck Accidents
Freight trucks weigh around 80,000 pounds, making them more likely to cause:
- Extensive property damage
- Severe and life-changing injuries such as broken bones, brain trauma, and internal bleeding
- Larger medical bills due to long stays in the hospital
- Greater chance of death than in other vehicle accidents: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that there are 3000-5000 truck-accidents-related deaths every year.
Truck accident types are often unique, including:
- Tire blowouts: Tires can erode over time or endure intense pressure from overloading and blow, causing an accident when tire debris hits vehicles behind or near the trailer.
- Rollovers: Trucks can lose control and roll on their side, crushing any object or vehicle it lands on.
- Jackknifes: This type of accident happens when the cab turns over 90° from the trailer and is more common on slick roads, when inexperienced drivers are involved, or when the driver is braking hard.
- Head-on collisions: Severe injuries or death can often occur when the front of a truck collides with an oncoming vehicle.
- T-bones: If a truck driver ignores traffic signals and rolls through a stop sign or runs a red light, it’s likely to hit another vehicle on its side, forming a “T.”
- Blind spots: Truck drivers often have difficulty spotting other vehicles when changing lanes, turning, or parking.
- Rear-end collisions: Vehicles traveling directly in front of large trucks might stop suddenly, and without ample time to brake, the truck is likely to crash into the car from behind.
- Underride accidents: If a truck stops suddenly and the car behind it lacks enough braking distance, it can consequently slide under the trailer, often leading to fatal injuries.
- Cargo-related accidents: If a truck is loaded improperly, the loads can spill out onto the road, causing an accident.
- Brake failure accidents: Worn braking systems can cause trucks to lose control, leading to devastating accidents at high speeds.
Causes of Truck Accidents in New York City
While environmental or other unforeseen factors may contribute significantly to some accidents, most crashes are avoidable if trucking companies and drivers are alert and careful. The lawyers at Meirowitz & Wasserberg have represented victims of truck accidents resulting from:
Inattentive and distracted drivers
Inattentive drivers are those who, while on the road, text or talk on the phone, eat or drink while driving, divert their attention to other passengers or their vehicle controls, and engage in other distracting behaviors.
Despite the existing regulations that mandate truck drivers not to drive over ten hours a day, the pressure to meet deadlines can cause drivers to operate for longer hours than considered safe.
Drowsy truck drivers, especially on long trips, are a common cause of truck accidents. The resulting crashes typically occur among drivers with a sleeping disorder.
Driving under the influence
Driving under the influence of prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, or alcohol can endanger other road users. These can impair the driver’s perception, affecting their skills in handling the truck, defensive driving, and other safety elements.
Unable to maintain lanes or unsafe lane changes
Given their large size: trucks make changing lanes quite a challenge – especially for inexperienced drivers. Trucks require a longer stopping distance to help decelerate before changing lanes, which can be difficult if a vehicle just changed lanes right at their front.
The situation can be challenging for drivers unfamiliar with problematic routes or those unprepared for rough, narrow, or curvy roads.
Trucks have multiple blind spots, such as:
- Left or right side under the cab
- At least 20ft in front of the cab
- At least 30ft behind the trailer
These blind spots increase the risk of a crash, as the truck driver cannot see a motorist, pedestrian, or bicyclist.
Trucks accelerate, decelerate, and maneuver differently than cars – making them hard to control when at high speeds. Thereby, overspeeding a truck is an inexcusably negligent act.
Inclement weather conditions
Snow, fog, rain, and extreme weather elements in New York might make it hard to maintain safe driving. Given the reduced visibility, drivers can lose control leading to horrific accidents.
Who's liable for my NYC truck accident?
Section 388 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law provides that all operators and owners of most vehicles – trucks and trailers included – are “jointly and severally” liable for a truck accident.
That means your NYC truck accident claim can have multiple liable parties, including:
Truck drivers can either be owner-operators, employees, or independent contractors.
Owner-operators refer to self-employed truck drivers or businesses that operate delivery trucks for their clientele base. These drivers should have “bobtail” insurance policies to cover their liabilities in cases of damages caused when using the trailer for personal purposes – other than those of their clients.
When operating for purposes related to the trucking company, the said company may assume liability. In cases of a company driver or employee involved in an accident while on duty, New York law stipulates that the employer is liable for employees’ negligent acts if they lead to a horrific crash.
Hiring a truck driver as an independent operator doesn’t automatically mean that the employer is legally responsible for any negligent act. However, in New York, the trucking company may be held liable for the negligent act of an independent contractor depending on the degree of control exercised over the truck driver. For example, the employer might be responsible if the following conditions apply:
- The employer required the independent contractor truck driver to wear a uniform.
- The employed supplied them with insurance.
- The employer required the driver to deliver the cargo in specific ways.
- The employer paid the driver’s taxes from their paycheck.
- The employer may hold vicarious responsibility for the independent contractor’s negligent act.
The same applies when:
- The employer is negligent in retaining and supervising an independent contractor.
- The delivery work is inherently dangerous.
- The employer is under a non-delegable mandate to protect an NYC truck accident victim from danger.
Trucking companies may incur vicarious liability for a truck accident if the driver is operating the truck in question for purposes related to the company.
In other cases, the trucking company may be straight-out negligent for:
- Inadequate driver training
- Allowing improper loading of the cargo
- Pressuring drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines
- Utilizing inexperienced drivers
- Overlooking safety regulations and maintenance schedules
Cargo loaders must operate carefully and in line with the law. They can, therefore, be liable for a truck accident if they load the truck improperly and, as a result, the cargo spills onto an oncoming vehicle or road, causing a catastrophic accident.
They can also be held responsible for overloading trucks in a way that makes them unsafe to operate.
The FMCSA regulations require the truck driver to:
- Maintain a logbook showcasing hours driven
- Adhere to scheduled maintenance requirements
- Document hours of operation and rest breaks
- Non-use of alcohol and controlled substances
- Proper loading of a truck, when containing hazardous materials
- Driving a maximum of ten hours a day
Breaking traffic laws, driving under the influence of drugs, etc., may be considered an act of negligence.
Employers of negligent third parties
In New York, the Respondeat superior law stipulates that the employer is liable for their employees’ negligent acts while on the job.
Employers can also be held responsible for:
- Hiring unfit or unqualified drivers
- Not supervising the driver properly
- Not training the track driver adequately
Transit companies can be held accountable for negligent acts such as:
- Selecting an unfit or unqualified truck company
- Failing to monitor the driver’s driving hours
Government agencies responsible for maintaining the roads
The NYC municipality can be liable if the truck accident resulted from:
- Pothole-ridden roads
- Narrow lanes
- Highways without shoulders
Companies that manufacture defective or dangerous equipment
If defective components in the truck contributed to the truck accident, the product or truck manufacturer might be liable.
Generally, truck accident lawsuits rely on a finding of negligence. In other words, the plaintiff must show the following:
- The negligent party owed them a duty of care (for example, to drive reasonably).
- The party breached its duty of care through negligent acts.
- The breach caused the victim’s injuries.
- The breach was the proximate cause of the accident that resulted in harm to the victim.
- The victim sustained actual injuries or losses.
In case of product liability, the plaintiff will have to prove that:
- They suffered injuries or losses.
- The defective component was unreasonably dangerous.
- The driver was operating the truck as directed by the manufacturer, and maintenance was up-to-date.
You can also seek product liability claims under strict liability, eliminating the need for proof of negligence. In such a case, the victim must showcase the defect that originated in the product’s manufacturing process. That calls for analysis, testing, and experts’ testimonies.
Common Injuries Suffered after Collisions with Tractor Trailers
Trucks weigh 20-30 times the weight of typical passenger vehicles. So when they collide with motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians, the resulting injuries can be catastrophic or even fatal.
Surviving victims of truck accidents often sustain severe injuries, such as:
As the head is usually exposed, it’s common for victims of truck accidents to sustain head injuries. When the blow to the head is severe, it may result in concussions. Or a skull fracture, especially in the cranial bone causing traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
Truck accident victims can sustain severely broken bones that require expensive surgeries. Wrist injuries resulting from colliding with the steering wheel, dashboard, or airbag are common.
Serious fractures can cause internal bleeding, nerve damage, permanent deformity, and infection: hence the need for prompt medical attention.
One can suffer severe burns in truck accidents following fuel tank explosion upon impact. The burns can also result from friction if the victim is ejected from the car or scrapped against the car’s interior. Additionally, victims can sustain chemical burns when hazardous materials in transit spill on their skin.
Generally, burns are hard to treat and may require surgery or even plastic surgery.
Truck accidents can lead to mashed organs and compressed nerves. The resulting internal damages can be hard to locate but can cause varying symptoms, from numbness to excruciating pain.
A victim’s limb may be crushed and removed in the accident. Or it can be damaged in a manner that warrants its removal for the victim to survive.
Neck injuries are common, especially in rear-end truck accidents. Whiplash, for instance, occurs when the neck whip back and forth rapidly following the collision, damaging the bone structures and soft tissue in the neck region.
Common back injuries resulting from truck accidents include spinal cord damage, herniated discs, compression fractures, and soft tissue injuries.
Bony structures protect the spine. In between these structures are discs that serve as shock absorbers. When the bony structures or discs experience injuries, they can collapse, bulge, or leak, leading to severe back injuries.
Spinal cord injuries can cause partial or total paralysis. Once the spinal cord is affected, it cuts the communication between the brain and different body parts, making it hard for victims to move the injured body parts. In severe cases, the victim might lose the use of extremities or require help breathing, speaking, and eating.
Truck crashes are often fatal. If your loved one dies in a truck accident because of someone else’s negligent acts, you may receive compensation for their wrongful death. Wrongful death damages include:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Medical costs
- Pain and suffering endured before their death
- Loss of companionship or familial relationship
What should I do after a truck accident in NYC?
After a truck accident, it’s important to stay calm. Assess the situation and check yourself for injuries before making any sudden moves. If you’re able, ensure you’re safe by transporting your vehicle to a safer spot or turning your hazard lights on until the first responders come to your rescue. Placing cones around your car and lighting road flares can also help, especially if you’re in a remote location.
Next, consider doing the following:
Call 911 if someone is severely injured or has died. The goal is to enable police and emergency responders to arrive fast to control traffic and provide medical help to those in urgent need, respectively.
Seeking medical attention
Your adrenaline may prevent you from noticing an injury or even feeling pain. However: if you fail to receive first aid or emergency care: visit your primary care physician promptly. Or get emergency medical help at local hospitals, such as:
- Lenox Health Greenwich Village: +1 646-665-6000
- NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan: Emergency Room: +1 212-423-6466
- NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital Emergency Department: +1 212-312-5070
Seeking medical help ensures your truck accident injuries are diagnosed and treated promptly. It also creates an official record of your injuries, which can help support your claim.
Taking pictures and gathering evidence at the accident scene
You can’t just rely on your memory to account for the accident. Instead, note down details about the crash as best as you can.
If you can’t, enlist the help of bystanders to photograph and video the crash site, sustained injuries, damages to your vehicle and surrounding property, number plates of all vehicles involved in the crash, witnesses, drivers’ contact details, etc.
Contacting the police even if no one was injured
File a motorist accident report or call NYC highway patrol or police to investigate and document the scene. The goal is to get a police officer to assess the incident, fill a report, and instruct you on what to do next.
Once done, request a copy of the police report for your record or to serve as critical evidence in support of your personal injury claim.
Exchanging information with the other driver and eyewitnesses
Exchange contact and insurance information with the drivers involved in the crash as per New York State Law. Ask for:
- Driver’s name
- Employer’s name and contact information
- Contact details
- Driver license number
- License plate number
- Insurance information
- Policy number
If the driver’s name differs from that on the registration or insurance card, ask how the two relate and note down that information.
If you notice witnesses at or around the scene, try to get their contact details. And, if possible, record their account of the accident.
Following medical advice and treatment plans
Warning: not following through with the recommended treatment can impact your ability to seek fair compensation.
Keeping a record of your accident-related medical bills and other documents
You want to preserve as much evidence as you can. That means keeping relevant documents such as:
- Police report
- Medical reports
- Pictures of the crash site
- Applicable insurance details
- Eyewitness names and other identifying information
Reporting the accident to your insurance provider
New York is a no-fault state. An injured person’s first option for compensation is their personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. Hence the need to notify your insurer immediately after the accident. Failing to do so could be reason enough for your insurer to deny your claim.
Do not admit fault or speak with the defendant or their insurance company about the accident events or a settlement
Don’t confront or engage in prolonged conversation with at-fault parties. Don’t apologize for the accident or claim that you are “fine” either.
When approached by an insurance adjuster, be careful of what you say to them. It’s best not to engage them and, instead, direct them to your legal counsel.
Contacting a truck accident lawyer
If you suffered severe injuries or believe you may be entitled to financial compensation after a truck accident, consider retaining a trusted truck accident attorney to discuss your case and legal options.
Should I hire a New York City truck accident lawyer?
It’s helpful to hire a truck accident lawyer for your case. The trucking industry must follow heavy regulations imposed by comprehensive state and federal laws that cover issues concerning truck drivers, trucks, and trucking companies.
Therefore, it’s crucial to have someone who understands these regulations by your side to help formulate a winning strategy. A New York City truck accident lawyer can, for instance, spot even the subtle weight restriction violations and use them to support your claim.
Truckers usually have their total insurance value in the millions. With such amounts at stake: insurance companies will likely go to extreme depth to deny liability. They can hire veteran insurance adjusters who’ll employ tactics such as offering a seemingly-large payout to blind the victim into accepting less than their case is worth. Retaining a compassionate lawyer helps make the claim process less stressful.
Additionally, hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer helps ensure your case meets the lawsuit thresholds required to proceed, including the three-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit in New York. The goal is to ensure you have a substantial claim before investing added time and resources. Your lawyer can help identify all the responsible parties and prove their negligence: duty of care, breach of the said duty, causation, and damages, as well as accurately estimate your current and future damages to help obtain fair compensation.
Overall, a compassionate NYC truck accident lawyer can help:
- Interview witnesses
- Review camera footage of the accident if available
- Review medical and mandatory police reports
- Interview medical staff
- Review and analyze medical records
- Consult an expert to recreate the accident
- Obtain data from the trucker’s Electronic Control Module (ECM)
- Ensure critical evidence such as ECM information and driver logs are preserved by sending a spoliation letter to relevant parties before such evidence is destroyed or lost
Injured from a NYC Truck Accident?
How can Meirowitz & Wasserberg help you after your NYC truck accident?
At Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP, we represent people, not corporations. Each individual receives personalized attention and support, intending to get fair compensation without hassle.
Each case is a chance to showcase the firm’s efforts and dedication to serving personal injury victims. We have the resources and personnel to take on complex lawsuits, even those pitting us against large insurers and corporations.
If you’re looking for compassionate lawyers who can safeguard your legal rights, “fight” big insurance companies, and negotiate for the maximum value of your truck accident case, contact us today for a free consultation.
New York City Office
New York, NY 10018