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NYC Truck Accident Lawyer

NYC Truck Accidents: What You Need To Know

What Are The Causes of Truck Accidents in NYC

Truck accidents are often caused by inattentive and overworked drivers. The companies that employ truckers push the drivers to the extreme. Their goal is to get as much product delivered as quickly as possible, regardless of the consequences. Profits over people is often the unfortunate underlying rationale. Truck drivers often suffer from extreme sleep deprivation and are thus less attentive to the road than they should be, especially truck drivers who have interstate routes and are on the road for days and weeks at a time. Texting while driving is another frequent cause of trucking accidents.

Who May be Liable For a Truck Accident

Many different parties may be liable for a truck accident. The driver is the most obvious example, but most drivers don’t have much money.  Drivers are almost always covered by some insurance policy and other parties can be held liable for the truck driver’s negligence.

The party most often held liable in trucking accidents is the carrier, or trucking company.  A trucking company can be held vicariously liable for the acts of the driver.  These companies are either self-insured, or generally have large insurance policies designed to pay for accidents with potentially very serious injuries and death.

Trucking contracts often have multiple parties involved and potentially anyone involved in the stream of commerce can be held liable for a trucking accident.  Another common target defendant is the truck owner, especially if the owner was responsible for maintaining the truck, and a maintenance issue caused the accident.

Cargo loaders can also be held liable in situations where the loading of the cargo contributed to the accident.  See below.

In rare instances, it has been possible to hold manufacturers of the trucks, and/or certain component parts liable when manufacturing and/or design defects contributed to accidents.

Injuries From Collisions With Tractor Trailers

Trailers themselves often play a contributing factor in trucking and tractor trailer collisions.  A common accident in cities is for the trailer to hit another vehicle during a turn.  The tractor sometimes makes the turn, clearing any other vehicles, while the trailer collides with another vehicle.

In a case handled by the LAW TEAM, the plaintiff was sitting in a parked car on a New York City Street.  A tractor trailer made a turn and the tractor ended up next to the parked vehicle.  Unfortunately for our client, the trailer did not completely clear the turn and collided with our client’s car.  The tractor or “cab” ended up so close to our client’s car, that he couldn’t exit the driver’s side of his vehicle.  He was in pain, and dazed after the collision.  So he decided to crawl through his car and exit the passenger side door.  In doing so, he twisted his knee, sustaining a torn meniscus.

Do I Need to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer

You should at least consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer to see your options.  If you have a relatively small case, i.e., you were relatively unscathed, you may not need a lawyer. It may be possible for you to obtain a small settlement without hiring a lawyer.  However, your case may be worth more than you think, so it’s best to at least talk to a lawyer to see.

The call to the LAW-TEAM is free. There is no charge to retain us, and you only pay a fee if you win.  Our fee comes out of the settlement at the end of the case.  Should there be no win, there is no fee.  You would not owe us anything for any of the time or money we spent preparing your case. 

What Steps Should I Take After a Trucking Accident

The most important step is to get medical attention.  This is the best thing for your health, and for your case. Once the medical aspect is under control, your next step should be to document everything as much as possible.  If possible, attempt to have the police and/or an ambulance come to the scene.  The more documentation the better.

Throughout your case, think “How can I prove this case”.  Remember that ultimately, your case may have to be tried in front of a jury.  The jury will be made up of regular people, just like you.  They will want to see proof of everything.  The insurance company will do everything possible to poke holes in your story.  Their defense, right off the bat, will be that the accident didn’t even happen!  So, take pictures of everything.  Where is the property damage on your car?  What about on the truck?  The points of contact may be crucial in determining how the accident happened.  Take pictures of the license plate.  Assume that the truck driver will lie and say he was never there. 

Once you have secured as much evidence as possible, contact an experienced truck accident attorney.  Talk to an attorney before giving any statements to any insurance companies, even your own.  If someone from the insurance company threatens that your property damage and/or medical bills won’t be paid until you give a recorded statement or sign something, this should set off major alarm bells.  It’s best to speak with an attorney before you voluntarily

Also, stay off social media.  Many personal injury victims ruin their cases by posting photos on social media.  After the initial trauma of the accident, it is understandable that you want to go about your life.  Many people, even the very seriously injured, do gain some semblance of normality back.  The broken bones heal, the pain slowly goes away.  You may feel comfortable going to a wedding and dancing, even if a year before your broken ankle prevented you from even getting out of bed.

However, posting pictures of you dancing at a wedding can destroy your case.  Why?  Assume that one day the case goes to trial.  You are making the case to the jury that you are injured.  You are in pain.  And now the jury sees a picture of you dancing, smiling, and enjoying life.  The question on the jurors’ minds will be “How hurt could she really be?” 

You may be thinking “What if my Facebook settings are ‘private’”?  It doesn’t matter.  The insurance companies will find them.  How?  No one knows.  But they will.  Maybe someone whose account isn’t private will re-post them.  Maybe they’ll end up being emailed around.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s best to simply avoid social media altogether from the time of your accident, up until the time of trial or settlement.  If you absolutely must be on social media, avoid posting any photos that could ruin your case.  Any photos that show you engaged in physical activities could be severely damaging to your claims of injuries, pain and suffering.  

How Can Haicken Law Help After a Truck Accident

We can help with the investigation to determine the parties that may be responsible for your accident.  We can hire crash scene investigators and engineers to make sure no stone is left unturned.  We can also get you to see doctors so that you are getting proper medical care.  You are welcome to use your own doctors, but most clients have never gotten treatment from doctors who can treat injuries related to trauma such as car and trucking accidents.

We can make sure your medical bills get paid, and your car is fixed.  We don’t want you to have to deal with any insurance companies.  You should focus on getting better, and getting your life back together.  We don’t want you to have to wait on hold endlessly with an insurance company that really doesn’t care about you.  Let us do that.

We can assist in getting your lost wages paid through the No Fault insurance company so that you are properly and quickly compensated for your time lost from work.

In addition, if the case warrants it, we may be able to get you a cash advance through a litigation financing company to keep you above water until the case settles.

How to Define a Commercial Vehicle

A commercial vehicle is a vehicle used for business purposes.  This contrasts with a car used by a regular person.  Commercial vehicles are often larger, can be used to transport materials, and generally have much higher liability insurance limits that personal vehicles.  Examples of commercial vehicles are delivery trucks, 18-wheelers, trucks for utility companies, snow-plows, commercial garbage trucks, car carrier trailers, and any type of vehicle used at a construction site that is allowed on public roads.

When Should I Hire a New York Truck Accident Lawyer

It’s best to contact a lawyer immediately after a truck accident.  Once you have gotten any emergency medical treatment necessary, you should call a truck accident lawyer.  Evidence can disappear, witness’s memories fade.  It’s also good to have a lawyer early on because you may have to give a recorded statement or submit to an EUO – examination under oath – in order to keep your no fault benefits.  These statements, just like in a criminal case, can be used against you.  It’s important to have a lawyer to prepare you and be present with you when the statements are taken.

Serious Injuries Caused from a Truck Accident

It’s best to contact a lawyer immediately after a truck accident.  Once you have gotten any emergency medical treatment necessary, you should call a truck accident lawyer.  Evidence can disappear, witness’s memories fade.  It’s also good to have a lawyer early on because you may have to give a recorded statement or submit to an EUO – examination under oath – in order to keep your no fault benefits.  These statements, just like in a criminal case, can be used against you.  It’s important to have a lawyer to prepare you and be present with you when the statements are taken.

Mechanical Defects and Poor Truck Maintenance

Sometimes, it’s not driver error that causes a trucking and/ or automobile accident.  Mechanical problems inherent in the vehicle can be a contributing factor.  Some recent examples of defective automobile accidents cases are the sudden acceleration cases and cases where airbags deployed even when there was not an impact.

Poor maintenance of the truck itself can be a factor.  If the breaks fail, tires fall off etc., this can cause a loss of control of the truck which can result in a massive crash.   An experienced truck accident attorney can accident reconstruction engineers to determine what exactly caused the accident, and who is responsible. 

Hazardous Material Spills After a Truck Accident in NYC

Dangerous material spilled from trucks can cause car accidents, and/or environmental damage just from the spills.  When toxic chemicals burn, and/or seep into groundwater, it can result in horrific environmental damage that can also cause physical injuries in humans.

Poor maintenance of the truck itself can be a factor.  If the breaks fail, tires fall off etc., this can cause a loss of control of the truck which can result in a massive crash.   An experienced truck accident attorney can accident reconstruction engineers to determine what exactly caused the accident, and who is responsible.

Cargo and Items Falling From Trucks

Injuries are often caused by items that fall from trucks.  This can happen if it is an open truck, i.e., flatbed, or even if the items are inside the truck.  If the items are not properly stored, and the truck’s rear door is not probably closed, items can go flying from the truck and hit other vehicles on the road.  These types of accidents often result in chain reaction collisions as drivers swerve avoid the falling material.  Many different companies can be held liable when cargo falls from trucks.  Sometimes a separate company is hired just to load the cargo.  Even in a case like this, the trucking company can still also be held liable for not checking to make sure the cargo load was properly secured before driving.

What Are the Limits Truck Drivers Can Legally Drive in NYC

Trucking is a highly regulated industry.  The rules for trucking are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT).   

In New York, the DOT rules state the following- A commercial motor vehicle driver:

  • May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • May not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

The rules for commercial trucks are very complex, and the record keeping requirements are stringent.  What is listed above is only part of the rules for truck drivers in New York.  Only an experienced lawyer can sift through the data and records to determine if the truck driver who caused your accident may have been in violation of any State or Federal rules.  

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Truck Accident in New York

New York has very strict time deadlines for accident cases, so it is very important you speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. Below are some of the most important deadlines for New York trucking accidents.

  • Application for no fault benefits – 30 days.  No fault benefits are those paid by the car that you were in, the host vehicle, regardless of who was at fault.  If you were a pedestrian, and you were hit by a car, then that car’s insurance would cover your no fault benefits.  No fault benefits cover your lost wages and medical bills for a total of up to $50,000.
  • Statute of limitations for personal injury cases – You have 3 years from the date of accident to file suit in most truck accident cases.  If you were involved in an accident with a vehicle owned by a municipality or an authority (Port Authority, Transit Authority etc.) you have to file a notice of claim within 90 days, and the statute of limitations is 1 year and 90 days.
  • Wrongful death – You have 2 years from the date of accident to file suit. 

How Much Are New York Truck Accident Settlements

The value of the settlement depends on many factors such as how badly you were injured, and whether or not you were partially at fault for the accident.  The LAW TEAM at Haicken law recently settled a truck accident case for $2 Million dollars.  This involved a man who was very seriously injured.  He had broken bones and required a total of 4 surgeries.

Another truck accident case handled by the LAW TEAM settled for only $90,000.  This case involved a woman who was rear ended by a truck and sustained a shoulder injury.  She had minor surgery and made an excellent recovery.  The case was most likely worth much more, but the insurance company made an offer within 6 months of the accident. 

Wrongful Death Lawsuits for Fatal Truck Accidents

New York’s law on wrongful death is very backwards.  A surviving family can not recover for their emotional distress or grief when a loved one is killed.  Damages in a New York wrongful death case are confined to loss of economic loss, loss of parental guidance, and the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent.

Economic loss is a relatively simple calculation based on how much the decedent was making, and how much she would have made for the remainder of her life to support her family.  For those killed who were not working – retirees, children, stay at home parents – this portion of the claim is not worth any money.  This part of the law also favors the rich, i.e., high income earners.

Loss of parental guidance – the part of wrongful death damages can be substantial.  When someone is killed who had young children, juries can award money to compensate those children for the loss of guidance they would have received, throughout their lifetime, if the parent had survived.  This claim is available even if the child is an adult at the time of their parent’s passing.  Adult children who lose a parent are entitled to much less money than a small child would get. 

Examples of Settlements for Truck Accident Cases

The value of the settlement depends on many factors such as how badly you were injured, and whether or not you were partially at fault for the accident.  The LAW TEAM at Haicken law recently settled a truck accident case for $2 Million dollars.  This involved a man who was very seriously injured.  He had broken bones and required a total of 4 surgeries.

Another truck accident case handled by the LAW TEAM settled for only $90,000.  This case involved a woman who was rear ended by a truck and sustained a shoulder injury.  She had minor surgery and made an excellent recovery.  The case was most likely worth much more, but the insurance company made an offer within 6 months of the accident.

What Are the Costs of Hiring a New York Truck Accidents Lawyer

We take all cases on contingency.  This means there’s no fee unless we win.  It even rhymes in Spanish – no cobramos si no ganamos.  We pay all expenses up front and you don’t have to worry about anything.  When the case finally settles, the attorney gets 1/3 of the settlement, plus reimbursement of case expenses.  If, god forbid, we take your case all the way to trial and lose, you don’t owe anything.  There is only a fee if we win.

Let’s say a case settles for $100,000 and there are $10,000 in expenses.  (Expenses can include expert witnesses, filing fees, hiring a private investigator to interview witnesses, paying for medical records etc.)

The lawyer would get 1/3  (33+1/3% of the settlement.)  So the lawyer in this case would get  $33,333.33.  The lawyer would also be entitled to get her $10,000 back from the total settlement.  So, the lawyer would get $43,333.33 and the client would get the rest:  $56,666.67.  The client’s share is always tax free.  

New York Truck Accident References and Sources