Truck Accident Attorney Serving New York and Long Island
Semi-trucks are a common sight on New York and Long Island roadways. With the ability to carry tons of cargo in a single trip, they are critical to moving products for individuals and businesses alike.
That essential ability is precisely what makes 18-wheelers so dangerous. Smaller trucks, SUVs, and other passenger vehicles are no match for the size and weight of a semi. Those traveling in smaller vehicles are often seriously injured, incapacitated, or killed.
How often are trucks involved in motor vehicle accidents? In October 2022 alone, 712 crashes in New York City involved commercial trucks with six or more wheels. Some of those were caused by the negligence of the semi-truck driver or another party. Had they taken reasonable care to ensure the safe operation of the commercial vehicle, innocent victims wouldn’t have had to suffer.
If you have been injured in a trucking accident, or if your loved one has been incapacitated or killed in one, you are likely worried, stressed, and overwhelmed, if not grieving. At the Law Office of Steven R. Smith, we advocate for injury victims throughout New York, Long Island, Hempstead, Mineola, New Hyde Park, and Westbury, New York. Our personal injury attorney handles these cases every day and is ready to guide you forward with skill and compassion.
What Laws Affect Truck Accidents Specifically?
The safe operation of commercial motor vehicles is regulated by both federal and state law. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations detail requirements regarding safety issues such as driving training and fitness, vehicle safety and load inspections, and the maximum hours a driver can work during a given period.
New York has adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. However, state law also dictates issues such as criminal prosecution for violations of state and federal regulations, and gives the state authority to inspect commercial vehicles while in the State of New York.
Commercial vehicles are required to carry liability insurance coverage. Under civil law, injury victims who can prove negligence on the part of the truck driver or another related party may pursue claims against that coverage by negotiating with the insurer and filing a lawsuit against the at-fault parties in court.
In a personal injury claim, you have three years from the date of the crash to settle your claim or file a lawsuit in court. In a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations is two years. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t much time, so it's smart to seek help from an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as you can.
Who Can Be Liable for a Truck Accident?
In most motor vehicle accidents, the negligent driver of the vehicle that caused the crash is the only party who can be held liable for a victim’s damages. Truck accidents are a bit more complex because of how many parties could be involved. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, the liability coverage of the following parties may apply:
The semi-truck driver
The trucking company that employs the driver
The truck manufacturer
The truck’s inspection company
The team or company who loaded the truck’s cargo
As you can see, there are many parties responsible for the safety of a semi-truck and trailer when it is on the roadway. Those who contributed to the cause of an 18-wheeler accident in any way can be held financially responsible under the law.
What Factors Make a Party Liable?
There are numerous factors that determine liability in a truck accident. The roadway itself may share fault for a crash. Hazards, wet pavement, and visibility may play a role.
The truck driver might have been distracted, driving too fast to stop in time, or passing another vehicle when it wasn't safe to do so. Fatigue may have impaired the judgment and physical ability of the driver to operate the truck safely, which would be a fault shared by the driver and the company that allowed the driver to exceed maximum working hours. Likewise, the driver might have lacked the training necessary to inspect and operate the vehicle in a safe manner, again making both the driver and the company liable.
The driver of any other vehicle involved in the crash might also share liability. Perhaps they were following the truck too closely or were distracted and therefore unable to avoid impact. Under New York law, drivers involved in auto crashes can share fault; but, since the state follows a comparative negligence rule, a percentage of fault does not prohibit an injury victim from pursuing a claim.
How Do I File a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim?
Whether you or a loved one was injured or killed in a truck accident, the first step you should take is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Our attorney will move quickly to preserve evidence, investigate the crash, identify all responsible parties, and assert your claim with all applicable insurers.
If injured, you need to seek medical treatment and comply with treatment plans. Your medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and other damages will need to be evaluated for your claim.
If your loved one was incapacitated in the commercial truck accident and cannot assert a claim on their own, your attorney can petition the court to allow you to pursue a personal injury claim on their behalf. If you are the surviving spouse, parent, or child of someone who died as a result of their crash injuries, or if you are the personal representative of their estate, you are eligible to file a wrongful death action under New York law.
New York & Long Island
If you or a loved one has been in a truck accident in New York or Long Island, you need to retain an attorney right away. Trucking companies carry liability insurance policies with high limits — when there is a significant sum of money on the line, they will fight hard to avoid paying what they owe. Our attorney at the Law Office of Steven R. Smith will fight harder for you, but you have to make the first move. Call us now to schedule a free case consultation.