5 Key Legal Issues Unique to Truck Accidents

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Truck Accident

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a motor vehicle collision with a large commercial tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler, you need an attorney who has experience handling truck accident claims. There are unique issues that must be addressed in order to prevail in a lawsuit and maximize your compensation. In New York City, the law office of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb and Green is here to answer any questions you may have.  

Worse Injuries and Property Damage

The sheer size and weight of a commercial truck mean greater propensity for harm, whether it’s a spinal cord injury, head trauma, internal injuries from a roll-over, burns from a truck transporting flammable cargo, or broken bones. About 29% of all truck accidents result in serious injury, and nearly 1.5 percent result in a fatality. People in passenger cars are the ones who suffer in 73 percent of all truck accidents, according to the National Institute of Traffic and Highway Safety.

Larger Insurance Minimums

Compared to a passenger vehicle accident, the insurance policy limits are higher for commercial vehicles. Yet, for some, the increased availability of cash is still not enough. While commercial trucks have larger insurance minimums than passenger vehicles, the amount required by law was set in the 1980s and has remained unchanged for nearly 40 years, despite inflation. The minimums range from $750,000 to $1 million, depending on the gross vehicle weight and type of cargo carried.

Government representatives have recommended increasing minimum liability insurance to $4.9 million.

Federal Regulations and Trucking Company Policies

Companies operating commercial trucks must comply with state and federal safety regulations. For example:

  • Truckers must submit to routine, mandatory drug and alcohol testing.
  • Trucking companies must perform routine maintenance on their vehicles and maintain a log of upkeep.
  • There are limits on the allowable length and weight of the truck.
  • Trucking companies are responsible for pre-hiring screening.
  • All drivers must have valid commercial drivers’ licenses.
  • There is a maximum number of consecutive hours on the road and mandatory breaks.

A number of additional rules may apply to a trucker’s conduct, based on internal company policies. Policies typically cover substance use, medical disabilities, pre-trip inspections, breaks, maintenance, and virtually every aspect of the job. When there is a deviation in company protocol, the case for liability becomes easier to establish.

Multiple Party Liability

In addition to the driver of the truck, liable parties may include:

  • The truck driver’s employer
  • The truck licensing company
  • The truck manufacturer
  • The truck repair shop
  • The cargo loading subcontractor
  • Another motor vehicle driver involved in the crash

Compromised Evidence

It is surprisingly commonplace for truckers or trucking firms to falsify their logbooks or reset black box recorders to hide wrongdoing. Experienced truck accident attorneys can recognize inconsistencies and subpoena records from GPS or data recorders that may conflict with the defendants’ accounts.  

We prefer to work with plaintiffs right away, so we can preserve accident scene evidence. Crash scene reconstructionists take detailed notes on the speed and direction traveled, as well as the positioning of each vehicle after the collision. Our team of investigators can interview eyewitnesses, track down surveillance footage, and make sure your vehicle damage is properly documented before it is repaired.

Contact A NYC Truck Accident Lawyer

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb and Green have served New York for over 50 years. We have extensive experience not just in automobile accidents generally, but in truck accidents specifically. Our team understands the unique challenges your lawsuit is likely to face and has a vast arsenal of resources to combat any potential issue that may arise. Contact an NYC truck accident lawyer from our firm for a free consultation and contingency-based representation that costs you nothing upfront.

Be Aware of Large Trucks on NY Highways

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Truck Accident

red modern big rig semi truck with semi trailer move with cargo on the highway

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration routinely releases data on commercial motor vehicle accidents across the country. That data includes the sobering fact that New York State is consistently among the top ten states that see the largest number of truck crash and commercial vehicle accidents with fatalities.

The New York City truck accident lawyers at Friedman Levy Goldfarb & Green urge motorists to exercise extra care when they are driving near or around commercial vehicles on NY’s highways and county roads.  A few commonsense precautions may be able to prevent or reduce the severity of truck-car collisions:

Stay out of a truck’s blind spots and danger zones.

A semi-truck driver will not be able to see you in his or her mirrors if you are following less than 30 feet behind the truck’s trailer. Likewise, the driver has limited visibility of the zones immediately to the left and right and slightly behind the cab. A distracted truck driver will be even less likely to notice a car that is in the truck’s blind spots.

Exercise extreme caution when passing.

Give yourself ample time and space to pass a truck that is moving at highway speeds. Once past the truck, do not pull back in front of it until you have at least 20 feet of clearance, and maintain highway speeds when you do pull back in.

Respect the distance that the truck needs to come to a full stop.  

Heavy trucksrequire extra time and distance to come to a full stop. Beware of sudden stops when you are in front of a truck, and try to give the truck driver sufficient time and distance to respond and stop the truck.

Understand that trucks have a wider turning radius.

A truck with a long trailer cannot execute tight turns. If you are next to a truck that is turning left or right, you should expect the truck to swing out to make that turn.

Appreciate the higher risks of serious injuries in truck accidents.

Often, just knowing the data about truck accident injuries and fatalities will cause a motorist to drive more carefully around trucks. Data collected between 2014 and 2016 reveals, for example:

  • Almost 40% of fatalities in truck accidents occurred when a vehicle’s occupant was not wearing a seat belt; 
  • Speeding by either or both the truck or another vehicle is a factor in almost 20% of large truck crashes;
  • More than half of all fatal truck crashes occur off of major highways and in rural areas;
  • Driver distraction from cell phone and other causes accounts for between 5% and 15% of all truck accidents;
  • Roughly a third of fatal work zone accidents involve large trucks.

New York Truck Accident Attorneys

Collisions between heavy trucks and cars often cause more serious injuries than car-on-car accidents because of the truck’s extra weight and momentum. In addition, multiple parties may have liability for losses and injuries, including the company that loaded cargo into the truck, the shipping company, the driver, and the manufacturers of faulty components that led to a crash. 

The truck accident attorneys at New York’s Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green have the knowledge and experience to sort through these complex issues and to recover the largest available damages awards for motorists that have suffered serious injuries in accidents with large trucks in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island and elsewhere in the greater New York City metropolitan area. Please see our website or call us for an analysis of your heavy truck accident case.

NY Truck Accident Statistics

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Truck Accident

red modern big rig semi truck with semi trailer move with cargo on the highway

In the aftermath of a truck crash, it’s only natural to wonder what happened in those moments before the crash, and what could have been done to prevent it. Finding the answers to these questions is crucial to your mental and emotional recovery after such an impactful event.

In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the latest truck accident statistics, so you can see which common factors lead to injuries and fatalities in New York State crashes.   

Do You Need a NY Truck Accident Lawyer?

According to a summary released by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV), nearly 83 percent of all truck crashes in 2014 were attributable to human error. The most recent version of NYS DMV’s “Summary of Large Truck Crashes” report summarized some of the human errors responsible for truck crashes. The most common cause of crashes included:

  • Driver inattention/distraction (18.4%)
  • Following too closely (15%)
  • Failure to yield right-of-way (10.9%)
  • Unsafe lane changing (10.5%)
  • Passing or improper lane use (10.2%)

Injuries were linked to:

  • Following too closely (732)
  • Driver inattention/distraction (654)
  • Failure to yield right-of-way (425)
  • Unsafe speed (420), and
  • Unsafe lane changing (320)

The largest number of fatalities were caused by:

  • Unsafe speed (17)
  • Failure to keep right (12)
  • Failure to yield right-of-way (12)
  • Pedestrian or bicyclist confusion (9)
  • Driver inattention/distraction (7) 

When a trucking accident was, at least in part, caused by human negligence or recklessness, the services of a New York truck accident lawyer can help you recover compensation from your losses. Damages related to truck accident injuries include medical expenses, lost wages, disability-related expenses, and undue emotional suffering.

When you have lost a loved one, a lawsuit can compensate for medical bills, funeral and burial costs, the loss of companionship and support, and emotional distress suffered by surviving family members.

In truck accident cases, liability may extend beyond the truck driver to include the trucker’s employer, maintenance personnel, cargo shipping vendors, and others. Sometimes the government is liable for failure to maintain the roadways. Hiring a NY personal injury attorney with the resources to fully investigate the crash can help you get to the bottom of what happened and determine whether or not you have a valid claim.

All services are provided free of charge. Plaintiffs only pay for their lawyers upon successful resolution of the case.

New York Truck Crash Statistics

According to the National Highway Transportation Safely Administration, there were 121 fatalities involving a large truck in New York State in 2017, up from 106 in 2016.

While the state is vast, most fatal trucking accidents were centered in and around the New York City metro area. Counties with the highest number of truck accident fatalities included:

  • New York County (11)
  • Kings County (9)
  • Bronx County (9)
  • Queens County (7)
  • Genesee County (6)
  • Nassau County (6)
  • Oswego County (6)
  • Westchester County (5).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s most recent 2017 data provides a clearer picture of what’s happening with big truck crashes across the country, which mirrors what we’re experiencing locally.

  • Volume: There were 4,889 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes – an increase of 10% from 2016. This is 42% higher than the 2009 low, but 7% lower than the 2005 peak. The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes increased 5%.
  • Number of Vehicles: 63% of large truck crashes involved one other vehicle.
  • Type of Vehicle: Single trailers accounted for 59% of accidents; 2% were doubles and 0.3% triples.
  • Victims: 82% of fatalities were passengers in the other vehicle. In 91% of crashes, there is one victim.
  • Drivers: Most drivers in fatal accidents were middle-aged; 6% were under 25, and 6% were over 66.
  • Location: 57% of fatal truck crashes occur in rural areas and 27% occur on highways. Nearly a third of work zone fatalities (and 12% of work zone injuries) involved at least one big truck.
  • Timing: 35% of fatal truck crashes and 22% of injury crashes occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The vast majority of crashes (83% of fatal, 88% non-fatal) happen on a weekday.
  • Drug Use: In 2017, 252 of the 4,600 large truck drivers in fatal accidents (5%) tested positive for at least one drug. Another 59% refused testing or simply were not tested.

Get Help After A Truck Crash

A NY truck accident lawyerfrom Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green will lend comprehensive support as you recover from your physical injuries. We can refer you to the best medical care providers, investigate the crash, file paperwork, and represent you in court as you recuperate.

If you have lost a loved one to a truck accident, our New York attorneys provide more than just a shoulder to cry on – we also provide the investigative muscle for establishing liability, the legal grounds to hold negligent parties accountable and prevent future harm, and the support in securing compensation to help your family recover financially from your tremendous loss.

Additional resources:

  1. NYS DMV – 2014 Large Truck Crash Summary, https://dmv.ny.gov/statistic/2014-largetruckcrashsummary.pdf
  2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2017

Jackknife Accident Causes, Risks and Legal Recourse

Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. Truck Accident

Truck and highway at sunset - transportation background

According to national statistics, roughly one out of every ten road traffic fatalities on U.S. highways involves a semi-truck or 18-wheeler. A collision with any type of large commercial vehicle is terrifying, but few crashes are as deadly as a jackknife accident. Jackknifing occurs when the trailer section of the semi swings out to the side, coming to a 90-degree angle with the powered wheels of the cab. You can think of it as a folding pocket knife or a capital L, with the trailer section the longer side.

When a tractor trailer jackknifes, the truck folds in on itself, causing the driver to lose total control of the vehicle. This sort of truck accident is more prone to happen on the freeway, where high speeds are the norm. Depending on how fast the rig is moving when it jackknifes, it could be at risk of rolling over, creating a major hazard for oncoming drivers.  If the semi is hauling hazardous cargo or flammable materials, there is also a risk of catching fire and explosions.

Common causes of jackknife accidents

Inclement weather and excessive speed are common factors in 18-wheeler jackknife accidents. When a truck driver slams on the brakes to avoid road debris or hitting another car, the brakes can lock up, causing friction loss between the tires and the asphalt. As a result, the wheels slide outward quickly, pushed by the momentum of the trailer.

Other factors that can increase risk of a jackknifing accident include:

  • Overloading or improper loading of a truck’s trailer
  • Negligent maintenance on the truck’s braking system
  • Driver fatigue
  • A defective part or assembly
  • Sudden evasive maneuvers
  • Truck driver inexperience
  • Driver error or negligence
  • Rain, ice and slippery road conditions
  • Steep inclines and curvy roads
  • Road debris

How drivers can prevent jackknifing crashes

Commercial truck drivers, like operators of any motor vehicle, have a duty to drive safely and adhere to traffic rules. Drivers can decrease the likelihood of a jackknife accident by:

  • Adhering to posted speed limits
  • Applying their brakes as soon as possible and braking intermittently over a longer distance to avoid skidding
  • Maintaining a safe following distance behind other vehicles
  • Avoiding sharp, evasive maneuvers by staying alert to road conditions and surroundings
  • Ensuring truck cargo is loaded evenly and is compliant with weight standards
  • Slowing down according to weather and road conditions, especially with rain, ice or snow

Who is liable in a jackknife accident?

Establishing liability in a truck accident resulting in serious injury or death is best left to an experienced attorney. Through extensive investigations, culpable parties can be identified, be it the driver, the trucking company or the manufacturer of a defective part or piece of equipment that failed.

Trucking companies must comply with strict federal regulations in the hiring, training and supervision of their drivers, not to mention the maintenance of their 18-wheelers. They must keep detailed documentation on the maintenance of their fleet, the number of hours driven by each driver and the repairs performed.

If evidence of negligence is found, victims are entitled to sue for monetary damages.

NYC truck accident lawyers

The law firm of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green has decades of experience litigating commercial vehicle accidents in New York. Our attorneys conduct extensive investigations, collect testimony from eyewitnesses, and secure the vehicle’s on-board recorder, which holds key information concerning the truck’s speed and braking just before the accident. If you or loved one was injured in a jackknife crash, we can help protect your rights.

To schedule your free case evaluation with a skilled truck accident lawyer, please call 212-307-5800.

Additional Resources:

  1. FMCSA, Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016 https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2016
  2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Large trucks https://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/large-trucks