The trucking industry is a vital part of this nation’s economy. With tens of millions of trucks driving around the United States, it is no wonder that wrecks are an all-too-common sight. Unfortunately, due to their size, tractor-trailers can cause devastating injuries. Everybody has an important responsibility to follow traffic laws on the road, but especially truck drivers.
When a semi-truck crashes into a smaller vehicle, it’s easy to place the blame on the truck driver. If the collision was due to an incorrect turn, tailgating, or speeding, then that driver could be found negligent. However, the trucking company could also be held liable if it is determined that the crash was due to a violation of federal or state trucking laws. When truck companies don’t follow the rules, catastrophic accidents can and do occur.
If you or a loved on has been involved in an accident with a big rig, you’ll need strong representation from Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. Contact our team at (212) 986-7353 to speak to an experienced New York truck accident attorney.
Companies have to make sure their commercial vehicles have undergone proper inspections prior to going out on the road. Of the many components that need to be inspected, some important ones include:
Every trucking company must follow the regulations laid out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These include:
- Truck drivers must record their activity in a driver’s log.
- Truck drivers must have specific types of insurance based on their cargo and other factors.
- Truck drivers must follow the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which indicate how long they are allowed to drive consecutively, and how long they must rest between stretches of driving time.
When companies push their drivers to disregard these regulations, they can be blamed for an accident. This, of course, can be very hard to prove. That’s why you need an experienced truck accident attorney to fight and win your case.
There’s no question that commercial trucking companies face stiff competition. Unfortunately, this drive for profits incites many companies to cut corners and bypass some of the most important safety regulations, including:
- Hours of Service violations: The company coerces or pushes its employees to drive for a longer duration than what is allowed, or to take fewer breaks.
- Improper training: The company fails to provide adequate training to its drivers before sending them on the road. Hiring someone without a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), who failed a road test, didn’t have hazardous materials training, or failed to comply with HOS regulations, is precarious for a trucking company.
- Negligent hiring: The company chooses to put someone behind the wheel who is not qualified. For instance, if a driver has a habit of road rage or has known substance abuse issues, this can qualify as negligent hiring.
- Improper vehicle maintenance: The company fails to certify that its vehicles are fit to drive on the road. Failing to inspect tires, tie-downs, brakes, the steering wheel, or other components can lead to extremely dangerous situations.
Even though a truck driver may have actually caused the crash, his employer could also be held liable. In legal terms, this is referred to as "vicarious liability." First, you’ll have to prove the company was aware of the circumstances that led directly to the collision. This can be difficult, as truck companies that are violating commercial vehicle regulations don’t do so out in the open. They also send out risk assessment specialists to the crash site as soon as possible, hide information, and use other tactics that make it difficult to prove liability. Truck companies will have far more resources to fight the case and, because of the risk of paying substantial amounts if they lose, they will fight aggressively to disprove their liability.
The statute of limitations in New York for a truck accident can vary, but in most cases, it is three years from the date of the accident. If you have lost a loved one, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years. If you fail to file within these timeframes, the court will dismiss your case and you will be unable to collect the compensation that you are owed.
Depending on the circumstances of the crash, you may be able to seek damages for your medical expenses, lost income, emotional pain and suffering, and other losses.
At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, we understand that accident victims are suddenly forced to deal with unwanted and long-lasting consequences. While it’s easy to blame the truck driver, a trucking company that fails to comply with safety regulations should be held accountable as well. You need the support of a knowledgeable NYC truck accident attorney who has experience fighting against these large companies.
If your injuries are due to the negligent behavior of a trucking company, contact our office to discuss your legal options and get the support you need to protect your future.