Although collisions involving tractor-trailers in New York fall into the broad classification of a motor vehicle accident, they differ from collisions involving two passenger vehicles. Commercial truck accidents involve unique issues that necessitate familiarity with trucking litigation as well as trucking industry practices and regulations. While the size disparity between a forty-ton fully loaded commercial truck and a 3,000-pound passenger car typically means occupants of the smaller vehicle fare poorly in a crash, trucking accident attorneys utilize their specialized knowledge of trucking industry laws and regulations as well as industry practices when pursuing a trucking accident injury claim. In this article, we highlight three ways that trucking accidents differ from other types of motor vehicle injury claims.
Higher Risk of Severe Injury or Death
Because of the massive size and weight of a tractor-trailer, occupants of passenger cars often suffer catastrophic injuries or death in an accident. When a large truck and a passenger vehicle collision results in a fatality, the fatality victim is an occupant of the smaller vehicle 97 percent of the time. Along with the grief and pain of a lost loved one, surviving family members often face enormous financial hardships when a breadwinner dies in a fatal trucking accident. Even if all occupants of a passenger vehicle survive, the risk of severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis remains extremely high. The lifetime medical, rehabilitation, and personal care expenses incurred for the treatment of these types of life-altering injuries can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Given the enormous financial consequences of suffering serious injury, victims of collisions with large trucks can benefit from the advice and representation of an experienced New York trucking accident injury attorney.
The trucking industry must comply with significant recordkeeping requirements related to hiring and screening of employees, inspection and maintenance of vehicles, hours of service (anti-fatigue driver rules), along with other areas related to public safety. However, the trucking industry has earned a notorious reputation for altering records in anticipation of litigation. While hours of service (HOS) are now tracked electronically, traditional written logs were so commonly altered that they were referred to derisively as “lie books” in the trucking industry. The issue of altered records has survived the switch to electronic logs. Experienced trucking accident lawyers with experience handling commercial truck accident claims employ specific strategies to counter such tactics, such as seeking documents like bills of lading, gas and lodging receipts, weight/scale tickets, dispatch records, electronic communication, and more. Trucking attorneys also must act promptly to preserve evidence like “blackbox” data and body damage to the tractor-trailer.
Vast Regulatory Matrix
Lawmakers recognize the unique danger posed by large trucks, so they have enacted an extensive matrix of laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Board (FMCSA) along with several other federal agencies enact regulations to make interstate trucking safer. New York lawmakers also enact laws and regulations applicable to commercial carriers that engage in intrastate trucking. Attorneys that handle trucking accident cases in New York routinely utilize their familiarity with these regulations and industry practices to prove the liability of negligent drivers and commercial carriers. These regulations cover many areas designed to make the roads safer, such as driver qualifications and licensing, big-rig length and size, drug and alcohol testing, pre-employment screening and driver supervision requirements, hours of service (HOS) rules limiting work on-duty and behind the wheel, maintenance and inspection of vehicles, and much more.
If you or someone close to you has suffered injuries or you have lost a loved one to the negligence of a trucking company and its drivers, you should talk to a New York trucking accident lawyer to learn about your legal right to monetary compensation and the best way to maximize the value of your claim.
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Parker Waichman LLP helps families recover monetary compensation for harm caused by dangerous drivers. For your free consultation, contact our Truck Accident Law Firm today by using our live chat or calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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