A Potentially Lethal Combination: The Trucker’s Life, High-Speed Highways, and You
The big rigs, long hours, and endless highways that have inspired countless trucker ballads can also make for an incredibly lethal combination for other drivers on the roadway. Keep in mind, a fully-loaded commercial truck often weighs more than 25 times as much as an average passenger vehicle. Thus, sheer laws of physics dictate that in a collision between a passenger automobile and a large commercial truck, the truck will almost always come out the winner – resulting in serious injuries or even death to occupants of the passenger vehicle.
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle collision with a truck, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. Be aware that in a truck accident lawsuit, as in any motor vehicle collision, New York no-fault insurance laws will apply. Under New York’s no-fault insurance statute, regardless of liability, an injured party is entitled to recover up to $50,000 for medical expenses related to the accident, lost wages for up to three years, and other related costs.
Of course, a collision with a big rig could leave you with even bigger injuries – and medical expenses well in excess of $50,000. What then?
Fortunately, in case of “serious injury,” New York law allows for recovery beyond the $50,000 no-fault cap. For purpose of the New York no-fault statute, “serious injuries” include (among other things) death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement, loss of a fetus, and permanent loss of a bodily organ.
If you’ve sustained a serious injury in a truck accident as a result of someone’s negligence, you’ll need to determine who may be legally liable for your injuries. The most immediately-apparent responsible party is, of course, the truck driver himself (or herself). Maybe the driver was overly tired, driving aggressively, or driving too fast for conditions. Maybe he or she failed to secure the cargo on the truck bed, or neglected to inspect it at appropriate intervals throughout the journey. Or perhaps the the driver was driving distractedly, daydreaming, texting, reaching for something, or juggling food and beverage items. Any such negligent behavior by a truck driver can form the basis for your recovery.
In addition to the individual truck driver, however, there may be other parties who also bear legal liability for your injuries, who aren’t as readily identifiable. A New York attorney experienced in truck accident cases can help you determine any other parties that may be held accountable for your injuries. For instance, if a truck accident was the result of a defect in the truck engine or truck bed, the truck manufacturer may be liable for some or all of your damages.
Another potential defendant may be the trucking company. Trucking employers are required to follow federal trucking regulations, which aim to reduce the number of accidents involving commercial vehicles. These regulations include restrictions on trucking employees’ scheduled hours, the performance of employee background checks, and proper loading and maintenance of vehicles. A trucking company that fails to comply with these regulations may be liable for resulting injuries.
In short, just as an eighteen-wheel tractor-trailer dwarfs a standard passenger vehicle in terms of sheer physical immensity, the complexity of issues arising in a truck accident lawsuit can dwarf those arising in an “ordinary” motor vehicle collision. Moreover, trucking companies typically have on hand a whole team of attorneys and investigators, whose primary function is to reduce the total amount of accident damages paid by the company.
If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident with a semi, a “semi-recovery” won’t suffice. For all of these reasons, it’s crucial not to delay in consulting with an experienced truck accident attorney to advocate on your behalf – and tip the David-versus-Goliath scales in your favor.