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Who Is at Fault When a Truck Causes a Multiple Car Pileup?

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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July 20, 2024

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If a commercial vehicle was the cause of a multi-car or multi-vehicle pileup, is the truck driver always to blame? Probably, but there may be others at fault. Determining liability is critical if you weren’t at fault and you want to hold the responsible parties accountable.

In New York, factors like poor road conditions, texting and driving, and fatigue contribute to vehicle collisions. But who is at fault if a truck causes a multiple car pileup? The truck driver, truck company, and other parties may be liable.

How a Multi-Vehicle Accidents With Trucks Happen in New York

If you’ve driven in New York, whether as a local or a tourist, it’s not difficult to imagine how pileup accidents involving semi-trucks could happen. Some of the most common reasons trucks are involved in multi-vehicle accidents here involve:

  • Reckless or aggressive driving
  • Speeding
  • Drivers falling asleep at the wheel
  • Distracted driving
  • Drivers failing to check blind spots or follow traffic signals
  • Impaired visibility due to inclement weather conditions
  • Operating vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Out of all of these accident factors, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee reports that the number one contributing factor for New York motor vehicle crashes is distracted driving.

Chain-Reaction Accidents

During a chain-reaction pileup, one vehicle collides with another from behind. The force causes the vehicle to smash into the car ahead. 

Most of these pileups occur when a vehicle drives too close to the car in front of them. When traffic abruptly stops, the driver does not have enough time to react, which causes their vehicle to collide with the car ahead. The rear-end collision produces a domino effect that leads to a multi-vehicle accident.

Chain-reaction accidents involve three or more vehicles and are very common in big cities. In New York, chain-reaction collisions are most common during rush hour. 

For a free legal consultation, call (212) 540-2981

Determining Liability When a Truck Causes a Multiple Car Pileup

Vehicle pileups involving trucks are common, and, because of the truck’s size, they often lead to severe injuries and fatalities. According to recent driving statistics, large trucks account for 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths.

But who is at fault if a truck causes a multi-vehicle pileup? Liable parties include the truck driver, the trucking company, and, occasionally, another driver. If you are unsure who is at fault for your injuries after a multi-vehicle collision, consult with an accident attorney.

Truck Driver Negligence

A commercial vehicle driver is responsible for maintaining safe control of their truck and trailer while on the road. Truck driver negligence occurs when an operator’s carelessness leads to another person’s injuries. In New York, truck driver negligence is commonly caused by:

  • Speeding: truck drivers who travel too fast can lose control of their trailers and cause a collision.
  • Recklessness and aggressive behaviors: “Road rage” and other dangerous behaviors prevent truck drivers from operating their vehicles responsibly.
  • Driving under the influence: Alcohol and drugs impair a commercial truck driver’s ability to operate on the road safely.
  • Distractions: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) restricts commercial drivers from using mobile phones while operating their vehicles.
  • Improper lane changes: Trucks have substantial blind spots, and drivers who fail to check their mirrors and use indicators can cause multi-vehicle crashes.

Truck Company Negligence

In some cases, multi-car accidents occur due to the truck company’s negligence. Trucking organizations have a duty of care to ensure their fleet and drivers safely navigate roads. For example, truck driver error may stem from inadequate commercial vehicle training. In this case, the trucking company can be held liable for damages victims incur during the accident.

There are many different ways a trucking company can be responsible for a multi-vehicle accident. A trucking company may be liable for a pileup if they:

  • Hire drivers without up-to-date commercial vehicle licenses
  • Do not conduct background checks on all commercial drivers
  • Fail to inspect their fleet and keep up with regular maintenance inspections
  • Overwork commercial truck drivers
  • Do not provide adequate training to fleet operators

Distinguishing whether the truck driver or the truck company’s negligence led to a multi-vehicle pileup can be difficult. But an accident attorney will navigate the case and hold the negligent party accountable.

Other Liable Parties

During chain-reaction pileups, more than one driver may be at fault. For example, while a commercial truck may have caused the accident, negligence from surrounding drivers may have contributed to the injured party’s damages. In addition, drivers may seek recovery even if they are partially liable for the accident.

If multiple parties are responsible for a collision, New York follows the rule of joint and several liability. A plaintiff can hold each defendant individually accountable for the total amount of damages. If you are in this situation, consult with a personal injury lawyer to ensure you receive recovery from every liable party.

Review Your Case with a New York Truck Accident Lawyer

Determining who is at fault when a truck causes a multi-vehicle pileup can be tricky. To ensure you receive compensation from every liable party, partner with an experienced New York truck accident lawyer.

Legal experts investigate the accident, determine liability, handle paperwork, collect evidence, calculate damages, and negotiate fair settlements. A commercial vehicle accident lawyer helps victims receive the compensation they deserve and holds guilty parties accountable for their negligence.

Call or text (212) 540-2981 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form

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