Accidents with commercial trucks are considered more dangerous than with regular-sized passenger vehicles. In the latest year of statistics we have available for New York State, there were over 12,000 crashes involving trucks, where 79 people were killed and 15,000 injured.
In one such case, we obtained a settlement of over $4.2M for an 11 year old girl who was hit by a truck.
There are a number of factors that go into determining the cause of an accident with a truck, and both the truck driver and the trucking company have a number of duties and obligations to ensure that they are not negligent in causing harm to others on the road.
If you were injured in an accident due to the negligence of a trucking company or driver, give us a call at 845-600-0000 and request a free consultation at either our Kingston or Poughkeepsie offices.
A semi-truck going over the legal speeding limit means that its driver, and the other drivers on the road, will have less reaction time to avoid a crash. If you get in a crash with a truck, there are a few of ways to prove that a truck was going too fast:
Usually, truckers are on a tight timeline to make their deliveries on time. They are required to record their mileage, destinations and time spent on the road in a logbook. The logbook can be used by a truck injury attorney who understands the rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, CDL Handbook and DOT Regulations to determine if the driver was running behind on deliveries and was incentivized to speed. We can also see if the driver was going from stop to stop in an amount of time that’s only possible if they were speeding.
Accident Scene Reconstruction
We can review evidence at the scene of the crime like tire skid marks and vehicle damage. After you get into an accident, if you can, take as many pictures as possible. It will help this process.
In some cases, we’ll be able to acquire the truck’s “black box” computer system which records critical data about the truck’s speed.
2. Overloaded truck
In the pursuit of profit, trucking companies sometimes overload their trucks with cargo. When trucks are overloaded, they become a danger to other parties on the road and can cause accidents. Depending on the model of truck, there are specific amounts of weight that they can safely carry.
If a truck is overloaded, it can:
- Suffer from burst tires
- Cause brake failure
- Cause a rollover from improperly distributed load
- Result in loss of driver control
- Increase downhill speeds and make it harder to stop
- Decrease uphill speeds
- Damage the road and create the conditions for a crash
3. Being at the wheel for too many hours
Driving while fatigued is a bad idea for any kind of vehicle, especially for semi-trucks that can cause a massive amount of destruction and injury. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, about 4% of all commercial vehicle drivers were experiencing some kind of fatigue when they had an accident. There are hours of service regulations that require truck drivers to take regular breaks time off between big trips, and for trucking companies to create reasonable schedules for their drivers.
4. Choosing to drive in inclement weather and conditions
When Mother Nature rears her head in the Hudson Valley, accidents happen. Snow, sleet, heavy rain, fog and wind can turn even the safest stretches of road into dangerous routes. If you get into an accident with a semi-truck and there’s bad weather involved, the onus is still on all parties that extreme caution must be exercised. Fault can still be determined when weather is a factor. Truck drivers have a duty to travel at lower speeds or pull over during hazardous conditions.
5. Improper vehicle maintenance
When a semi-truck is improperly maintained, it is a form of negligence that can contribute to the truck causing a serious accident and injuries to other parties. Not only are trucking companies obligated to take care of their vehicles, but the drivers must also perform basic inspections before and after their trips. Two especially problematic areas of semi-truck maintenance are tires and brakes:
Truck tire maintenance
If a semi-truck traveling over 60 miles an hour suffers a tire failure, it can cause the driver to lose control or even cause a rollover crash. The cause could be tread separation, under or overinflated tires, the overuse of a spare tire, or bent rims.
Truck brake maintenance
Brake systems require regular maintenance to remain effective. If a brake system fails after being inadequately maintained, it can cause the truck to not stop in time to prevent a crash, or even cause the brake system to detach and hit other motorists.
6. Defective vehicle parts or manufacturing
Truck defects can be one of many factors in a serious accident. Brakes, tires, steering systems, transmission or the engine itself can be defective and contribute to the truck driver not driving safely. Truck manufacturers have a duty to design and build safe parts that perform up to federal guidelines, and truck companies have a duty to properly inspect their vehicles and replace any parts that have been recalled or are clearly defective.
7. Inattention to blind spots
Every vehicle on the road has blind spots; especially semi-trucks. It’s a good idea to be mindful of trucks’ many blind spots when sharing the road with them. Even if you were in a truck’s blind spot when an accident occurred, the driver still has a duty to take care to prevent accidents and injuries, and it’s possible that they drove recklessly without considering if another vehicle was in their blind spot.
8. Distracted driving
Truck drivers can be on the road for long stretches of time, and it’s all too common for a serious accident to be caused by them being distracted. Some forms of distraction that are negligent include texting or talking on a cell phone, drinking, eating, grooming, reading from a map or navigation system, or watching videos and entertainment.
9. Failure to secure cargo
It can be scary to see a truck on the highway carrying a load of lumber or steel coils, even if it looks like it’s properly secured. When not properly secured, objects falling off of trucks, even small items like gravel or rocks, can cause death and destruction, either by directly hitting a vehicle and its occupants, or causing vehicles to wildly try to avoid a collision. Truck drivers and companies have a duty to properly secure loads and ensure that cargo doors are properly closed, if applicable, and also to properly inspect cargo before every trip.
Have you been injured in a crash with a semi-truck? Give us a call at 845-600-0000; we have decades of experience obtaining the maximum possible settlements for our clients in the Hudson Valley. Our experienced legal team is here to push back for you.