New York Truck Accident Guide
Commercial Trucks, Tractor Trailers, 18-Wheelers, and Big Rigs
If you were severely injured in a wreck with a commercial vehicle, the New York Truck Accident Guide was created by personal injury attorney Richard Nicotra to provide residents with helpful legal advice.
Were you seriously hurt in a collision with a truck? Being involved in a truck accident is one of the most traumatic and potentially life-threatening experiences a motorist can face. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you’re likely scared, in pain, and unsure of who to trust. Our personal injury lawyers want to help.
Commercial truck accidents are one of the most serious types of motor vehicle accidents. Truck accidents result in almost 4,000 deaths each year and unfortunately, this type of accident is on the rise.
For victims, an accident like this can be serious and potentially life-threatening. Being struck by a 40-ton semi-truck can cause serious injuries and have long-lasting, life-altering consequences.
Our Buffalo truck accident lawyers have the experience you need to fight for a fair settlement and receive the maximum compensation for your injuries. Our experienced team has helped numerous victims recover compensation after an accident. Right now, your focus should be on recovery – not fighting with insurers or lawyers. We can help.
Call today for a free case evaluation to learn more about your rights and legal options.
Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer in New York
After a truck accident, you’re likely scared, in immense pain, and unsure of how you will pay for medical treatment. An accident like this can turn your life upside down.
You may also begin to hear from lawyers from the trucking company and the company’s insurers. They may be aggressive with you as they seek details about the accident. Unfortunately, these people don’t care about you or your health. They’re looking for ways to undermine your case, and might even make low-ball, undervalued compensation offers.
This is unacceptable. Your focus should be on recovery. Not answering calls from badgering lawyers.
That’s how a truck accident lawyer can help. Our legal team will defend you against this aggressive behavior. We will investigate your accident, and determine its cause. We will help you build a strong case that leads to maximum compensation. Our legal team will help you in many ways, including:
- Reconstructing the scene of the accident
- Collecting black box data
- Working with traffic/police investigators
- Investigating FMCSR and other industry violations
- Determining what driver safety laws were violated
- Filing claims on your behalf, and
- Filing lawsuits on your behalf
Ultimately, our mission is to aggressively defend your rights, manage the entire legal process for you, and help you and your family fight for the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Causes of Truck Accidents
The trucking industry is heavily regulated to ensure safety. Unfortunately, companies and drivers often skirt regulations to spend more time on the road. That negligence puts other motorists in harm’s way. A few common causes of accidents include:
- Tired or overworked drivers
- Impaired driving by drugs/alcohol
- Improper equipment safety
- Insufficient driver training
- Driver error, unsafe lane changes
- Not taking proper safety precautions
When you hire our Buffalo truck accident lawyers, our legal team works tirelessly to prove negligence. We can help you build a case against this unsafe behavior and prove it in a court of law.
Protecting Victims Against Insurers and Legal Departments
Nearly every commercial trucking company is backed by large legal departments and multi-million dollar insurance policies. Their lawyers aggressively protect the bottom line at the expense of victims.
Aggressive behavior and bullying is common. These companies hound victims for information, delay or ignore claims requests, and even deny claims outright.
Unfortunately, the same is true of your own insurance company. Your own insurer is also concerned with the bottom line, and although you are their client, they may deny, ignore, or delay your claim to rightful compensation.
This is a top reason to hire an experienced truck accident attorney. Your attorney takes over any of these discussions – you forward all calls to your lawyer – and that saves you from the headache. If you’ve been involved in an accident, we recommend contacting a lawyer as soon as possible. Trucking companies are notorious for fighting victims. An attorney defends you against this nasty behavior.
Type of Compensation Available to Victims
After an accident, victims face numerous financial, emotional, and physical challenges. Mounting medical bills, the costs of rehabilitation, lost wages, and lasting psychological distress can all make life more stressful.
Victims are entitled to compensation for any and all costs related to their accident. This includes short-term medical costs, as well as lasting costs associated with injuries, pain, and property damage. These compensatory damages can help reimburse you for:
- Medical bills and on-going treatment
- Lost wages and lost future earnings
- Loss of normal life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Relationship strife, and
- Disability and disfigurement
In addition, you may be entitled to punitive damages. This type of compensation is used as financial punishment. It is awarded by a jury if your case goes to trial. This would be on top of any compensatory damages you are owed. Your attorney’s job is to fight for any and all compensation available to you, including punitive damages if they’re applicable to your case.
What to Do After A Truck Accident
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you’ll likely be in shock, scared, and unsure of what to do next. You may be fighting for your life. There are steps you can take after an accident to protect your safety and your case. We recommend following these key steps:
- Seek Medical Care – Call 911 immediately and receive medical attention. Your safety and the safety of your passengers is the top concern. If you’re unable to call 911, witnesses or other motorists should call for you.
- Contact Police – Even if you were unharmed, it’s important to call police and file a report. When police arrive, provide any details you can about the accident, but DO NOT admit fault. You may falsely implicate yourself, if you’re unsure of the local laws and traffic regulations.
- Collect Evidence – If you are able to, take photos and videos of the scene. Note any damage to your vehicle, injuries to yourself, and collect the contact information of witnesses. If you’re unable to, your attorney will work to reconstruct the scene and contact witnesses.
- Do NOT Admit Fault – You may hear from the trucking company’s lawyers and insurers. You’re not obligated to speak with them. If you do, do not admit fault. This can harm your case and make recovering compensation more difficult. We recommend talking with an attorney before you talk to anyone about your case.
- Contact an Experienced Attorney – After an accident, you will feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. Your attorney manages this entire process, allowing you to focus on your recovery. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the better.
Frequently Asked Questions | New York Truck Accident Guide
What Should I Do if I Was Injured in a Truck Accident?
When we get clients calling us about commercial truck accidents, the important thing to know is that there are variables that are much different with these types of cases. There are logbook requirements, documentation the drivers are required to prepare and provide, limitations set by both the federal and state government that also require drivers to report how long they are on the road, how many days in a row they’ve been driving, and weigh ins. They’re required to do safety inspections that are also written and documented that they must produce.
When you’re involved in a big truck accident, they typically involve insurance policies that are much bigger, as required by federal and state law. Also, there could be a plethora of knowledge that we can get through discovery that would not be available in a traditional car versus car accident.
What Mistakes Can I Avoid After My Injury?
Some common mistakes that I see from clients who were involved in a big truck accident are failure to preserve information and evidence that might exist at the scene. Among those categories are photographs of the vehicles, of the roadway, any skid marks, the layout of the road, the lanes, the intersection if necessary. Preservation or lack thereof of getting information of witnesses, both name, numbers, and addresses. Addresses can be critical because people change their phone number, but if they have an address, we can find them historically.
Another common mistake that we see from clients who were involved in big truck accidents is when they reach out to the insurance companies themselves. Oftentimes, they give certain statements or are asked questions in a certain way that are specifically geared to favor the insurance companies and maybe skew or twist a version of the story. Having the client let us handle all of those communications is critically important.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
We tell all of our clients who call after a truck accident never to talk to the insurance company under any circumstances, whether it be their own carrier or the other carrier. Once a client retains us, we handle all of the correspondence, telephone calls, information exchange and anything that is either required by their own carrier or information that we think might be beneficial to them regarding the other carrier contact. Whether it be regarding the property damage for their car or any other losses that might be covered by the insurance companies, the advice is always the same consistently: do not engage in any communication with the insurance companies.
A lot of clients think that they’re helping and moving the case forward by responding to emails from insurance companies. I tell the clients to always give us the information involving any and all information for contact of both insurance companies at our first meeting, whether it be by email or telephone, or any other method whatsoever; paper mail is very common as well. We respond to all those methods, keep the insurance adjusters informed, but keep our client out of the loop regarding the contact or communication with either insurance company.
How Do I Choose an Attorney for a Truck Accident Claim?
What’s important to know when you’re involved in a trucking accident is which attorney to hire. I tell all the clients that we talk to, when you meet with your attorney, it should be an interview of the attorney, not so much an interview of the client. You should ask your attorney at that first meeting when their last trial was, when they are picking a jury next, and what kind of results they have gotten with the cases that are similar in nature to yours. I think that when the attorney answers those questions, it’s going to differentiate attorneys and firms in a very stark, contrasting way.
What are the Steps After Filing a Truck Injury Claim?
Step one needs to be retaining a competent trucking injury attorney as soon as possible. We move into action trying to preserve evidence, talk to witnesses; in certain cases, hiring a private investigator to get out there and visit the scene, take photographs; interview witnesses who may have been at the scene or have seen the aftermath of the scene.
Always let somebody else who is competent in that area handle things for you. There are deadlines that are required, some as short as 30 days, when we must file certain applications for benefits. If those deadlines are not met, then you could lose a substantial right in what your benefits are, that were paid for by you in premiums, and now you don’t have them anymore because you haven’t met those deadlines.
Should I Take the First Settlement Offer?
Sometimes a potential client will call and ask us if they should take the first offer made by a trucking company or a commercial trucking company. The answer is always, “No.” We are in the business of trying to maximize that recovery for you, and the trucking company or their insurance carrier is in the business of saving money for their company and also providing a benefit to their stockholders. In that case, they have a direct opposite view and role of what their goals are in relation to you and your injuries, which can be devastating. It can cause a loss of income for you and your family. It can affect you physically with limitations and injuries forever. Not accepting that initial offer is a critical move, and not signing anything without having an attorney review it is also really critical to protecting you and your family.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
We get calls from clients regarding time frames required to file a truck injury accident claim. Initially you need to know, in New York State, the no-fault application benefits (which covers your medicals, your mileage, and your lost wages) is due within 30 days. A cause of action against a trucking company, the driver, and possibly the truck owner is traditionally three years if they are all private individuals.
There are different time deadlines. For example, if you’re hit by a big postal truck, if it’s a commercial vehicle that’s driven by a state employee or owned by the state, there are also much shorter deadlines. The advice is almost always the same. Although we know of the deadlines, let us cover them for you. You should retain your attorney early on so the deadlines are not your concern.
How Long Will the Case Last?
It’s very common for clients to ask how long it will take to resolve their trucking accident claim. Although every case is different, we make sure that we push the cases aggressively, but also make sure that we are not resolving a case before we have a full view of what the injuries are and what the permanency might be. Every case really does have its own timeline; every case is different. If you have a case with a more minor injury, those cases can resolve quicker. The cases that require more extensive treatment and recovery and healing time also require that the doctors take more time before they can assess a permanency rating.
How Much is My Injury Case Worth?
We get questions from clients who want to know what the value of their case is when dealing with a commercial trucking company. The variables that go into that are many, but we have to focus also on how bad the injuries are. Will it affect you for the rest of your life? Is there economic loss? Have you lost wages in excess of what no-fault has paid you? Are there things that were taken from you that cannot be recovered, and if they can be, what is the value of those losses? Percent of fault or sharing of negligence is also a factor that’s looked at.
Based upon both what we have gotten historically, but also from publications that we subscribe to for jury verdict reports, from other case jury award settlements and arbitration decisions, all that will help us give the client an idea where we would like to see it resolve.
Request a Free Case Evaluation
If you’ve been involved in an accident, we want to help. Our Buffalo truck accident lawyers have extensive experience with these types of cases. We understand the laws, and can help you build a strong case to recover the maximum compensation for your injuries. Call now for a free case evaluation. We offer 100% free, no obligation advice.