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Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

Syracuse car accident cases often come down to the question of which party (or, sometimes, which eyewitness) to believe. If one party says he was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light and this testimony is unopposed, he or she may be granted partial summary judgment; in such a situation, a trial will only be necessary if the parties disagree on the issue of damages.

However, if the opposing party or another witness claims that the accident happened when one party abruptly darted in front of the other and stopped unnecessarily, the case will probably proceed toward a jury trial on the question of fault. After all, one of the main duties of a jury member is to resolve factual inconsistencies by deciding who to believe when the parties disagree about what happened.

Facts of the Case

In a case appealed from the Supreme Court of Bronx County, the plaintiff was a man who alleged that he was injured as a result of the negligence of the defendant bus driver. He also asserted a claim against the bus driver’s employer, most likely asserting a claim of vicarious liability (although the exact details of this portion of the case was not explained in the appeal). According to the plaintiff, the accident occurred when he was stopped at an intersection and rear-ended by the bus.

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A Syracuse school bus accident case begins with the question of whether the defendant owed a particular duty of care to the plaintiff. Sometimes, the duty in question was specific (like the duty to drive no faster than a certain speed in a school zone in which children are present), but sometimes it was more general (such as the duty to keep a proper lookout).

Once a duty has been established, the next question is whether that duty was breached. If it was, the third inquiry is whether the defendant’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s damages. Generally speaking, in order for a breach of duty to have been the proximate cause in a particular case, the harm must have been foreseeable (and not just a “fluke” or “freak accident.”)

If the first three elements can be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, the plaintiff must then prove his or her “damages.” The damages element speaks to the harm that befell the plaintiff as a proximate result of the defendant’s breach of duty and may include pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and the like.

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After a Syracuse motor vehicle accident, the drivers, eyewitnesses, and first responders likely have their own opinions as to who caused the crash – Driver A or Driver B, assuming it was a two-vehicle accident. However, in some situations, it is determined that the parties have shared fault in causing the wreck. Under New York law, a party’s monetary recovery in a negligence case is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault attributed to him or her by the finder of fact. Thus, insurance companies have an incentive to blame the opposing party if at all possible, so as to pay a lesser amount of damages even if their own insured was “mostly” to blame. Thus, it is very important that a person who has been hurt in a car, truck, or motorcycle collision talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that his or her legal rights may be protected.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case filed in the Supreme Court of Steuben County, the plaintiff was a woman who was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle when it collided with a dump truck that allegedly ignored a traffic control device. She filed suit against the owner and operator of the dump truck, as well as the driver of the motorcycle. The dump truck owner and operator filed a cross claim against the motorcycle driver, alleging that he was to blame for the accident and seeking indemnification and contribution. The motorcycle driver passed away while the lawsuit was pending, and the administratrix of his estate was substituted. The trial court granted the administratrix’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the cross claim asserted against her.

The Court’s Ruling on the Issues

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department reversed the trial court’s order granting the administratrix’s motion for summary judgment on the cross claim of the remaining defendants. The court noted that, in moving for summary judgment, the administratrix had the initial burden of showing, as a matter of law, that the motorcycle driver was operating his motorcycle in a lawful and prudent manner and that “there was nothing [he] could have done to avoid the collision.” In the court’s opinion, the administratrix failed in this burden.

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A Syracuse personal injury lawsuit may involve one defendant or multiple defendants. Likewise, a single theory of liability may be asserted, or multiple theories may be included in the plaintiff’s complaint for damages.

The more defendants and the more theories of liability, the more likely it is that some of the claims against the defendant(s) will be dismissed prior to trial. Typically, this is done through the summary judgment process. A party who is aggrieved by a trial court’s decision on a motion for summary judgment may opt to ask an appellate court to review the matter.

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided appellate court decision, the plaintiff was a limousine company employee who was driving a bus made by the defendant bus manufacturer when, in 2012, she stopped at a gas station owned by the defendant gas station owner to refuel. According to the plaintiff, she put the nozzle of the pump into the bus’s fuel tank, engaged the hold-open clip on the nozzle, and waited while the bus refueled. When fuel began to spill out, she disengaged the clip, stopped the flow of fuel, and waited for the pressure to subside. When she removed the nozzle about 20 or 30 seconds later, fuel ejected from the tank and into her eyes, as well as onto her face and body.

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In a Syracuse personal injury lawsuit based on a theory of negligence, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. This means that he or she must be able to provide evidence sufficient to convince the jury, by a preponderance of the evidence, to the existence of each and every element of his or her case.

The elements of negligence include duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation.

If the plaintiff’s evidence fails as to any one of these elements, he or she cannot recover money damages against the defendant. Continue Reading ›

Garbage trucks accidents, whether publicly or privately operated, can lead to devastating harm. If you’ve sustained injuries or your loved one has died in an accident involving a garbage truck, you need to consult a seasoned Syracuse personal injury attorney who can help you make sense of what happened. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, we are committed to helping our clients recover the damages award they need to move on with their life.

A private sanitation truck ploughed into a bicyclist in Midtown last month. The 43-year-old bicyclist was traveling southbound when the truck sideswiped the bicycle late into the evening. The bicyclist was rushed to a nearby hospital and was in critical, but stable condition. In other words, the injuries were not life threatening. The driver remained at the scene of the wreck and made no attempt to flee. Private garbage trucks in New York have been responsible for 20 fatalties since 2016. Given how often these trucks are involved in serious and even deadly accidents, the state has been cracking down on these vehicles.

Liability for a Garbage Truck Accident

We tend to think that big rigs are the most dangerous trucks on the road, when the reality is that all types of trucks can cause devastating accidents if truck drivers are not careful behind the wheel. If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by a truck driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our seasoned Syracuse truck accident attorneys can assess the merits of your case and help you understand your rights.

A civilian employee of the New York City Police Department was recently killed in an accident on a local expressway when a spare tire fell off a truck and smashed into his car, according to law enforcement.

The victim was traveling east on the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn early in the morning when a garbage truck traveling in the opposite direction had a rear tire that suddenly became unhinged. The tire flew over the center median and struck the victim’s windshield, at which point the car crashed into the median. The victim, who was found unconscious and unresponsive, suffered severe head trauma and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter at a nearby hospital.

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When you are near a semitruck on the highway in New York, it may cross your mind to hope that the driver is not distracted or fatigued. You probably did not wonder whether there is even a person in the driver’s seat, though. We at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers understand that new technology could change the role of truck drivers, and in the future, it may reduce the number of commercial vehicle crashes.

While self-driving trucks are not on the road yet, CNBC reports that technology for tractor-trailers has taken a step in that direction. Your car’s aerodynamic shape gives you some relief from high fuel prices by increasing your miles per gallon. Large trucks take much more fuel, but by driving closer together, they reduce the wind resistance on each and improve their efficiency. Rather than traveling an average following distance of 200 feet, which is a two- to three-second space, platooning trucks would be a mere 50 to 80 feet apart.

To make it possible for them to follow each other without compromising safety, new technology links the trucks through a computer so that the first driver controls the convoy’s brakes and steering. While truck platooning is in the early stages of development in the U.S., you will not see more than two trucks connected at a time.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’re probably aware of the ongoing case of the truck driver whose drowsiness caused him to collide with comedian Tracy Morgan’s limo back in 2014. The accident took the life of Morgan’s dear friend James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and left Morgan in critical condition with a traumatic brain injury and several broken bones.

The driver admitted that he hadn’t slept in over 28 hours when the accident happened. After pleading not guilty for a period of time, in late November the driver finally pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated assault and one count of vehicular homicide in order to avoid going to prison. As a part of the deal, he will have to serve 300 hours of community service.

Here’s where it’s important to remember that, from a legal standpoint, criminal cases are separate from civil cases. Whether a defendant in a truck accident criminal case is found guilty or not guilty, the victims can still file a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries. In this case, Tracy Morgan agreed to an undisclosed settlement with Wal-Mart, the company the driver worked for, and McNair’s family settled for $10 million.

Truck accidents can occur for all manner of reasons, including fatigued driving, misjudging other driver’s movements, speeding or violating other traffic rules, talking on a cell phone and engaging in other activities which distract attention from driving. Another common cause of truck accidents is tire flats and blowouts.

Earlier this week, a truck accident occurred in Bolton when a front tire on the vehicle blew out, causing the driver to veer off the road and roll down an embankment. Fortunately, the driver suffered survived with no life threatening injuries. Reports say that no tickets have been issued over the incident, and it seems that nobody else was injured. Sources provided no indication of why the tire blowout occurred. In some cases of tire blowouts or flats, determining what exactly caused the failure isn’t an easy matter. 

According to a 2003 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire blowouts or flat tires caused over 400 fatalities that year, as well as over 10,000 injuries and over 78,000 crashes. Those numbers were taken before tire pressure monitor systems were required for commercial motor vehicles, though, so hopefully things have improved. That same report found, though, that certain factors can increase the likelihood of tire problems occurring, such as inadequate tire depth, under-inflation and poor weather conditions.

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