Commercial Trucking Accidents
Commercial trucks are very heavy and large. When they get into a collision, the results are likely to be devastating. As such, they are carefully regulated at both the federal and state levels. Commercial truck drivers must follow numerous laws and regulations related to how many hours they are on the road, and inspections prior to driving. Interstate truck drivers must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. If you or a loved one were injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler, the seasoned Syracuse truck accident attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano can help you assert your legal rights.Commercial Trucking Accidents
Many truck accidents are the fault of the truck driver. To establish a truck driver’s liability, you’ll need to prove: (1) the defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care, (2) breach of the duty of reasonable care, (3) causation, and (4) damages. A breach of the duty to use reasonable care in this context can include: violating the hours of service rules and driving while fatigued, speeding, reckless driving, carrying loads that are greater than the guidelines allow, failing to maintain the truck, operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and drunk driving. Sometimes a truck driver fails to obey traffic signals and signs, takes wide turns improperly, or fails to check his or her blind spots.
Often there are multiple victims with catastrophic injuries after a truck accident, all claiming against the same insurance policy. The driver may not have enough insurance coverage for all of the injured parties. Accordingly, it’s important to look at all potential sources of recovery. Other parties that may have some responsibility include a trucking company, a mechanic, a third party loader, or another driver on the road.
Our attorneys and experts work to identify all parties whose conduct may have contributed to your accident. It’s important that legal counsel become involved as soon as possible after an accident, since over time memories fade and evidence may vanish. Some of the most important evidence in your case could include the truck’s black box, which stores information about how fast the truck was going at the time of the crash, and the hours in which it was in operation. If, for example, a truck driver falsified his logbook to show he was working within the hours of service parameters when he was not, the black box would reveal the falsification and allow you to know whether he was potentially driving while fatigued. Sometimes damage to the vehicles or skid marks can also reveal information that exposes or further exposes certain parties to liability.
After an accident, the truck driver’s insurer and the trucking company employer (if there is one) will be looking for ways to avoid liability. They will be out at the scene investigating. They will try to find a way to pin the blame on you. New York follows a rule of comparative negligence. Your fault, if any, will reduce the amount of damages that you are entitled to recover, but it will not bar your action. It is advisable for you to have a representative at the scene of the collision as soon as possible to perform accident reconstruction and figure out who is responsible for the accident.Liability of Other Parties
Trucking companies owe an obligation to use reasonable care in connection with the operation of the trucks they put onto the road. If the trucks are operating within interstate commerce, the trucking companies must abide by FMCSA regulations. For example, they must adequately supervise their employee truck drivers’ recording of data in logbooks. They should not encourage truck drivers to falsify these records.
A trucking company may be held vicariously liable for its employee truck driver’s negligence on the road. This means it will be held indirectly liable; its obligation to pay damages is contingent on a finding that the truck driver was negligent.
However, a trucking company can also be held directly liable for the negligent hiring, negligent training, or negligent supervision of a truck driver. For example, a trucking company that fails to conduct a background check on a truck driver that would have uncovered his history of DUIs may be liable for negligent hiring. Similarly, a trucking company that notices problems with a truck driver’s logbooks and looks the other way because the truck driver is producing profit for the company by driving too many hours, may be liable for negligent supervision.
There are accidents after which a truck manufacturer may be held accountable because there was a defect in the truck that caused the accident. For example, a truck manufacturer may be strictly liable for injuries arising from an accident caused by defective brakes.
When there are multiple parties at fault, the doctrine of joint and several liability will apply to economic damages. This means that any one party who is found at fault for the accident can be held 100% responsible for a plaintiff’s economic damages, such as medical bills and wage loss. A defendant who is less than 50% liable would only be severally liable for a plaintiff’s noneconomic damages. If a truck driver and trucking company behaved recklessly and this recklessness caused the accident, it may be possible to hold them jointly and severally liable.Damages
Damages to which you may be entitled if you can establish fault may include economic and noneconomic losses. Economic damages include wage loss, medical bills, replacement services, out-of-pocket costs, property damage, alterations to the home, and other concrete losses. Noneconomic losses may include a spectrum of intangible losses arising from the accident. They can include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. Where a loved one dies in a commercial trucking accident, it may be possible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit and recover damages, including funeral and burial expenses.Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney in Syracuse
If you suffered injuries or a loved one died in a commercial truck accident in Syracuse, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses by bringing a lawsuit. Truck accident cases are often complicated, and insurance companies and trucking companies fight hard to avoid liability. It is wise to hire a lawyer with experience in this specific practice area. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents truck accident victims in Syracuse, Rochester, and across Upstate New York, including in Canandaigua, Ithaca, Binghamton, Utica, Cooperstown, Auburn, Lyons, Herkimer, Wampsville, Oneida, Lowville, Elmira, Oswego, and Watertown. Call us at 315-479-9000 or contact us through our online form.