We all depend on some professionals to receive special training and acquire the right qualifications for our safety. We expect when we visit a doctor, contact an attorney, or speak to a veterinarian, they are well-qualified to deal with the issues we bring them.
Likewise, we expect commercial truck drivers in the Bronx with whom we share the road to have specific qualifications as well. Unqualified Bronx truck drivers pose significant risks to everyone. Contact a Bronx truck accident lawyer to see if you can recover from a truck driver’s lack of qualifications.
Defining Unqualified Truck Drivers in the Bronx
Many people know that truck drivers in the Bronx are required to carry a commercial driver’s license. As part of this, there are several sub-qualifications a Bronx truck driver must satisfy. For instance, Bronx truck drivers must meet these physical qualifications:
- Visual tests – truck drivers must pass specific vision tests, including for acuity and peripheral vision. They may meet these requirements with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- Color recognition – truck drivers may not suffer from protanopia, tritanomaly, or deuteranopia, which are forms of color blindness that create problems distinguishing between red, yellow, and green.
- Health issues – Among other health qualifications, drivers must maintain blood pressure lower than 160/100. Medication can help them get there, but insulin-dependent diabetics cannot always take it.
- Prescription drug prohibitions – truckers may not take any habit-forming drugs such as narcotics or any Schedule 1 drug use is allowed for truck drivers.
Other qualifications depend on a review of the driver’s background, including felony convictions and driving records. Any driver who fails to meet any of the robust requirements is not qualified. In some cases, a driver may meet the minimum standards, but something in the course of their employment may later disqualify them.
Unfortunately, employers too often put unqualified drivers on Bronx roadways, putting everyone on the road in danger.
Bronx Truck Traffic Creates Dangerous Conditions
The Bronx has several heavily trafficked highways and busy shopped areas that truck drivers frequent, and they present increased risks of accidents involving unqualified truck drivers. The following demographics of the Bronx may increase the chances of truck accidents:
- Home to 8 major shopping centers – without tractor-trailers coming in and out of this 42-mile area, these shopping centers would remain empty.
- Home to 10 hospitals – without tractor-trailers, these hospitals would not have needed supplies, including food, medical/surgical gloves and masks, or medication for those who receive treatment at these facilities.
- Smaller outlets – the Bronx is home to 839 grocery stores, 435 restaurants, and 135 convenience stores. We need tractor-trailers to keep these businesses fully stocked.
- Seven major roadways – the Bronx contains seven major roadways, some of them interstates, which trucks constantly populate. These roadways include:
- Bronx River Parkway
- Bruckner Expressway (I-278/I-95)
- Cross Bronx Expressway (I-95/I-295)
- Henry Hudson Parkway (NY-9A)
- Hutchinson River Parkway
- Major Deegan Expressway (I-87)
- New England Thruway (I-95)
These characteristics of the Bronx create more truck traffic and necessarily increase the chances of truck accidents. If you were in an accident in the Bronx with a truck, you should consult with a Bronx truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to see whether or not you might have a claim based on the truck driver being unqualified.
Types of Accidents Caused by Unqualified Bronx Truck Drivers
Unfortunately, unqualified truck drivers are responsible for many types of accidents.
Some of the accidents happen when a driver simply lacks experience, others when they violate established rules, including:
- Rear-end collisions – These types of accidents often end up causing pileups. Statistics from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) tell that 87 percent of truck accidents involve multiple vehicles. Rear-end collisions can occur when a trucker fails to exercise caution and follows a vehicle too closely at unsafe speeds.
- Rollover accidents – Rollover accidents often occur when a driver fails to safely execute a sharp turn. This may stem from poor training, failure to properly adjust speed during a turn at an on or off-ramp, or simply making a poor decision about a lane change, forcing a trucker to swerve back to their original lane and throwing the truck off-balance. Truck drivers learn about sudden moves during their CDL training. But, if a company hires a driver before they have sufficient training, a trucker might not know how to drive in a way to avoid rollovers.
- Over height collisions – Unfortunately, inexperienced truckers often do not realize their truck is too tall for overhead bridges. When this occurs, they can get stuck under a bridge, wreaking all kinds of havoc on the road. The New York Department of Transportation publishes a list of approved highways and expressways for truckers. But if a trucker ignores these regulations, or fails to properly plan their trip, they can end up on a road with bridges too low for their rig to clear.
- Jackknife collisions – Experienced truck drivers know the changes they must make so when they brake, they keep their tractors aligned with their trailers. Unqualified drivers often fail to properly compensate for the weight of their load, resulting in dangerous jackknife collisions in which the trailer pivots, making a jackknife shape with the cab.
- Head-on collisions – ignorance, negligence, and carelessness often result in head-on collisions. Truckers who are under the influence, driving drowsy, or driving distracted run the risk of traveling out of their lanes and running head-on into other vehicles. These types of accidents are often fatal due to the great force of the two vehicles smashing against one another, and the disproportionate mass of a large truck compared to a normal passenger vehicle.
An unqualified truck driver can cause numerous accidents. If you suffered an injury in an accident caused by an unqualified Bronx truck driver, you should seek immediate medical attention. Once you are physically able to do so, contact a Bronx truck accident injury lawyer to see what legal options you may have for recovery of compensation.
Ability to Sue In Unqualified Bronx Truck Driver Accidents
Liability is at the crux of all Bronx truck accident injury lawsuits. However, in a Bronx truck accident case, you may not need to establish liability due to the state’s no-fault insurance system. Under this scheme, Bronx drivers are only required drivers to maintain a minimum of $25,000 in liability coverage for personal injury. However, when a truck is involved in an accident, victims often need to seek additional compensation outside the no-fault system, due to the greater severity of their injuries. Your insurance might not cover your medical costs and lost wages, especially if you only have minimum coverage.
For a truck accident victim, this number can be significantly less than a victim’s actual losses.
Two other factors will determine if you can sue over a Bronx unqualified truck driver accident:
- Serious Injury Threshold – to meet this threshold, the victim’s injuries must reach a certain severity, which may include bone fractures, significant disfigurement, permanent limitation of an organ or bodily function, or 90 days of full disability. If you are unsure whether your injuries constitute serious injury, you should discuss your case with an experienced Bronx truck accident attorney.
- Establishing Fault for Accident – you must be able to prove you were not at fault for the accident. For example, if you rear-end a truck, you are likely at fault for the accident. If a truck rear-ends you, they generally are primarily at fault. If a truck driver is unqualified, this gives you a basis for arguing that they are at fault.
You cannot determine whether or not a truck driver is unqualified at the scene of the accident. Determining their qualifications may require a police investigation and requesting training and other records from the truck driver or their employer. You might not obtain these records on your own, but an experienced attorney can help you obtain them.
Holding a Truck Driver Employer Liable for Unqualified Drivers In the Bronx
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a study, in concert with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which found some of the leading causes of large truck accidents.
Some of the primary causes of accidents involving trucks include:
- A driver traveling too fast for conditions
- Driver fatigue
- The driver felt under work pressure from the carrier
In many cases, an employer can mitigate these incidents by adequately training drivers and encouraging them to follow the driver rest requirements. Drivers may be traveling too fast because they need to reach their deadlines. They may feel tired because they are violating the FMCSA’s hours of service rules. In such cases, you may hold an employer partially liable for any injuries sustained by a victim in an accident with an unqualified truck driver.
Insurance Company Issues In Bronx Unqualified Driver Claim
Filing insurance claims after any Bronx vehicle accident can be a complicated matter. However, a Bronx unqualified truck driver accident can compound the issue. One challenge you will face is the multiple insurance company adjusters you may need to contact.
You could potentially have to deal with:
- Your insurance company adjuster – Since New York is a no-fault state, you will file your initial claim with your own insurer. Your own insurer can help cover repairs to your vehicle, your medical expenses, and your lost wages, depending on the scope of your policy. However, you may have to deal with two or more adjusters, one for your personal injury protection coverage for medical and wages, and one for the property side of your claim. Get a truck accident lawyer to help you with both claims.
- Truck driver’s insurance adjuster – Commercial truck drivers in the Bronx must carry greater liability policies than those who are operating standard motor vehicles. If a truck driver is at fault and you meet the personal injury threshold under New York’s statutes, you may file a claim with the trucker’s insurance company for losses exceeding your personal coverage.
- Truck driver’s employer’s insurance adjuster – if the trucker was unqualified, you may also be able to file a claim with their employer’s insurance adjuster. An employer cannot escape liability if they fail to follow proper hiring procedures or manage their drivers contrary to safety precautions.
As you may see, the more parties who are potentially liable for your injuries, the more complicated it becomes to work with insurance adjusters. To make sure you get fair compensation, you should seek services from an experienced Bronx truck accident injury attorney.
Dealing With Insurers After a Bronx Unqualified Truck Driver Accident
Whether you suffered an injury in a truck accident or you lost a loved one because of an unqualified truck driver, you need quality legal help. Insurance company adjusters are going to attempt to convince you an attorney is unnecessary. They may try to advise you an attorney will slow the settlement process down. Do not fall for this tactic.
In reality, an insurance company wants you to avoid hiring an attorney so they can settle with you quickly for a much lower amount than you likely deserve. And insurers typically have an army of lawyers helping them negotiate settlements and advising them about how to handle claims. They are not going to tell you what you truly deserve for your truck accident. Truck accident victims who try to negotiate a settlement on their own typically lack the experience to push back on insurance companies. Insurers know this and will do everything possible to take advantage of this.
Instead of attempting to go it alone, work with a truck accident lawyer who knows the ropes. Find an attorney who has a proven track record of successful negotiations on behalf of their clients. While a lawyer’s past results cannot predict the outcome of your case, an attorney who has experience winning cases knows how to deal with insurance companies to best ensure you recover every dollar you deserve.
A Bronx unqualified truck driver can cause T-bone accidents, head-on collisions, sideswipe accidents, and other collisions that can cause severe injuries that your own insurance will not cover. It’s in your best interest to contact an attorney after a Bronx truck accident to see if you can recover from a truck driver’s lack of qualifications.