About 2.7 million people live in Brooklyn—roughly 30 percent of New York City’s population. The borough boasts 15 million visitors a year and has increased its economy by more than 32 percent in the past 12 years. With all this activity going on, an increase in commercial trucks—commonly referred to as semi-trucks—will deliver products to the area and transport Brooklyn’s products to other parts of the nation.
Unfortunately, the more semi-trucks traveling in and out of an area, the higher the chance of experiencing a truck-involved accident. In Brooklyn, hundreds of truck accidents occur each month, often causing serious injury or death to the occupants of other vehicles and other roadway users, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
If you were injured or have lost a loved one in a semi-truck accident in Brooklyn, an experienced attorney from Jacoby & Meyers LLP can explain the legal process of obtaining compensation for the expenses and impacts that you experience as a result. Our attorneys understand the complexities of truck accident cases and the seriousness of the injuries they cause.
Some of our recent case results include:
- A $5 million settlement for a truck driver who suffered severe injuries when his truck rear-ended the back of another truck that had been braking to avoid a stopped vehicle. The impact crushed the cabin of our client’s truck, which subsequently crashed into a roadside barrier. Our client suffered injuries to his leg, intestines, lungs, pelvis, sacrum, and several ribs.
- $2.5 million for a client who was the passenger in the front seat of a vehicle stopped at a light when a semi-truck driver attempted to make a wide right-turn and the rear tires crashed into the front of the vehicle. The truck driver fled the scene and our client followed him to the next light. Our client suffered neck and back injuries, which led to chronic regional pain syndrome.
The Dangers That Semi-Trucks Pose
When a truck is in an accident with other roadway users, it is the occupants of other motor vehicles who are most often injured or killed. This is largely because of the massive size of a semi-truck, which can weigh 20 to 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle.
Some of the hazards created by the truck’s size include:
- Blind spots: Every vehicle has a blind spot, which is an area around the vehicle—often along the rear sides—which the driver cannot see by looking in his or her rear or side-view mirrors. Semi-trucks do not have a rearview mirror, as such equipment would prove useless due to the tall trailer behind the cabin. Semi-trucks also have significant blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle, which increase the hazard of a collision with a passenger car, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian who happens to be in that area when the truck driver decides to back up, pull forward, or change lanes.
- Wide turns: Because semi-trucks are such long vehicles (measuring around 72 feet), they must make wide turns to navigate the narrow corners in Brooklyn and similar areas. Wide turns require the driver to swing the truck into an adjacent travel lane, which can lead to an accident if there is a vehicle in the lane.
- High ground clearance: Trucks have a higher ground clearance than other cars. In fact, the space between the underneath of the truck and the roadway is large enough that smaller passenger vehicles can slip into that space during an accident, creating an often-deadly situation known as an underride.
- Higher center of gravity: In addition to high ground clearance, commercial trucks also have a high center of gravity. This increases the risk of a rollover accident when the truck’s driver is attempting emergency maneuvers or when taking corners or curves at speed.
- Increased stopping distance: It takes time for a vehicle’s brakes to pull it to a complete stop. On dry roads, trucks require 20 to 40 percent more distance to stop safely than smaller, lighter vehicles. On wet or icy roads, or if the truck’s brakes were improperly maintained, trucks need even more space to stop.
Believe it or not, when it comes to cities where commercial truck drivers make deliveries or pick up goods to transport to other locations, not all are created equal. Some cities have conditions that actually increase the risk of truck accidents, generally as they combine with the inherent dangers already present with such vehicles.
Some of the dangers that increase the risk of a truck-involved accident in Brooklyn include:
- Congested streets. With about 8.5 million people, all of New York City’s boroughs are prone to traffic congestion, and Brooklyn is no exception. Navigating traffic congestion is risky for semi-truck drivers, as the truck’s significant blind spots prevent the driver from readily seeing roadway users, including the drivers of motor vehicles and nearby pedestrians or bicyclists. Additionally, the increased distance required for the truck to make a complete stop creates additional hazards in traffic congestion, including the risk of rear-ending another vehicle.
- Pedestrians. Not only does Brooklyn experience high amounts of motor vehicle traffic, but the streets also fill with pedestrians and bicyclists. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, 67 percent of truck-involved pedestrian and cyclist crashes occurring around the city resulted in serious injury or death. Serious injury, as defined by New York law, results in significant disfigurement, a bone fracture, permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member, significant limitation of use of a body function or system, or an injury that results in substantially full disability for at least 90 days.
- Narrow roadways. Narrow roadways are very difficult for semi-truck drivers to navigate, particularly if they are required to make a turn. This has forced the city to make decisions, including lowered speed limits, to prevent traffic accidents involving trucks caught or overturning in intersections and increased dangers to pedestrians that exist when trucks attempt to maneuver in tight spaces.
- Inclement weather. Brooklyn often gets powerful winter storms and intense rain in the summer. Inclement weather increases the risk of truck-involved accidents, as the additional space needed for stopping safely is further increased by wet or icy road surfaces, and the risk of sliding into other vehicles or off the roadway or jackknifing the truck increases as well.
- Complicated truck routes: Because of the congestion in and around Brooklyn and the other boroughs of New York City, the city has developed a set of roads throughout the city designated as truck routes. The 1,000 miles of roadway included in the routes make up one of the nation’s most comprehensive—and complex—truck routes. Drivers may only drive on streets outside of the route network when going to the truck route from the truck’s origin or from the route to the truck’s destination.
Other Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Brooklyn
Semi-truck drivers can make errors in judgment that result in accidents, or they lack the driving skills needed to drive safely, just as any other users of the roadway.
Common driver behaviors in truck-involved accidents include:
- Fatigued driving. Driver fatigue is physical or mental exhaustion that impairs a driver’s performance. Any driver can experience fatigue after a poor night’s sleep or during stressful life events, such as having a new baby. However, truck driver’s are more likely to experience fatigue than other drivers due to the number of hours they drive each day; the time of day in which truck drivers drive (often late at night when their bodies are instinctively wired for sleep); whether they sleep in the truck’s sleeper berth during their off-duty time, which increases the risk of sleep inertia; and physical conditions, such as sleep apnea, which can cause a person to feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.
- Distracted driving. There are three kinds of distractions: manual distractions, which cause the driver to take his or her hands from the wheel; visual distractions, which cause the driver to avert his or her eyes from watching the roadway; and cognitive distractions, which draw the driver’s mind from the task of driving safely.
- Speeding. Excessive speed is dangerous as it takes two known hazards involved with driving a commercial truck and makes them even more dangerous. These hazards include difficulty maneuvering the vehicle and an increased stopping distance.
- Impairment by drugs and alcohol. Truck drivers are subject to random drug and alcohol screenings to maintain their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). However, many drugs—including illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter medications—can have an intoxicating effect similar to alcohol that can erode the skills the driver needs to operate his or her motor vehicle safely.
If You Suffered Injuries or Lost a Loved One in a Truck Accident
More than 4,000 people die each year on U.S. roads in accidents with semi-trucks, and many tens of thousands more suffer injuries. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one due to a truck-involved accident, you can pursue compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury or loss through a legal claim filed in civil court.
Recovering Compensation for Injury
If you wish to seek compensation for the injuries that you sustained in a truck-involved accident, you can file a truck accident lawsuit. This claim, which you generally must file within three years of the date on which the accident occurred, seeks to show not only who was liable (legally responsible), but also the expenses and impacts that you have incurred as a result.
Common expenses and impacts to appear on damage claims in truck accidents include:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of emergency treatment, ambulance or air ambulance transport, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, physician and surgical services, prescription medication, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the provision of assistive devices, such as prostheses, a wheelchair, or crutches.
- Lost wages if you are too injured to work.
- Loss of earning capacity if your injury results in permanent disabilities that render you unable to earn what you did before the accident.
- Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing the car you were driving when the accident occurred.
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life.
Recovering Compensation After a Family Member’s Death
If you lost a loved one because of a truck-involved accident that involved someone else’s careless or reckless actions, a personal representative of your loved one’s estate can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased’s beneficiaries and family members.
The damages you can seek through this type of claim include:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Medical expenses related to the treatment of the deceased’s final injury.
- Wages and benefits were lost between the time of injury and subsequent death.
- The value of support and services provided to family members.
- The loss of nurturing, care, and guidance provided to family members.
- Loss of inheritance by surviving family members.
- Conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased between the time of injury and death.
- 9 percent interest on your award, calculated from the date of death.
Questions About Obtaining Compensation?
Let an experienced truck accident attorney provide information and answers about the legal process of obtaining compensation for the expenses and psychological impacts that you have suffered in a Brooklyn truck accident. For your free case evaluation, contact a Brooklyn truck accident lawyer today.