/Queens Truck Accident Lawyer
Over 15.5 million trucks transport fully 70 percent of all freight carried across U.S. roads every year. That amounts to $671 billion of retail and manufactured goods within the country and an additional $490 billion between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico.
Given the vast number of trucks on the road, the sad reality is that they and passenger vehicles will get into accidents—including in Queens. The sheer size differential between cars and big trucks means that it rarely ends well for passenger vehicles and their occupants while the trucks receive less damage and their drivers fewer and less severe injuries.
In New York, trucks were involved in 8.4 percent of all accidents in one recent year and nationally someone is fatally injured every 16 minutes in an accident involving a truck; 98 percent of the time it is an occupant of the passenger vehicle who is killed.
But you can’t wait forever to proceed with your lawsuit. It must be filed within three years (the statute of limitations) of your accident. That might seem like a long time, but it can pass quickly when you’re trying to heal and get your life back. As soon as you can, contact a Queens personal injury lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, who can evaluate your case for free and advise you as to how to proceed to ensure the maximum possible recovery for your injuries.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck drivers are susceptible to many of the pitfalls as other drivers. However, because of the size and the type of cargo trucks carry, different causes are at play in some truck vs. car accidents.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Truck drivers and the companies who employ them are required to inspect their trucks and perform any necessary maintenance on them before taking their rigs on the road. Improper or rushed checks can lead to missed problems that can end catastrophically for others on the road.
A common maintenance issue is insufficiently-filled tires or driving with tires that have too little tread. Blowouts can happen when either of these factors is present. They occur when tires burst and then rapidly lose pressure. When this happens, tires can come completely off the wheels (usually in pieces) and fly into the air, creating dangerous obstacles for other drivers when they land. Tire pieces can also collide with the windshields of other vehicles. When a truck driver experiences a tire blowout, his truck becomes more difficult to control, increasing the likelihood of a collision.
Failing to properly maintain a truck can also result in a lost load. Improperly-secured loads may be thrown from the truck when the driver makes sudden or sharp turns. When the contents of a truck end up in the road, it creates dangerous conditions for other drivers who may collide with it or be forced to make sudden adjustments to avoid the debris. Those adjustments may involve veering into other lanes or across the center line and an impact with other passenger vehicles.
Truck Driver Fatigue
When drivers are not fully rested, they make critical errors they otherwise would be able to avoid. In fact, the effects of drowsy driving are similar to those of driving while intoxicated and include decreased reaction time, impaired judgment, blurry vision, or worse—the driver actually falling asleep and losing control of the truck entirely.
Although the federal government has set forth guidelines governing how many hours a truck driver can drive at a time and the length of time they should rest between drives, the rules are not always followed. Truckers are faced with tight deadlines and unscrupulous trucking companies encourage drivers to work overtime and reduce their off-road time.
Most drivers are paid for each mile driven and many have bonus structures based on how much cargo they move. Financial pressures placed on the drivers by their employers can provide the temptation to skirt the guidelines and go those last few miles or cut that rest time short.
The CDC estimates that drowsy driving contributes to over 80,000 accidents on American roads each year and that almost 6,000 people die in those crashes.
Driving in a Truck’s Blind Spot
A vehicle’s blind spot is that space a driver cannot see with either their rear or side-view mirrors. We are all taught when learning to drive that we should check our blind spots when turning or making lane changes. Truck drivers do not have that luxury. Most trailers block their view over the shoulder and most of them don’t even have rearview mirrors because their trailers are tall enough to completely obscure any view out the back.
Because trucks have large blind spots and their drivers are not able to check them in the same way that passenger car drivers are, they may make lane changes without detecting that a car is in their blind spot. Those driving passenger cars should take care to not drive in trucks’ large blind spots and to pass the big trucks they encounter with care.
Following Too Closely
Rear-end collisions often occur as a result of one driver following another too closely and then being unable to stop in time to avoid colliding with the car in front of it. These types of accidents can cause serious injuries when both vehicles are passenger cars, but the negligence of truck drivers in following too closely can have devastating consequences simply because of their enormous size and weight.
An impact of such a large vehicle on the back of the car can crush the car and seriously injure those in both the back and front seats of the car. The force of the impact may also cause a pile-up in which the first car hit is pushed into the one in front of it and, when the impact is strong enough, force multiple cars into the backs of those in front of them. Rear-end collisions with big trucks can cause extensive damage to vehicles and serious injuries to their occupants.
Taking Turns Too Sharply or Quickly
When truck drivers don’t slow down enough to take turns safely or try to turn too sharply, they can jackknife, meaning they end up in a position in which their trailers are at a 90-degree angle to their cabs. These accidents themselves don’t necessarily involve other cars, but a jackknifed truck creates an obstacle and road hazard for other drivers who may or may not be able to stop or avoid it in the road.
If a truck suddenly stops without proper braking, a situation is created in which the vehicle following it may not have adequate time to stop to avoid a collision. These are known as underride accidents because the passenger car may end up under the rear end of the truck’s trailer. As you might imagine, the result is that those in the front seats of the car often suffer fatal injuries. If the impact speed is high enough, the entire car may come to a stop under the trailer also severely injuring those in the back seat. Passenger vehicles involved in underride accidents are almost always completely totaled.
Running Lights and Stop Signs
It is extremely dangerous for any vehicle to run a red light or a stop sign. T-bone accidents in which one car impacts the side of the vehicle traveling in the perpendicular direction are the usual result. This is another situation in which the physical size and weight of trucks lead to more serious consequences. A truck smashing into a passenger car rarely ends well for the occupants of the car.
Crossing the Centerline
Front end collisions often occur when one vehicle crosses the center lane and drives into oncoming traffic. They tend to be especially dangerous to the occupants of both vehicles because they occur at higher speeds and because the driver operating his vehicle properly has little time to react to the vehicle that enters her lane. The very nature of a big truck makes these accidents between trucks and cars extraordinarily dangerous and devastating.
After an Accident With a Truck
Because those in passenger cars are often severely injured in accidents with trucks, you may not be able to do all of the things below, but they are all important so do them as soon as you can. You want to ensure that you don’t let the statute of limitations expire and that your attorney can get started as soon as possible on your case.
Stay at the Scene
The severity of your injuries may make it entirely impossible for you to leave the scene of your accident, but if you can, don’t. It’s important that you call 911 and that anyone who is injured receive prompt medical treatment and transportation to a medical facility if necessary. You also want to make sure you stay there so that you can speak with law enforcement officers who will be dispatched to the scene.
They have an obligation to speak to witnesses who can give statements and they will also take photos of the scene and subsequently write a report. Make sure to ask for and receive a copy of the report—it may prove beneficial in your subsequent lawsuit. It’s also important to exchange contact and insurance information with all the other drivers involved.
File Your Insurance Claims
File any medical claims with your insurance company that your medical providers do not file on your behalf. You of course also need to file a claim with your auto insurance company. Some companies impose a deadline by which you must file to receive benefits so do so right away. Of course, any reimbursement you receive from your insurance company is not money you may then turn around and collect from the truck driver who injured you.
Document Your Costs
Whether or not you ultimately end up filing a lawsuit against the other driver in your accident, you need to keep track of and document all the costs of the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from your truck accident injuries. Your insurance companies will most certainly require it and if you do sue the other driver, you will need to be able to prove the extent of the financial damage you’ve suffered.
This, of course, includes medical bills, but you should also document your lost wages including any tips, commissions, or retirement contributions you lose, as well as the cost of things like having to hire someone to perform tasks for you that you are no longer able to perform yourself.
When in doubt, keep the bill and keep the receipt.
Contact Our Queens Truck Accident Attorneys
The injuries you’ve suffered in a truck accident may have changed your life completely. They may be serious enough that you can never fully return to the normal routine of your pre-accident life. That’s where a Queens truck accident lawyer can help you.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we are committed to providing the highest quality of legal representation possible to everyone who needs it, regardless of their financial circumstances. That’s why we operate on a contingency basis—you owe us nothing until we recover for you.
Since our founding nearly 50 years ago, in 1972, we have earned a reputation of successful recovery for our clients and we bring our wealth of knowledge of the law, vast experience in the courtroom and at the negotiating table, and true compassion for every client to each case we take. Contact us online or by phone at (877)-565-2993 today for your free case evaluation.