Saturday, December 17, 2011

Truck Accident Cases are a Different Animal than a Car Accident Case

I want to share with you why a NYS Truck Accident case is far different than a NYS car accident case.

see my YOUTUBE video "Why Truck Accident Cases are Different than Car Accidents," here:


Car accidents generally have one defendant (party to blame) to sue. Usually owner of car/driver of car.

Truck accidents can have multiple defendants from many states. The number of potential parties to hold liable is huge. The Broker, the Shipper, the loaders, the Carrier, the Driver, the Lessor, the Renter, the Manufacturer, and/or the Equipment repairer. We can have multiple owners, lessor, and/or renters because there is a truck and a trailer. On top of that are the number of theories of liability (legal fault) ranging from negligent hire, to negligent supervision, to negligent retention, to negligent driving, to negligent packing, to negligent inspecting, to negligent repair, and/or negligent maintenance.

Car accident lawsuits are typically brought in a local state court.

Truck accident lawsuits can wind up in a local state or Federal court. This is because the lessor, the renter, and/or the common carrier of the truck and/or trailer may be based in different states or even Canada.

Car accidents are typically rear end collisions involving two vehicles.
Truck accidents are primarily from lane changing, and can involve multiple vehicles. Sideswiping from lane changes is typical because trucks have "NO ZONES." These are large areas around the truck where the truck driver has "NO VISION." These are also referred to as "BLIND SPOTS."

Car accidents are usually caused by driver error.
Truck accidents can be caused by driver error but additionally there can be mechanical issues, defective equipment, loading issues, and improper repair and maintenance issues. Many trucks that are out on the road are in violation. When investigating a truck case it is more typical than not to discover brake, tire, wheel, and suspension issues contributed in some way to the crash. 

Car accident cases may or may not have high amounts of bodily injury (ability to compensate an injured person for injuries) insurance coverage.
Truck accidents are covered under Federally imposed bodily injury insurance. This mandatory coverage ranges from $750,000 to the millions depending upon the number of defendants, the type of cargo being hauled, and the companies involved.

Car accidents involve "amateur" drivers who are held to lower standards.
Truck accidents involve "professional" drivers who may drive over a hundred thousand miles a year, hold CDLs (commercial driver license), have endorsements to drive and haul specific trucks and cargo, are highly trained, are regularly drug and alcohol tested, have to log and document every hour of every week they work, are responsible for daily vehicle inspections, and are certified annually to be healthy enough to drive.

Car accident claims generally do not require the use of an accident reconstruction expert or an investigator.

Truck accidents require a full investigation into all potential sources of liability (fault). This may involve hiring experts in accident reconstruction, truck equipment and operation.

Questions to ask following a truck accident:

•            Were there any driving violations?

•            Were there any State and/or Federal law violations for “hours-of-service and/or duty status?”   
              Truck drivers have to log and account for all their hours both on and off the job. 

•            Was the driver properly licensed?

•            Was the driver properly endorsed?

•            Was the driver qualified, trained, and experienced to drive that type of truck?

•            Did the driver have their Medical Examiner’s certification proving “physical and mental fitness” 
              to drive?

•            Did the driver have all necessary medical waivers for their medical conditions? 

•            Was the truck properly inspected, repaired, and maintained?

•            Was there documentation of the equipment’s periodic inspections?

•            Were the brake systems on both tractor and trailer in proper working order?

•            Were the rims, wheels, and hubs within Federal guidelines for safety?

•            Were the tires within Federal guidelines for safety?

•            Were the coupling devices within Federal guidelines for safety?

•            Were the suspension parts in safe working condition?

Dr. Lawrence Newman, D.C., J.D.
504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850