Commercial Truck Crashes
We'll help you recover after being injured by a trucker
Big commercial vehicles, from dump trucks to 18-wheelers, are a daily sight on I-90, I-190, the New York State Thruway and other highways in Buffalo and throughout New York State. As drivers, we rarely give these vehicles much thought - until an accident happens. And when they do, the results can be devastating.
Because tractor-trailers and other commercial trucks are so much larger than passenger cars, severe injuries and death are common in many cases. Each year, more than 4,000 people are killed in truck accidents nationwide, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
A collision may only take moments to happen, but the consequences can last a lifetime. You may have to recover from serious injuries requiring reconstructive surgery and miss months of work while recovering. You might have suffered severe injuries that never really heal, including amputation, loss of sight or other permanent disabilities. You might have even lost a loved one in an accident.
Notable truck accident case results*
- $1.55 million settlement for tractor-trailer accident
- $1 million settlement for box truck accident
- $475,000 settlement for tractor-trailer accident
*Attorney advertising. Past results do not guarantee similar outcomes.
Faced with mounting medical bills, missed work and property damage to your vehicle, the financial impact of such accidents can be staggering. That's why you need an experienced attorney who knows why truck accidents happen and how to hold the responsible parties accountable and bring you the justice you deserve.
At the Law Offices of James Morris in Buffalo, we've been representing victims of truck accidents throughout New York for decades. When it comes to facing off against trucking companies and their insurance companies, experience makes all the difference. We frequently investigate both the trucker and the trucking company to find evidence of negligence on their part.
Truck accident lawyer James Morris and his legal team explore every source of compensation and work tirelessly to stay one step ahead of the trucking companies. As your attorney, we’ll take a hard line in negotiations on your behalf, and we’re not afraid to take trucking companies or insurance providers to court.
Who investigates truck accidents in New York?
Different rules apply to accidents caused by drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Along with local police or troopers from the New York State Police, many truck accidents are also investigated by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), particularly in crashes involving serious injuries or fatalities.
But those are just the official investigations. In addition, insurance companies and trucking companies investigate crashes themselves. That’s because they’re looking for any excuse to deny injury claims. This is why it’s important to have a lawyer on your side. Your attorney can conduct an independent investigation in support of your claim. That way, you can provide evidence in support of your request for financial compensation for your injury claim.
How does no-fault insurance in New York apply to truck accidents?
New York has a so-called “no-fault” insurance system. This means that injury victims file a claim with their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault. But injury claims can often be much more complicated, especially if your accident was caused by an 18-wheeler or another large, commercial vehicle.
This is because many injury claims turn out to be much higher than drivers’ insurance coverage. Your insurance company will only pay up to the limit on your insurance. As a result, you will need to find another way to pay for expenses not covered by no-fault insurance.
If the truck driver caused your crash, you can file a claim or take legal action against the truck driver’s insurance company. But be prepared for a tough legal battle. This is why it’s critical that you have an attorney on your side who thoroughly understands New York’s legal system.
Who’s responsible for paying for my crash?
In many cases, the at-fault party is responsible for paying for your accident-related expenses. This is due to liability law, which states that the person or party that’s liable (legal term for responsible) is the one that must pay for your accident expenses.
What makes truck accident claims different from many other motor vehicle crashes is there can be more than one at-fault party responsible for compensating you. As a result, you may be able to pursue a claim against:
- The truck driver who caused your collision
- The trucking company the truck driver works for
- The truck manufacturer, especially if a mechanical defect caused your crash
- The truck parts manufacturer, especially if a tire blowout, defective brakes or another mechanical problem caused your accident
- The company responsible for maintaining the truck
- The company that owns the trailer in the case of a tractor-trailer accident
- The company that loaded the truck, especially if it was improperly loaded and caused a rollover or jackknife accident
These are just some of the companies you may be able to pursue a claim with or take legal action against after your crash. Your lawyer can help you explore all your options and demand maximum financial compensation on your behalf.
How much is my claim worth?
Many truck accident claims add up to thousands of dollars or significantly more. That’s because the injuries sustained in such accidents can be very severe, resulting in expensive medical treatment and significant time off from work to recover. In some cases, injury victims can never return to work due to a permanent disability.
All these expenses need to be taken into account when determining the full value of an injury claim. It’s not just short-term expenses like emergency medical care. Long-term expenses like physical therapy, prescription medication, follow-up doctor’s appointments and more all need to be factored in when deciding how much money injury victims should receive.
Remember, you didn’t do anything wrong. You shouldn’t have to pay for a truck driver’s reckless or negligent behavior. Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after your crash. An experienced truck accident attorney can determine the true value of your injury claim, then demand the money on your behalf.
Dealing with trucking companies
Trucking companies can be very difficult to deal with after an accident in the Buffalo area. Many times, the companies are located far away in other states. They might even be based in Canada, turning your case into an international legal matter.
But it’s not just about where companies are located. Many trucking companies do everything they can to prevent people from getting access to information they have about the truck driver involved in the accident.
Such important information can cover a wide range, including:
- The truck driver’s Hours of Service (HOS) logs, which show exactly how long the truck driver was on the road and when the driver last took a mandatory break.
- The truck’s black box data recorder, also known as an electronic control module (ECM) or event data recorder (EDR). This device records GPS coordinates (route the truck was taking before the accident), when the driver last took a break, if the driver attempted to slow down before the collision, what speed the truck was traveling at the time of the crash and if the driver was wearing a seatbelt.
- The truck driver’s driving history, which can be especially important if the driver who caused your collision had a history of reckless driving or causing other accidents.
- The trucking company’s inspection records, especially if the trucking company had been punished for safety violations or other infractions.
- The trucking company’s maintenance records, to find out when the trucking company last did a safety inspection on the truck that caused your crash, when the tires or brakes were last checked and other important information.
It’s also important to understand that the trucking company has hired at least one lawyer to defend its actions – and deny your claim. Level the playing field. Have a truck accident lawyer you can trust dealing with the truck driver’s trucking company on your behalf.
Dealing with insurance companies
One of the reasons why dealing with insurance companies in cases involving truck accidents can be so complicated is because there are often so many insurance companies involved. The cab and the trailer generally have separate insurance policies, and the cargo has yet another insurance policy. If your case involves liability on the part of a truck manufacturer or a company that maintained the truck, that company will have its own insurance, too.
All these companies do share one thing in common, though. They will likely do everything they can to reduce or deny your claim. Your lawyer can take them on and be your voice for justice after your crash.
What laws apply to truck accidents?
One of the reasons why truck accidents are different than other motor vehicle accidents is because different rules apply to commercial trucks and drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which a driver must have to operate a tractor-trailer or another large truck weighing more than 26,0001 pounds.
Many of these laws are federal regulations, including Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Federal trucking laws are enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the part of the U.S. Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry. Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations in particular has many rules that apply to the trucking industry, including:
- How many hours truck drivers can work before they must take a break. These rules are known as Hours of Service (HOS) regulations and can be found in Title 49, Part 395 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Under HOS rules, truck drivers carrying cargo (different rules apply to CDL drivers carrying passengers) must limit their driving to:
- 11 hours maximum after a 10-hour break
- 60 hours in seven consecutive days
- 70 hours in eight consecutive days
- 30-minute break after driving 8 hours without a 30-minute interruption
- What qualifications truck drivers must have to operate a commercial truck. These rules can be found in Title 49, Part 391 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
- Which activities truck drivers are prohibited from doing behind the wheel, including texting while driving, even if drivers are allowed to text in that state. These rules can be found in Title 49, Part 392 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The federal ban on texting while driving for CDL drivers in particular can be found in Title 49, Part 392.80.
- When truck drivers and trucking companies must inspect and repair commercial vehicles. These rules can be found in the inspection, repair and maintenance section of Title 49, Part 396 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
These are just some of the laws that apply to truck drivers and trucking companies. New York State also has its own rules and regulations that apply to commercial trucks. The key is to get a lawyer who knows the law.
What deadlines apply to my case?
Many deadlines often apply to truck accident claims. In particular, injury victims in New York generally have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit or take other legal action. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations.
But just because you have three years doesn’t mean you should wait that long to take legal action. First, the deadline can vary depending on the circumstances. For instance, if your accident involved a government-owned vehicle, you may need to file a “Notice of Claim” against the municipality or government within 90 days of the accident.
Even more importantly, if you wait too long, the evidence you need to build a strong legal case might no longer exist. That’s because truck drivers and trucking companies can legally destroy certain evidence long before then if a lawyer doesn’t intervene first.
- Hours of Service (HOS) logs can be destroyed after 6 months.
- Truck inspection, repair, and maintenance records can be destroyed after 1 year.
- The truck’s black box data, which is stored in the event data recorder (EDR), is often erased and overwritten within 3 to 4 weeks, since most EDR devices only store data for 250 ignition cycles (or less in some older EDR devices).
- Traffic video footage or security camera footage of your accident may be erased or recorded over within days unless someone specifically requests that it be preserved.
It’s also important to remember that you only have one opportunity to get all the money you will need for past, present and future expenses related to your accident. Don’t miss out on your opportunity for justice. Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
Demand justice. Contact our Buffalo law firm. We can fight for you.
After a serious truck accident, you need an attorney you can trust to fight for you. Contact the Law Offices of James Morris today for your free case evaluation. We’ll get right to work investigating your crash and searching for evidence in support of your claim. Whether it’s reviewing accident reports, inspection records or HOS logs for the truck driver who caused your crash, we leave no stone unturned in pursuit of the truth.
Get a truck accident lawyer who gets results. Contact our Buffalo office right now and schedule an appointment with attorney James Morris.