5 things you should know if you were injured in an accident involving a truck in New York
Stay In-the-Know About Truck Accidents in New York
The streets and intersections in New York can be painful places. Many people opt to walk or take the subway to reach their destinations to avoid the horrible traffic jams and frequent accidents on New York roadways. But for truck drivers, there is no alternative. They need their trucks to perform delivery and freight toting jobs, which can’t simply be done on foot with bulky items or tanks strapped to their backs. As a result, accidents involving trucks are among the most common traffic accidents to occur in New York, including (but not limited to) fatal truck crashes.
So, what do you need to know if you are involved in a truck accident in NY? To whom do you turn? Who is to blame? What steps should you take to receive fair treatment, or justice, if a loved one is killed in such an accident? We think we can help!
Driver’s Logs Can Save Your Tail
A diligent commercial truck driver documents all his or her records of hours driven, distance, repairs or evaluations of the vehicle or related equipment, etc. This is usually required by the companies that employ drivers. However, since individual company policies may be laxer than others, it is up to the drivers to keep detailed enough records to prove their innocence in a truck accident. If an inspection is overdue, a driver hasn’t had sufficient rest (as mandated by company policy or by New York state law), or the documentation is too spotty, the driver may immediately be ruled at fault for the crash. If a driver is initially absolved of responsibility, but a post-crash inspection detects a fault with the vehicle or equipment that should have been reported to the company but wasn’t, the driver can not only be slammed with sole responsibility, anyone injured in the crash, business owners who suffered damage or loss of business, or immediate family members of anyone killed in the accident can sue either the driver him/herself or the company for which he or she works.
As with any vehicle accident, the very first thing you should do in the event of a truck crash is exchange insurance information. This step is critical, because it will cover you throughout the entire process. Your insurance coverage will take care of some, if not all, of the expenses incurred for truck repairs, medical treatment, etc. It will also prove that you complied with the New York laws and regulations regarding financial responsibility for your vehicle.
The odds are good that the vehicles directly involved in the crash won’t be the only ones impacted. If a large truck swerves to avoid an accident or overturns, other cars, pedestrians or nearby businesses may be injured or suffer damage, as well. Anyone involved in the crash who is not incapacitated should collect witness statements, take note of any other surrounding damage, and report everything to the proper officials, as well as his or her insurance company.
If the driver and/or passengers of any vehicle involved is killed in the crash, the insurance gathering may be done by local or state authorities. Calling the police, 911, fire department, or any other necessary officials as soon as the crash occurs is also vital. Not only will the reports be the most accurate, but anyone needing immediate medical attention or any relatives that need notification can receive such ASAP. Plus, this ties in to insurance exchanging. Even if you are at fault in the crash, calling the authorities can keep you from serving jail time as a result of the crash.
Don’t Be Afraid to Double-Check Your Employer
Sometimes, companies will send out shipments or loads that are too heavy or improperly balanced in order to save time, money and resources. These neglectful practices, under the right conditions, will often result in truck crashes. The first people to take the brunt of the heat in such instances are the truck drivers, of course, for not realizing that their trucks are toting too much weight, or that the freight isn’t balanced as it should be. However, some companies have people who balance loads for the drivers, rather than requiring the drivers to learn how to do so, on top of their other duties. In these cases, the fault lies with the load balancing crews, not with the company drivers.
If proper and thorough personal inspection of your vehicle showed no defects or issues, but further inspection after an accident detects something faulty that, had it been functioning properly, could have prevented the accident or diminished injuries or damage, it’s ok to look into your company’s general vehicle maintenance protocols. In fact, if you have probable cause to question the company’s methods and procedures, it’s your legal responsibility to report them. They may need to be investigated further before your case can be resolved and closed, and, if they are sending out vehicles in dangerous condition on a regular basis, they may need to be shut down until the investigation ends. Otherwise, you could be held responsible not only for the crash in which you were involved, but you may also receive indirect blame for any accident or malfunction that occurs after your accident.
When in Doubt, Consult an Attorney
In many cases, it is best to comply with authorities and trucking company supervisors after a truck accident, rather than involve lawyers. However, if you aren’t getting fair treatment, if no one seems to get any closer to assigning fault regarding the accident in question, or if receiving necessary medical treatment proves difficult because of processing delays or poor negotiations, hiring an attorney may become a necessity. In this case, be sure to discuss your options with several lawyers before choosing the one you hire. Make sure you select one who specializes in truck accidents in New York; a general practice attorney will not have all the knowledge about truck crashes needed to properly represent your case. Also, make sure you keep copies of doctor reports, witness statements, driver logs, and any other evidence your lawyer can use to help you in court. A great lawyer can make all the difference, but even the best in the state can only do so much without proper documentation.