The person or company you can hold accountable for your injuries in a truck accident will depend on the circumstances. Multiple parties can be at fault, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are financially responsible for your medical bills and other expenses.
Determining liability after a truck accident can be challenging. Contact Finz & Finz, P.C. for legal representation and guidance. We have fought for injured clients in New York for over 35 years and are ready to fight for your interests, as well.
Potential Liable Parties in a Truck Accident Case
An accident investigation might reveal that more than one party is at fault for a truck crash. However, fault doesn’t always equal liability. Sometimes one person causes an accident, but another party should be financially accountable based on specific circumstances.
The parties commonly liable for truck accidents include:
• Truck driver – Truck drivers must operate their commercial vehicles safely. Federal and state laws hold them to a much higher standard than other motorists. Driving a large truck requires experience, skill, and focus. A trucker could be liable for your injuries if they exceeded the speed limit, ran a stop sign, or engaged in other careless behavior.
• Mechanic – A mechanic inspects a vehicle and performs necessary maintenance. Their actions can contribute to an accident. For example, a mechanic might be liable if they don’t repair a damaged braking system, causing the brakes to malfunction when the truck driver tries to stop at a red light.
• Cargo loading company – Cargo loading companies are responsible for loading items onto trucks according to federal laws. These laws require cargo to stay within maximum weight and size limits. Proper securement systems are also required to prevent cargo from shifting during transport. Overloading a vehicle or using defective tie-downs can lead to an accident.
• Truck or part manufacturer – Manufacturers must design, assemble, and supply trucks and parts in good working condition. Their products must meet specific safety, performance, and other standards. Poorly designing a steering system, assembling a mechanical component incorrectly, or knowing selling a defective part is dangerous. The manufacturer might be liable if a defect leads to an accident.
Holding a Trucking Company Accountable for an Accident
The trucking company is another party that can be liable for a crash. An employer can be responsible for their employee’s error if it happens during or due to employment. That means the trucking company might be liable instead of the truck driver if you get hurt in a truck accident.
Motor carriers are as much, if not more, responsible than truckers for others’ safety. Sometimes, motor carriers hire new employees without conducting background checks. By ignoring this crucial part of the hiring process, the employer is unlikely to discover a trucker’s prior accident history, substance abuse, or criminal record. Trucking companies might also fail to provide sufficient training to drivers.
Some trucking companies encourage employees to drive more than the maximum driving hours set by federal law. Truckers can experience extreme fatigue that impairs their driving abilities. They might fall asleep at the wheel and crash. Their employer can be liable for asking them to violate federal laws to stay on schedule and make money.
The responsibility of the trucking company for its employees doesn’t apply to independent contractors. Truck drivers aren’t always employees of motor carriers. Some are third parties that contract with trucking companies to work on their own time. Holding the motor carrier liable for an independent contractor’s error that leads to an accident isn’t possible. However, you could pursue action directly against the truck driver.
Insurance Requirements in the Trucking Industry
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all motor carriers to purchase and maintain liability insurance coverage based on the type of trucks they use and the type of cargo they transport. The required coverage includes:
• $300,000 for non-hazardous freight on a truck under 10,001 pounds
• $750,000 to $5,000,000, depending on the type of transported commodities
• $1,500,000 for a vehicle with a maximum capacity of 15 passengers
• $5,000,000 for a truck carrying passengers
Filing a Claim After a Truck Accident in New York
State law requires anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident to file a claim with their insurance company before going after the driver responsible for the crash. Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance with a minimum limit of $50,000 is mandatory coverage.
PIP provides numerous benefits, such as:
• 80% of lost earnings – up to $2,000 daily for no more than three years after the accident
• All necessary and reasonable rehabilitation and medical costs related to the crash
• Up to $25 a day in reimbursement for other expenses for one year after the accident
You can’t file a third-party claim with the trucking company’s liability insurance company until you exhaust your PIP limit and meet the serious injury requirement. That means you have a serious injury that results in:
• A non-permanent injury that prevents a person from performing their usual daily activities for at least 90 days within 180 days of the injury
• A fracture
• Significant disfigurement
• Permanent loss of use of a body organ, function, system, or member
• A significant limitation of the use of a body function or system
• Loss of a fetus
• Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
Seek Justice with Help from Finz & Finz, P.C.
At Finz & Finz, P.C. we understand the devastation of getting hurt in an accident that isn’t your fault. Colliding with a large truck can lead to severe injuries. The injuries can require ongoing treatment that interferes with your routine. It can also lead to expensive medical bills and debt.
You don’t have to pursue action against the truck driver, motor carrier, or another negligent party alone. We will fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. That is our commitment to you.
If you sustained injuries in a truck accident due to someone else’s negligence, call Finz & Finz, P.C. at 855-TOP-FIRM for a free consultation in New York.