Every year, thousands of New Yorkers are injured or killed in highway collisions. Large trucks (whether they are commercial trucks or garbage trucks) are one of the greatest hazards on the highway, and truck driver negligence poses a serious threat to even the most careful motorists.
If you have been severely injured or someone you love has died as a result of a negligent truck driver, you need aggressive representation from skilled New York auto accident lawyers. At Belluck & Fox, we have been fighting for the rights of accident victims for more than 20 years, and we have recovered more than $1 billion for our deserving clients and their families.
If you were involved in a truck accident, you need to contact our New York truck accidents attorneys, Belluck & Fox immediately to make sure evidence from the truck and your vehicle is not destroyed or compromised. We will have our investigators on the scene within hours to preserve evidence. Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your case and learn how we can help.
Table of Contents
- 1 Truck Accident Negligence Attorneys Discuss Types of Neglect
- 2 18 Wheeler Accident Negligence Lawyers Get Compensation for Distracted Driving
- 3 Truck Accident Negligence Lawyers Find Falsified Documentation
- 4 18 Wheeler Accident Negligence Lawyers Find Violations of Basic Driving Rules
- 5 Truck Accident Neglect Lawyers Find Unsafe Operation
- 6 18 Wheeler Negligence Attorneys Look Into Fatigue and Poor Driver Health
- 7 Truck Driver Use of Drugs or Alcohol Can Cause a Truck Accident
- 8 Truck Accident Negligence Lawyers Look For Aggressive Driving
- 9 18 Wheeler Negligence Lawyers Find Overweight Loads Causing Accidents
- 10 18 Wheeler Truck Accident Lawyers Gather Evidence of Driver Negligence
- 11 Experienced 18 Wheeler Accident Negligence Attorneys Who Hold Negligent Truck Drivers Accountable
Truck Accident Negligence Attorneys Discuss Types of Neglect
Although there may be many factors that lead to truck accidents, perhaps the most common is simply truck driver error and negligence. Some of the types of truck driver negligence our legal team frequently sees include:
18 Wheeler Accident Negligence Lawyers Get Compensation for Distracted Driving
Most large trucking companies now completely ban the use of a handheld device for all drivers, employees and contractors alike. Some even prohibit their drivers from talking on hands-free or Bluetooth devices. The fact is, a person should not be operating a massive semi tractor-trailer combination vehicle on a busy highway full of innocent people, while also trying to carry on a telephone call or text message someone. It is completely reckless.
Some of the more common distractions include:
Eating and drinking
Operating Qualcomm or in-cab communication devices
Reading maps or directions
Using CB radios and other devices
Listening to or adjusting music
Sadly, many drivers become complacent and casual about distractions in their truck cab. When a person drives as much as truck drivers do, it can be very easy to become overconfident about one’s own abilities. Drivers often become almost numb to their distractions.
A truck cab can feel completely different from a typical passenger car. A driver has much more room and can begin to “feel” like he or she is not really driving. This can lead truckers to do things they normally would not do if driving a smaller vehicle.
Truck Accident Negligence Lawyers Find Falsified Documentation
As all professional truck drivers know, a trucker’s job entails a lot more than just steering the wheel. There are tons of other tasks that are just as important to professional and safe performance. These can include:
Bills of lading
Lumper bills and receipts (people hired to load or unload)
Tarping (flatbed loads)
Strapping and securing open loads
Like any job, record keeping is important. If a driver falsifies documentation of maintenance, loads, mileage, inspections, and so forth, it can create a situation where a fatigued and ill-prepared driver is hauling an unsafe and uninspected load in a poorly maintained vehicle. All of these can spell disaster.
18 Wheeler Accident Negligence Lawyers Find Violations of Basic Driving Rules
Just like all drivers, professional truck drivers must obey the rules of the road at all times. However, when a truck driver is operating a 40-ton vehicle with hazardous materials, violating the rules of the road can prove deadly.
Some common and simple infractions include:
Reckless or improper turns
Turning without signals
Illegal or unsafe U-turns
Driving without headlights, brake lights, or running lights
Improper lane use
When truck drivers ignore basic traffic laws, they don’t just risk their loads or their jobs; they risk the lives of innocent people all around them.
Truck Accident Neglect Lawyers Find Unsafe Operation
Not all unsafe actions are the result of breaking the law. In other words, just because it’s legal does not mean it’s safe. A speed limit through the mountains might be 55 MPH, but for a fully loaded truck on a rainy day with poor visibility, it might be safer to travel 35 MPH or even less in icy or snowy conditions.
The fact is that depending on the weather, the slope and grade of the road, and the relative visibility, a truck driver should adjust to the current conditions in order to ensure he or she can keep the vehicle under complete control. Trying to beat the clock or race to make a delivery in poor road conditions is one of the leading causes of crashes.
18 Wheeler Negligence Attorneys Look Into Fatigue and Poor Driver Health
Fatigue has always been one of the top causes of truck accidents. Something as simple as rest can be a commodity for the professional driver. Long hours, hard work, dreary and lonely conditions, and a generally stressful workplace (the highway) can all make a truck driver tired. Many truck drivers struggle with obesity, smoking, heavy caffeine use, and sleep apnea. These conditions can also lead to poor or inadequate sleep, and therefore fatigue.
Unfortunately, the trucking industry creates a complete financial incentive for drivers to drive well beyond their physical and mental limits. Regardless of federal and state hours of service requirements, drivers are often under a lot of pressure to “bend the rules” to get as many miles as possible. Lack of sleep and poor health often lead drivers to fall asleep at the wheel. This is one of the most frequent causes of fatal trucking accidents. Recently, commercial trucks are not the only cases noted. Even garbage truck accidents have become common as well.
Truck Driver Use of Drugs or Alcohol Can Cause a Truck Accident
Along with fatigue and poor driver health, drugs and alcohol play a role in many catastrophic crashes. Some drivers are so driven to perform that they self-medicate with caffeine pills, amphetamines, and other dangerous medications, with or without a doctor’s prescription. Some drivers will drink while off duty, but not consider how long they have before returning to driving duties.
Drugs and alcohol, even when completely out of a driver’s blood stream, can continue to have an effect on their ability to drive by causing fatigue or altered mental status, such as frustration, irritability and poor judgment.
Truck Accident Negligence Lawyers Look For Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving goes hand-in-hand with driver fatigue, alcohol, drugs and poor driver health (physical and mental). Imagine spending 14 days at a time away from your children, your family, your friends, your own bed, with only two days in between. Many professional truck drivers spend two to three weeks at a time (many spend more) away from the people they love.
They are connected only by Internet, cellphones, and the desire to get home as soon as possible. They continue this loop for decades, seeing their children for a couple days, then not at all for weeks at a time.
The job can be isolating, alienating and extremely frustrating. Many experienced drivers put in over 100,000 miles in a year, sleeping in a truck with an engine idling or breathing recycled air for most of their work lives.
These conditions, paired with the other hazards and job frustrations, can lead truck drivers to be very aggressive on the road. Irresponsible drivers can turn their large vehicles into tools for threatening and intimidating others as a form of passive aggression. In the worst cases, a moment of road rage can leave innocent people dead.
18 Wheeler Negligence Lawyers Find Overweight Loads Causing Accidents
New York State and the federal government carefully regulate the weight and capacity of commercial vehicles traveling in the state. Nevertheless, there are plenty of oversize loads being transported without proper permits.
A typical semi tractor-trailer combination vehicle can weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded. Any more, and it must meet added requirements for an oversize load, such as special permits and inspection requirements. Many drivers get creative about finding ways around designated inspection stations when hauling more weight than allowed.
An overweight load presents a serious hazard. Large trucks have steering and braking systems that are carefully calibrated to maneuver and stop the vehicle. If they are overweight, it can be practically impossible to steer or stop in an emergency.
18 Wheeler Truck Accident Lawyers Gather Evidence of Driver Negligence
Our seasoned New York truck accident attorneys at Belluck & Fox have extensive experience investigating complex crash scenes around the state. We will work quickly to preserve evidence such as the truck’s “black box” and any other data that may help us prove driver negligence.
We will collect information from the vehicle’s event data recorder (EDR) or electronic control monitor (ECM). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that EDR and ECM technology is useful for:
- Detecting pre-crash dynamics and status
- Capturing driver input (what the driver did before, during and after the crash)
- Recording vehicle crash signatures (how the vehicle actually responded to the crash)
- Determining whether restraints were in use
- Determining whether an airbag deployed
- Showing whether crash avoidance features functioned (warnings, alarms, etc.)
Many newer model trucks have also been outfitted with in-cab communication devices that relay important information to dispatchers. Companies like Qualcomm manufacture and sell these devices to trucking companies for a host of purposes. These devices generally communicate by satellite, meaning that they are able to transmit information regardless of access to a reliable cell signal. They allow the company and dispatchers to send load information, payment information, mileage reports, and even turn-by-turn directions to the driver.
In most cases, these devices are required to automatically disable themselves while the truck is engaged and in motion, but this feature is often disabled. These devices can detect whether a driver is operating outside of the hours of service.
In addition to evidence gleaned from the truck itself, our dedicated legal team will track down any available video footage of the crash, take statements from witnesses, and look into the history of both the driver and the trucking company.
Experienced 18 Wheeler Accident Negligence Attorneys Who Hold Negligent Truck Drivers Accountable
If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury or lost someone you care about due to a truck driver’s negligence, you shouldn’t try to handle a serious personal injury or wrongful death claim on your own. Trucking companies have teams of lawyers on their side ready to fight their battles, and you deserve the same.
The law firm of Belluck & Fox, LLP, understands the trucking industry, and we know all the tricks the insurance companies play when trying to avoid liability. Contact our New York location today to learn more about how we can help with your truck accident claim. Our attorneys will meet with you in a free consultation, and you will not owe us anything unless we recover compensation in your case.