Truck Accident Lawyers in Queens, N.Y.
Truckers and trucking companies have huge investments in their operations. So when a serious truck accident leaves you or a loved one with catastrophic injuries, they turn to their teams of lawyers and insurers bent on safeguarding the company bottom line. This usually means short-changing, if not outright denying, any claim coming from an injured party.
At Zlotolow & Associates, our Queens truck accident lawyers fight fiercely to hold negligent truck drivers, trucking companies (known as “motor carriers”), and other parties accountable to those who have unfairly suffered harm in a crash. Our attorneys are tough negotiators and aggressive trial lawyers. And our respected personal injury law firm has the resources necessary to stand up to deep-pocketed corporations.
If you have been hurt in a tractor-trailer accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. Do not fight this battle on your own. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation about pursuing a claim for you.
How We Investigate Truck Accident Cases
Our skilled truck accident attorneys in Queens thoroughly investigate claims to identify why a crash occurred and who should be held responsible. If contacted soon enough after a truck crash, our team will rush to examine the accident scene, where skid marks, crash debris, roadway problems, or other factors may shed light on the cause of the crash.
We also seek evidence that belongs to the motor carrier that owns the truck, or to the trucker or other parties. Typically, we must obtain court orders for access to this evidence.
During a tractor-trailer accident investigation, our team may seek such evidence as:
- Witness Statements. In addition to talking to you, passengers in your car, and/or other accident witnesses, we interview trucking company employees and other third parties to shed light on company operations that may have contributed to the accident.
- Hours of Service Records. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration strictly regulates a trucker’s time behind the wheel and mandatory rest periods, and drivers are required to record their activities. A driver’s hours of service (HOS) logs, as well as delivery receipts, may indicate fatigued driving (too many hours behind the wheel) or speeding (when driving hours are compared to miles covered).
- Carrier Personnel Records and Contracts. It takes multiple people to put a commercial truck on the road, including those who drive the truck, maintain it, load cargo, dispatch trucks, and more. Negligent hiring or training, or retaining personnel or third-party brokers with violations on their records, could leave the carrier liable for negligence that contributed to a crash.
- Truck Maintenance Logs. Gaps in maintenance records may indicate the carrier put off necessary work. This may suggest a mechanical reason behind an accident and provide evidence the carrier knowingly allowed an unsafe truck on the road.
- Recall Notices. If the semi-truck or other commercial vehicle involved in an accident was known to have unsafe components or mechanical problems that were not resolved, and their failure contributed to the crash, the truck owner could be held liable.
- Event Data Recorder (EDR). Commercial trucks contain “black box” devices, Event Data Recorders or EDRs, that record a variety of data about operation of the vehicle just prior to a crash. A download from the truck’s EDR may tell us about:
- The truck’s speed
- Engine speed
- Brake status
- Clutch status
- Throttle (gas pedal) position
- Cruise-control status
- Steering angle
- Forward collision warnings
- Lane departure warnings
- Truck’s last stop
- Incident Event Report (e.g., sudden deceleration/acceleration, quick stop, hard brake event, etc.)
- Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) from truck system sensors that report data outside normal values
- GPS-based positional data
- In-Cab Cameras. Some trucking companies have installed video systems in truck cabs. Footage from these devices may show negligence or recklessness, such as the driver yawning repeatedly or nodding off, aggressive driving (tailgating, illegal passing, frequent lane changes, etc.), distracted driving (cellphone use, texting, eating, or drinking, etc.), or other dangerous behavior.
In particularly complex truck accidents, we may enlist accident reconstruction specialists to help explain the crash. These forensic experts investigate and create detailed reports for us. When necessary, they present expert testimony accompanied by multimedia presentations to the judge and jury, which prove informative as well as persuasive.
Our Queens truck accident lawyers are able to negotiate with insurance companies from a position of strength due to the solid cases we prepare. When insurers refuse to settle cases appropriately, we are ready to go before a jury with a solid argument for maximum compensation for our clients.
You should not take on a lasting financial burden from an accident that someone else caused. Let our skilled legal team demand the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Truck Accident?
Our truck accident investigations, as well as other research, have shown that there may be several parties with responsibility for the crash of an 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, or other “big rig.” Our skilled and aggressive attorneys work hard to identify each party that contributed to a crash and should be held liable. This may include:
- Truck Driver: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates all commercial motor vehicles in the U.S., says at least one driver-related contributing factor can be identified in a third of truck accidents:
- Speeding. In addition to driving faster than the posted speed limit, this can include driving too fast for conditions (rain, snow, ice, fog, etc.)
- Distracted Driving. The FMCSA has established rules that specifically prohibit texting or using handheld mobile phones while operating commercial motor vehicles. Still, distracted driving is the second-most frequently identified truck driver error in fatal wrecks.
- Fatigued Driving. Truckers often drive in violation of federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which dictate how long commercial truck drivers can remain behind the wheel without taking prescribed breaks.
- Driving While Impaired. Thanks to strict testing for alcohol, drunk driving is rare in the trucking industry. However, drugged driving remains a problem. This may be due to use of illicit, prescribed, or over-the-counter drugs, which can be detrimental to situational awareness and reflexes.
- Unsafe or Illegal Maneuvers. This includes errors like illegal turns, failing to look and see an oncoming vehicle, following too closely (tailgating), frequent and unsafe lane changes, etc. Errors may also be due to being unfamiliar with the roadway.
- Motor Carrier: A trucking company has legal responsibility for the trucks and truckers it puts on the road. The motor carrier must ensure its drivers are licensed and properly trained. If a motor carrier cuts corners on truck maintenance to save money and someone is harmed in a crash caused by failure of a vehicle part or component, the trucking company may be held liable. Cargo must also adhere to regulations for content and safety, including how it is secured.
- Manufacturers and Distributors: A tractor-trailer has numerous parts and components. If a part, component, system, etc., on a truck fails because it was faulty, its manufacturer or distributor may be held liable in a faulty product claim. Parts and systems on a truck most likely to fail include brakes, tires, wheels, power train, coupling system, and lighting.
- Cargo Loaders / Owners: Cargo shifts and spills can cause a commercial truck and/or other vehicles around it to crash. Cargo that moves abruptly can shift the center of gravity and cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and crash or cause others to crash. Cargo that spills from a truck may create an accident and/or personal injury hazard for motorists or anyone nearby. A “HazMat” (hazardous material) spill can lead to serious environmental damage (and expensive cleanup costs) in addition to personal injuries. The FMCSA closely regulates how various kinds of cargo are to be loaded and secured on commercial trucks. And while the motor carrier and trucker have responsibility for cargo on a truck, sometimes a third-party vendor has loaded or packaged cargo and may be held liable as well.
- Work Zone Contractors. Highway work zones, areas segregated from traffic for maintenance or construction, must provide adequate warning and room for motorists to slow down. They must be designed with barriers and adequate space to separate traffic from workers. Properly trained contractors know how to design work zones to account for posted highway speeds, the distance needed to slow or stop large trucks, anticipated traffic congestion, and more. If an unsafe work zone has contributed to a truck accident, negligent contractors and/or the local government that employs them may be liable.
- Roadway Contractors: Sometimes lack of maintenance or faulty design or construction leads to roadway conditions that contribute to a truck accident. In such cases, contractors responsible for shoddy work and/or the local government responsible for the roadway might be held liable for a crash.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for a motor carrier to claim the trucker involved in an accident was an independent contractor, and the company, therefore, has no responsibility for the driver’s negligence. Other third parties will employ similar tactics to avoid liability for an accident.
Countering these excuses requires hard evidence as well as knowledge of the law, trucking industry regulations, and truck accidents. The skilled Queens truck accident attorneys at Zlotolow & Associates have more than two decades of experience pursuing successful claims for injured motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others. Contact us now to get started on your claim.
Let Us Demand the Compensation You Deserve
If someone has injured you or a loved one in a commercial truck accident, our compassionate personal injury attorneys are here to help. Our team can pursue full and fair compensation for:
- Medical bills, including for future medical care needs
- Lost income, including future losses caused by disabling injury
- Repairs to, or replacement of, your vehicle
- Pain and suffering damages
- Punitive damages in cases of extreme misconduct
Call or complete our online form now to schedule a free consultation, and get started seeking justice in the aftermath of your truck accident.