Every year, tens of thousands of heavy commercial trucks are involved in serious accidents that maim, injure, and kill. Since New York’s Long Island serves as a major trucking corridor for millions of road freight miles traveled each year, our area’s residents are at particularly high risk for these devastating accidents.
Truck accidents in our state are numerous, with 1,284 truck crash fatalities in New York State between 2007 and 2017. Statistics from the NY DMV show that in 2018, truck accidents in the state caused 4,202 injuries and 70 deaths. Most of these accidents occur on a weekday between 6 A.M. – 3 P.M.
As you can see, truck crashes on Long Island and across the state happen with alarming frequency.
If you are injured in a truck accident, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Pursue damages and negotiate tougher settlements to get the compensation you deserve to treat your injury and recover to your normal life.
Carner & DeVita have been defending New York accident victims with passionate legal representation for over 60 years. We fight for victims’ rights to the fullest extent of compensation available under state and federal laws. Don’t let a catastrophic truck accident change your life permanently for the worst. Speak up and exercise your legal rights with the help of a Long Island truck accident lawyer who’s willing to fight by your side.
Start the process of making your claim today by calling 631-380-4417 or using our form to contact us online, and you can schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Making a Personal Injury Claim After Your Truck Accident
When an accident was caused by a commercial truck driver’s negligence, injury victims can take solace in the fact that they may be eligible for compensation. Depending on the circumstances of their case, they can file a personal injury claim against the driver, their employer, the company that contracted the freight shipment, or others.
You can determine if your truck accident injury case has the potential for a settlement or award with the help of a Long Island truck accident lawyer. They will help you identify which parties were potentially negligent and how much in damages your claim could be eligible for.
Potential damages include:
- Past and future medical costs
- Incidental healthcare costs made necessary by the injury
- Lost income/wages
- Pain and suffering
- Compensation for a lifelong disability caused by the injury
If your medical expenses exceed the No-Fault coverage limits, you may claim the cost of current medical expenses as well as future costs. Out-of-pocket costs for copays, prescriptions, medical devices, and over-the-counter remedies may also be included.
The value of your lost wages equals the difference between what you were making before the crash versus after. If you have a non-standard compensation arrangement – such as if you are self-employed, work on commission, or have highly variable hours – then you may need an accounting professional to help you accurately determine your lost wages.
Some injury cases involve significant pain and suffering. Others have permanent effects, such as an inability to enjoy time with family or an inability to return to your former line of work. Your Long Island truck accident lawyer can help you identify all negative life impacts and include an estimated value of compensation for the suffering, anguish, and unfavorable changes you’ve had to endure.
What to Do After a Truck Accident on Long Island
Trucking accidents are bound to be severe. So make sure you call 911 as soon as possible to get emergency medical services and first responders on scene. In Long Island, accidents totaling more than $1000 are required to be reported to police. Try to stay calm and courteous not only with the police officer, but the trucker as well. Maintain your innocence and give clear statements to the police.
Check for Injuries
After calling the police, check yourself and the other driver for any serious injuries. Don’t move someone who seems to have severe injuries, but direct emergency medical services as soon as they arrive on scene.
Make Sure You’re Safe
In minor car accidents, it may be smart to take pictures of the scene and then move to the shoulder or a nearby parking lot to wait for police. If the accident is severe though, stay put so the officers can get a clear picture of what happened.
Collect Evidence & Keep Receipts
Take several pictures of the accident, your injuries, and anything else that may help build your case. Road conditions and weather conditions are important to capture as well. Save all of your medical bills and other expenses. It is best to let your lawyer contact the insurance company representing the truck driver, even if you’re not sure if you have a serious injury or will have costs exceeding your personal injury protection (PIP) policy limit.
Exchange insurance information with the truck driver and obtain a photo of their commercial driver’s license (CDL). Document the registration/plate number on the cab of the semi truck as well as the trailer. While waiting for police to arrive, you can take photos of the accident scene and get contact information from any witnesses.
Seek Medical Attention
Provide a full, accurate statement to responding police officers and seek medical attention as soon as possible. You want a full diagnosis, so describe your symptoms accurately and in detail. Consent to all tests needed to confirm your diagnosis and follow your doctor’s advice to the letter.
Call a Long Island Truck Accident Lawyer
If you are contacted by the carrier, inform them of your desire to start a claim, but do not consent to make a recorded statement, do not discuss your current health condition, and decline to answer any detailed questions at the time. It is best to have your Long Island truck accident lawyer exchange such information.
What is the truck’s “black box” and what does it track?
Every 18-wheeler contains a black box, a device that documents information about the vehicle’s movements over time. These devices detect the length and route of a trip, as well as the driver’s speed, hours of service and time on breaks, and they record whether the truck was involved in a “critical event” like a crash.
If you were involved in a trucking accident, you must contact a Long Island truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. The trucking company might try to destroy the black box, and some companies fail to release the evidence, even with a preservation of evidence letter.
When someone says “black box,” they actually mean one of two devices: an electronic logging device or an event data recorder.
Electronic Logging Device
An electronic logging device (ELD) is a piece of equipment that records driving time for semi-trucks. It connects to the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) port and mainly captures data on the driver’s Hours of Service (HOS), a federally-regulated number of hours that a driver is allowed to drive before going off-duty.
ELDs can also report on the engine, location, speed, fuel efficiency, and mileage of the vehicle. ELDs can record data whether the engine is on or off, making them extremely useful devices.
Event Data Recorder
An event data recorder (EDR) is a device installed in semi-trucks that records certain information before, during, and after a crash, hence the “event” in the name.
EDRs track all kinds of vehicle data related to a crash, including speed, acceleration, braking, steering, and airbag deployment.
Why Commercial Truck Black Boxes Are Crucial for Tractor-Trailer Accident Victims
If you were injured in a truck accident and want to make a personal injury claim, you need evidence. Trucking companies are large and often have millions of dollars to spend in court defending themselves. Without evidence that the truck driver caused your injuries, it is highly unlikely that you will recover compensation.
That’s why black boxes are so important. These devices contain invaluable information that can prove the truck driver caused the crash that led to your injuries.
Carner & DeVita’s Long Island truck accident lawyers have successfully represented clients for more than 50 years. We know the tricks that trucking companies pull to try and evade responsibility, and we won’t allow them to hide or destroy evidence.
If you were injured in a truck accident in Long Island, call Carner & DeVita today for a free case consultation.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents on Long Island
Truck accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, many of which involve negligence on the part of a truck driver or their employer.
According to the FMCSA, common causes of truck accidents include:
Vehicle Brake Problems
Faulty brakes were cited in 29% of studied crashes. Brake issues can be attributed to poor maintenance, negligence from a servicing company, or a defective product.
Twenty-three percent of drivers were “traveling too fast for conditions” before their accident. This can involve exceeding the speed limit, but more often it involves a truck driver losing control while maneuvering because they failed to adjust their speed to safe levels.
Use of over-the-counter stimulants and other remedies is common in the trucking industry, where drivers may need to stay awake for many hours at a time. Seventeen percent of studied accidents involved legal drug use, while 2% involved illegal drugs.
Truck driver fatigue happens all too often. The industry pressures them to complete routes on an extremely tight schedule. Some drivers are actively encouraged to violate hours of service rules that are supposed to prevent drowsy driving. Thirteen percent of all studied accidents involved a fatigued truck driver.
Work Pressure from Carrier to Complete Routes
Unreasonable pressure from an employer or contractor can encourage a driver to work too many hours, speed, or otherwise make unsafe choices along their route. This pressure in and of itself can sometimes constitute negligence, or it can be determined to be an aggravating factor in the truck driver’s own negligence. One in ten drivers in the study said they felt pressure leading up to their accident.
Nine percent of accidents in the study involved an illegal maneuver prior to the initial adverse event.
Distractions to a truck driver can come inside the cab (2% of accidents) or outside the cab (8%). A split-second of diverted attention can lead to a dangerous or deadly collision.
Other Common Long Island Truck Accident Causes
- Tire problems, including defective tires (6%)
- Following too closely (5%)
- Jackknife (5%)
- Cargo shift (4%)
- Alcohol use (1%)
Common Types of Truck Accident Injuries
With an average weight of 80,000 pounds and a length of 72 feet, semi-trucks are enormous vehicles that can cause devastating injuries in collisions with passenger vehicles.
Here are some of the most common types of truck accident injuries:
Head and brain injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur when an external force, such as the steering wheel or a piece of glass or metal, causes damage to a victim’s brain. TBIs can be “open,” meaning an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue, or “closed,” meaning a sudden, violent motion caused an injury but did not pierce the skull.
- Symptoms of head and brain injuries range in severity, but even mild TBIs can have serious repercussions, especially if a victim does not immediately show symptoms.
- Symptoms include confusion and disorientation, headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and changes in emotion and sleep patterns.
Spinal cord injuries
- Vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries occur when there is damage to the fragile cord made up of nerve tissue that acts as a messenger between the brain and the rest of the body.
- There are two types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury means that there is no communication between the brain and the nerves below the point of injury. For example, a person whose spinal cord was completely injured in their lower back will not have function or sensation of their hips, legs, genitalia, and feet.
- An incomplete spinal cord injury means there is still some communication between the brain and the nerves below the point of injury. Rehabilitation is more likely in incomplete spinal cord injuries
- Generally, the higher up the injury occurred in the spinal cord, the more severe the symptoms. For example, an injury to the cervical spine (located in the neck) affects a victim’s ability to breathe.
- Effects of spinal cord injury include quadriplegia (loss of function in the arms and legs) and paraplegia (loss of function in the legs and lower body). Symptoms include muscle weakness, breathing problems, loss of feeling in the arms, chest, or legs, and loss of bladder and bowel function.
Neck and back injuries
- You’ve almost certainly heard of whiplash, as it’s one of the most common injuries in vehicle accidents, especially in rear-end accidents. Whiplash occurs when a victim’s neck is rapidly “whipped” back and forth, stretching and tearing the tendons and ligaments in the neck.
- Common whiplash symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision.
- Back injuries are also common in truck accidents. Some of the most common types include spinal fractures (when a part of the bone breaks, fractures, or shatters) and dislocations (when ligaments surrounding the vertebrae are torn or stretched).
- Symptoms of spinal fractures and dislocations include pain in the neck or back, numbness and tingling sensations, muscle spasms, loss of bowel control, and weakness and fatigue.
- Herniated (bulging) disks are also a common type of back injury in truck accidents. A herniated disk occurs when a disk in the backbone shifts or tears, placing pressure on surrounding nerves. This condition can be extremely painful and often causes numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and loss of bowel or bladder control.
- The enormous force of impact from a tractor trailer collision can bend and crush the metal chassis in a car. The chassis would normally protect the passengers in an accident with other passenger vehicles, but it’s no match for a commercial truck.
- As a result of the metal chassis being crushed, passengers can be pinned, crushed, or thrown against the windshield, dashboard, or doors of the car, resulting in bone fractures (breaks).
- Victims may suffer multiple broken bones or even crushed bones. Although these may not seem like serious injuries, they can require lengthy recovery times, surgeries, and are prone to infections that could be deadly.
Rib and torso injuries
- Semi-truck accident victims can suffer from several rib and torso injuries, including flail chest and broken ribs, both of which can be extremely painful.
- Flail chest injury occurs when a cluster of ribs in the same area are fractured, causing part of the chest wall to detach from the rest. This can cause pulmonary contusions (bruises on the lungs) that are often fatal.
- When a commercial truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the force can send the driver slamming into the steering wheel, putting so much pressure on the chest that ribs fracture. Victims with chest pain should seek immediate medical attention, as a force that was strong enough to damage the ribs could have easily damaged internal organs like the lungs, liver, and spleen.
- Symptoms of a broken rib include pain in the chest area, increased pain when breathing in, and increased pain when pressure is applied to the injured area.
- Think about all the pieces of metal and glass that are airborne in an accident. Any of those unrestrained objects can pierce a victim’s skin, damaging tissues.
- Even minor cuts can become infected, especially if they are deep wounds. With the amount of outside germs and debris floating around at the scene of an accident, lacerations are much more likely to become infected.
- Of the 4,136 people who died in large truck crashes in 2018, 67% were the occupants of passenger vehicles, and 16% were the occupants of large trucks.
- These disproportionate numbers are due to the fact that semi-trucks are so much larger than passenger vehicles and they come with much higher risks. Unfortunately, many people have lost their lives due to truck drivers’ negligence. Commercial truck drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles with extreme caution, but that is not always the case.
- If your loved one was killed by a negligent truck driver, you have the right to seek compensation on their behalf that can help pay medical bills, funeral expenses, and more.
Call a Long Island truck accident lawyer at Carner & DeVita today.
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident lawyer?
Other attorneys charge $500 per hour or more, but Carner & DeVita only get paid when you receive a settlement or jury verdict.
Our Long Island truck accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not take money from the client upfront. Instead, we will claim approximately one-third of the settlement that you receive. This is the most common percentage for personal injury lawyers to claim.
Carner & DeVita’s payment agreement states the following:
“The legal fee of 33.33% shall be calculated as a percentage of the recovery after deduction of costs, disbursements, and expenses. In the event that I (the client) make no monetary recovery, no legal fee shall be due.”
This is a beneficial arrangement for our clients because they can focus on their physical and mental recovery, not on coming up with the money to pay for hourly fees. Since our payment is dependent on the success of your case, you can rest assured that we’ll do everything in our power to get you the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries.
Why You Cannot Rely on Insurers to Offer Fair Compensation After a Tractor Trailer Crash
New York State mandates that every driver carry no-fault insurance to cover their own medical expenses, as well as their passengers’. In addition, every driver must also carry liability insurance in the event that their negligence causes a “serious injury” to an individual.
Unfortunately, the nature of a “serious injury” may be up for debate depending on whether an insurer wants to pay out compensation for their own policyholder’s possible liability. They will often attempt to fight claims or offer as little compensation as possible in order to boost their profits.
Therefore, truck accident victims should know that an insurance representative will not always hold their best interests in mind. They may encourage you to accept a settlement offer that does not adequately cover your damages.
Or, they may imply that your personal injury claim has weak standing and thereby discourage you from pursuing the matter in court.
Situations like these are why having a Long Island truck accident lawyer working for you can dramatically help your chances at a successful claim. Insurance representatives make settling claims a full-time job, whereas the average accident victim has zero experience handling these matters.
With an attorney helping them with their case, semi truck accident victims can make smart, strategic moves and negotiate like a true professional in defense of their interests.
How a Long Island Truck Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You With Your Claim
In addition to negotiating with insurers as described above, your truck accident attorney can help you strategize and identify all potentially liable parties.
Trucking accident liability can be a complicated legal matter, especially when out-of-state drivers or contractors are involved. There may be several potentially liable parties at play, including:
- The truck driver
- Their employing or contracting freight company
- The company or business responsible for maintaining the semi trucks and trailers
- The company contracting and scheduling the shipment, in certain instances
In some cases, all of these parties may be involved. Your truck accident injury lawyer will examine the facts of your case and investigate the role each party played in contributing to the accident. They will then assemble the evidence needed to strengthen your claim, such as documenting your injury or tracing the involvement of third or fourth-party companies.
In addition to these services, your representative truck accident attorney will also ensure that your obligations to bring forth your case and pursue it are met. Legal motions require the filing of multiple types of paperwork accurately and on-time. Missing any of these deadlines can cause a judge to quickly dismiss a claim. Or, it can cause a victim to be at the mercy of an insurance carrier’s paltry settlement offer since they have no other recourse.
Don’t shut off avenues to obtaining fair compensation after your accident. Work with a knowledgeable, compassionate attorney who will help guide you every step of the way during your personal injury case.
Contact Carner & DeVita’s Long Island injury attorneys for a free, no-obligation consultation. Just one call or click could mean the difference in your ability to recover medically, financially, and mentally after your truck collision.
Truck Accident Questions and Answers
Politely refuse to discuss the accident or your injuries with any representative of the trucking company’s insurance or the truck driver’s insurance company. You can tell them that they may call back once you have hired a lawyer and they are present with you.
It’s important to remember that you are not obligated to answer any of the insurance company’s questions, and you should never say anything like “I’m sorry,” “It wasn’t that bad,” or “My injuries aren’t that serious.” The insurance company can use those statements against you, so if you’re questioning whether or not to say something, take the safer route and say nothing at all.
After a truck accident, cooperate with the reporting police officer and answer their questions about what happened before and during the accident. Even if you’re frazzled (which you probably will be after an accident), it’s important that you are truthful about what you witnessed and experienced.
You should never admit fault after a truck accident, police officers included. You’ll likely be out of it or confused, so try and remember that anything you say can be used against you, even if you didn’t mean to say it at the time.
You should also get the name and badge number of the reporting officer so that you can contact them if you remember a detail later.
The trucking company will usually be responsible for the negligent actions of their employees, but depending on the unique circumstances, you may be able to sue the truck driver, the truck manufacturer, a repair shop or mechanic, or even a government agency.
The trucking company can be held responsible if your Long Island truck accident lawyer can prove that they broke federal or state regulations determining how long truck drivers can work and how much cargo their vehicles can carry.
You can sue the truck driver themselves if the accident was caused by their own negligence, such as texting and driving or driving while impaired.
You may be able to sue the truck’s manufacturer if your Long Island truck accident attorney can prove that the accident was caused by a defect in the vehicle’s parts. If the accident was caused by an issue due to poor repairs, a repair shop or individual mechanic can be sued.
Lastly, you can sue a government agency if the accident occurred due to poor roads, missing signs, or other issues related to road conditions that a government entity would be responsible for maintaining.
In New York, you can file a claim up to three years from the date of the accident. This deadline is called a “statute of limitations,” and it protects people from false claims, expired evidence, and poor reporting.
If you miss the statute of limitations, you forfeit your right to sue for the accident forever, so it’s important to contact a Long Island truck accident lawyer and get your case started as soon as possible.