Just like other motor vehicle collisions, large truck accidents often result from negligence. The trucking industry is heavily regulated, but many trucking companies, truck drivers, and other entities violate these regulations or engage in negligent practices. This can—and often does—have catastrophic consequences.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Truck driver error or negligence, such as distracted driving, drunk or drugged driving, speeding, fatigued driving, traffic violations, etc.
- Hours-of-service violations, leading to fatigued driving and/or truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel
- Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks, leading to cargo shifting during transit, loss of control, fishtailing, jackknifing, etc.
- Improper or failure to complete truck maintenance (by truck drivers, owners, and others) and/or truck repairs
- Mechanical failures/equipment failures caused by truck defects or faulty truck parts, equipment, mechanical systems, etc.
- Failure to adjust for poor weather or road conditions, such as rain, snow, fog, poor visibility, blind curves, potholes, etc.
In some cases, there may be additional contributing factors. For example, another motorist on the road may indirectly cause an accident, or a trucking company’s improper training practices could lead to an inexperienced and poorly trained truck driver being out on the road.
At Wolf & Fuhrman LLP, we work with accident reconstruction experts and other experts to help identify the exact cause of a collision, as well as who is liable for your damages.
Types of Truck/Car Accidents
The most common types of accidents involving a car and a large truck include:
- Rear-End Collisions - It takes much longer for a truck to come to a complete stop, so if the driver is unprepared, there is a serious risk of a rear-end collision.
- Sideswipe Accidents - Major sideswipe incidents can occur when truck drivers are fatigued, intoxicated, or distracted and drift into an adjacent lane. They can also happen when a car is passing and the truck driver is not paying attention to their blind spot and attempts to change lanes.
- T-Bone Accidents - T-Bone accidents with trucks most often occur when the truck driver makes a risky or illegal move at an intersection, such as running a red light or making an unexpected U-turn.
- Wide Turn Accidents - Inexperienced, distracted, drowsy, or intoxicated drivers may not time their wide turns correctly, causing an accident.
- Jackknife Accidents - Jackknife accidents occur due to improper braking. This happens when there are slippery road conditions and a truck must come to a sudden stop. The cabin of the truck will slow while the trailer races ahead, folding the truck, and the whole vehicle will still move forward into traffic.
Does No-Fault Insurance Cover Truck Accidents?
New York is a no-fault state. This means that, after most motor vehicle collisions, you can file a claim with your own auto insurance provider and receive compensation for certain covered damages regardless of fault. In other words, you don’t have to prove that someone else was at fault for the crash to be compensated for a portion of your medical bills, lost wages, and other miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses.
Truck accidents, including those involving semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles, are generally covered by no-fault insurance in New York. This means that your no-fault insurance (personal injury protection, or PIP) will cover you for covered losses up to your policy limits.
However, in New York, PIP coverage limits can be as low as $50,000. If you have not elected to add additional PIP coverage to your policy, you cannot receive more than this amount when you file a no-fault claim. Because truck accidents frequently lead to devastating injuries, it is not at all uncommon for victims to quickly surpass their no-fault insurance limits in damages. Hospital bills, medication costs, surgeries, rehabilitation, lost income, and other unexpected expenses can add up fast—meaning victims may have to take additional action to secure the full compensation they need.
Can You Sue a Trucking Company After a Crash?
It may be possible to sue a trucking company (or another liable party) after a truck accident. Often, filing a truck accident lawsuit is the only way to recover compensation for the full cost of your damages. Your no-fault insurance only covers “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses up to your policy’s limit, as well as 80 percent of your lost wages at a maximum of $2,000 a month for up to three years after the crash. When someone dies, no-fault insurance only provides a $2,000 death benefit to the estate.
Often, these limits are simply not enough. Additionally, no-fault insurance does not provide any compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or lost enjoyment of life. For these reasons, it may be beneficial to file a lawsuit against the liable party, whether that’s the trucking company, the truck driver, a manufacturer, or another party.
To be eligible to go outside New York’s no-fault system and bring a lawsuit directly against the liable party, you must prove that your injuries meet the state’s “serious injury threshold.” New York defines “serious injuries” as:
- Broken bones/fractures
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent impairment of an organ/member
- Significant impairment of a bodily function/system
- Injuries resulting in substantial and total disability for at least 90 days
Often, truck accident victims’ injuries meet this threshold. If this is the case for you, you are entitled to go outside the state’s no-fault car insurance system and file a claim or lawsuit directly against the trucking company or another liable party. This allows you to seek compensation for the full cost of your damages, as well as for non-economic losses.