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Trucking Accidents – What Victims in New York Need to Know
According to the American Trucking Association, in 2014, the trucking industry generated $700.4 billion dollars, “making 2014 the first year in history the industry topped $700 billion in total revenue.” Without the trucking industry, the American economy as we know it would cease to exist. Trucks are everywhere, from large cities to rural farmland, and we depend on trucks to bring us the goods we use every day.
The prevalence of trucks in our society, however, generates concerns regarding the environment, traffic control, and most important, safety. The amount of trucking in America will only increase, and unfortunately, that means that truck-related accidents and deaths will also be on the rise.
New York is no exception to a dependence on the trucking industry, and it is no stranger to trucking accidents. So, what do you need to know if you are involved in a trucking accident in New York?
1. There is a big difference between a car accident and a trucking accident. The difference between a car accident and a trucking accident is not only that cars are smaller and trucks are larger, although that fact by itself can be the difference between minor injuries and death. The primary difference is in the parties involved. For the most part, getting rear-ended by a car involves two parties – the two drivers of the vehicles in the accident. Alternately, trucking accidents have the potential to involve any number of parties. Consider an example of a driver getting rear-ended by a truck. On one hand, there is the driver of the vehicle that was hit. On the other hand, we have:
- the driver of the truck
- the company or individual who owns the truck
- the operator of the trucking company, who may not necessarily be the actual owner of the truck
- the maintenance company which serviced the truck, if the accident could be attributed to a part malfunction
- the manufacturer of the truck, a part in the truck, or both
And the list continues. Clearly, if you are involved in a trucking accident in New York it is to your benefit to seek legal aid to wade through the multitude of parties that could be involved.
2. New York is a pure comparative negligence state. In New York and some other states in the U.S., even if the victim is partly to blame for an accident, the victim can still be compensated. This means, for example, that if it is determined that the victim was 40% at fault, the victim may still be able to collect 60% of any damages. This is important because truck drivers are held to higher standards than regular motorists. Even if the victim did something to contribute to the accident, truck drivers are expected to be extra vigilant and uniquely trained to handle dangerous driving situations. Determining fault is a vital step in calculating damages in a trucking accident.
3. New York truck drivers should be both mentally and physically fit. In order to operate a truck in New York, the driver needs to be certified every two years. Certification involves examining the driver’s medical history to ensure, among other things, that:
- the driver does not have a history or diagnoses of heart disease or another cardiovascular condition,
- the driver does not have high blood pressure or a history of respiratory problems,
- the driver does not have a history of epilepsy, mental, or psychiatric issues, and
- the driver has at least 20/40 vision and can hear without the use of a hearing aid.
Ensuring that the driver of the truck in the accident was certified and physically and mentally cleared to operate the vehicle is essential.
Due to the nature of trucks (their size, the regulation of the industry, etc.), accidents involving them can be devastating. If you are involved in a trucking accident in New York, contact an attorney right away.
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