People rely on trucks to transport goods across the country. But, due to their constant presence on roads, truck accidents can occur anytime and anywhere. Among all vehicles, trucks cause the most damaging collisions that can lead to injuries, or worse, death.
If you get into a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation claims for damages and injuries you’ve sustained. You can file accident compensation claims against the driver, operator, or both.
Trucks Are Subject to Both Federal and State Laws
Due to the size and the risks involved with driving a truck, commercial trucking is a heavily regulated industry. Both federal and state laws are in place to protect people and their property from accidents that involve trucks.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for regulating and providing safety management over commercial vehicles. The agency created the Hours-of-Service Regulations. The regulation focuses on issues regarding driver fatigue to keep the driver and other motorists safe while on the road.
One of the regulations set forth by the FMCSA is the limit on the hours a commercial truck driver can drive. The hours-of-service regulations apply to interstate drivers of commercial motor vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds and those transporting hazardous materials.
The driver must take a 30-minute break after an eight-hour consecutive drive. Aside from that, the driver should only work for 60 hours for seven days or 70 hours for eight days of duty.
Besides following federal laws, commercial trucking should also follow state laws. In New York, the Office of Freight Mobility is responsible for regulating commercial trucking. In addition, the New York City Traffic Rules and Regulations states the rules on truck routes, truck parking regulations, and truck dimensions and weight regulations within the city of New York. Truckers operating inside New York City have an obligation to follow the regulations of the federal, state and local authorities.
As drivers of a large vehicle, commercial truck drivers have a larger responsibility than those driving smaller vehicles. The most common cause of truck accidents is driver negligence or driver fault.
One example of driver error is an improper traffic maneuver. Driver error includes truck drivers changing lanes without checking to see whether the lane is clear. Similarly, truck drivers might also fail to follow traffic rules and signs, which can lead to accidents.
Another example is driver fatigue. Operating the truck while overly tired leads to a driver’s inability to focus on the road. Thus, the enactment of the Hours-of-Service Regulations.
Lastly, driving under the influence of substances is a common reason for vehicular accidents. Consumption of alcohol, drugs, or other medication can impair the judgment and coordination of the driver. The legal limit in New York for commercial drivers is .04% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
In some cases, the driver is not the only one responsible for an accident. The truck operator, or trucking company in general, may also be liable for compensation. In most cases, the operator or company faces the suit for damages since the employer is responsible for the employee’s acts. Therefore, you may file for compensation against the truck operator or truck company.
A truck company is negligent when it hires a driver who does not have the proper credentials to drive a large vehicle. It may also be liable if it entrusted the truck to a notoriously negligent driver. Moreover, if they fail to instruct the driver on the safe use of the truck and proper loading and unloading processes, they are liable.
Poor truck maintenance is also grounds for negligence. The operator has the responsibility to ensure that the truck complies with the trucking safety and maintenance regulations. Failure to do so will be deemed negligent on the part of the company or operator.
In the event of an accident, the very first thing that you should do is seek medical attention. Seeking medical attention documents injuries you sustained in the accident and ensures that you receive proper care for injuries you may not even be aware you have. After that, gather as much information as you can to help with your claim. Don’t forget to consult a truck accident lawyer to help you with your case.
In New York, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim for compensation. Your action to claim damages will fail if you do not file within this timeframe. Thus, if you get into a truck accident, immediately seek the aid of truck accident lawyers in New York. The damages you may claim include medical expenses, loss of wage, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and rehabilitation fees.
Truck accidents are inevitable. You are considered lucky if you come out of the accident alive and with minimal injuries. If you get involved in a truck accident, keep in mind that you can always file for accident compensation claims to compensate for the injuries and damages that you might sustain. Know your rights and stay safe on the road.
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