Feroleto Law, Buffalo NY

Six Things Attorneys Should Know About New York Truck Accidents

This guide is to assist attorneys and others in dealing with injuries or wrongful death as a result of New York truck accidents.

1. If you delay in contacting an experienced truck accident lawyer you will likely lose crucial evidence.

  • Many trucks are equipped with GPS devices and systems which measure speed, distance travelled and locations.  The information may be deleted in as little as two weeks.
  • Equipment such as Qualcom transmit information via satellite.  This information can prove speeding, driving excess hours and other facts.
  • Driver log books which reveal hours of service must be retained for a minimum of six months.  Often a trucking company destroys or disposes of driver’s logs as soon as the six months is up even when there is a truck crash involving serious injury or wrongful death.  Other records such as bills of lading, gas and toll receipts may prove falsification of driver’s logs.
  • Maintenance records must be kept for a minimum of one year.
  • Securing records often allows you to prove aggravating circumstances which increase recovery to your client.

2. New York Law allows for pre lawsuit discovery.

An attorney can secure and preserve key evidence before a lawsuit is brought in New York State.  A truck accident attorney who knows what to look for can secure and preserve evidence while it still exists, even before a lawsuit is brought.

3. Your lawyer should know the rules trucking companies and drivers must know and follow.

  • There are hundreds of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations.  Applying these regulations to the facts of your truck accident is important in the handling of a New York Truck case.
  • A lawyer not experienced in New York truck accident cases would have no reason to be familiar with the regulations and dynamics involved in a New York truck case.
  • In most New York truck crash cases a person has up to three years to file a lawsuit.  However, there are exceptions.
  • Delay may be costly to the value of the case.

4. A New  York Truck Accident Case Has Potential For Pitfalls

  • A New York truck accident case often has different layers of insurance coverage not necessarily obvious.
  • There are very specific requirements In New York Law involving the interplay of no-fault, disability, worker’s compensation, SUM, UM, APIP and OBEL coverage.  It gets complex.
  • There are specific notice requirements.  There are specific consent requirements.  If you miss one there may be loss of insurance coverage and even legal liability.

5. Trucking companies and their insurers often aggressively seek to dispute liability.

  • Even when negligence seems obvious trucking companies or their insurance companies seek to aggressively dispute liability.

TIP:   If a trucking company wants to admit liability it may be hiding aggravating circumstances such as driving over hours, drug or alcohol use, inattention due to texting or working on a computer while driving a big rig or other safety hazards which would increase the value of your client’s case.

  • The insurance company often calls “autopsy teams” which include their attorneys, investigators, accident reconstructionists who converge on an accident scene trying to find information or facts supporting arguments suggesting the trucking company is not liable.  Don’t expect the trucking company to disclose damaging facts.
  • These teams will allow the destruction or disposal of evidence damaging to them such as GPS records establishing excessive speed by the truck or over-hours driving leading to fatigue.
  • Often companies will fight the production of the damaging records or evidence obtained at the scene.

6. Trucking companies and their insurers will aggressively seek to dispute injuries.

  • Although your treating physician, experts such as orthopedic surgeons or neurosurgeons and Xrays and MRIs confirm injury, the insurance or trucking company frequently hires doctors known to dispute injuries of an accident victim.
  • These insurance company doctors will frequently contradict the treating doctors including general practitioners, orthopedic surgeons, radiologists, neurosurgeons, rehabilitation doctors and other health care providers.
  • Often the company will perform an Insurance Services Offices (ISO) search and try to attribute your injuries to something remote in time such as a slip and fall many years before.
  • Often the insurance company hires investigators that will sit outside your house and follow you in your car when you are going to places such as the grocery store or your children’s school.  This frequently happens even when the video is irrelevant.  An example  would be when a person has an arm or neck injury and the insurance company videotapes a person walking on the street even when there’s no claim for any difficulty walking.

John Feroleto knows truck cases. He was elected to head the national Interstate Truck Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice and is a past chair of the group. If you have a question on a New York truck accident you can complete our contact form or call (716) 854-0700.