Ruthlessly Pursuing Justice For Truck Crash Victims
A collision with a large truck turns your life upside down. Dealing with the aftermath alone can feel impossible, from car damage to medical bills to emotional pain and suffering. That’s where Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP, comes in. We meet New York truck crash victims where they’re at and dedicate ourselves to helping them recover.
How We Help Truck Crash Victims
Seeking justice for a tractor-trailer crash can be fraught with many obstacles. Trucking companies are large and powerful, and similarly large and powerful insurers back them. That’s why working with a New York truck injury attorney is essential.
Here are the things we do for our clients in truck crash cases:
- Reconstruct the accident scene with help from industry experts
- Find and collect black box information
- Meet with investigators and first responders to gather evidence
- Investigate the trucking company’s safety records
- Determine if the company or driver violated industry regulations
- Determine fault in the case
With our help, you can build a stronger case and increase your chances of success.
Who’s Responsible For 18-Wheeler Crashes?
Several different parties could be at fault in a truck crash case, including:
- The truck’s owner
- The company that leases the vehicle from its owner
- The truck’s manufacturer
- The loader or shipper responsible for the truck’s cargo
- The truck driver
Since multiple parties could have contributed to the crash, it can be tricky to identify which is actually at fault. But at Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP, we have the skill and experience to get to the bottom of it and hold the at-fault party responsible for the accident.
Get The Statistics On Truck Crashes
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 415,000 truck crashes reported to the police in 2020. Of these crashes, 4,444 resulted in fatalities, and 101,000 resulted in injuries. There were 13.49 fatal truck crashes per million people in the United States in 2020, a 27% increase from 10.6 in 2010.
In 2020, there were 1.12 fatalities on average in fatal truck crashes. Passenger vehicle occupants accounted for 83% of deaths.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should I Contact a Truck Accident Attorney?
After a commercial truck accident, you want to make sure that you get a lawyer involved immediately because the investigation stage of that accident is very important. There could be several different insurance carriers on the line as it relates to a specific truck. The truck itself may be owned by one company. The trailer may be owned by another company. The box that’s being towed by the company may be owned by somebody else, etc.
There are a lot of different moving parts to these types of accidents, so it’s really important to make sure that you get a lawyer involved right away to start pursuing that investigation. That investigation may include making sure that video is secured. If the accident happened on an interstate or something, they may have some video. That could be very important in determining who caused the accident.
What Are The First Steps in a Truck Case?
The recommended steps after a commercial truck injury are really kind of two-fold. One is to make sure that your medical treatment is being paid for. We would like to make sure that you file your no-fault application promptly to make sure that you are getting your medical paid for, your lost wages, and things like that.
The second part of that is doing the investigation. We make sure that we have the names of all witnesses that may have seen the accident. We get written and recorded statements from them. Recollections are going to be totally different; people’s memories fade, so it’s important to get involved right away and get those people locked in.
Should I Talk to Insurance Companies?
We discourage our clients from talking to the trucking company lawyer or the insurance company for the trucking company because they don’t really care about you. They may act like they do, but they don’t. Your best interest is only going to be looked after by your lawyer, not them. They want to make sure that they pay the least amount of money possible on claims.
Many times, you get involved in conversations with them, and they start asking you a lot of different questions. Your best practice when you get contacted by the company or their insurance company is to say, “I have a lawyer. Let me talk to him, and then maybe we can have a discussion jointly down the road.”
Who Can I Sue?
There could be many people that you can sue regarding a commercial truck accident. Of course, you have the operator of the truck, the owner of the tractor of the truck, the trailer that’s being pulled, and the company that may be doing the maintenance. Another person or entity that could be sued could be a construction company or a municipality, or the New York State Thruway Authority might be on the hook.
We have to make sure that we have all those angles covered. There may be a multitude of defendants, and you’re not going to get that information unless you get involved early on in the investigation and get people in the know that can tell you who is responsible for maintenance, or who is the person directly responsible for overseeing the work at the construction site where the accident occurred. There are a lot of moving parts, and that’s why you want to get your investigation done early.
How Much Is My Truck Accident Case Worth?
With a commercial truck case, determining the value of your injury is a case-by-case basis. We look at the severity of the injury. Did someone lose a limb? Did they, God forbid, lose their eyesight or something really catastrophic? Those cases are actually somewhat easier to value. It’s the other cases where you may have a neck injury or a back injury that are harder to value. Those injuries may prevent you from working or doing your normal and customary activities. When you have those kinds of cases, making sure you get fully compensated is really important.
Sometimes we have to hire experts because you may have this back injury and you may need future back surgeries, so we need to determine how much medical care you’ll need in the future and what that future care would be. With that, what future household services will you need? Say your injury was such that you need to hire someone to plow your driveway or cut your lawn. There’s a value to that, and we hire experts to make sure that those values are presented to a jury or an insurance company to make sure you’re fully compensated.
Last but not least, you have your pain and suffering damages and that’s on a case-by-case basis. Someone who has a serious physical injury at age 20 is going to have a case worth more than someone that may be at age 70 just because of life expectancy. This person that’s 20 has another 60 years of pain and suffering they have to live with, which could increase the value of their claim.
Will My Truck Accident Case Go to Trial?
Commercial truck injury cases go to trial usually when there’s a dispute about what happened during the accident. Many times, the value of a case can be resolved between the attorneys if there’s a clear indication of how the accident happened. If both sides are pointing fingers at each other and there are other defendants involved, those are the kind of cases that end up in a courtroom and go to trial because there’s no clear indication of who did something wrong.
Of course, there could be disputes over the value of an injury, and sometimes you get insurance companies that are locked in and say, “No, we only think this case is worth x number of dollars,” and we think it’s worth much more than that. Those are the cases that are going to see the inside of a courtroom.
What Should I Know About Truck Accident Claims?
Commercial truck accident claims are a little different than car accident claims in that many times you have a lot of different defendants involved. We talk about the simple car accident case: someone runs a stop sign, for example, and there are two cars involved in an accident. When you have a commercial vehicle involved, there are more moving parts because the owner of the tractor that’s pulling the rig may be different from the rig that’s being pulled, and there may also be a maintenance company involved in maintaining the trucks.
We recently had a lawsuit against the company that was involved with maintaining the vehicle. Our claim was really based on what they did in causing our client’s injuries by failing to maintain the vehicle properly. There are a lot of moving parts to these cases. There could be a multitude of defendants. We want to get that case going right away because, when you have a multitude of defendants, we end up having a lot of litigation and that takes a lot of time, especially if there are appeals to higher courts about court rulings. It’s better to get involved in these cases early and get them moving.
How Long Do I Have to File?
There are certain time limitations of filing claims against a commercial trucking company; usually it’s three years if it’s a private entity. With that, we’re not telling you that you should wait three years. Some of the reasons that make that quite obvious is that we want to make sure that if witnesses are going to be questioned, their memories are going to be fresh. If you wait three years to start lawsuits and questioning witnesses, you may get some very different answers to your questions than if you would have got involved right away and tried to hurry the process along.
Also, there are situations where you could be involved in a municipality truck accident. If that’s the case, you may have different limitations in bringing actions and that could be 90 days filing a notice of claim and then a year and 90 days from the accident in bringing an action or you’re going to be out of luck.
Last but not least, time limitations are different from state to state. That’s why it’s important to get a lawyer involved. You’re going to want to know if there are certain time limits. Say you’re a New York resident and you’re on vacation, and you get in an accident in Virginia with a commercial truck, what are your rights down there? How long do you have to bring your claim down there? There are a lot of moving parts to these cases. You want to make sure that you have your time limits cemented so we know that we don’t miss anything.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Truck Accident Case?
Sometimes with truck accidents, they can be very severe, severe enough where someone loses their life. When that happens, that’s the ultimate catastrophic event and there are a lot of steps that have to be taken when there’s a death involved. We do our usual investigation of the claim, but because it’s a wrongful death action there are certain things that have to be filed in other courts. For example, in Erie County you have to start opening an estate of the person who was deceased and make sure that their beneficiaries are compensated in the end.
With a wrongful death claim, we’re trying to determine full value, and many times in a wrongful death case, you may have dependents. Say a gentleman is in his 40s unfortunately loses his life. He has young children. He has a spouse, a home to support, kids to put through school. That future loss of income stream to support that is a big part of that person’s damages, and we have to make sure that we get the proper experts in place to make sure that the jury and the insurance carriers know what the full extent of those damages are.
Let’s Get You On The Road To Recovery
If you’ve been involved in a truck crash near Hamburg, you need a Hamburg attorney to help you seek justice. Whether it was an 18-wheeler, cement truck, or a moving van, the attorneys at Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP, can help you hold the people at fault responsible and pursue the compensation you need to recover. Call 888-655-6122 or reach out online to schedule a free initial consultation.