Determining Fault in a Truck Accident

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Truck accidents vary greatly when compared to passenger vehicle accidents. Passenger vehicle accidents result in a variety of injuries that range from minor to severe. Though accidents between passenger vehicles are more common, accidents that involve a truck result in more severe injuries and fatalities. Drivers of passenger vehicles are left vulnerable to injury due to the size and weight of the trucks. On average, trucks weigh twenty to thirty times as much as passenger vehicles and are greater in height. Thus, drivers of passenger vehicles and their occupants can be severely injured in even a minor accident involving a truck.

According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a total of 4119 people died in large truck accidents in 2019. Truck drivers accounted for only sixteen percent of the fatalities. However, drivers of passenger vehicles, as well as their occupants, accounted for sixty-seven percent of the fatalities. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists account for the remaining fatalities. The vast majority of these fatalities involve tractor-trailer trucks as opposed to single-unit trucks.

After being injured in a truck accident, you must first determine who was at fault. Occasionally, one driver is solely responsible for the accident. However, often, both drivers are responsible for the accident. To determine fault after an accident, insurance companies will examine the evidence surrounding the accident. Evidence includes the police reports, statements from the drivers, medical records, statements from witnesses, vehicle damage, and pictures from the scene. Furthermore, the insurance company will consider factors surrounding the accident such as the weather and traffic patterns.

New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) § 388 provides that: Every owner of a vehicle used or operated in this state shall be liable and responsible for death or injuries to person or property resulting from negligence in the use or operation of such vehicle, in the business of such owner or otherwise, by any person using or operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of such owner.

Typically, under the no fault law, drivers in New York must first request compensation for medical expenses and property damage through their insurance company. When a driver initiates a personal injury claim outside the no-fault system, fault is determined by applying comparative negligence.

If you were partially responsible for an accident involving a truck, you are not barred from recovering from your injuries. New York is one of a minority of states that recognizes pure comparative negligence, also known as comparative fault. This means that when looking at an accident, the court attempts to determine the percent of fault attributable to each party involved. The amount of compensation that each person can recover is then reduced proportionally by the amount of fault they had in causing or failing to prevent an accident.

If you are found to be comparatively negligent in causing an accident, the damages you recover are reduced by the percentage of fault you were. For example, if you had injuries worth $100, but you are 30% responsible for the accident, then you can only recover $70 from the defendant.

Therefore, even if you are ninety-nine percent at fault for the accident, you may still recover damages for your injuries. However, each party must prove that the other driver contributed to the accident through their own negligence. Thus, each party must establish that the other party owed them a duty of care, they breached that duty and due to their breach, you were injured. Furthermore, the injury suffered must be directly attributable to the negligent action taken by the defendant. Common examples of negligent driving include distracted driving, speeding, road rage, and fatigue.

The law of comparative negligence is very fact-specific. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced Long Island attorney who can review the circumstances surrounding your accident and help you recover from your injuries. Call Tona Law for a complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation at 833-866-2529 (833-TONA-LAW).

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