Determining liability in your truck accident case is going to be important if you are seeking damages through a lawsuit or insurance claim. Even under New York’s “no-fault” insurance rules, who is at fault in your accident case will play into how you get compensation. As such, it is important to know who is liable for a truck accident.
Barring certain technicalities from the no-fault insurance rules, the driver who caused the crash is typically liable. This could be the trucker if they committed some traffic violation or another driver on the road in a multi-car crash involving a truck. Trucking companies can often share liability as well, as could some other third parties such as mechanics or auto parts manufacturers.
For help determining liability in your New York truck accident case, call the Westchester truck accident attorneys at The Martello Law Firm today. Our phone number is (914) 685-6950.
How Liability Works in New York Truck Accident Cases
The term “liability” refers to legal fault. More specifically, a party is liable if they are found at fault in a civil case and are legally deemed responsible for the crash. New York uses a no-fault system for auto accident cases, which actually prevents courts from stepping in and determining liability in many cases, adding some technical issues when it comes to determining liability in a New York truck accident case.
Each driver in New York must carry PIP insurance to cover their own injuries. This prevents insurance claims and lawsuits against the at-fault driver, meaning that there is no determination of liability in many cases. However, when serious injuries are involved, injured drivers can indeed sue the at-fault driver and have a court hold them liable. Throughout this piece, we will be focusing on how fault is determined in those cases that involve serious injuries and are filed in a court of law.
Determining Which Driver is at Fault for a Truck Accident in New York
Many truck accidents involve just two drivers: the trucker and the driver of the other vehicle they hit. However, not all crashes are that simple; many involve multi-car pileups, which can complicate matters.
A driver can only be held liable for a truck accident if four elements can be proven:
- The driver owed the victims a legal duty – typically the duty contained in various traffic laws or the duty to drive as a reasonably prudent driver would in the same situation.
- The driver violated that duty – typically by violating a traffic law or failing to drive to the standards that a reasonably prudent driver would have followed.
- The driver’s negligence caused the crash.
- The victim suffered injuries and damages the court can compensate them for.
Some examples of this might help put these elements in context. One example would be a truck driver who was speeding and crashed into the driver in front of them because they could not stop in time. In this case, the truck driver’s violation of the speed limit caused the crash, so the truck driver would be liable.
Fault in Complex Cases
Many cases are more complex, and it might take a New York truck accident lawyer’s help to determine fault. Especially when it comes to complex legal issues and confusing traffic laws, these cases can become difficult to parse out. Moreover, cases involving multiple vehicles could involve a chain reaction of causes, making it harder to prove that a driver’s mistakes were closely related enough to be the legal cause of the crash.
Assigning Fault to Multiple Drivers
Note that courts can divide liability among multiple drivers, potentially holding each driver accountable for a share of fault in the crash. Even if you, as the victim, are held partially at fault, our Yonkers truck accident lawyers can still help you receive your share of compensation for the damages that were not your fault.
Third Parties that Can Be Held Liable for Trucking Accidents in New York
While most people might look at only the drivers when looking for fault in a truck accident case, there are actually other parties that can be held partially liable as well. Just as liability can be divided among multiple drivers, liability can be divided among other parties as well. Additionally, some parties – like a truck driver’s employer – can be held liable in place of the driver.
Trucking companies that employ negligent truck drivers can often be held liable for their drivers’ accidents. In the same way that a store would be liable for an employee’s failure to mop up a dangerous spill, trucking companies can be held liable for their employees’ mistakes behind the wheel.
However, trucking companies can also be held partially liable for their own contributions to a truck accident. This commonly comes in the form of negligent maintenance to their trucks, failure to inspect vehicles, negligent hiring of dangerous drivers, etc. Trucking companies can also be held accountable for other regulatory violations, such as limits on driving hours.
Mechanics and Auto Shops
Some trucking companies use in-house mechanics and auto shops while others might use third-party mechanics. If a mechanic negligently retreaded a tire, improperly installed an auto part, or otherwise made the truck unsafe without the trucking company’s knowledge, that could be the mechanic’s fault. If that mistake later caused a crash, that accident could be blamed on the mechanic. However, some legal issues might cloud fault in these cases, such as questions about whether it was the trucking company’s duty to perform inspections even when a third-party mechanic makes repairs.
The companies that make trucks and various auto parts they use could be liable for manufacturing and design problems that cause crashes. Even something as seemingly simple as a truck tire is a feat of engineering, and mistakes in the design and manufacturing process could make a truck patently unsafe. For help with a case against a third party, call our New Rochelle car accident lawyers right away.
New York Truck Accident Lawyers Offering Free Case Evaluations
For a free evaluation of your potential truck accident case, call The Martello Law Firm today at (914) 685-6950.