Collisions With Disabled Trucks, Who is at Fault? Understanding Liability from our Queens Trucking Accident Lawyers
Commercial trucks like 18 wheelers, tankers, semi tractor trailers, big rigs, and other box trucks are huge and heavy vehicles. Most are single trailers, but occasionally there is a double trailer or tandem trailer. These vehicles are large and usually well-seen during the day. However, despite their large size, they can be difficult to see on the side of the road in the shoulder. This is especially true at twilight or nighttime. They can be even more difficult to see on congested roads where there are many other distractions to check, or on empty roads where one may not expect a truck to be in the shoulder. When collisions with disabled trucks occur, victims may be left wondering what their rights to compensation may be, especially if they drove into the parked truck.
Here at COHEN & COHEN PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS, P.C. , our experienced Queens trucking accident lawyers understand how worried and frustrated an individual may feel when he or she drives into a parked, disabled truck on the side of the road. While you may feel that it is your fault, federal regulations actually place certain requirements on disabled trucks to make themselves more visible to oncoming motorists to prevent this very type of collision. Our legal team can work with you, police, and other investigators to determine what happened. We will also work with your treating physicians and possibly medical experts to help build your damages claim. Together, we will forge a strong liability case and build your damages claim to recover compensation for your injuries.
Federal Regulations Imposing Requirements on Commercial Truck Drivers
A disabled vehicle on the roadway is always dangerous. When that vehicle is a large wall like a tractor trailer, it can become incredibly dangerous and deadly. This is why federal regulations require a commercial vehicle that is disabled on the roadway to use its flashers and place warning signs. This is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the federal agency deputized with creating regulations that apply to commercial vehicle drivers throughout the United States no matter what state the truck is in, going to, or coming from.
Disabled trucks and emergency signals for stopped commercial vehicles is governed by 49 CFR section 392.22 which has two important sections that all commercial vehicle drivers must comply with.
Warning Flashers/Emergency Flashers
First, subsection (a) provides the following:
Whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion of a highway or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver of the stopped commercial motor vehicle shall immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers and continue the flashing until the driver places the warning devices required by paragraph (b) of this section.
This section requires that a truck driver immediately turn on his or her hazard flashing lights. This is an easy thing to do and it requires only the flick of a button to comply. However, far too many truck drivers fail to use these lights which is an easy and quick way to protect innocent motorists.
Second, section (b) provides the following:
Whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver shall, as soon as possible, but in any event within 10 minutes, place the warning devices required by §393.95 of this subchapter, in the following manner:
(i) One on the traffic side of and 4 paces (approximately 3 meters or 10 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the direction of approaching traffic;
(ii) One at 40 paces (approximately 30 meters or 100 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the center of the traffic lane or shoulder occupied by the commercial motor vehicle and in the direction of approaching traffic; and;
(iii) One at 40 paces (approximately 30 meters or 100 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the center of the traffic lane or shoulder occupied by the commercial motor vehicle and in the direction away from approaching traffic.
This section requires truck drivers to place warning signs on the roadways to warn oncoming motorists of a hazard coming up—their truck. This is important because it helps motorists realize that there is something in the shoulder that could be potentially hazardous. Many times these warning signs can prevent a collision.
Liability When a Truck Driver Fails to Place Warning Signs for a Disabled Truck
These regulations are safety regulations to prevent someone from colliding with a disabled truck. When a truck driver fails to comply with the FMCSA regulations, it could result in serious personal injuries or the wrongful death of an innocent person. Under New York law, the violation of a regulation that is meant to protect someone from the harm they suffered is evidence of negligence. This is known as the doctrine of negligence per se, and allows a victim to use the violation of a regulation to support their liability claim.
Comparative Fault of the Victim
It is possible that, by driving into a parked, disabled truck, a jury or court may find the victim to have some comparative fault. New York is a comparative fault state which means that the percentage of a victim’s fault in causing his injuries will reduce his award. For example, if a victim recovered $100,000 but was 25% at fault, a victim’s total award may be reduced to $75,000.
Injured by a Disabled Truck in New York City or Long Island? We Can Help
It may feel like driving into a parked truck is all your fault. But it is not. There are specific federal regulations which require trucks to guard against motorists from colliding with their vehicles. Our Queens trucking accident lawyers at COHEN & COHEN PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS, P.C. know how to use these regulations to help prove a claim. Learn what rights you have under New York law during a FREE consultation with our legal team. Call us today by dialing 800-247-8164 for a free case evaluation or use our convenient and easy-to-use contact us box available here to get started.