When a tractor-trailer and passenger vehicle collide, the occupants of the smaller passenger vehicle all too often suffer devastating, catastrophic injuries. Some people struggle to regain former abilities and many never return to work. Some require ongoing care. Others do not survive.
If the truck driver caused your injuries, you may be able to file a claim and hold them liable for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related losses. While New York auto insurance laws make recovering compensation in a serious car crash more complex, a truck accident attorney can help you understand your legal options to pursue the payout you deserve.
Call the seasoned truck accident team at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., about your crash today. We offer free case reviews and handle these cases on a contingency basis. Call 631-600-0000 to schedule your appointment with a truck accident lawyer in Sayville, Long Island.
How Do New York’s No-Fault Auto Insurance Laws Affect a Truck Accident Claim?
New York is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance claims. This means that even after a truck causes an accident, you may have to recover compensation from your own insurer instead of holding the liable party responsible for the injuries they caused.
In general, you turn to your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy after a Sayville car accident. This policy pays out to cover your medical bills and lost wages, up the limit of your coverage. The only way you can step outside of the state’s no-fault auto insurance system and collect compensation from the liable party is to meet the legal threshold for a serious injury. The state’s definition of a serious injury includes:
- Broken bones;
- Significant disfigurement or scarring;
- Loss use of a hand, foot, arm, or leg;
- Significant impairment of a body function or system; or
- Full disability for 90 days or more.
As you can probably imagine, many truck accident injuries easily surpass this threshold. This means we can file a third-party liability injury claim based on your damages and collect compensation to help you pay medical bills, cover lost wages, and help you heal from your physical and emotional injuries. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, we can also pursue a personal injury lawsuit against them to recover the payout you deserve.
Who Is Liable for My Truck Crash?
In most car accidents, the at-fault driver would be liable for any injuries you suffered if you meet the state’s serious injury threshold. Truck accidents, however, work somewhat differently. Thanks to a legal doctrine called vicarious liability, the trucker’s employer—usually a corporation or trucking company—is responsible for any accident the trucker causes while working.
This means we file our third-party liability claim not against the individual truck driver, but against the trucking company. If you suffered catastrophic injuries and require ongoing medical care, this is great news. Trucking companies generally have much larger insurance policies than any individual could afford.
Of course, this also means you need a strong lawyer on your side. The trucking company likely has an entire legal team working for them, protecting their company’s bottom line. You do not want to try to negotiate a settlement with them or take them to court on your own.
Why Is It Important to Talk to a Lawyer as Soon as Possible?
While the team of lawyers working against you does make it very difficult to win a claim on your own, this is actually not the most important reason to call one of our knowledgeable lawyers as soon as possible after this type of crash. The most important reason involves the evidence to support your case.
If you cannot secure all possible evidence to document your claim, you may not be able to recover the full value you deserve. Because state and federal laws require truckers and trucking companies to keep extensive rest logs, data from onboard computers, maintenance records, drug testing results, and employee records, there is a lot more evidence in a tractor-trailer crash than in most typical car accidents. All of this evidence, though, is in the hands of the trucking company.
To protect this evidence and ensure the trucking company is legally obligated to share it with us, one of the first things we do in any truck accident case is to send a spoliation letter. This letter demands the preservation of all of this evidence. If we do not dispatch this letter quickly after a crash, there is the chance that important evidence could be “accidentally” lost or destroyed.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Based?
We have three years from the date of your crash to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, there are many tasks we must take care of before that date, so it pays to contact us as early in the process as possible. We can help you identify the liable parties, collect evidence to prove your claim, and attempt to recover compensation by negotiating a fair settlement with the trucking company’s insurance provider. Only if this is not possible will we discuss litigating your case.
While most trucking accident claims settle out of court and the three-year statute of limitations only applies to lawsuits, many people wonder why we worry about this time deadline. This time limit often plays a vital role in our negotiations. If the trucking company believes we may file a lawsuit against them, they are much more motivated to offer a higher settlement. They do not want the expensive legal bills or the media attention of a trial. After the three-year period expires, we lose this leverage and they are much less likely to offer us a fair settlement.
How Can I Discuss My Crash With a Truck Accident Lawyer in Sayville, Long Island?
If you suffered serious injuries in a Long Island truck crash, the attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. We offer free case evaluations and can advise you about your legal options for filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Call us today at 631-600-0000 to schedule a time to meet with a Sayville truck accident lawyer.