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Authorities Cite Poor Oversight In Truck And Bus Accidents

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As New York bus and truck accident attorneys, we have gone after truck and bus companies who follow unsafe oversight and practices. Unfortunately a bus or truck accident has a high probability of causing multiple injuries and fatalities. Last year twenty five truck and bus accident deaths were caused by just four accidents. In the last three years alone over one hundred truck and bus companies were shut down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for unsafe practices, which represents a dramatic increase from years prior.

Unfortunately the Federal Oversight agencies are dramatically understaffed with only 350 employees to inspect and oversee ten thousand bus companies and five hundred thousand commercial truck companies. Recent reviews of accidents found that the compliance review process had missed serious safety problems that had they been caught could have prevented the accidents. In another incident, it was found that even though a bus company repeatedly had numerous documented vehicle violations in roadside inspections, the most recent precrash compliance review of the carrier did not include any inspection of any vehicles, consequently maintenance defects including faulty brakes were overlooked and the bus was allowed to continue operating in an unsafe condition.So rather than prevent accidents, the burden falls on Westchester truck and bus fatality lawyers to try and get justice for the victims after the fact.

Common findings include commercial truck drivers speeding, working in excess of the mandatory limit of 70 hours in eight consecutive days. One of the major factors has been that foreign bus companies that enter the United States are not held to the same safety inspection and maintenance standards as United States truck companies. In fact,one National Transportation Safety Board post crash review determined that one bus operator had flouted virtually every commercial regulation. More specifically, the bus company had no safety plan and no written policies or procedures including no hiring procedures, no preventative maintenance program for its vehicles, no safety management review procedures for monitoring driver hours of service, and no in service training for its drivers. The in service hours maximum requirements are meant to prevent truck and bus driver fatigue. The preventative maintenance programs are designed to catch defective conditions prior to the bus or trucks from going onto the road with defective conditions which pose safety risks to the public. In fact, 49 CFR 396.3 (the Code of Federal Regulations) requires that bus and truck companies have a systematic method of conducting repairs, inspections and servicing their vehicles to keep them in a safe and operable condition. These safety evaluation failures have been found to be a contributing factor to the motor carrier crashes which were entirely preventable.

With these glaring inconsistent and lax oversight in safety practices, more bus and accident crashes will occur and the citizens of New York will continue to be at risk for serious personal injuries and even fatalities. Only with tighter oversight and more thorough oversight of safety programs will there be a serious reduction and prevention of truck accidents. Unfortunately as long as this lax oversight continues, there will be room for dishonest truck and bus companies to cheat the system, cut corners and push the limits thereby taking chances with the safety of their customers and the general public.

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Our New York City and Westchester Truck accident lawyers have handled numerous cases involving commercial vehicles such as trucks, tractor trailers and even bus accidents and crashes. Today another tractor trailer hit an overpass in Pleasantville. The crash occurred on a parkway which the tractor trailer never should have been on.

Commercial vehicles such as buses and tractor trailers wandering onto parkways has become an increasing problem in Westchester. Whether it is the Saw Mill River Parkway, which runs through Yonkers, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry and White Plains or I-287, the Taconic which runs through White Plains, Greenburgh, Mt. Pleasant and Valhalla or the Hutchinson which crosses through Scarsdale, Hartsdale and Harrison, these tractor trailers are posing an increasing risk to other motorists. The increased traffic when one of these trucks hits an overpass, while annoying, is nothing compared to the damage when these trucks hit a car, SUV or pick up truck. Unfortunately, all too often serious personal injuries and even death is the result.

The New York Code of Rules and Regulations prohibit commercial trucks from being on New York’s parkways. The reasoning for this regulation is clearly to reduce the dangers to motorists. Parkways are simply not designed for larger vehicles such as tractor trailers or box trucks. Parkways often have narrower lanes, more and sharper curves and lower overpasses, which commercial trucks are not designed to handle. Interstates by contrast have wider lanes and smoother and longer curves. Trucks often have trouble staying in the smaller lanes of parkways and have a natural sway when turning, which makes them a hazard on parkways.

Truck drivers are on the road for long periods of time and simply truck driver fatigue and inattention seems to be a contributing factor to trucks ending up on the parkways in Westchester. Westchester law makers are considering putting lower covered structures on the entrance ramps to prevent the trucks from entering parkways in the first place. Our White Plains personal injury lawyers will continue to represent truck accident victims.

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Our New York truck accident lawyer, Michael Joseph won a major decision in a Federal lawsuit alleging wrongful death arising out of an accident between a motorist and a commercial tractor trailer.

New York truck accident attorney Michael Joseph
demanded that the defendant provide authorizations for his medical records and the truck driver claimed they were privileged. Our personal injury attorneys established that the privilege had been waived because the truck driver waived his privilege and put his medical condition in issue by 1) applying for a commercial trucking license which requires disclosure of the medical condition and 2) by discussing his medical condition with police officers investigating the accident and 3) by testifying about the condition in his deposition without raising the privilege.

A commercial truck driver’s medical conditions which affect concentration, alertness and cognitive abilities are relevant in truck accidents which result in personal injury and wrongful death. Our truck accident lawyers regularly handle truck accident cases in New York City, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Long Island and even New Jersey.

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Today, White Plains personal injury lawyer Michael Joseph won a major victory against the city of White Plains. Our client was in a pick up truck stopped on the bottom of a hill when a municipal garbage truck came flying down and hill and rear ended our client.

The driver of the garbage truck and the City tried to avoid their responsibility by claiming that there was a sudden and unforeseen emergency because their brakes suddenly failed. Our Westchester personal injury lawyers consulted with an expert diesel brake mechanic and gained the technical expertise to reveal the City of White Plains defense for the sham that it was.

Our Westchester truck accident lawyer, Michael Joseph, took several depositions of the mechanics from the City’s garage, all of whom were highly experienced diesel mechanics. Through these depositions, our injury attorneys were able to prove that the brakes were in good condition shortly before the accident an upon the post inspection repair, all of the brakes were in good working order. Additionally, our Westchester car accident lawyer got the mechanics to admit that a sudden failure which the garbage truck driver claimed was a mechanical impossibility because the rear and front brakes work independently and if there is a failure in one part the other can stop the truck. Additionally, the braking system on these types of trucks have a dual braking system with a service side and an emergency system. These systems work independent of each other and therefore a failure on one side will not effect the other. Therefore, the City’s own brake mechanics conceded that the garbage truck driver’s story was a mechanical impossibility.

Today, the Westchester Supreme Court agreed and found the City and its driver one hundred percent negligent for the accident. Our Westchester truck accident attorneys will continue to protect victims of car accidents and truck accidents including those in the towns of Yonkers, Harrison, Ossining, Briarcliff Manor, Peekskill, Port Chester, Pelham, Scarsdale, Tarrytown, Greenburgh, Elmsford and Rye.

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Often truck drivers who are involved in serious accidents with cars or trucks, blame their brakes in a feigned attempt to shift the blame from themselves to a so called emergency situation. Our New York truck accident lawyers work closely with deisel mechanic experts and have extensive expertise in proving that these claims are largely bogus and driver error is usually the cause.

Accidents truly caused by a sudden and unforseeable brake failure in commercial trucks are rare. For one thing, department of transportation regulations require routine inspections of the braking systems for trucks and most trucking companies have established preventative maintenance programs which prevents mechanical components of the truck’s braking systems from getting to the point of failure.

New York personal injury lawyers who handle cases involving serious personal injuries or wrongful death as a result of a truck accident need to familiarize themselves with the mechanical components of the braking system.

Most trucks have two independent braking systems known as the service side and the emergency side. The two systems operate independently, such that a failure of the braking system on the service side will not effect the operation of the emergency braking system and vice versa. Generally, the foot brake operates the service brake and there is also an independent emergency brake. On most trucks, each wheel has its own brake, therefore these trucks have ten individual service and emergency brakes. These trucks also has a fail safe system, to prevent a brake failure as a result of an air leak, whereby if the pressure in the air brake system drops below 60 pounds per square inch, the brakes will automatically activate and stop the truck.

Air leaks are also apparent to the operator before they begin their route, if they a brake press test, by which they stepped on the brake and if there was any leak in the air brake system, the gauges would go down. If a driver steps on a truck brake and there is no decrease in the gauge reading, there is no air leak.

Even problems with an isolated component such as the relief break valve or the QR1 valve, are insufficient to cause a total brake failure. Both of which are valves connected to the rear brakes of the truck, however, a defect with the relay valve will not affect the ability of an operator to stop a truck because the relay valve is only involved with the rear brakes and the front brakes which are controlled by a different valve, are in and of themselves sufficient to stop the vehicle. The QR1 valve is located on the emergency brake, which is part of the rear brake system and does not affect the service side brakes or even the emergency part of the front brakes. the quick release valve cannot possibly cause a brake failure because the quick release valve is involved in releasing air from the brakes, which allows the driver to resume motion, however, it is not involved in the function of stopping the vehicleTherefore, even a problem with an isolated valve is not a sufficient mechanical explanation for a failure of the truck’s braking system.

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Experienced New York truck accident lawyers, must be familiar with the braking systems of diesel trucks. Our New York truck accident lawyers have handled numerous personal injury car accident cases involving accidents with municipal trucks including garbage trucks or buses.

Many of these cases involve violations of the New York vehicle and traffic law. Our New York personal injury lawyers several years ago won a major Appellate decision which established that City trucks are subject or ordinary negligence standards, not the heightened recklessness standard found in Vehicle and Traffic Law 1104, which requires recklessness to recover for a vehicle working on the road. Our New York accident lawyers successfully established that these exemptions apply only to road construction and maintenance, not all municipal trucks which are on the road while working.

Lately our New York truck accident lawyers have encountered a new defense being advanced by some of the Westchester municipalities to justify clear violations of the vehicle and traffic law by their municipal trucks. An example is that a violation of the vehicle and traffic law generally establishes negligence, however, these towns are now trying to show a non-negligent explanation, i.e., a sudden and unexpected mechanical failure.

In this situation, our New York and Westchester truck accident lawyers utilize a dual strategy of claiming both negligence in maintenance and impossibility of the defense. For example, we depose the diesel mechanics and hire our own diesel mechanic experts as consultants.

Our New York truck accident attorneys have successfully dispelled this defense through depositions of the mechanics by establishing that every diesel truck has two independent braking systems, a service side and an emergency side. These braking systems operate independently, as such, even if there is a mechanical defect on one system, such as an air leak, it does not affect the other braking system. Additionally, on diesel trucks with air braking systems, where there is a leak in the air brake, if the pressure drops below a certain P.S.I., the system will automatically stop the truck from moving at all. Additionally, a small leak such as a problem with a relay valve will only affect the rear wheels, but not the front wheels, which are independently sufficient to stop a diesel truck. Therefore, top notch truck accident personal injury lawyers should not allow a jury to be fooled by these defenses.

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This week our New York truck accident attorneys won a decisive battle in Brooklyn Supreme Court. We successfully convinced the Court in Brooklyn that that the defendant truck driver was 100 percent at fault for hitting our client who was a pedestrian crossing the street.

Our New York personal injury lawyers proved that the defendant had a stop sign and since he did not see the pedestrian until after the accident, he violated New York’s vehicle and traffic law by failing to yield at the stop sign until the intersection was free of pedestrian traffic. The Court also agreed that there was no excuse for the truck driver’s failure to see the pedestrian and the only excuse was that the driver failed to keep a proper lookout and see what there was to be seen.

The defendants attempted to argue that the Plaintiff was partially at fault because she did not avoid the accident but the Court held that the defendant failed to demonstrate that the pedestrian did anything wrong.

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