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Driver Fatigue To Blame In Recently Deadly Truck Crash

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Our New York truck accident attorneys know all too well how many lives are ruined and even ended by truck driver fatigue. The damage caused in this recent big rig accident on the New Jersey turnpike this past weekend is tremendous with one fatality and famed actor and comedian Tracey Morgan seriously injured. Another comedian, James “Jimmy Mack” McNair was the unfortunate victim who passed away as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash.

The Walmart truck driver in this truck accident is being charged criminally with vehicular homicide and assault. While Walmart has publicly stated that they will take full responsibility, whether they will put their money where their mouth is and offer reasonable compensation to the truck accident victims remains to be seen. All too often, these large truck companies engage in damage control through publicity by accepting responsibility, but then they make insulting and low ball offers to the accident victims and families of wrongful death victims. Experienced truck accident attorneys are required to make the truck companies step up to the plate and fairly compensate the victims of truck accidents. Walmart is no stranger to truck accidents having had 380 crashes in the past two years, which have caused nine deaths and 129 personal injuries.

Preliminary reports show that the driver was awake for twenty four hours straight. This lack of rest certainly diminishes the drivers alertness and reflexes. It is evident that this tractor trailer driver failed to keep a proper lookout and make appropriate adjustments for the traffic conditions which he encountered. The driver of the tractor-trailer failed to observe slow-moving traffic ahead, and then swerved to try and avoid the a limo bus but struck it from behind, which caused the limo to rotate and overturn. New York has a traffic regulation directly on point for this type of situation. In particular New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law 1129 required motorists to keep a safe distance between the vehicles in front of them.

The driver was in technical compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hours of service regulations. The driver didn’t violate the federal regulations only because there were no regulations in effect which required a minimum number of hours of sleep prior to operating a commercial big rig, but there certainly should have been. The most recent regulations which became effective in July, 2013. Under these regulations, a driver may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. The regulations also require that drivers using a sleeper berth must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth. Hopefully in the wake of this tragedy, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will implement new rules requiring minimum hours of sleep between shifts. This type of new regulation would prevent these types of accidents.

Our truck accident attorneys have handled both personal injury cases and wrongful death cases arising out of truck accidents all over the State of New York.

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Ironically, this blog was started, a year ago, but the problem of trucks hitting bridges and overpasses in Westchester County continues to be a recurring topic. In November, 2014 a tractor trailer hit a bridge in Rye Brook on the Hutchinson Parkway for the third time this year. This has become a repeated problem in Westchester, with many trucks hitting bridges and overpasses, especially on the Hutchinson parkway. This truck accident occurred after the municipality installed a flashing light and painted on the ground a low bridge warning. This was another truck accident that should have been avoided, because trucks like big rigs, semis and tractor trailers are prohibited from traveling on parkways such as the Hutchinson parkway. With the more common use of GPS, more trucks are finding their ways, onto Parkways, which is ironic since in Westchester Interstate 95 for the most part runs parallel to the Hutchinson Parkway.

Also this week a Hartsdale a woman was seriously injured and remains in critical condition after she and her dog were hit by a car. According to the police reports, the pedestrian was not in the cross walk, but the motorists still have a duty to avoid hitting with pedestrians even if the pedestrian is not in the cross walk. Under New York law, all drivers of cars have a duty to keep a proper look out and see what there is to see and to be diligent to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Although it is unknown at this point whether the driver was speeding, residents in the area of East Hartsdale Road, have complained that excessive speed is a problem in this stretch of the roadway.

A recent investigation by Senator Schumer of New York revealed an alarming rate of truck accidents occurring in Westchester County, New York where semi trucks, tractor trailers, buses and other commercial vehicles are hitting bridges and overpasses in Westchester New York. For example, a single bridge where Mamaroneck Road crosses over Hutchinson River Parkway, in the White Plains, Mamanoreck vicinity has been hit by trucks over 90 times in the last twenty years.

Our experienced Westchester truck accident lawyers have handed numerous truck accidents, involving serious personal injury and wrongful death, all over New York State, including in the Bronx, Queens, Westchester, Long Island, upstate New York and Rockland.

An increasingly in serious and fatal truck accidents has occurred all over New York State because of trucks, tractor trailers, semis and other commercial rigs traveling onto parkways. Commercial trucks are not allowed on New York State Parkways in large part because of the low overpasses and bridges, which creates an inevitable accident where the trucks will hit the bridge or overpass. Also New York State Parkways are not designed for large commercial trucks because their lanes are often narrower and they tend to have more and sharper curves, which dramatically increases the risk of a side impact accident caused by the sway of the trailer. The primary cause of this increase in truck overpass accidents in Westchester County New York is caused by truck drivers using personal GPS devices that take them onto parkways. There is currently no regulation about truck drivers using personal GPS devices, which don’t always have settings that keep trucks off of parkways. According to Senator Schumer, 80 percent of bridge strikes are caused by GPS devices being improperly used by truck drivers. According to the New York State Department of Transportation, there were over 200 accidents where trucks struck a bridge or over pass in the last eight years. Between 1993 and 2011, there were almost seven hundred bridge or overpass collisions in Westchester New York. In light of these alarming statistics, Senator Schumer called for uniform standards in an effort to reduce bridge collision accidents by regulating use of GPS by truck drivers.

Our White Plains attorneys have extensive experience in truck accident litigation all over New York state. In particular Westchester truck accident attorney, Michael Joseph handled a major truck accident wrongful death litigation involving a double decker bus striking an overpass at approximately 40 miles per hour, which resulted in several fatalities. These trucks, which are extremely heavy to begin with are often carrying tons of cargo, which increases their momentum. When this momentum is added to the already high speed that trucks travel on parkways.

These fatal truck accidents continue to occur, even though municipalities continue to take preventive measures including low bridge warnings, flashing lights and even painting the overpasses bright colors such as orange or yellow.

From our White Plains office, our experienced personal injury and wrongful death lawyers are able to handle truck accidents on any Westchester parkway including the Saw Mill, the Hutchinson, the Henry Hudson, the Cross County Parkway, the Taconic Parkway and the Sprain Parkway.

Our Consultations are always free.

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White Plains truck accident lawyer Michael Joseph won a major jury verdict in the Westchester Supreme Court. The case involved a truck accident where a City of White Plains garbage truck rear ended a pick up truck which was stopped at a red light. Originally, the defendant driver and the City of White Plains attempted to claim that they were not liable because the brakes unexpectedly failed and there was no negligence on the part of the driver. To combat these bogus arguments, our White Plains truck accident attorneys consulted with highly qualified diesel mechanics and retained consulting experts who assisted us in highly technical depositions. Through deposing most of the diesel mechanics in the City of White Plains garage, our New York truck accident attorneys proved that the City of White Plains claims were mechanical impossibility. Every mechanic testified in their depositions that the air brakes were in perfect working order and that if there was a brake failure, the fail safe mechanism would automatically stop the truck.

Then to add insult to injury, the defendants argued that our client’s injuries were all pre-existing. They claimed the mere existence of dessication meant that our client’s herniated discs were pre-existing. Through expert testimony from our client’s treating doctors, our White Plains personal injury lawyers were able to prove that while our client had dessication, the herniated discs and nerve injuries were caused by the accident. While dessication may make a disc weaker and more likely to be injured in a trauma, it did not in and of itself cause an injury. Our experts also testified that there was MRI and CT evidence that the trauma was so forceful that the disc ripped a piece of bone from its fibrous insertion into the vertebra. Also our neurologist expert testified that the E.M.G showed that the injuries were acute and subacute and therefore, could not be longstanding.

The jury agreed and rendered an award of approximately $750,000, which will amount to more than $800,000 after interest and costs. The irony is that the City of White Plains shunned our offer to settle for $600,000 before trial.

Our car accident attorneys and truck accident lawyers regularly handle cases in the Westchester Supreme Court, for accidents from White Plains, Yonkers, Rye, Greenburgh, Elmsford, Ossining, Pelham, Port Chester, Mount Kisco, Mount Vernon, Valhalla, Mount Pleasant and New Rochelle.

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New York car accident lawyers who represent clients who sustain personal injury in auto accidents or truck accidents must be familiar with the rules of the road in the New York vehicle and traffic law.

Michael Joseph, an experienced car accident lawyer and Westchester truck accident attorney has won numerous cases by proving the other driver violated New York’s vehicle and traffic law. New York V.T.L. § 1111, requires motorists facing a steady circular red signal to stop at a clearly marked stop line or before entering the crosswalk (if there is no stop line) and remain standing until an indication to proceed (green light).l
We have used these rules to prove the other driver was 100% at fault. Often insurance company lawyers will try to argue that the injured party was partially at fault becuase they were not careful enough when the defendant blew a red light or stop sign. The law in New York is while a driver entering an intersection with a green light must exercise caution, summary judgment should be granted where the defendant’s action of running a red light was the sole cause of the accident. The New York courts have recognized that operators of cars which havethe right-of-way, are entitled to expect that other vehicles will obey the traffic laws requiring them to yield.

New York car accident lawyers must remember to adequately research the vehicle and traffic laws to adequately represent victims of personal injuries from car accidents in New York.
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If you were injured in a car accident in New York City (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx), Westchester (including White Plains, Yonkers, Greenburgh, Elmsford, Port Chester, New Rochelle, Scarsdale, Mamaroneck and Rye) or Rockland County, call the New York car accident lawyers today for a free consultation.

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