Can I Sue a Semi Truck Driver for Causing an Accident in Nassau County, NY?
After being injured in a truck accident, you may be left with substantial expenses. You should be entitled to get these damages covered by the at-fault party and to seek justice by going to court, but there might be limitations on those rights.
In Nassau County, NY – and throughout New York – there is a “no-fault” insurance rule that prevents you from suing a driver for an auto accident unless you have “serious injuries.” If you meet this threshold, then you should be entitled to sue the truck driver who hit you, but there might be other parties you can sue instead, such as the trucking company. Pursuing a lawsuit against the trucking company can often yield higher damages than an individual driver might be able to afford.
For a free review of your injury case, call the Nassau County personal injury lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm today at (718) 841-0083.
Meeting the “Serious Injury” Threshold for Lawsuits Against Truck Drivers in Nassau County, NY
Insurance policies throughout New York work on a no-fault basis. That means that you carry insurance to pay for your own injuries if you get hurt in an accident. These policies pay you regardless of who caused the accident, but they come with some limitations on your right to sue and recover compensation. If you have so-called “serious injuries,” you can usually get around these restrictions and sue whoever caused your accident – including a trucker.
With no-fault insurance, there is a guarantee that if you pay more into your insurance policy, it will be there to cover you when you need it. But it has trade-offs, including the fact that you can only get medical bills, lost wages, and other “economic” damages covered – there is no coverage for pain and suffering through no-fault insurance. You also cannot sue with a no-fault system unless your injuries are severe enough. That means that if you are hit by a truck driver and have only mild or moderate injuries, you might be blocked from suing entirely.
The main way around these restrictions is to meet the “serious injury” threshold described in I.S.C. Law § 5102(d). If your injury meets this threshold, it opens up the right to sue and to claim pain and suffering damages against the at-fault driver.
Injuries usually qualify as “serious” if they are permanent or involve loss of function or physical loss of a limb or organ. They are also “serious” under the “90-Day Rule” if 90 out of the next 180 days after the accident will see you impaired to the point where you have trouble with everyday tasks. Death and loss of a fetus also always qualify.
One common area of injury that can bump an otherwise lesser injury into “serious injury” territory is a broken bone. Any “fracture” is sufficient to qualify for a lawsuit. Our Long Island truck accident lawyers can help you determine if your injury meets this standard and help you file a lawsuit if it does.
Proving Fault Against a Truck Driver in a Nassau County, NY Accident Case
Once you’ve met the serious injury threshold, there are no more legal restrictions on your right to sue a truck driver for the accident. However, you will need to prove that they were at fault before a court can award damages. This usually means showing that they violated a traffic law or some other safety regulation or safe-driving standard. For example, if the driver was unreasonably tired after a long shift but kept driving, that is patently unsafe and would likely put them at fault for the crash. You can also hold truckers responsible for crashes they cause by speeding, driving under the influence, running stop signs, or committing other traffic violations.
Insurance Claims and Lawsuits Against Truck Drivers in Nassau County
If you meet the serious injury threshold, you can also file third-party insurance claims against the trucker. Every driver in New York also has to carry liability insurance to cover the people they injure in crashes in case of serious injuries. Truckers usually have to carry additional commercial driver’s insurance as well, and that should often cover higher damages than a normal driver’s insurance would cover.
Should You Sue a Trucker or a Trucking Company for Injury in Nassau County, NY?
Even though truckers usually have to have good insurance, they are still usually working-class people who might not have the cash and assets to cover serious injuries. As such, it might be a better idea in your case to sue the trucking company rather than hoping the individual driver can cover your injuries.
Trucking companies can be held partially responsible for a crash they help cause. This usually happens when the trucking company fails to properly maintain its vehicles and keep them safe. In some cases, this might be the core cause of the crash, and the truck driver might not have done anything wrong.
Companies can also be held responsible for “negligent hiring.” This occurs when they fail to properly vet driving candidates and overlook dangerous driving histories, a history of vehicular assault, or a history of drunk driving that should have caused them to reject that driver. Similarly, if a driver on staff is known to be dangerous, and the trucking company keeps them on staff, you can often sue for “negligent retention” if that driver caused your crash.
Trucking companies can also be held liable simply as the employer of the driver. If the accident occurred while the driver was on duty, then it is the trucking company’s responsibility to cover the injuries their employee caused. This does not apply to many owner-operators and other independent truckers who do not work as “employees” for a trucking company.
Call Our Trucking Accident Attorneys in Nassau County Today
Reach out to the New York City truck accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm today at (718) 841-0083 for a free review of your potential case.