December 17, 2020
NYC Owned Truck Accidents: Who Is Financially Liable?
By Jonathan Damashek
When there’s an auto accident, sometimes it’s easy to determine who is at fault and pursue the proper party for compensation for your injuries. But other times, like when a city-owned truck is involved, you may wonder who is financially liable.
Understand that when you’re in an accident with a city-owned truck, you may be contacted early on and discouraged to pursue your claim for a quick settlement. Don’t let someone talk you out of pursuing your rights to full and fair compensation. Talk to the truck accident lawyers at Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. before making any decisions. Our experienced New York City personal injury attorneys understand all the issues related to pursuing your claim, including liability questions.
Liability in Truck Accidents
To recover damages in a personal injury case related to a truck accident, you must show that:
- you were owed a duty of care
- the other driver(s) were required to provide a duty of care
- negligence by other driver(s) caused the accident
- you were injured due to the accident
If unable to determine the negligent party, the claim for damages will not be successful. Our highly skilled truck accident lawyers know how to conduct investigations that uncover liable parties. It’s especially necessary in truck accidents because injuries are likely more serious requiring thousands of dollars in compensation.
Typically, these are the possible liable parties in a truck accident:
- the driver – failure to follow traffic laws, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, falling asleep behind the wheel, unsafe driving for the weather conditions
- the driver’s employer – under certain legal theories, an employer is liable for the actions of its employee
- a municipality – for road conditions, design, property owner, employer
- truck service or maintenance personnel – negligent work leading to a malfunction that causes an accident
- truck or parts manufacturers – poorly designed or made parts that lead to crashes
In the recent past, trucking companies would hire drivers as “independent contractors” to skirt liability under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior if there were accidents. Respondeat superior means that the employer is responsible for the negligent actions of the employee while on the job. By using independent contractors, trucking companies denied liability for accidents.
Federal law no longer allows this shield. In response to the independent contractor defense raised by companies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations removed the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor. If a truck driver is negligent, the liability can be traced to the company that hired him. This law preempts New York state laws that might say otherwise.
The defense is not available for cities either. If the vehicle is city owned, it doesn’t matter if the driver is an employee of a private company or classified as an independent contractor. But there can be special rules around naming a government entity in a legal claim. That is why it is important to let us handle your case so that you don’t inadvertently undermine your right to compensation.
Injured in an Accident with a City-owned Truck? We Can Help
If you’ve been hurt in an accident with a city-owned truck, the last thing you need to worry with is discovering who is liable for your injuries. Let us handle your legal claim to secure the compensation you deserve while you concentrate on healing. We have a track record of success in these actions and if we don’t win, you don’t owe us a thing.
Get your free case consultation today by calling (212) 490-5700 or use our