Boston Truck Accident Lawyers

Finkelstein & Partners LLP – Boston Office
15 Court Square #800a,
Boston, MA 02108

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Finkelstein & Partners, LLP – Winning Serious Injury Lawsuits Since 1959

It’s no exaggeration: The traffic in Boston is among the worst in the nation. Despite falling behind New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago for the country’s most congested city during the pandemic, the roadways around the city are still often packed.

Amid all the traffic are many massive commercial trucks. Often referred to as semi-trucks, big-rigs, or 18-wheelers, these trucks and their drivers deliver shipped goods to and from Boston and play a major part in the region’s economy.

Unfortunately, there is a big downside to the trucking industry. Accidents involving commercial trucks claim the lives of nearly 5,000 people each year and result in serious injuries for many more.

If an accident involving a semi-truck injured you, an experienced Boston truck accident lawyer from Finkelstein & Partners can help you understand your options for obtaining compensation. Our firm began more than 60 years ago in Newburgh, New York, and has grown to encompass offices throughout the Northeast, with a legal team of more than 85 attorneys.

While these are only past results and cannot guarantee an outcome in any particular case, we are pleased with the results we have delivered to our clients through the years, including:

  • A $6.8 million jury award for a client who suffered serious injuries after a commercial truck driver caused a four-car pile-up.
  • A $910,000 settlement for a school bus driver who suffered disabling injuries in an accident involving a commercial truck and was unable to return to work.
  • An $894,000 settlement on behalf of a 15-year-old girl who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of an accident involving a negligent truck driver.

Common Causes of Boston Truck Accidents

As previously mentioned, commercial trucks are massive, often weighing 20 to 30 times more than the passenger vehicles they travel alongside.

The larger size of these vehicles creates:

  • Significant blind spots: A blind spot is an area around the vehicle that the driver cannot see by looking in the rear or side-view mirrors. All vehicles have blind spots. In passenger cars, these areas surround the sides of the vehicle’s rear. However, trucks have significant blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle.
  • The increased distance needed to stop: When a driver perceives a hazard on the roadway and responds to it by braking, it takes some distance to stop. The heavier the vehicle is, the more distance it needs. Commercial trucks take 20 to 40 percent more distance than the average-sized passenger car to come to a complete stop. Other factors also increase the distance it will take for a truck to stop after braking, including slippery road surfaces and higher speeds.
  • A high center of gravity: The average semi-truck is about 13.5 feet tall. This is much taller than other vehicles on the roadway. The vehicle’s height makes for a higher center of gravity and increases the risk of the vehicle overturning when going around sharp curves or corners, or when attempting emergency maneuvers.
  • A higher ground clearance: Commercial trucks sit a good distance from the ground, which results in a space between the underside of the truck and the roadway that is large enough for small vehicles to slip underneath it during an accident. This deadly phenomenon is known as an underride.
  • Wide turns: Not only are commercial trucks tall, but they are also about 72 feet long. The length requires the driver to swing the truck into other lanes of travel when turning. Other drivers are at risk of an accident if traveling in the lane that is involved in the truck’s wide turn. A squeeze play accident occurs when a passenger car gets trapped between a turning truck and the curb or other obstacles.

The vast majority of motor vehicle accidents—including truck accidents—result from human error.

In addition to the structural and maneuverability issues created by the size of the truck, truck drivers must avoid the common human errors that all drivers face, including:

  • Distracted driving: Driving distractions result in more than 3,000 deaths on U.S. roads each year. There are three types of driving distractions, including manual distractions, which cause the driver to take hands from the wheel; visual distractions, which draw the driver’s eyes from watching the roadway; and cognitive distractions, which draw the driver’s mind from the task of safe driving. Texting and other cell phone use is such a concern for lawmakers across the country, as it involves all three types of distractions. In fact, in the time it takes to read or reply to a text message when traveling at highway speeds, a driver would have traveled the length of a football field without watching the roadway—a big gamble for any driver, but particularly for a driver who is operating an 80,000-pound vehicle.
  • Impairment: Commercial truck drivers are required to submit to random drug and alcohol screenings as part of maintaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL). Truck drivers are also often subject to reduced impairment limits. In Boston, as with most of the nation, the legal limit for alcohol impairment is 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. For truck drivers, however, a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.04 is considered impaired. Illicit drugs, prescription medications, and even over-the-counter remedies can also impair the skills a driver needs to operate a motor vehicle safely.
  • Speeding: Speeding refers not only to driving faster than the posted speed limit, but also driving too fast for the conditions of the road. Speeding is a factor in more than a quarter of all fatal accidents. Speeding increases the severity of the crash, and also decreases the effectiveness of the vehicle’s protective equipment, including the seatbelts and airbags. It reduces the amount of time the driver has to perceive and respond to a hazard, and increases the distance needed to stop.

The Dangers of Commercial Truck Accidents in Boston

Boston Truck Accident LawyerBoston has many features that increase the likelihood of an accident involving a commercial truck, not the least of which is the city’s notorious congestion. Congestion is a dangerous condition for truck drivers to operate their vehicles in, as it guarantees the presence of other roadway users in the truck’s blind spots.

Additionally, trucks may lack the distance to stop safely on roads crowded with distracted drivers or pedestrians stepping out into crosswalks or unmarked areas of the road.

Boston’s winter weather also creates additional hazards for truck drivers, who require an even greater stopping distance on wet or icy surfaces. The truck’s high gravity center and tendency to overturn also becomes a more immediate concern in bad weather.

One of the most common types of truck accidents, the jackknife, is more likely to occur on icy roads. A jackknife occurs when the truck’s trailer slides, pushing the cab to one side or even in the opposite direction of the trailer, as if the vehicle is folding in on itself.

Another issue facing truck drivers in Boston is fatigue. Drivers travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to deliver goods from one region of the country to another. The Northeast states are the farthest away from bustling export centers in California and Texas. This makes for long days and nights for truck drivers, who are often on strict deadlines and increases the risk of an accident resulting from driver fatigue.

Extreme fatigue creates similar deficits to the skills a driver needs for safe driving as alcohol impairment does, including the inability to maintain a travel lane, brake effectively, or make good decisions.

Inexperience is often a factor in Boston truck driving accidents. Many drivers who trained in warmer locations have little real-world experience handling a large vehicle in the inclement New England winter weather.

Seeking Compensation after a Boston Truck Accident

Truck accidents often produce some of the most serious injuries an individual can experience, including traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, which frequently result in permanent disabilities.

If a Boston truck accident injured you, you can seek compensation for the expenses and psychological impacts of your injury.

In Boston, personal injury claimants generally have three years from the accident to file their claim in court.

Proving Liability

finkelstein-and-partners_60th-anniversary_helping-the-injuredLiability refers to the legal responsibility that someone has for the costs incurred because of their actions. To obtain compensation, you must be able to prove that your accident was the result of the careless or reckless actions of someone else. The truck driver could have caused the accident.

However, liable parties can also include:

  • The trucking company that employed the driver. It is vicariously liable for actions the driver takes during employment. Trucking companies must ensure that their drivers satisfy federal requirements and are properly trained to do the job. They must perform background and driving history checks on the driver, ensure that the trucks undergo proper maintenance, and insure them to the higher liability levels as mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • The shipper, who must ensure that the trucking company and driver are properly licensed and insured. They must properly load cargo into the truck’s trailer to prevent overturning.
  • Other drivers, whose careless or reckless actions could lead to an accident involving a commercial truck.
  • The manufacturer or distributor of defective truck parts, which malfunctioned and caused an accident.
  • The individual or entity tasked with performing routine maintenance and repair services on the truck.

To prove liability, you must be able to establish:

  • The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care refers to how a reasonable person would respond in a given situation to protect the health and safety of others. Truck drivers owe a duty to operate their vehicles safely and under federal requirements.
  • There was a breach in the duty of care. The at-fault party took an action that was contrary to the duty of care. For example, if an alcohol-impaired truck driver caused your accident, alcohol impairment would breach the duty of care, as it is unsafe and violates federal regulations.
  • The breach in the duty of care led to the accident and caused you to incur expenses and impacts as a result.

Recovering Damages

Andrew Finkelstein
Motorcycle Accident Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

The term “recovering damages” means obtaining compensation for the expenses of your injury, which are known as economic damages, and the impacts, which are called non-economic damages.

Some common expenses and impacts to be included in Boston truck accident damage claims are:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Boston Truck Accident FAQs

Yes, you should always inform your insurance company after an accident, even if you are sure you are not at fault. Most auto insurance policies have clauses that require policyholders to inform the carrier of any traffic accident where coverage might apply.

Additionally, truck accidents typically cost much more than other types of traffic accidents, so you want to ensure your carrier will cover you if necessary.

If you choose not to inform your insurance company about a Boston truck accident, they might cancel your policy.

Additionally, Massachusetts law requires drivers who register a vehicle to carry $8,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP covers the first $8,000 of medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who caused the accident. This coverage can help fill an economic gap immediately after a truck accident. However, those who suffer severe Boston truck accident injuries will quickly meet or exceed the minimum coverage and need further steps to recover additional compensation.

Those who walk away from a truck accident are incredibly lucky. Even accidents at low speeds can lead to severe injuries because of the impact of a heavy truck. However, your ability to move around does not mean you are without injury. Traffic accidents, including truck accidents, sometimes cause hidden injuries that you might not discover for days. Headaches can indicate a traumatic brain injury, and soreness can indicate organ damage, broken ribs, internal bleeding, and other invisible problems.

It’s in your interest to see a doctor soon after a truck accident. Some injuries can be deadly if left untreated, and your health is the top priority. Additionally, your medical record serves as valuable evidence for the insurance company and court if you file a claim to recover damages. Documented injuries make it difficult for the other side to deny that you suffered injuries in the truck accident.

The laws that govern time limits to take legal action after suffering injuries in a truck accident are the statutes of limitations. Massachusetts has a three-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, including those involving truck accidents. In most cases, victims of negligence must bring a lawsuit within three years after the date of their Boston truck accident.

Even though you have three years to bring a claim against the allegedly liable party, it’s wise to take prompt action. Waiting too long puts you at risk of losing your chance to recover damages related to the accident and your injuries.

The law allows for some exceptions, but it’s unlikely a Massachusetts court will hear your Boston truck accident case once the three-year time limit has passed. Additionally, evidence can weaken as time goes by: it’s more difficult to find video footage, and eyewitnesses might die or move away. You have the highest chance of winning your case by letting an experienced attorney investigate your claim and start building your case soon after your accident.

The vast majority of traffic accident claims, including those involving trucks, settle long before going in front of a judge. Going to trial is costly for both sides, so all parties are motivated to settle before litigation. However, disputes of liability, the nature of one’s injuries, and the unwillingness of the insurance company to offer fair compensation can force your lawyer to bring your case to trial.

If you bring a lawsuit, you must participate in a deposition at some point, but it’s unlikely you will have to testify in court. However, be prepared for the possibility. Your attorney can review your case and identify challenges that make litigation more likely.

One or more parties might be financially liable for your truck accident injuries. It depends on the situation. The most complex truck accident claims include multiple parties. Examples of parties your lawyer might advise you to name as a defendant in your Boston truck accident claim include:

Truck Driver

Truck drivers must hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) to legally operate their semi or other rigs. They receive ample training in safety, but it doesn’t mean they all follow the rules, especially when they are under pressure to get their job done quickly. Negligent truckers engage in dangerous driving practices that lead to severe truck accidents.

Speeding is common among truckers because they have demanding schedules that leave them rushed to pick up and drop off their freight. Other times, truckers have long days and do not get adequate rest, even when they follow requirements for breaks. Drowsy drivers risk nodding off at the wheel and causing a crash. Additionally, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also lead to dangerous truck accidents and ensure a truck driver gets named in a truck accident lawsuit.

Trucking Company

Many truck drivers own their trucks, but many others drive for a trucking company. Trucking companies and owners/operators are liable for truck accident injuries if their negligence leads to an accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration creates rules for trucking companies concerning training drivers, maintaining trucks, hiring drivers, and more.

Trucking companies that fail to hire qualified truckers, don’t train them adequately, or do not perform scheduled or emergency maintenance, open themselves to financial liability for damages after a Boston truck accident.

Additionally, trucking companies hire and train people to load freight onto trucks, making them liable if a cargo spill leads to a dangerous truck accident.

Finally, trucking companies that do not keep their trucks in roadworthy condition put others at risk for accident and injury and could be liable for damages after a truck accident.

Other Motorists

Sometimes motorists in passenger vehicles also cause truck accidents when they drive carelessly. For example, cars or SUVs that linger in a semi-truck’s blind spots can cause an accident if they make an erratic maneuver that the trucker doesn’t see.

Cutting off a truck is dangerous; if a trucker loses control of his rig, the consequences can be deadly and include multiple vehicles.

Naming another motorist in a truck accident claim does not happen often; however, it’s possible. Your Boston truck accident attorney can review the facts of your case and advise you on whom you should name as a defendant in your truck accident claim.

Truck Manufacturer/Truck Part Manufacturer

Mechanical malfunctions on the road can lead to dangerous, sometimes fatal, truck accidents because truckers lose control of their trucks. Mechanical issues can result from poor maintenance, or defective trucks or truck parts.

For example, defective tires can lead to dangerous blowouts, causing a truck driver to lose control, putting everyone on the road at risk for accident and injury. If a truck accident occurs because of a defect, the truck manufacturer or truck part manufacturer could be liable for damages related to the accident and accompanying injuries.

Ultimately, it’s your decision on whether to accept an offer. However, it’s in your interest to let an attorney review the offer before you accept it. Once you sign on the dotted line, you waive your right to seek future compensation for injuries stemming from the same event.

Insurance carriers do not make money by paying the total amount of each claim that comes their way. One common tactic they use to reduce financial liability is to make low offers to claimants, especially when they are reasonably certain their policyholder is at fault.

When an insurance company approaches a claimant with an offer, they often take advantage of the situation. They know claimants are worried about money because of high medical bills and missing work, so they entice them with some cash to get them to sign away their right to sue.

The problem is that these early offers often come before someone knows the full scope of their injuries and can leave victims of negligence without the funds they need, especially if they suffer a permanent injury.

An experienced Boston truck accident lawyer can review your claim and settlement offer and often negotiate a higher amount that fairly compensates a truck accident victim for losses related to the accident and their injuries.

If you have grounds for a lawsuit against a truck driver or trucking company, you could receive compensation that ranges from a few hundred dollars to more than a million dollars.

It’s impossible to predict an exact amount for your Boston truck accident claim because each case has different circumstances that increase or decrease its value.

Additionally, if you choose to settle with an insurance company, you might accept less than the full value of your claim.

Factors that affect the financial outcome of Boston truck accident injury claims include:

  • The severity of injuries. Those who suffer the worst injuries have the highest value claims in most cases. They accumulate more medical bills and spend more time away from work, losing income. As medical expenses and lost wages increase, so does a claim’s value.
  • Nature of injuries. Severe injuries that cause permanent damage or leave scars lead to high-value claims. For example, someone who suffers an amputation or a brain injury will typically receive more compensation than someone who breaks an arm or a leg.
  • Long-term prognosis. Truck accident injury victims who suffer residual pain and do not fully recover from their injuries often recuperate more damages in a truck accident injury lawsuit.
  • Missed work. Truck accident injury victims who spend months away from their job or cannot return to work because of a permanent injury face massive economic hardship, which often increases the value of an accident injury claim.

Yes, you can afford to get the legal help you need to recover damages after a Boston truck accident. Accident injury law firms often provide free consultations for potential clients so they can share the details of their accident and injuries with an attorney.

If the attorney finds your claim viable and you choose to hire them, you do not have to pay a retainer upfront like you would with a criminal defense or tax attorney.

Instead, your Boston truck accident lawyer will take your case on contingency, deducting attorney fees from any compensation you receive for your injuries on behalf of their efforts.

Finkelstein & Partners Has the Legal Answers You Need

Being seriously injured in a truck accident is often an extremely stressful and painful experience. Let an experienced Boston truck accident lawyer from Finkelstein & Partners help you make sense of the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (877) 472-3061.