Boston Truck Accident Lawyers
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 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.
Liability 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.
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
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.
15 Court Square, Suite 800A
Boston, MA 02108