Commercial Van Accidents
Delivery trucks and commercial vans are a common sight on New York City streets with more and more New Yorkers choosing to shop online. UPS, FedEx, DHL, Amazon and even food delivery trucks such as FreshDirect are working overtime to satisfy growing consumer demand. While these companies bring speed and convenience to consumers, what many of them may not be aware of is that these large corporations use small, local companies to quickly deliver merchandise to customers.
In numerous cases, this need for fast delivery results in local companies hiring and retaining untrained and/or inexperienced drivers who violate traffic rules in order to meet their deadlines. This situation often leads to serious and catastrophic accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a commercial van, it is important that you quickly contact an experienced New York commercial van accident lawyer who can help you secure maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.
Types of Delivery Vehicles
An increasing number of service providers are offering the delivery of packages to homes and businesses utilizing a number of different types of delivery vehicles on our roadways. Each company may operate entire fleets of vehicles including vans and trucks, depending on the kind of delivery to be made.
Here are some of the most common types of delivery vehicles we come across on a routine basis:
Walk-in trucks: This is probably one of the most frequently used delivery vehicles types out there. This is the vehicle that major delivery companies such as FedEx, DHL and UPS etc. use for dropping off and picking up packages. These types of trucks allow the driver to walk through the compartment that stores the cargo. Walk-in trucks are roomy enough to accommodate several parcels and a rear doorway opens into the driver’s cab providing him or her with access to the cargo area.
Box trucks: These are square or rectangular-shaped trucks that are used by moving and truck rental companies such as U-Haul. Box trucks come in a number of different sizes. In these vehicles, the passenger cabin tends to be separate from the cargo area.
Delivery vans: These types of vehicles are typically smaller than walk-in trucks. They are more useful on streets and neighborhoods that are to small or narrow for large trucks or when there is a smaller number of packages to be delivered. A number of regional delivery services use delivery or cargo vans. An example is a business such as florist that delivers flowers within a certain area. Delivery vans are manufactured by automakers such as Ford and Chrysler.
Jeeps: These are not as common in the city, but they are sometimes used to access areas that are difficult to get to, especially locations in rural areas. These vehicles are useful in areas where extreme weather is common. They are also used to deliver a smaller volume of cargo.
Long-distance delivery: These larger trucks such as tractor-trailers are used to deliver a large volume of goods, often across state lines. It’s quite common to see supermarket deliveries and even FreshDirect products transported in these types of vehicles.
Common Causes of Commercial Van Accidents
A number of delivery truck and commercial van accidents occur, much like other types of auto accidents, due to negligent drivers. Here are some of the factors that are usually cited in most commercial vehicle accidents:
Lack of experience and training: Delivery trucks and commercial vans are larger than average vehicles, which require a certain level of training and experience. When a driver who does not have sufficient training or experience is sent out to make deliveries, he or she is more likely to cause an accident by failing to spot hazards and/or know how to best respond to them.
Driver distraction: As is the case often with drivers of other vehicles, delivery vehicle operators may become distracted and cause a major injury accident. Talking on the cell phone, looking at the GPS, texting, eating and grooming while driving are all examples of driver distractions, which may have catastrophic consequences for others on the road.
Improper loading: When the packages or goods are not properly loaded into the truck, they may fall off the vehicle and strike bicyclists, pedestrians or motorists, etc. causing serious injuries. Drivers have a duty to ensure that all cargo is properly loaded and secured in the truck or van.
Poor vehicle maintenance: It is crucial that any vehicle being used for deliveries is properly serviced and maintained at all times. This includes replacing worn parts. In many cases, brake failures and tire blowouts have been linked to devastating crashes. Companies have a responsibility to make sure they properly maintain these vehicles.
Reckless driving: There are a number of reckless actions that may very well result in an injury or fatal delivery vehicle accident. For example, when drivers make sudden stops without warning because they are trying to find the next location to make a delivery, such an action may result in a rear-end collision. A sudden left turn or illegal U-turn may also prove extremely dangerous.
In some instances, delivery truck accidents occur because the driver fails to engage the parking brake. This may cause a rollaway accident. Delivery vehicles are also larger than average, which means drivers should pay attention in particular when they are backing up. When the driver fails to do so, the consequences may be deadly especially for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Excessive speed: When delivery vehicle drivers exceed the speed limit or drive at an unsafe rate of speed because they want to meet their delivery deadlines, it may result in a tragic accident. Drivers have the responsibility to operate in a manner that is safe for other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured in a delivery van or commercial vehicle accident, there are a number of steps that you would be well advised to take in order to protect your legal rights and best interests.
File a police report. Law enforcement officials will typically arrive at the scene of a crash to conduct an investigation. Once their investigation is complete, they will file an incident report. You should provide your account for this report and pick up a copy from the police department when it is filed. Your personal injury lawyer can also help you obtain a copy of this report.
Get medical attention. It is important that you secure prompt medical attention, treatment and care following your accident. Even if you “feel fine” after the collision, go to the emergency room or see your primary care physician to make sure that you haven’t been injured. Starting your treatment early and following the doctor’s orders will give you the best shot at a quick and full recovery as well as generate paperwork documenting your injuries and the treatment you received for them.
Gather evidence. It is crucial that you gather as much evidence from the scene as possible. This includes getting the vehicle’s license plate number, the name of the driver, his or her license number, auto insurance details, contact information for the delivery company, etc. It would also help significantly to get contact information for anyone who might have witnessed the incident. Their statements will help corroborate yours and substantially bolster your case.
Don’t make statements. Do not make any statements regarding specific details. Be sure not to admit fault. You need to have all the facts and information to make such determinations. Do not talk to the delivery company’s insurer or defense lawyers. Talk to your own lawyer first. Do not sign any waivers or agreements. Stay away from social media and other online spaces. Any statements you make or images or videos you post online can be used against you during the claims process.
Contact an experienced lawyer. It is imperative to immediately get an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side who has successfully represented injured clients in these types of cases against delivery companies in New York.
Who Can Be Held Liable
There are a number of different parties that can be held liable for injuries sustained in a delivery truck or van accident. An experienced accident lawyer will be able to identify all of the responsible parties in your case, thereby increasing the compensation that is recoverable in these cases. Some of the potential responsible parties include:
- The truck driver: The driver who operates the delivery truck or van may be held accountable for the accident and injuries sustained. This is particularly true if the accident was caused by the driver’s negligence, recklessness or wrongdoing.
- The driver’s employer: In most cases, the truck driver’s employer can also be held liable for damages. For example, if the driver’s inexperience or lack of training caused the accident, the employer may be held accountable for that. In some cases, poor or inadequate vehicle maintenance may cause such accidents. In those cases, the employers may be held liable as well because they have an obligation to maintain their fleets in good condition.
- Maintenance companies: Delivery companies often contract maintenance companies and mechanics to service their vehicles or replace worn-out parts. If these companies fail to do their job, then they may be held liable as well.
- Manufacturers: In cases where a defective vehicle part causes the accident, the manufacturer of the vehicle and/or the maker of the defective auto part can also be held accountable.
Damages in Commercial Vehicle Cases
The value or worth of your case depends on the nature and severity of the injuries sustained in the crash and the degree of negligence on the part of the driver and/or the delivery company. There are a number of damages you may be able to seek including, but not limited to:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Hospitalization and rehabilitation costs
- Lost future income/loss of earning capacity
- Permanent injuries and disabilities
- Past and future pain and suffering, etc.
If you have lost a loved one in a delivery vehicle accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as lost future income, medical expenses, funeral costs and pain and suffering.
These types of accidents tend to leave individuals with disabling injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, multiple fractures, amputations, internal organ damage, etc. Victims may be unable to return to the quality of life they had. Many struggle to get back on their feet financially because they are unable to return to their jobs or continue to earn a living.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
For over 49 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims get fair compensation for their losses. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van, and $2,500,000 for a man who fell through an improperly secured hole.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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