Articles Posted in Big Rig Accident

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Michael A. Hawkins is the plaintiff in this case. The defendants of the case are Edward F. and Margaret Miracco, Ashley N. Lawrence, Noreen T. Ebbighausen, Jan Czaplicki, and Terry Gallagher, Inc. The case is being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Nassau County. Judge Karen V. Murphy is overseeing the case.

Motion

The motion before the court is made by the defendants Edward F. and Margaret Miracco and requests a summary judgment to dismiss the complaints and any cross complaints made against them by the plaintiff Michael A. Hawkins.

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In fall of 1989, an employee of the water department of the Town of Hempstead borrowed a city pick-up truck to drive it home. He had been allowed on several prior occasions to borrow the city truck to get home. He believed that it was OK for him to borrow it on this date to get home. On his way home, he was involved in an auto accident that resulted in serious personal injury. Following the truck accident, the injured party filed a lawsuit against the Water Department and the Town of Hempstead.

The Town of Hempstead countered that they do not feel that they should be held liable since the employee was not at work or engaged in any city business at the time of the accident. Further, he had not requested permission to borrow the truck on this date. The other times that he had been permitted to borrow the truck; he had asked for and received permission to do so. This was not the case on the night of this incident. In fact, the Staten Island employee’s job for the city did not require the use of a vehicle at all. The employee even testified that he had received specific instructions prior to the date of the accident not to take a truck home. He advised in testimony on several different occasions that no one had given him permission to use the truck on that night. He advised that he took it anyway because he needed to get home. The evidence that was presented in reference to the employee being told specifically that he could not take the truck home was not argued by either side. However, there were no prior violations by this employee or any other on file prior to the accident of the “no personal use” policy that had been implemented in the fall of 1989.

The Justices, however, ruled that since the employee had been allowed on prior occasions to use the truck, he would have believed that there was an inference of implied permission. Vehicle and Traffic Law § 388 (1) states that an owner of a motor vehicle is liable for the negligence of one who uses or operates the vehicle with the owner’s express or implied permission.

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On April 1, 1987, a New York City Department of Sanitation employee was injured at work. That day, he was working with another employee of the New York City Department of Sanitation who was assigned to drive the truck. The injured employee was loading bags of garbage into the truck when the tailgate of the truck popped open and struck him in the groin area. As a result of the accident the Nassau employee suffered serious and permanent physical injuries. The injured employee alleges that the cause of the accident that day was that the other employee had failed to ensure that the tailgate pins locking the tailgate were free from obstruction and fully engaged.

A safety report that was issued following the incident states, “. . .it was apparent that 1 1/2 [inches] of debris by the left pin, and 1 1/4 [inches] of debris by the right pin. This debris, it appears, held the tailgate away from the body of the truck making it unable for the pins to rise to the proper level. The pins being unable to rise to the proper position enabled the tailgate to force open under pressure of cycling when the truck became loaded.” It was exposed that the pins were not checked that date at the beginning of the driver’s shift or when the vehicle was dumped prior to the truck accident. Failure to clear the debris out of the tailgate was a violation of department regulation teletype #86-3431.

Department regulation # 86-3431 states that the operator of a garbage truck in the city is not to rely on the electronic indicators in the cab area of the truck to determine if the tailgate is properly secured. He must get out and visually check the pins to make sure that they are not blocked by debris. The Suffolk safety inspector found debris in both of the pins and it was this debris that kept the pins from locking and permitted the tailgate to open. The supervisor that date stated that the driver was at fault and that he would be duly disciplined. The driver was not disciplined.

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On January 24, 1976 at around eight o’clock in the evening, an abandoned vehicle that was parked on the side of the roadway caught fire. The New York Fire Department responded to the scene, but the fire truck driver parked the truck in front of the vehicle that was on fire. Four other fire fighters began to battle the blaze. The fire captain on scene was holding a lantern and waving it to direct traffic. There were no police officers on the scene. The Nassau captain on scene noticed that a car was coming down the road and picking up speed. He attempted to get the driver’s attention so that he would not hit the four fire fighters who were working on the burning car. The vehicle did not slow up and proceeded to hit all of the firefighter killing one and seriously injuring the others. The injured firefighters filed a lawsuit alleging among other things that the driver was negligent, but that the City was also at fault for the accident because of the following: they failed to remove the abandoned car which caught fire based on the municipality’s responsibility to maintain its roadways in reasonable and safe condition for reasonable and foreseeable use.

The City failed to set up fire lines, the City was responsible for the actions of the fire truck driver when he placed the fire truck in front of the vehicle rather than using it to properly protect the safety of him and the other firefighters. The Suffolk Court left it to the jury to decide if the decisions of the Captain and the fire truck driver were questions of professional judgment or not. If it is determined that the decisions were those of professional judgment, then the City cannot be held liable. The jury was also instructed that under General Municipal Law § 205-a that a firefighter has an “independent statutory cause of action to recover damages for injuries or wrongful death caused ‘directly or indirectly as a result of any neglect. . .in failing to comply with the requirements of any of the statutes, ordinances, rules, orders and requirements of the federal, state, county, village, town, or city governments or of any and all their departments, divisions, and bureaus.'” This law applies to this situation because it is clear that the city failed to comply with several vehicular and traffic laws in failing to remove the abandoned vehicle in a timely manner.

The jury found unanimously that the city was negligent in failing to remove “the abandoned vehicle, failing to establish fire lines, and failing to park the fire truck properly, and that each of these acts of negligence was a proximate cause of the accident. It also determined that the (fire truck driver and the captain) as well as (the vehicle driver) were guilty of negligence which was a proximate cause of the truck accident.'” They also decided that the city was liable on the statutory cause of action.

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On June 3, 2004 on Jamaica Avenue near the intersection with Route 112 in the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York, a man was involved in a three car truck accident that resulted in serious personal injury to a driver of a black Hyundai. The incidents surrounding the accident are that a gas station was under construction on the corner. The construction manager of the gas station operated a white van that was illegally parked in front of the no stopping or parking sign on the side of the roadway. A dump truck also working on the gas station was dropping off a dumpster at that location and was blocking part of the roadway. The driver of the dump truck stated that he put out cones and set his lights to emergency flash to let oncoming traffic know that there was a hazard. The first vehicle in the accident completed a left hand turn onto the roadway and was blocked by the dump truck. She stopped in traffic to wait for the dump truck to move. The second vehicle did not see her stop and struck her vehicle, which knocked her into a third vehicle and ultimately it was knocked in to the vehicle of the victim on the opposite side of the roadway. The victim filed a lawsuit against the construction manager for causing the truck accident. The construction manager alleges that he was not responsible for any vehicle other than his white van and that the dump truck was not his or in any way under his control. He states that liability should be attached to the dump truck company and not to him.

The Nassau Court hearing this matter states that there are serious issues of fact that need to be determined. Whenever such issues of fact exist, it is incumbent upon the Court to ensure that a jury hears the arguments. Any motions for summary judgment must be denied as a matter of course in such circumstances because the Court cannot determine which issues of fact are credible and which ones are not credible. Because material facts of this accident are in dispute or different inferences may reasonably be drawn as the facts of this case, the Supreme Court must deny the motion for summary judgment as requested by the construction manager and his company. Only a trial can resolve issues of fact that are presented.

Issues of law are constantly changing. A person who is not specifically trained in the law cannot begin to know what all of their rights are without the assistance of a professional. Here at Steven Bilkis and Associates, we provide Truck Accident Attorneys, Injury Lawyers, Big Rig Jackknife Injury Attorneys, and 18 Wheeler Crash Injury lawyers. Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers will stand by you and ensure that your rights are protected. Wrongful Death Attorneys can argue your side and make sure that you and your loved ones are considered. We make sure that you are rightfully awarded compensation for your suffering.

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On July 2, 1955 at around four o’clock in the afternoon, a truck driver left the Twin Bridges bar and headed west on Route 11 between Mooers, New York, and Champlain, New York. At some point his truck came in contact with a vehicle that was eastbound. The eastbound vehicle was occupied by a male driver, his wife, two daughters, and his daughter in law. The Staten Island male driver of the car was killed in the commercial truck accident. The wife was still in the hospital and unable to testify at the time of trial. The daughters both claimed that they saw the truck shortly before impact cross over the center line of the road to sideswipe their vehicle. The daughter in law, who was seated directly behind the deceased driver stated that she had observed the truck cross the center line previously and then return to the correct side of the road. She stated that as the gap closed between the two vehicles, the driver of the truck crossed the center line again and this time hit their car with his truck.

The driver of the truck was criminally charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs and later Vehicular Homicide. He was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment. The jury was not privy to this information and although there was much discussion about the truck driver’s condition, there was no proof of his condition presented in the court. In fact, although it was pointed out that at the hospital following the accident, the truck driver’s blood was drawn and was given to the State Trooper, the results of that blood alcohol content kit was not discussed in the civil trial. There was not even a mention that it was or was not tested. If the jury had been told of his criminal charges and arrest, the inference could probably have been made.

However, as it stands, the victim’s family’s Westchester attorney only brought forth witnesses who could testify to the truck driver’s condition the night before while he was at the same bar. He had been so drunk that he had tossed his truck keys to another patron. He was described as being loud and boisterous and causing a scene. However it was pointed out that this was his normal demeanor even if he was sober. It was clear that he was asked to leave the bar.

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A 20-year old Nassau teacher applied to the Long Island State Park Commission for a summer job. He worked as a laborer for the Commission at a warehouse in Jones Beach. One July day, the teacher was thrown off from a truckowned by the Commission after the axle of the truck broke. For the remainder of July and during the month of August that year, he did not work. For a six-week period, he was paid by the Workmen’s Compensation Board, which paid for his hospital bill and the bill of his doctor. The teacher returned to his regular employment at a high school on Labor Day.

The teacher filed a suit to recover damages for the personal injuries he sustained as a result of the Truck accident. The teacher also asserted negligence claims against the State of New York and the beach authority.

The teacher testified that during the period of slightly less than three weeks that he worked, he had ridden on the running board, in the back of and inside the power vehicles that were used for transportation. On occasion, he had seen three people riding in the cab. He testified further that, because of the size of his two co-workers, there was no room for him in the cab on the day of the accident, because if he had entered the cab the driver would have been unable to shift gears.

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A personal injury suit was commenced against a tractor-trailer and the employer of the driver after four adults and one infant, while passengers in an automobile, sustained injuries as a result of a truck accident. The Staten Island driver of the automobile in which they were passengers died as a result of his injuries. A collision occurred between the passenger car and a tractor trailer. The tractor trailer was under lease. This case was tried by the court without a jury and the question of contributory negligence is resolved in favor of the plaintiffs. The defendants appealed.

According to records in court, the trailer truck was without load and deadheaded westward bound from Clinton, New Jersey, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It had been raining for some time prior to and at the time of the accident. The road surface was wet and visibility was fair. The accident occurred in the early morning about one o’clock. The sources said there was failure in the tractor trailer’s engines and the passenger automobile struck the tractor which rested in its pathway.

Under the Pennsylvania law, the presence of a vehicle on the wrong side of a highway is prima facie evidence of the driver’s negligence and the skidding or sliding of a vehicle of itself does not constitute negligence of the driver. It is thus incumbent upon the plaintiffs to prove that the skidding or sliding of the vehicle was due to the negligence of the driver. The operator of a motor vehicle is bound at all times to exercise reasonable care in its operation. As sliding or skidding of itself does not constitute negligence, something additional must be shown to justify a finding of negligence.

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The Workmen’s Compensation Board has made an award to the Nassau widow of an employee who suffered a fatal coronary attack, which the Board found was causally related to injuries he sustained in an auto accident during the course of his employment.

According to records in court, the worker was operating his employer’s truck when it was struck by a United States mail truck. The impact caused him to be thrown to the pavement and he was unconscious for several minutes. He was taken to a hospital. The worker continued to do his regular work until his death several days later. According to a Suffolk doctor who was called at the worker’s residence, the worker was acutely ill and was suffering from severe chest pains. After the doctor administered morphine to the worker, he was rushed to the hospital where he died few hours after. The death certificate shows the cause of death to be coronary occlusion and coronary thrombosis.

At the hearing, two doctors presented conflicting testimony regarding the cause of the worker’s death. One doctor, testifying for the employer, said the worker’s heart and other contents of his chest cavity were shaken up by the truck accident but that the condition of the heart, arteries and thrombus was formed more than two weeks before the fatal attack. The doctor who testified for the widow said the force of the blow sustained by the worker when he was thrown from his truck may have produced heart injury.

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On November 4, 2003 at a construction site on Cantiague Rock Road in Hicksville, New York, an employee of a concrete company was injured. He was working as a concrete laborer on the site. His job on that day was to prepare a concrete frame for a lamp pole base in the parking lot area of the job site. While he was standing next to the hole that the lamp pole base was going to be put in, he was struck from behind. The blow knocked him in to the hole and caused him serious bodily injury. He never saw what struck him. Witnesses on the scene, however, stated that they observed the concrete laborer standing on the side of the hole placing the wooden frame. They stated that the concrete truck had begun to back up and apparently did not see the concrete laborer. The chute of the concrete truck was down in preparation for the pouring of the concrete into the hole. The chute struck the concrete laborer in the area of his upper back which pushed him in to the hole.

The Staten Island concrete laborer filed a law suit against the construction company, the property management company, the property owner, the concrete company’s independent contractors and the concrete company. Within the first year of the law suit, most of these companies were able to prove that they were not involved in the truck accident and had no liability connected with the accident. What was left was a lawsuit against the concrete company, the subcontractors of the concrete company, and the construction company.

The issues that are under evaluation in this suit are under Labor Law § § 240 (1), 200 and common law negligence claims. Also under consideration are Labor Law 241 (6) claims. The victim further alleges violations of the following Industrial Code regulations: 12 NYCRR §§ 23-1.23(a-c); 23-1.5(a-b); 23-1.5(c)(1,3); 23-1.7(b)(1)(I), 23-4.2(a, f-g); 23-9.7(d); 23-9.11(a).

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