Nicoletti, Gonson, Spinner, LLP

Trucking & Automobile Accidents

Trucking

It is a common misconception that truck accidents are simply personal injury cases involving a larger vehicle. Specific laws and regulations govern the safety of commercial motor vehicles and there are a myriad of issues which are unique to cases involving commercial vehicles. The successful defense of commercial vehicle accidents requires a thorough understanding of commercial vehicle regulations on both the federal and state level.

Accidents involving large trucks, fuel haulers, 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles frequently involve fatalities or serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractures, quadriplegia, paraplegia and burns. The experienced attorneys of NGS defend trucking accident cases including those involving allegations of driver fatigue, reckless driving, speed, oversized or overloaded vehicle, or improper maintenance.

The rules regarding the movement of freight are complex, and are governed by federal, state and local regulations. Vehicles engaged in interstate traffic are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (Title 49, Parts 350-399). However, some vehicles, such as local delivery trucks, may only be traveling intrastate, and are governed by Title 49, Parts 382-384 and 390-399 of the Federal Regulations. State and local regulations, ordinances and restrictions also apply to commercial vehicles.

On August 10, 2005, federal legislation was enacted (49 U.S.C. ยง 30106, commonly known as the “Graves Amendment”) which effectively preempted any existing state law that imposed vicariously liability upon the owner/lessor of a motor vehicle, as long as the owner/lessor is engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles. Thus, for any action commenced after the effective date of the statute, automobile/truck leasing companies can often be dismissed from a lawsuit, as long as the sole basis for their inclusion in the suit rests on the negligence of the driver. NGS attorneys are intimately familiar with the practical ramifications of the legislation, as well as with how to combat the increasingly creative efforts of the plaintiff’s Bar to remove such actions from the reach of the statute (i.e., baseless negligent maintenance or negligent entrustment claims).

Auto

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, an auto accident occurs every ten seconds in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 3 and 33. Not surprisingly, statistics show that auto accidents are the most common type of personal injury lawsuit filed in our courts. The attorneys at NGS have particular expertise in defending against auto accident claims involving serious injuries or death, including auto accidents involving speeding or reckless driving, drugs or alcohol, or crashes involving defective products or other factors such as defective tires or brakes, malfunctioning traffic signals, or improper design or maintenance of a roadway. Our attorneys possess the requisite knowledge of all law and regulations underlying the Graves Amendment, motor vehicle law, traffic law and no-fault laws to successfully defend accident involving automobiles.