Recently in Truck Accidents Category

July 14, 2014

Walmart Sued over Deadly Trucking Accident

In what is probably the least surprising story of the year, the NY Times has reported that Tracy Morgan has filed suit against Walmart for the deadly truck accident he was involved in near Atlantic City. Anyone not living under a rock for the past few months knows that the actor and comedian was very seriously injured in the accident caused by a Walmart tractor trailer, which also killed comedian Jimmy Mack.

Commercial trucking accidents, like this one, are often very serious because of the sheer size and mass of the trucks and the load they are carrying. Tractor trailers crashing into a common car are absolutely no match and result in serious accidents such as those sustained by Tracy Morgan.

The NHTSA and other organizations sets standards by which commercial truck drivers should operate. In addition to having a specialty license, the CDL, commercial truckers must operate within a particular set of safety standards. For instance, speed must be controlled and drivers should not drive for more than 8 hours at a time. Drivers need to take frequent breaks and get enough sleep on the road else they are prone to lapses in concentration that lead to tragic accidents. In this case, it has been reported that the driver had not slept in over 24 hours and was driving for 13 hours straight. These are pretty serious violations of safety standards. Truck drivers are responsible for meeting deadlines and in some cases get paid by the mile so it is financially lucrative for them to drive even when tired to make sure the delivery is on time and they are maximizing profits. This, however, runs contrary to known safety standards.

Walmart as the employer of this driver and presumably as owner of the truck can be named as a defendant in this matter because an employer is vicariously liable for the negligence of its employees. This means that if an employee, in the course of his work, injures a person the employer can be sued as well. Walmart could also potentially be sued as the owner of the tractor trailer, if that is the case here.

If you or a friend or family member has been injured in an accident caused by a tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle, contact our office right away for a free consultation. These cases can be complex with multiple possible defendants and serious injuries.

December 3, 2012

7 Car Pile-Up Caused by a Commercial Dump Truck...And Other News

The Providence Journal is reporting on a real mess of an auto accident that occurred on the Sakonnet River Bridge this morning. It is reported that traffic was slow and tight across the bridge because police had previously responded to a minor auto accident. The driver of the dump truck approached the scene in the passing lane and when traffic narrowed, he sideswiped a van and continued forward striking several additional vehicles including the two police cruisers responding to the earlier car crash. The driver of the commercial truck which caused the accident claimed to police that his brakes failed. As a result, the Sakonnet River Bridge was shut down for nearly three hours! The Journal has not reported or indicated if there were any injuries.

As it concerns the commercial truck driver, he has done quite a bit wrong and his company may have one heck of a tab on their hands. For one, an oversized vehicle carrying rocks should not be in the passing lane to begin with. Second, if we accept as truth that the driver's brakes failed, then the company will be liable for poorly maintaining their trucks. The more likely scenario is that the driver was not paying attention to the stopped traffic and caused the mess. As most people are wont to do following an accident, he tried to shift attention away from himself by blaming faulty brakes.

Between my time working for the insurance companies and now representing plaintiff's on my own, I can not tell you how many times I have heard "My brakes failed". It is such a well tread excuse following an auto accident, that the police do not even consider that it may be true.

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This follows what was already a tragic weekend in Rhode Island when another bridge accident resulted in the wrongful death of one of the drivers and serious injuries to several others. There was a head-on collision Saturday on the Mt. Hope Bridge, in which the deceased driver, Paul Matthews, was allegedly distracted causing his vehicle to go left of center. Mr. Matthews did not survive his injuries and multiple passengers in both vehicles were seriously injured, although no other injuries appear to be life threatening.

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These serious auto accidents present complications both for their complexity and severity. I wish every one a safe ride on the streets especially during this time of year.

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November 14, 2012

Interesting Case from Maine Involving Commercial Truck Accidents and Insurance Coverage

A recent Supreme Court decision from the State of Maine brings to light some interesting considerations for accidents involving commercial work trucks and insurance coverage. The case, State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance v. Estate of Carey, stems from a tragic auto accident that claimed the life of James Carey. Mr. Carey was struck and killed by Roger Linton who was an independent contractor and former employee of Jennings Masonry. Linton was driving a large commercial truck owned and insured by Jennings but was not working at the time of the accident. State Farm insured the truck involved in the loss.

Linton was not currently an employee of Jennings, but was in the past. He also frequently drove Jennings vehicles with permission. On the date of this accident, he was again driving in a Jennings truck but did not return the vehicle when he completed his work. Instead, Linton took the truck to several friends houses and a tavern. It was during this "excursion" that the fatal auto accident occurred involving Mr. Carey. Linton was legally drunk at the time of the accident and arrested.

Quickly, State Farm petitioned the Court for a declaratory judgment stating that they had no obligation to insure or defend Linton. Their position was that he did not have "permission" to use the vehicle at the time of the accident and was not using it for work purposes, and therefore, he was not legally operating the vehicle at the time of the collision. If he did not have the permission of the owner to operate the vehicle at the time of the accident, State Farm, would not be required to cover the loss. (As a side note, if that sounds unfair because it could leave the owner of Jennings Masonry holding the bag - you are correct. If an insurance company can avoid paying they will regardless of the harm it might present to their insured).

Some States with mandatory insurance coverage have taken the position that since the lawmakers intended all vehicles to carry liability insurance, that they would be inclined to find coverage in a situation like the one at hand, so long as permission was given, at any time, to operate the vehicle. This is the so called "initial permission" rule. The Maine Supreme Court did not accept this approach and instead held that the trial court would have to reconsider the case under the minor deviation rule. The minor deviation rule has long been the standard for determining whether an employees actions are covered under the employees policy. Clearly, an employee acting on behalf of his employer at the time of an accident is covered by the company's policy. Under the minor deviation rule, an employee who makes a slight or minor detour, such as stopping for lunch, while using a work vehicle will be covered. A major deviation, however, such as the one taken by Linton are unlikely to be covered because it was so far outside of the scope of his employment and work related use of the vehicle, that a jury would conclude that he did not have his employers permission to use the vehicle in that manner.

Auto accidents involving commercial trucks are very serious because of the size and weight of the vehicles involved. The injuries sustained can be catastrophic, or as in the case of Mr. Carey, fatal. It is imperative that you speak with an experienced truck accident attorney right away to ensure that you receive all of the compensation that you deserve.

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January 5, 2012

Truck Rollover and Personal Injury Claims

Truck accidents, in particular, truck rollover accidents are among the most serious vehicular accidents on the road and often result in serious personal injury or wrongful death. Truck rollover can occur to both commercial vehicles and private use vehicles. In some circumstances they can also result in a product liability case if the tire and/or truck was negligently designed.

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Commercial Truck Rollover Cases

Commerical tractor trailers are all over the road at all times of the day. They can be incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons. For one, tractor trailers are often carrying loads in excess of 50,000 pounds. This tremendous weight makes the vehicle difficult to maneuver or take evasive action if necessary. The stopping time and turning time of a long 18-wheeler carrying a ton of weight is very long. If the truck driver makes too hasty a motion in the vehicle it can cause all or part of the tractor trailer to capsize or rollover causing a potentially very serious accident.

Commercial truck rollovers may also occur because the driver is too tired to safely operate his vehicle, yet stays on the road in an effort to meet a deadline or finish a job on time. Commercial truck drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel causing them to jackknife or run off the road. All too often, other drivers on the road are unable to avoid collision with these incredibly large vehicles.

Truck Rollovers in Personal Use Vehicles

SUVs and other non-commercial trucks have also had a long history of rollovers in accidents. While newer model SUVs and crossovers have a more stable weight balance and are less likely to rollover, the danger of a rollover remains, particularly in older SUVs. SUVs are trucks and can not be driven like a car. They are much heavier, possess different weight distributions, and may be "top heavy" when compared to other automobiles. Quick lane changes, sudden movements or slamming on the brakes may cause an SUV to rollover. When rollover occurs, the injuries to the driver and passengers are likely to be much more serious than in an ordinary motor vehicle accident.

SUV Rollover and Product Liability Claims

If you were injured in an SUV rollover, like any other auto accident, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation through your auto insurance or the at-fault driver's auto insurance. In addition, however, if it appears that the SUV had a negligent design causing an unnecessary rollover of the vehicle, you may also have a product liability claim. Product liability cases regarding SUV design have included: improper seatbelt design, failure of airbag to deploy, insufficient strength and design to the roof causing roof collapse, tire blowouts, poor stability design, poorly designed stability systems and ineffective braking systems among others.

If the SUV rollover was not caused exclusively by driver error, there may be a product liability case in addition to damages recovered from the auto insurance policies.

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June 1, 2011

Attorney Joseph Lamy is Your Local Truck Accident Attorney

Truck accidents are becoming increasingly common as more and more rigs are on the roads delivering goods. With the growing number of tractor trailer and big rig accidents, more attorneys are offering to assist clients in this area. TV commercials and the Yellow Pages are full of so-called national truck accident firms looking to help the people of Rhode Island or Massachusetts. There is no need to hire a national firm that will most likely refer the case to another attorney that you do not know. If you have been injured in a tractor trailer accident, contact our office. We have the experience and strategy to handle truck accident cases.

Because tractor trailers and other commercial trucks are so much heavier than personal vehicles, the severity of the accident and injuries are usually very high. Injuries can often include broken bones, scars, head injuries, burns, and even death. The combination of large insurance policies and severe injuries makes truck accident cases very complex. Commercial truck accident cases require an attentive and aggressive attorney who is prepared to litigate the case to ensure full value for your injuries.

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March 31, 2011

A Review of Safety is Needed Following Several Serious Bus and Truck Accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is hosting a conference in DC this week aimed at reviewing the laws and regulations regarding the safety of commuter buses and commercial trucks. The conference follows a series of very serious accidents involving buses and trucks throughout the country, including a March accident in New York city that killed 15 people. Last summer, a high profile accident injuring several people occurred in Boston involving a "duck tour" bus.

Private bus companies, including national carriers and local tour companies, have been under growing scrutiny after many have been cited for violations ranging from mechanical defects to driver fatigue. Senator Chuck Schumer singled out discount tour companies requesting the NTSB to "examine the overall effectiveness of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's safety regime for the low-cost tour bus industry."

Bus and truck accidents can be particularly dangerous because of the increased size of the vehicles. Also, passengers in commercial buses lack the safety equipment, such as seatbelts and airbags, that comes standard in cars. The high number of people along with their bags, luggage, and other carry-ons also increases the danger of injury in a bus accident.

The safety conference will likely focus on increased regulation of buses and commercial trucks including more significant penalties for violations and more careful screening of employees and vehicle operators.

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July 1, 2010

How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?

It seems the most obvious and important question and one that I am asked in every personal injury case, namely, how much is my personal injury claim worth? Regardless if resulting from an auto accident, motorcycle accident, slip and fall, or medical malpractice, all clients are curious what their case is worth.

The only easy answer to that question is to say: Your case is worth the amount a jury of your peers says that it is worth. Unfortunately, juries are wildly unpredictable and can return with a shockingly high award or an embarrassingly low judgment. Furthermore, waiting for a jury verdict requires several years of waiting and a long and expensive litigation process.

That said, experienced personal injury attorneys such as myself, consider a number of variables in determining a fair settlement value of your case. Attorneys and insurance companies consider recent jury verdicts in the State, recent settlements in the State, along with other variables to determine a fair value for the injury suffered. Therefore, attorneys and insurance adjusters will assign a value to the neck or back injury, fractured arm, or concussion. For instance, if a jury recently awarded $160,000 to a man who broke his leg in a truck accident, this may be a starting point for negotiations if you suffer a similar broken leg in an auto accident.

What are the other variables to consider? Among other things:


  • the strength of the liability case

  • cost of litigation

  • amount available through insurance

  • nature and severity of the injury


Of course, you are also entitled to lost wages and medical bills, future medical bills and permanent disability, if applicable.

If the injury you sustained is soft tissue in nature (neck and back pain) then your settlement will depend largely on the length and severity of your disability and whether there is diagnostic evidence (i.e. an MRI report showing injury) to help substantiate the claim. An experienced personal injury attorney, will know how to negotiate with an insurance company to obtain the highest value possible.

This should be understood as a shorthand version of how the value of your personal injury claim is determined. There are literally hundreds of variables that have to be considered and only a skilled and experienced attorney can use all of these variables to obtain the highest amount possible in settlement. Furthermore, the negotiating skills of an attorney are important as well as the attorney's reputation for success.

The next time you ask your attorney: What is my case worth? do not be surprised if he or she is afraid to answer. It is because each personal injury case is so unique that it is hard to determine, especially early in the case, how much the injury is worth.

As a former insurance adjuster I have settled hundreds of personal injury cases of all levels of severity. I understand the full value of your case and how an insurance company will try to poke holes in your case to lower the final value. As a personal injury attorney, I have succeeded in obtaining excellent settlements for my clients often exceeding the amount they were hoping to receive.

Therefore, part of the answer to the question: How much is my case worth? depends on whether you hire the right attorney.

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May 10, 2010

Auto Accidents with Trucks and Big Rigs

Among the most serious auto accidents that occur involve those between ordinary passenger vehicles and commercial trucks (tractor trailers). The size and weight disparity between vehicles means that even a relatively minor accident can result in serious personal injury. If you have been injured in an accident in Rhode Island or Massachusetts involving a tractor trailer or other commercial truck, it is imperative that you contact a truck accident attorney who understands the unique insurance and liability issues surrounding Truck Accidents.

Commercial truck drivers are well trained and require a special license in order to drive tractor trailers. Nevertheless, pressure to deliver products quickly and on-time often encourages truck drivers to take unnecessary and dangerous risks. For instance, a truck driver may use drugs ("uppers") or other artificial means to stay awake. They may sacrifice sleep in an effort to meet a deadline. This is in direct conflict with Federal law which limits the amount of hours that a commercial truck driver can be on the road per day.

Other common causes of Truck Accidents stem from the way in which the truck was loaded:


  • Driving with an unsecured load

  • Driving with a load that exceeds weight specifications

  • Improperly loaded trucks - an improperly loaded truck may inadequately distribute the weight in the truck bed making it even more difficult for the truck to stop quickly and maneuver

  • Of course, many truck accidents occur for the same reason that ordinary auto accidents occur, namely, driver inattention and error. Despite all the professional training, commercial truck drivers are human and can make mistakes as well. Such errors might include: speeding, improper lane changes, following too closely, etc.

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