Ruling Prevents Use of New York Law to Avoid Truck Accident Liability

Posted: September 12, 2014

Commercial truck drivers are responsible for abiding by strict truck driving rules and regulations. One rule, known as the Graves Amendment, covers liability in the event of accidents and was examined recently in the U.S. Federal Court for the Western District of New York.

This law states a vehicle owner cannot be held liable for damages resulting from accidents that occur while vehicles are rented or leased as long as the owner of the vehicle is in the business of renting or leasing vehicles. The owner must also not commit negligence or criminal wrongdoing that leads to accidents.

The case in question arose from a 2009 New York truck accident that left one woman dead. An article from explains the victim was waiting for assistance in a disabled vehicle along Interstate 90 when the driver of a tractor trailer veered off the highway and slammed into her stopped car.

It was discovered that the truck driver was distracted at the time of the crash. The victim filed suit against the driver, the company who employed him, and a sister company that leased the vehicle to the hiring business. The leasing company argued they were not responsible for damages under the Graves Amendment, and the courts originally agreed. However, the federal court ruled the leasing company was in fact liable because it was a business associate of the driver’s hiring company.

The truck accident lawyers with William Mattar Law Offices are interested in seeing how this ruling changes the trucking industry and affects truck accident victims’ rights to seek compensation for their injuries.

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