Large commercial vehicles and trucks are a constant fixture on New Jersey roadways and serve an important and instrumental part of our economy. Commercial vehicles and tractor-trailers deliver many of the goods and products that we know and enjoy. However, while these vehicles serve an important function in society, they also pose a significant danger to other drivers on the road.
When a 3,000-pound passenger car collides with an 80,000-pound 18-wheeler truck, tragedy often occurs. People in cars can be killed in truck accidents, while the truck driver may suffer only minor injuries. On average, over 3,000 people lose their lives in trucking accidents every year in the United States, and an additional 70,000 are injured.
At the Reiff Law Firm, we have successfully taken on and defeated many powerful opponents in negotiations and litigation over the past several decades. Our New Jersey truck accident lawyers are impeccably prepared to enlist the right expert resources, thoroughly investigate what caused your accident with a delivery truck or other commercial vehicle, and take aggressive action targeting the full financial compensation you need. Contact us now at (215) 709-6940 for a free, no-risk review of your case.
Common Types of Truck Accidents in New Jersey
Most New Jersey truck accidents can be divided into one of three separate categories: the first category involves when a truck driver or another commercial driver is negligent. The second category that leads to truck accidents results from poor vehicle maintenance. Finally, because of their large size and inability to move in and out of traffic like a non-commercial vehicle truck drivers are often unable to maneuver out of the way of accidents.
Some of the most common types of NJ trucking crashes that we have handled include:
- Rollover Accidents – Tractor-trailers, in particular, are susceptible to rolling over for a variety of reasons, such as high winds or aggressive changes in directions. When a tractor rolls over it can often cause serious injuries to other drivers on the road whose cars are either crushed by the tractor trailer or because they then hit the trailer. Rollover accidents are severe accidents that involve the truck literally rolling over.
- Rear-End Collisions – Rear end collisions are some of the most common injuries for all vehicles, however when you consider that a fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds then anytime there is a rear end collision there is a greater likelihood that an accident is going to be severe.
- Truck Driver DUI – You are probably well aware that it is illegal to drink while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In addition to the laws set for regular passenger vehicles, the law imposes strict alcohol and drug regulations for truck drivers. Unfortunately, truck drivers are people and sometimes drink and drive. While any accident that occurs because a person was driving under the influence is devastating, the effects of driving an 80,000-pound vehicle and drinking can result in even more severe consequences.
If You Have Been Injured in an Accident with a Truck in New Jersey
Anytime there is an accident and an injury that results from that accident you are most likely going to incur some expenses that you were not planning for. In the event that you have been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer then you may be entitled to receive the following types of compensation to cover your losses
- Lost wages and future earnings;
- Medical and funeral expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- Grief and sorrow;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of companionship; and
- Loss of quality of life.
Accidents can greatly change your life and your ability to work, that is why the law will generally provide a person who has been injured with enough compensation so that they are fully compensated for their injuries. However, in order for you to receive compensation, you will need to be able to prove that you incurred these expenses.
Liability of Trucking Companies and Commercial Vehicle Operators in NJ
There are a number of negligent acts that trucking companies employ to cut corners in an effort to turn a higher profit. A high percentage of serious trucking and other commercial vehicle accidents are caused by driver fatigue, drunk driving, operating a vehicle while under the influence of controlled substances, texting or chatting on a cell phone while driving, sleep apnea, improper vehicle maintenance, defective product design, avoidance of safety regulations and other forms of negligence. In addition to going the distance to demonstrate the full impact and costs of your injuries or losses, our lawyers are dedicated to exposing and leveraging factors such as:
- Falsified inspection certificates and other indicators of failure to keep vehicles in road-worthy condition — including operation with worn tires, faulty brakes, or other dangerous parts.
- Truck driver fatigue, intoxication or physical problems such as sleep apnea that could have been detected through proper background checks
Trucking companies and other corporations operating fleets of commercial vehicles all too often put profit above public safety. Shortcuts and corruption put innocent people at risk every day, and our legal team is devoted to taking the strongest available action for accident victims who often must deal with life-changing head and brain, spinal cord, neck, back and limb injuries.
Trucking companies carry large insurance policies and their adjusters are promoted based on how little they pay to victims of trucking accidents. Our experienced attorneys will protect you and deal with all the details and complexities involved in your wrongful death case. The trucking company has a vested interest in denying your claim or settling for as little as possible. We will fight so that you are fairly compensated for all of your losses.
Investigating Your New Jersey Truck Accident
You should not hesitate in contacting our experienced New Jersey personal injury attorneys if you were injured in an accident involving a large commercial truck. Unlike other automotive cases, trucking companies and their insurance providers will quickly assign attorneys to the case and dispatch investigators and adjustors to the crash scene. They will take an aggressive position to defend against liability. You need an aggressive legal advocate fighting for your rights.
The sooner our office can examine the accident site, talk to witnesses, and gather evidence, the better our ability will be to determine what occurred and who should be held accountable. Our lawyers and staff could also begin investing the truck driver’s history and the trucking company’s business practices. Evidence is critical in proving that the driver or company was negligent.
Proving Negligence in a New Jersey Truck Accident Lawsuit
Truck accident cases are similar to other personal injury cases – to prevail, a plaintiff must establish that the truck driver, trucking company, or another entity was negligent. Our New Jersey truck accident attorney needs to establish four elements to prove negligence.
Duty of Care
Negligence requires showing that a defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This means, because of the relationship with the plaintiff, the defendant owed them a responsibility. The actual duty depends on the relationship. For example, a doctor owes their patient a duty and a truck driver owes everyone else on the road a duty. While this element is often easier to establish, that is not always the case.
A truck driver owes other motorists on the road a duty to drive safely. But does a trucker unloading their cargo owe a duty to passing pedestrians? The answer depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident. If it is foreseeable that a pedestrian could be walking by, then a duty probably exists. If the individual is trespassing in a loading dock, then there probably is no duty.
Breach of Duty
Once a duty of care has been proved to exist, the next step is to show the defendant breached their duty. This typically means that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care in the performance of their duty. For example, if a truck driver is speeding around a sharp curve and losses control of their vehicle, driving at an excessive speed is a violation of the duty owed to other motorists.
A violation of duty could occur in several types of ways. The breach could be reckless or careless conduct, an intentional act, or a failure to do something they should have. For instance, a trucking company could have violated a duty of care if it failed to conduct regular inspections of the vehicles in its fleet.
The next element our New Jersey truck accident injury lawyers will have to prove is a connection between the breach of duty and your injuries. The conduct or failure to act must have caused the injury. In certain cases, this is straightforward. For instance, if a truck driver is drunk and collides with a smaller car stopped at a red light and the occupant suffers severe head and back injuries, the conduct is the direct cause of the injuries. Sometimes, the connection is not as obvious. A motorist could be driven off the road and into a tree when trying to avoid a truck that improperly changed lanes. Even though there was no direct contact, a jury could still find that the truck driver’s actions caused the accident.
To have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, you must have suffered quantifiable injuries or damages. Unfortunately, when a large commercial truck is involved in an accident, victims in small vehicles are likely to sustain severe or fatal injuries. If you need medical attention, treatment, or surgery, you have suffered actual damages. Furthermore, if you missed any time at work, you are entitled to recover your lost wages. Truck accidents are often horrific and can leave victims emotionally and mentally scarred. Accident victims could also recover for their pain and suffering.
Truck Accident Damages and New Jersey’s Modified Comparative Negligence
Proving that a truck driver, trucking company, or other party was negligent is only part of what a plaintiff must do in a personal injury lawsuit. A plaintiff might have to defend their conduct as well. Because New Jersey follows the comparative negligence doctrine, your potential compensation could be reduced or denied if your actions contributed to an accident. A just will be tasked with assigned an amount for damages and a percentage of the blame. A plaintiff’s compensation will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. For instance, if a driver was speeding when hit by a truck driver that had fallen asleep, a jury could determine that the speeding driver was 10% at fault. If the plaintiff was awarded $100,000 in damages, it would be lowered to $90,000 because of the contribution to the accident. However, if a plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault, they will not be able to recover any damages from the defendant.
For Skilled Legal Help, Contact Our New Jersey Truck Accident Attorneys
If you or a family member has suffered a catastrophic injury in an accident involving a commercial vehicle such as an 18-wheeler or delivery truck, please call or e-mail our renowned New Jersey truck accident law firm today. We offer genuine compassion and put your physical and personal recovery first, while doing everything possible to obtain compensation that can substantially improve your future. To review your legal rights and options, call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940.