Interstate 195 is an auxiliary route of the Interstate Highway System that stretches for 34 miles across New Jersey. Interstate 295 is mostly a four- lane highway that runs through some of the wooded areas of New Jersey. However, while it runs through some of the woods of New Jersey this road intersects with Interstate 295 in Hamilton New Jersey as well as Interstate 95. Additionally, it serves as the main access road to Six Flags Great Adventure. Interstate 195 also runs along the New Jersey towns and cities of Hamilton, Robbinsville, Upper Freehold, Jackson, Howell, and Wall. It is easy to see why this route would be popular with truck drivers.
Why Do Serious Accidents Occur on I-95?
The reasons why accidents involving commercial trucks on any freeway are numerous, but on I-95 in New Jersey these accidents can probably be attributed to the significant variation in types of vehicle traffic. The road is used heavily by both interstate truck traffic and by local commuters. With a posted speed limit of sixty-five miles an hour an accident involving a fully loaded 80,000-pound tractor-trailer can be devastating. Furthermore, the congestion and traffic conditions present on the roadway can also contribute to the significantly higher than an average number of accidents on the road.
There are many other reasons why commercial truck accidents become unavoidable. These reasons can include:
- Changing traffic conditions – Even when the weather is perfect there are many reasons that the flow of traffic can drastically change. There may be an accident, construction, and an overflow of traffic during rush hours. Stop-and-go traffic is difficult and frustrating to drive in and the changing conditions require absolute attention. Drivers who fail to maintain a high level of concentration are likely to cause a commercial vehicle accident.
- Poor weather conditions – Weather can be a huge contributing factor to traffic accidents. In the summer heavy rainfall can make the roads slick with natural oils, and in the winter ice and snow can make even the best cared for roads impassable. Bad weather conditions can cause accidents because drivers need to pay more attention to the road as well as leave more distance to break.
- Truck driver fatigue – While the federal government has enacted laws that limit the amount of time that a truck driver can spend driving consecutively. These limits have been imposed on truck drivers because of years of study and observation that have shown that truck drivers who work long hours are more likely to be involved in an accident. These limits are set because fatigued driving can reduce reaction times and lead to poor decision-making.
- DUI/DWI– Every state has set limits on the amount of alcohol that a driver can have in their system when they are operating a motor vehicle. However, these restrictions are even more stringent for truck drivers. However, despite the risk of causing accidents and losing their CDL licenses, truck drivers who chose to drink and drive can cause severe accidents.
- Inexperienced drivers — As noted above truck drivers have a different license called a CDL, which allows them to transport materials and also to drive larger vehicles. In order to obtain a CDL license a person has to be trained how to drive the vehicle, however, while drivers are required to undergo a certain amount of training an inexperienced driver is more likely to cause an accident than an experienced driver.
In many accidents, particularly those involving a tractor-trailer, there is more than one factor that causes the accident. While the above list offers some insight into the reasons that cause an accident there are many others.
Proving Your Case for a Truck Accident
You may have heard that in order to recover any compensation for injuries you have incurred as a result of an accident you will have to prove that the other driver was at fault or they were negligent. However, if you are not certain what you have to prove in order to recover for damages do not be alarmed. Most personal injury cases, including those involving truck accidents all, come from a main legal theory of liability known as negligence. Under this theory of liability you will have to demonstrate that there was a duty, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages if you want to be able to recover for your injuries you will need to show that:
- Duty -The defendant, who in this case will usually be the driver or the truck driver or trucking company, owed the plaintiff, who will either be you or someone in your family a duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care to avoid injury, under the circumstances. You should be aware that all drivers on the road owe a legal duty of reasonable care to fellow drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
- Breach– Next, you will need to show that the truck driver failed to exercise such reasonable care. You will often hear people and attorneys describe this in the legal terms as “breached” the duty of reasonable care.
- Causation – If you have proved the first two elements of a personal injury case you will then need to show that the truck driver’s failure to exercise reasonable care was the cause of injury that you suffered.
- Damages – Finally, you will need to show that you suffered actual injuries. What constitutes injuries can include many things, and will be discussed in the next section.
However, a car accident is rarely ever caused by one single factor. Many times in an accident, particularly one involving a tractor-trailer, there is more than one factor that leads to the accident. Fortunately, New Jersey has developed a system to determine who was at fault and how to allocate money based on who was at fault.
Modified Comparative Negligence in New Jersey
New Jersey, like most states follows the theory of modified comparative fault. In its simplest form modified comparative fault stops a person from recovering any compensation if it can be shown that their carelessness or negligence was greater than 50% or 51%.
Under New Jersey’s Comparative Negligence Act, when there has been an auto accident a person is seeking money or another form of compensation, the jury in may evaluate the relative degree of fault of the parties involved in the case. The jury will allocate a certain degree of fault to each party, which has the effect of reducing the amount that they can recover.
New Jersey’s statutory scheme is commonly referred to as a “modified” comparative fault scheme. This means that, under New Jersey law, an injured plaintiff may not recover if the plaintiff’s own negligence is greater than that of the person our persons against whom recovery is sought. Thus, New Jersey imposes a “50%” qualifier on a plaintiff’s recovery: if the jury determines that the plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for the incident causing the alleged injury, then the plaintiff is precluded from obtaining an award of damages.
Our Truck Accident Attorneys Have the Experience to Handle Your Case
If you’ve suffered severe injuries or the death of a loved one in an accident with a large truck, bus, or other commercial vehicle the lawyers of Reiff & Bily’s The Truck Accident Team may be able to fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation call 800-896-6173 or contact us online today.