Truck Accident Attorneys in New Jersey
We need multi-ton rigs to keep modern society moving in America delivering goods to our stores and homes. When those in the trucking industry or even third parties are negligent, severe accidents can happen, leaving victims with terrible injuries and lifelong pain and suffering.
If this happens to you or someone you love, talk to an experienced New Jersey truck accident lawyer at Reinartz Law Firm as soon as possible.
Whether your truck crash happens on I-80 or a smaller road in Bergen, Hudson, Essex, or Morris Counties, our truck accident attorneys at Reinartz Law are ready to help you. We have recovered millions in compensation for our injured clients, so learn how we might help in your case.
Table of Contents
- Determining Liability in a Truck Accident
- Types of Truck Accidents
- Truck Accident Victims Need the Attention of Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys
Determining Liability in a Truck Accident
Several factors will determine who must pay compensation for damages in commercial truck accidents.
Your New Jersey truck accident attorney will consider the following questions at a minimum to help determine who should pay your damages:
- Do all the motorists involved have insurance?
- Is the commercial truck independently owned or company owned?
- Were you a driver, passenger, or pedestrian when the truck hit you?
- What are the specific insurance coverages for all drivers and vehicle owners?
- What are your medical care costs?
- Have you sustained a permanent injury?
- Did the accident occur while you were performing job-related duties?
We will carefully review these questions and many others to properly prepare your claim for recovery. In addition, several parties can be liable for your truck accident. In some cases, you can hold multiple parties liable. Determining liability for a New Jersey accident involving a commercial truck is typically very complex. An injured person must prove that another party was negligent to receive compensation for damages. That party can be any or a combination of the following.
While most truckers are safe, reliable drivers, unfortunately, some drive recklessly, such as when they are tired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Still, they have the same responsibilities as other motorists. If their negligent actions result in an accident, they can and should be held liable for any subsequent injuries. If the driver breaks the law, this can automatically establish negligence under the legal theory of negligence per se.
The trucking industry is competitive, and sometimes trucking companies place unrealistic expectations on their drivers, strapping them with overloaded schedules and pick-up and delivery deadlines that are all but impossible to meet. If trucking carriers make impossible and dangerous demands of their drivers, they can be held liable for the damages resulting from a commercial truck accident.
Trucking companies are accountable for the drivers they hire, and therefore, you can hold them responsible for accidents involving their drivers who are:
- Poorly trained
- Negligently hired for example, if the trucking carrier hires a driver with a history of DUIs.
- Suffering from fatigue
- Violating safety standards such as not adhering to the federal rules regarding rest times and driving hours or maintaining their vehicle properly
Federal rules dictate that a trucking carrier leasing a vehicle and driver (an owner/operator lease) must have exclusive possession, control, and use of the leased truck. Thankfully for truck accident victims, civil courts rely on this requirement to hold these companies liable for collisions caused by the negligence of a leased driver.
One of the primary causes of significant commercial truck accidents is improperly loading or overloading cargo trucks. When crews improperly or unevenly load a truck, it may exceed legal weight limits and can result in mechanical issues causing the driver to lose control of the truck. Unsecured cargo can fly off the back of the truck, hitting other vehicles nearby or landing on the road and creating a hazard. Unsecured or poorly secured cargo might also shift around, distributing the weight unevenly and causing the truck’s trailer to flip over.
A large trucking company may outsource its operations to many vendors.
Outsourced work might include administrative work, like:
- Recruiting drivers
- Performing background checks
- Conducting alcohol and drug tests
- Truck maintenance, repair, or dispatching work
- Any other part of fleet operations
In addition, some trucking companies work alongside brokers to locate cargo shipments for their trucks. Any third-party vendor can be liable if their negligence contributes to an injury accident. For example, suppose a third-party vendor is responsible for conducting drug testing before the company hires someone, they fail to perform a drug test, and the driver that didn’t get the test before being hired causes an accident. In that case, the third-party vendor can be liable for the damages arising from the accident.
Defective trucks or parts have the potential to cause serious truck accidents. Even still, under the FMCSA’s Motor Vehicle Code, commercial vehicles must protect the public from the unreasonable risk of an accident. A defective truck is unreasonably dangerous because of a design, manufacture, or marketing flaw or deficiency.
Common types of truck parts that are often defective include:
- Steering mechanisms
- Brake systems
- Fuel tanks
If a vehicle's poor design or faulty part led to an accident, the injured parties can pursue compensation from the manufacturer of the part of the truck.
Government Agencies and Contractors
Sometimes, roadway hazards, such as a soft shoulder or broken pavement, play a role in a truck accident. Often, these are serious rollover accidents. In this case, the local city, county, or state government responsible for that stretch of highway may be held accountable for the accident it causes.
For example, you might hold a negligent maintenance contractor hired by the government liable if their work created a problem or if a work zone contributed to a crash. Note that claims against government entities can have different sets of legal requirements. Therefore, work closely with an attorney on these claims.
You need a New Jersey personal injury lawyer on your side, as investigations into the liability for semi-truck accidents can quickly grow complicated and overwhelming.
You also want to ensure you maximize your compensation by holding each party responsible for the negligence. If you only pursue a case against one but three parties are at fault, you might miss out on the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys will perform a detailed investigation, leaving no stone unturned when getting the financial recovery you deserve.
Types of Truck Accidents
Although large commercial trucks account for less than 5 percent of all registered vehicles nationwide, over 13 percent of all deadly crashes on U.S. roads involve at least one large commercial truck or bus.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 273,602,100 registered vehicles in the U.S., including 13,233,910 large commercial trucks. Of all those who lost their lives in large truck crashes, over 70 percent were the occupants of other vehicles and not in the commercial truck.
Semi-trucks are much larger and weigh much more than any other vehicles on the road; most have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 14,000 to 33,000 pounds. Even unladen semi-trucks require more stopping time than a standard passenger vehicle due to their immense weight.
At highway speeds of 65 miles per hour, the average vehicle can come to a complete stop in about 300 feet. In comparison, a fully loaded semi-truck can travel as far as 600 feet before reaching a full stop and weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. This distance can increase rain, ice, or snow.
With their enormous size, semi-trucks can cause a variety of accidents. They all have the potential to cause serious, catastrophic, or even fatal injuries, although some are worse than others. No matter what type of truck accident caused your injuries, you deserve financial compensation for your damages. The best way to seek that compensation is to speak to a New Jersey truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
Rollover accidents are one of the worst kinds of accidents to be involved in, and a truck rollover crash is one of the most terrifying and catastrophic imaginable. Large semi-trucks have a much higher center of gravity compared to passenger cars.
Truck drivers must use extreme caution when going around tight turns or swerving suddenly. If they turn too sharply or drive too fast for conditions, their trailer can flip over, causing the entire truck to roll over onto one side, subsequently endangering everyone on the road.
Rollover accidents can also happen due to:
- Overloaded or improperly loaded trailers
- Tire blowouts, which can result from improper maintenance of tires or because of design or manufacturing defects
In rear-end truck accidents, the massive size and weight difference between a large commercial truck and a standard vehicle can easily crush the small vehicle upon impact.
Tractor-trailer trucks are heavy, cumbersome, and slow to maneuver. Truck drivers require much more time and distance to decrease their travel speed, avoid road hazards, or come to a complete and safe stop behind other vehicles. Distraction, speeding, tailgating, and many other negligent actions may lead to traumatic rear-end accidents with other vehicles.
Drivers who are reckless, negligent, or otherwise lose control of their trucks risk drifting out of their lane and into oncoming traffic. Head-on crashes sometimes happen at red lights, stop signs, or other intersections if drivers fail to yield the legal right-of-way.
Causes of head-on collisions include:
- Driver drowsiness or fatigue
- Driver intoxication
- Tire blowouts
Jackknife accidents happen when semi-trucks with articulated joints between the tractor and its attached trailer execute improper turns or braking maneuvers. The resulting force makes the trailer swing wide around its pivot point, creating a shape like a folding jackknife.
This type of wreck is incredibly hazardous because of the sheer unpredictability of the trailer. It can strike nearby vehicles and push them along as the truck bulldozes its way through the traffic. Even if a jackknifed trailer avoids colliding with other vehicles before stopping, other traffic may still crash into it, causing multi-car pile-ups.
T-bone accidents, also sometimes called side-impact or broadside crashes, occur most often at intersections. These happen when large trucks going through intersections at perpendicular angles sometimes run red lights, blow through stop signs, or otherwise fail to follow the legal right-of-way and end up colliding with the sides of other cars. The resulting accident creates a “T” shape.
If two vehicles collide while traveling next to each other in the same direction when they crash, it’s generally called a sideswipe accident. Sideswipe accidents between trucks and passenger cars frequently happen when truck drivers don’t thoroughly check to ensure no one is in their blind spots before changing lanes or merging into traffic. Other times, truck drivers might lose control of their vehicles due to tire blowouts, road obstacles, intense wind, or other poor weather conditions.
In addition, a truck can push a sideswiped car into parallel traffic lanes, causing multi-vehicle pile-ups and subsequent damage.
Wide Turn Accidents
Truckers must navigate right turns with caution, as they are typically tighter than left-hand turns. Sometimes, truck drivers navigate right turns by swinging their cabs wide to the left, then circling through the turn to avoid the squeeze that occurs when their trailers don’t have enough space to make proper right turns. However, this is risky for cars in neighboring lanes, which might crash into the trailer or become caught underneath the truck as it swings left.
Truck Accident Victims Need the Attention of Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys
No matter who caused your truck accident, having an experienced New Jersey truck accident attorney review the details of your case can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
The Reinartz Law Firm - Hackensack Office
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