Due to their large size, semi truck accidents are often the worst kind of automotive accidents. When they occur, the results are often devastating when a car, light truck, or a motorcycle is involved. For this reason, states including New Jersey have special rules regulating their operations on the road and have special licenses for these vehicles. Whenever a semi truck operator or owner violates these regulations, they are putting innocent motorists at risk while breaking the law. When this occurs, it is vital they are held responsible for their actions. At the law firm of Bagolie Friedman, our New Jersey truck accident attorneys have seen the tragedy a semi truck accident can inflict onto a person and their loved ones. That is why we fight to get our clients the compensation they deserve.
In a truck accident there may be a multitude of reasons why the accident occurred which our attorneys will investigate. Some of the most common causes of a truck accident in New Jersey include:
- Lack of Training on the part of the truck driver;
- Overloaded Trucks;
- Oversized Trucks;
- Poorly maintained brakes on the trucks;
- Driving in conditions of poor visibility due to smoke fog, snow or rain;
- Truck driver inexperience;
- Fatigued, sleepy or tired driver driving too long and too many hours without rest;
- Speeding over the limit or driving at speeds or beyond the road and weather conditions;
- Failure to yield the right of way;
- Aggressive driving behavior;
- Truck drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol while driving;
- Driving the truck in bad weather conditions;
- Dangerous or reckless truck driver with a long record of wrecks and accidents;
- Unsafe safety systems, reflectors, lights and other warning devices and
- Failure of truck to have installed an underide protection underguard.
How do I deal with trucking companies or their insurance carriers after an accident?
One thing you have to know is that you are not negotiating on level ground when dealing with a trucking company after an accident. Most trucking companies in New Jersey are highly skilled at auto truck accident investigation and claims practice. These adjusters represent the truck company, not you. Do not give them any type statements or sign any releases for medical records or employment records. Often the medical release allows the adjuster to talk to the doctors without you or anyone being present. Truck companies have accident investigators that are on call and dispatched to the scene of the crash as soon as the trucking company learns there has been an accident. Further while the families of the accident victims are tending to medical and hospital care and funeral arraignments, the trucking company is investigating the accident and setting up their defense.This is why the victims of big truck accidents need to also have a team of investigators on their side, fighting for their rights.
Is my case any different if I am injured, or a family member is killed, by a truck as opposed to any other vehicle driver?
Yes. Although the same laws of negligence in New Jersey will apply, there are special Vehicle Code sections which apply only to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies and there are special licensing and training requirements of truck drivers which generally make truck accidents harder to defend and easier to win for plaintiffs.
Are trucking companies regulated by the Federal Government?
Yes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes rules and regulations which govern commercial motor vehicles and the companies who operate these vehicles. Their stated purpose is to attempt to make the interstate highways more safe.
Does Federal law limit the hours that a trucker can operate his truck?
Yes. Since 1939, Federal law has placed restrictions on the “hours of service” that a trucker may operate his truck. Recent changes have been made to these rules for the first time in over 60 years. These rules are designed to promote safety by helping to ensure that truck drivers are getting the needed rest to operate their big rigs safely.
Are trucks required by Federal law to carry insurance?
Yes. Federal law requires commercial vehicles traveling in interstate commerce to carry $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury and property damage. Most State laws also impose minimum insurance requirements on trucks not covered under Federal law.
Who can sue in a truck accident injury or death case?
Anyone who is injured or has had a loved one killed in a truck accident can sue as long as some other person or entity is at fault for the accident. This includes adults and children (who can sue through guardians or parents); and even truck drivers if another person or entity was at fault for the accident.
Is investigation important in a truck accident case?
Yes. It is critical. If the truck was commercially owned, in most situations large trucking companies will perform their own investigation immediately after the accident. This puts you at a vast disadvantage. It is important that you retain an attorney who immediately investigates the case to attempt to pin down liability on any potential at-fault defendants.
Are expert witnesses necessary to prove fault in a truck accident case?
Usually. Unless there is no question that one party was completely at fault, a plaintiff in any serious injury or death case involving a truck should usually retain an expert. Further, that expert should have special expertise in the design, manufacture and operation of trucks and the rules of the trucking industry.
What damages can I, or the survivors of a loved one, recover in a truck accident injury or death case?
Each state has a different law. A seriously injured plaintiff may be entitled to recover all of his or her past and future medical expenses; past and future loss of income/earning capacity; past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress and in cases in which the defendant’s conduct is particularly bad, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant. If a person dies in a truck accident, the survivors may recover monetary damages for their economic losses and emotional distress damages for loss of society, love and comfort.
How soon must I bring an injury or death case based on a truck accident?
A Big Rig Accidents and/or wrongful death action, each state has a different law. In some state a truck accident case must be brought within two years of the date of the decedent’s death, Contact us now to determine if you are still in time to bring a case.
Do I need a New Jersey truck accident attorney to litigate my case?
Yes. Unless you have a very minor injury, which is rare in truck accident cases, you will need to retain an accident attorney to establish liability against any potential defendants and help maximize your damage recovery.