Legal Options After Trucking Accidents in New Jersey
Every year a large number of commercial trucks and tractor-trailers are involved in truck accidents that lead to fatalities and severe damage to passenger vehicles. Because semi-trucks are such large and powerful machines, they pose an increased danger to motorists when accidents occur. If you or a loved one is involved in a trucking accident, it can help to know how to increase your chances of obtaining compensation.
We’ve worked with countless clients to help them receive monetary benefits to help with medicals bills and other costs associated with trucking accidents and injuries. You can contact us today to request a free consultation and speak with an experienced truck accident attorney today.
Types of Trucking Accidents
There are numerous accidents involving overloaded trucks that occur and result in severe injuries and fatalities. If you are involved in an overload accident, obtain the assistance of skilled legal representation.
Accidents Due to Overloading
It is essential to understand the various ways in which vehicle crashes occur due to overloaded trucks. There is never a reason for a driver or trucking company to overload a truck. There are several common causes of overload accidents, which include the following:
- The braking distance increases for overloaded vehicles. As a result, the ability to stop quickly decreases when a vehicle is overloaded.
- Improperly secured cargo can shift position in a truck, leading to a rollover.
- Jackknifing can occur when vehicles are overloaded. When a vehicle jackknifes, other people in the immediate area are at risk of being seriously injured or killed.
- Tires can be blown out because a vehicle is carrying too much weight.
- Too much weight can put a tremendous strain on the vehicle’s mechanical systems, resulting in many different types of structural failures.
- Vehicles with too much weight can experience difficulty in maneuvering corners, which can easily result in rollovers.
Hazardous cargo can both impact the environments as well as the lives of people in proximity to the accident. Some of the most common damages caused by hazardous spills include:
- Direct Exposure: Coming into direct contact with chemicals can result in significant injuries as well as fatalities.
- Environmental Damage: Hazardous spills can significantly harm the surrounding environment by dumping toxic materials into nearby bodies of water, which can seriously harm a large number of individuals.
- Inhalation of Contaminants. Some hazardous materials are easily spread through the air which can harm anyone who inhales the substance.
- Property Damage. In some cases, hazardous spills can cause substantial property damage which can lead to individuals losing their homes.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Fatigue refers to the mental or physical exhaustion that can substantially impair an individual’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. Some of the reasons why a person can experience fatigue include health-related issues, an inadequate amount of sleep, increased work hours, and an insufficient diet. Drivers who are fatigued frequently experience delayed reaction times and an impaired ability to make decisions.
Some of the regulations that commercial truck driver must obey include the following:
- 11-Hour Limit: A driver is not permitted to spend any more than 11 hours of a 14-hour shift driving. Once a driver has driven for 11 hours, the driver must stop driving and take 10 consecutive hours off of operating their vehicle.
- 14-Hour Driver Duty Limit: Any driver who begins a shift is viewed as being on duty. Drivers, however, are only permitted to drive a vehicle for 14 consecutive hours. After a driver has operated their vehicle for 14 hours, the driver must cease driving until he is off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
- 60/70 Hour Limit: If a truck driver’s company does not operate vehicles every day of the week, a driver is permitted to be on duty for no more than 60 hours in a seven-day period. After the driver has worked these 60 hours, the driver is not permitted to operate a vehicle again until the driver’s hours are lower than 60 hours within a consecutive period of seven days. In contrast to this 60-hour limit is the 70-hour limit, which states that if a commercial truck driver’s company operates its vehicle seven days week, then the driver is barred from working more than 70 hours within an eight-day period. The driver is then permitted to not drive again until his hours are less than 70 in total for any consecutive period of eight days.
What To Do After a Truck Accident
Avoid Discussing Fault
Acknowledging responsibility for these events can threaten a person’s ability to obtain compensation. Instead, rely on professionals who have a detailed understanding of trucking accidents to make a determination about how the event occurred.
Document How the Accident Occurred
You should gather as much information as possible about how the accident occurred. Some of that information includes details about the truck driver, which companies he or she works for, information about involved parties or witnesses, and details from any law enforcement officers who might have been present at the accident scene.
Ensure the Safety of All Involved
If you are not significantly injured in an accident and can do so, make sure that all involved parties are physically safe. In some cases, failure to make sure that a person is not significantly harmed can be considered a violation of the law, which assumes responsibility for people involved in an accident to make sure that other accident victims are safe.
Don’t Speak to Insurance Companies Without a Lawyer
Insurance companies are skilled at avoiding paying individuals who are harmed in accidents. These companies frequently do whatever is possible to pay accident victims as little as possible. Accident victims should always refrain from accepting offers made by insurance companies without first consulting about matters with skilled legal representation.
Obtain Prompt Medical Attention
If you or a loved one is harmed in an accident, seek prompt medical attention. An accident victim should make sure to receive medical care even if injuries do not appear to be severe or injuries are not readily visible.
Understanding Who is at Fault in a Truck Accident
In New Jersey, who is responsible for a car or truck accident, will have a significant impact on your ability to obtain compensation for the resulting damages. It is crucial to understand how courts of law, as well as insurance companies, decide fault when truck accidents occur.
Why Establishing Fault is Critical
If you are involved in a car accident in New Jersey, you can file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your motor vehicle insurance carrier. PIP provides coverage for numerous damages, including death benefits, lost wages, and medical expenses. If you decide on the highest-tiered type of PIP, you can also use this coverage to pay for other damages, as well. In many cases, however, it becomes necessary to obtain compensation beyond what PIP provides by pursuing a lawsuit.
Determining fault is one of the fundamental elements of pursuing legal action. It is also important to note that whether you will be able to pursue compensation in a lawsuit depends on the type of motor vehicle insurance policy you have obtained. While drivers with a limited insurance policy are often able to pursue legal action, you will likely only be able to pursue matters in a court of law if you have chosen a right to pursue legal action in your policy.
Fault also plays a vital role in deciding who will be held liable for car accident claims. New Jersey follows a modified comparative fault scheme. This means that if a person is more than 50% responsible for an accident, the driver will be unable to receive any damages. If you are less than 50% responsible for an accident, however, you will be able to obtain compensation.
Experienced Trucking Accident Attorneys
Our law firm can make sure that you pursue the best legal strategy to obtain the compensation that you require after a truck accident. One of our attorneys can help analyze your accident case and the potential for compensation. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a truck accident, retain the assistance of a skilled attorney. Contact us today through our free case evaluation tool.