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With everyone ordering things online, it’s unsurprising that so many commercial trucks are on the road. Unfortunately, this also means that the risk of getting into an accident with a large truck is much higher. The result is often severe injuries that are permanent or take years to heal.
At Glugeth & Pierguidi, P.C., we fight for the recovery of those seriously injured in truck accidents. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial pressure these injuries put on victims and pursue every possible relief on their behalf.
Common Types of Truck Crashes
Since trucks are large and heavy, they are much more challenging to control than other vehicles. In addition, accidents involving commercial trucks—owing to their sheer size—are often more devastating than most crashes.
The most common types of truck accidents on New Jersey roads include:
- Rollovers—Sometimes cargo gets loaded incorrectly onto trucks, causing them to be front or top-heavy or otherwise unstable. As a result, the driver has a hard time controlling the sway of the trailer, especially in windy conditions or when making turns.
- Jackknife accidents—Many truck crashes involve jackknifing, which is when the trailer swings out at a 90-degree angle from the tractor. It’s most often associated with braking issues during poor weather conditions, like rain or snow.
- Runaway trucks—When a truck loses its braking on a steep decline, it increases the risk of a fatal accident. There’s not much the driver can do to slow down unless there is a runaway truck ramp or pit.
- Tire blowouts—While this may happen to any vehicle on the road, blowouts are especially dangerous on trucks. It may cause them to lose control, or the heavy tire may hit another driver.
Obviously, these aren’t the only types of truck accidents, but they are some of the most common ways they occur. Even if you don’t see your type of crash listed here, it’s worth reaching out to a trucking accident lawyer.
Potential Causes of Semi Accidents
As you can see from the various types of truck accidents, several things may cause them. As you can see, not all of these accidents happen due to the truck driver’s negligence.
Some examples of potential causes include:
- Poor maintenance,
- Improper training,
- Incorrect cargo loading,
- Driver fatigue or DUI, and
- Truck part defects.
Truck accidents are unique in that they sometimes involve other issues related to the motor carrier’s operations. This circumstance makes claims involving semi-trucks much more complex than a standard car accident claim. More often than not, victims seek the assistance of a truck accident lawyer because of the complexity of the case.
How Truck Accidents Differ from Other Crashes
There are several ways that truck accidents differ from standard automobile accidents. However, the most significant differences involve the severity of injuries, the types of evidence, and the number of potentially liable parties.
Severity of Injuries
Compared to a regular car accident, truck collisions are more likely to end in severe injuries or death. Unfortunately, these injuries often leave victims with lifelong complications, such as a disability or a need for ongoing medical care. In the legal sphere, these are known as catastrophic injuries. Since truck accidents cause more severe injuries, the claims process tends to be long and difficult. This is why we recommend reaching out to a semi accident attorney if you receive an injury in a trucking accident.
Types of Evidence
While photos, videos, and eyewitness statements are still helpful in a truck accident claim, there are other sources of evidence to consider. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires most drivers to use an electronic logging device to record their hours. In addition, there may be evidence of safety violations in inspection records, the trucker’s certification and driving records, and more.
There are several parties involved in the logistics of sending and receiving shipments. Motor carriers rarely do every aspect of the business independently; instead, they often contract work to third parties. For example, many drivers are independent contractors rather than employees. Or, maybe another business repairs and maintains the motor carrier’s delivery fleet.
This distribution of labor means that certain parties may be more liable than others, depending on the circumstances of the crash. If an accident occurs due to a broken part that wasn’t replaced, the company responsible for fixing the truck may be liable rather than the motor carrier. This is just one example of how complicated a truck accident claim may be if the root cause isn’t clear.
Examples of Federal Trucking Regulations That May Affect Your Case
If a motor carrier company makes deliveries between different states, it must follow federal trucking regulations. These rules, set by the FMCSA, range from safety procedures to driver operations. When a motor carrier violates these regulations, it usually leads to a preventable accident. That’s why it’s essential to determine if these violations have occurred.
One of the regulations that both drivers and motor carriers frequently violate is hours of service. This regulation limits the amount of time drivers are allowed to spend on the road. Ultimately, the rule is designed to prevent accidents due to driver fatigue.
Currently, property-carrying truck drivers:
- May drive only for a maximum of 11 hours after 10 hours off duty,
- Cannot drive past the 14th hour on duty,
- Must take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving,
- May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days without taking 34 hours off, and
- Can extend their driving time only by two hours if they encounter adverse driving conditions.
A truck accident lawyer knows how to spot violations of these rules by examining the driver’s logbook and data from the truck’s black box. Inspecting the records helps identify who is responsible for the violation—whether it’s the driver’s personal choice or an order from their supervisor.
How Negligence Plays a Role in Your Claim
Every state has different laws regarding how much a victim may receive if they are partially at fault for an accident. Some states prevent any compensation if the victim has any responsibility for their own injuries. Thankfully, this isn’t the case in New Jersey. Under NJS § 2A:15-5.1, victims may recover damages as long as their share of fault is 50% or less.
However, this means their total damages are reduced by that same percentage. For example, if you have $100,000 in damages and you are 15% at fault, you may recover a maximum of $85,000. Typically, the insurance company determines the degree of fault while reviewing your claim. Unfortunately, if they find a way to show more than 50% fault, they may deny your claim. This is why it’s crucial to have a truck accident lawyer to show your side of the story.
Making a Claim Under New Jersey’s No-Fault Law
One way that New Jersey differs from other states is that it has a no-fault insurance law. This means that policyholders must first make a claim with their own insurance company for economic damages sustained in an accident. Under basic insurance plans in New Jersey, policyholders receive personal injury protection or PIP coverage. Depending on your accident, this may limit your ability to pursue a personal injury claim against an at-fault driver. Your attorney can help you understand your options and how New Jersey’s no-fault law affects your claim.
Why You Should Consider Retaining a Truck Accident Attorney
While not every accident requires the help of a semi accident lawyer, there are a few reasons you should consider hiring one for a truck accident.
First, trucking companies have a lot more resources than most people. Their insurance provider usually has a strong legal team that will do whatever it takes to minimize or deny your claim. Having a trial attorney at your side helps even the odds, especially if that attorney has proven results and several years of experience.
Second, since truck accidents involve serious injuries, you may have trouble handling the claim on your own. A great lawyer understands this and helps with every aspect of your case, from evidence gathering to negotiations. They handle the stressful portions of your claim so you can focus on recovery.
Finally, a truck accident lawyer knows how motor carriers may hide evidence or proof of their negligence. Sometimes, the evidence recorded on electronic devices within the truck may show the full extent of the motor carrier’s violations of federal or state regulations. An attorney knows what to look for and will search for this information on your behalf.
Injured in a Truck Accident? Glugeth & Pierguidi Is Here for You
Truck accidents are some of the most catastrophic crashes on the road. If you or a loved one sustains an injury due to a negligent truck driver or motor carrier, you don’t need to fight alone. At Glugeth & Pierguidi, we have over 30 years of experience advocating for victims of these awful accidents.
We know what’s at stake, so we always work with clients one-on-one. No associate attorneys will be handling your case. You won’t have to endure lengthy phone calls with legal assistants. Instead, our founding partners work with each client individually. And we work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay us nothing unless we win your case.
To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a New Jersey semi accident attorney, call us at 201-721-8585 or contact us online