A semi-truck accident is a tremendously harrowing experience. The promising news is that, in the last 20 years, fatal road accidents have decreased, but there continues to be a high number of fatal crashes on freeways such as I-80 and I-95 due to higher speeds and an increased number of semi-trucks.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of an accident involving a semi-truck, the road to a successful personal injury lawsuit can be complicated. At Maran & Maran PC, I have the experience and insight to guide you through the legal process in pursuit of the most favorable outcome available to you.
My firm - Maran & Maran PC - serves clients in Newark and throughout Northern New Jersey, including the counties of Warren, Passaic, Essex, Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer, Monmouth, Hudson, Middlesex, Union, Bergen, and Morris. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.
There are laws on the books and oversight that pertain directly to truck accidents, including:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations: Because most semi-trucks travel across state lines, there are a number of federal regulations in place. These laws cover guidelines like how many hours a driver can work in one stretch, how drivers record their driving time, truck weight, and equipment standards.
New Jersey Department of Transportation: In addition, New Jersey has its own laws governing truck operations concerning licensing, medical exams for drivers, fees, and registration.
Statute of Limitations: In the state of New Jersey you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim.
Accidents involving semi-trucks are more complicated than standard passenger vehicles because it's often not entirely clear who should be held liable. Because of this, it can be difficult to file a successful personal injury claim if you don't know who to file it against. Parties that may be responsible include:
Truck Driver: If the accident was due to driver error or negligence such as inattention to the road, it's likely that the liability will be with the driver.
Trucking Company: The trucking company may be held liable for a number of reasons. For example, they may have violated laws about how many hours a driver can work, or they may have bypassed required maintenance checks.
Truck Manufacturer (or Parts Manufacturer): If the accident was caused by a component of the truck malfunctioning or breaking and it wasn't due to failure of maintenance, the liability could be held by the truck or part manufacturer.
People Who Loaded the Cargo: If a semi-truck overturns and causes an accident, it could be from a container that was improperly packed, causing an unbalanced load. In this case, the driver wouldn't be at fault, but the person who packed the container.
Maintenance Personnel: If there was a problem with the truck but maintenance personnel failed to notice or fix the issue, they could be held liable.
When preparing for personal injury litigation after an accident involving a semi-truck, there are a number of factors to consider when determining liability.
The Driver of the Truck: Driver inattention is the number one cause of these accidents because drivers can often be overly fatigued. In more grim circumstances, a driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This doesn't mean the driver will always be held liable. For example, if the employer knew the driver had inadequate training and still let them drive, the trucking company would be held liable.
Other Vehicle Drivers: Other times, it's the driver of the passenger vehicle who may be at fault. This can occur when a car attempts to overtake a semi-truck without giving them enough room, or if they attempt to pass while a truck is making a turn.
Road Conditions: One additional factor affecting liability is the road conditions. If there are inadequate lighting and road markings, or if weather conditions such as heavy fog or rain obstruct visibility, it can cause accidents.
In a personal injury situation, either the victim or a family member of the victim can file a claim. If your loved one lost their life as the result of the accident, you can also file a wrongful death action. Because of the complexity of determining liability, it's highly recommended to seek the help of a qualified personal injury attorney.
I know this time is hard for you and your family, but the sooner you take action, the sooner you may obtain the compensation you deserve. If you live in the Newark area or the Northern New Jersey counties of Warren, Passaic, Essex, Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer, Monmouth, Hudson, Middlesex, Union, Bergen, or Morris, call me at Maran & Maran PC today.