New Jersey Truck Accident Lawyer
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks the number of tractor trailer accidents that occur every year across the country. The most recent statistics issued in 2012 by the agency reveal that there were 61 fatal truck accidents in New Jersey – accounting for 7.4 percent of the total number of fatal motor vehicle accidents in our state.
Of all accidents on the road, truck crashes consistently prove to be the most devastating, often leaving victims with catastrophic or fatal injuries.
Truck accidents account for 8.3 percent of all fatal traffic accidents nationally. About 73 percent of the persons injured or killed in tractor trailer accidents are the drivers or passengers of the other vehicles. In the majority of cases, the driver of the truck is left unharmed.
Tips for Sharing the Road with Semi Trucks
Drivers must be on high alert when sharing the road with commercial trucks. Follow these safety tips when driving in the vicinity of a large truck:
- Pay attention: Be vigilant if you are travelling on a road or highway with semi-trucks. Many accidents are the result of a truck driver drifting between lanes, or changing lanes and impacting a passenger vehicle. If a truck driver appears to be travelling too fast or driving dangerously, drop back to stay safe.
- Maintain a safe distance: If you must pass a commercial truck, leave plenty of room and keep your attention focused on passing safely. A tractor-trailer needs a much longer distance to come to a stop due to the weight of the vehicle. A rear-impact can be deadly, so whether the truck is ahead of or behind you, do all you can to leave enough space between your vehicle and the truck.
- Stay visible: Never drive in a truck’s blind spot. If you cannot see the driver’s face in the rear-view mirror, he or she cannot see you. You may not be able to avoid driving near a large truck, or need to pass one of the vehicles. When doing so, ensure there is adequate room to do so safely. If there are oncoming lanes of traffic, wait for the traffic to clear before passing. It is always best to allow more space than you think necessary.
How Truck Drivers Cause Accidents
A truck driver may be held liable for careless driving behavior, including fatigued driving, distracted or aggressive driving, impaired driving, driving too fast for conditions or violations of federal trucking safety regulations. When a tractor-trailer wreck occurs, one of several factors is likely to be present, according to the NHTSA. The truck driver or trucking company may be liable if these factors caused the accident:
- Drivers were negligently hired, trained or supervised. A trucking company may have hired drivers without checking their criminal background or commercial driver’s license records.
- The truck driver of trucking company failed to inspect, maintain or repair the truck, leading to tire blowouts, faulty brakes or other equipment failures.
- The truck driver drove carelessly or recklessly, for example, by speeding in poor weather or following too closely.
- The truck driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- The driver was either driving distracted while using a smartphone or other device, or driving while fatigued from a long shift.
- The truck’s cargo was not properly loaded, leaving it unsecured or allowing it to shift.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) looked at data from 141,000 large truck crashes where an injury or fatality occurred.
The agency identified four critical factors that pointed to driver error or negligence in truck accidents:
- Failure to physically perform.
- The driver fell asleep, had a heart attack or seizure, or had some other physical impairment.
- Failure to recognize dangers.
- The truck driver was not paying attention, was distracted by something or failed to adequately recognize a developing situation.
- Failure to make the correct decision.
- The driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other cars or trucks, or followed other cars and trucks too closely.
- Performance issues.
- The truck driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control.
The FMCSA said these 10 factors were most commonly associated with the above:
- Brake problems
- Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
- Prescription drug use
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Unfamiliarity with roadway
- Roadway problems
- Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Inadequate surveillance
Tractor Trailer Accident Types
Like other motorists, truck drivers may be involved in a rear-end collision or an intersection accident. But tractor trailers are also prone to accidents that are unique to those vehicles. Those accidents include:
- Rollovers: Cargo tank trucks are especially prone to rollovers, which may occur when a driver is traveling too fast through a turn or an exit ramp.
- Underride accidents: An underride accident occurs when a tractor-trailer hits a smaller vehicle, and the smaller vehicle is forced under the trailer or truck. While many trucks have guards, these guards do not always stop this kind of accident.
- Jackknives: Jackknife accidents may result from a slick road or the quick application of a truck’s brakes, causing the trailer to swing in one direction and the cab of the truck to swing in another direction. Other vehicles and traffic are often caught up in these accidents, leading to serious injuries.
- Tire blowouts: A tractor-trailer blow out can cause the driver to lose control of his or her truck. The truck may leave its lane or swing into oncoming traffic, leading to truck accident with severe or fatal injuries.
Injured in a New Jersey Semi Truck Crash? We Can Help
Serious injuries occur at a much higher frequency in accidents involving a tractor-trailer, big rig, 18-wheeler or other commercial truck. The size discrepancy between commercial trucks and a passenger vehicle is significant; a loaded truck can weigh as much as 25 times more than a standard passenger vehicle. It is easy to see why an accident involving a commercial truck often ends badly for drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles. An added risk is that a tractor trailer may be transporting dangerous cargo, leading to secondary injuries from toxic exposure, burns or other serious injuries.
The most common types of injuries sustained in an 18 wheeler accident include head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, burns and scarring, back injuries, neck injuries, broken bones, knee damage, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, paraplegia or quadriplegia, shoulder injuries or permanent disabilities. Any of those injuries can leave you with thousands of dollars in medical bills.
After a New Jersey truck crash, it can be difficult to know what to do and where to turn for help. At The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, we act as advocates for 18 wheeler accident victims, and help them to seek fair compensation for all damages. In cases in which a loved one died in a semi truck accident, our firm can assist the family to seek justice and compensation through a wrongful death claim. It is important that your injury claim or lawsuit is handled professionally, and you can rely on us to help you recover the damages you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.