Edison Truck Accident Lawyer
Some of the main interstates and state highways servicing the northeast region of the U.S. pass through or by Edison, and drivers on these roadways are no strangers to big rigs in adjacent travel lanes along their morning commute.
While Edison and the surrounding area depend on these massive commercial trucks to transport and deliver hundreds of products, the maneuverability issues of tractor-trailers often lead to accidents. Those injured and killed in these accidents are most commonly the occupants of other vehicles on the roadway.
If a negligent truck driver injured you, an Edison truck accident lawyer from Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can seek compensation for the financial and psychological costs of the injury. They can also tell you more about how the Jacoby & Meyers, LLP legal team can assist you with your claim.
Common Trucks on the Road
According to the American Trucking Association, trucks transport just under 72 percent of the nation’s freight by weight. But while we rely so much on commercial trucks, they pose a serious risk to other drivers on the road. In one recent year, over 4,100 people died in accidents involving large trucks. The majority of these people were passengers of smaller vehicles.
It’s easy to think of all trucks the same, but different trucks have different purposes. What exactly does this mean when it comes to accidents? Because trucks have different purposes, not only is their design different, but the way they move, the way they respond, and the route they take all vary from truck to truck. Some of the trucks you will commonly see on the road include:
When we think of large trucks, we often think of tractor-trailers or semi-trucks. These trucks are composed of the smaller semi portion, which holds the engine and passenger compartment, and the tractor-trailer, the portion of the truck that holds the goods. Tractor-trailers typically travel on interstates and rural highways. However, you will see them on local roads when they are close to their destination. These trucks are some of the most dangerous on the road. Their sheer size and weight make them more difficult to stop and more dangerous in an accident.
Tanker trucks transport liquid products such as milk, gasoline, and water. Like tractor-trailers, you often see them on interstate roads. Liquid responds differently than solids in transport so drivers need special certifications to drive a tanker truck. These trucks carry the extra risk of carrying potentially hazardous materials which can cause a fire in the event of a collision.
Box trucks are smaller than semi-trucks or tanker trucks. Common examples include moving trucks and delivery trucks. The maximum weight capacity for box trucks is much lower than other commercial trucks. Consequently, the law does not require a person to hold a commercial driver’s license to drive most box trucks. This creates a danger for other drivers on the road when the person driving the truck does not have the experience to properly maneuver the vehicle.
We see garbage trucks every day. While smaller than most trucks, these trucks pose a different danger. Garbage trucks drive primarily in residential areas and make frequent stops. These types of trucks are at high risk for rear-end accidents, collisions with parked cars or vehicles leaving driveways, and pedestrian accidents.
Dump trucks often haul materials for construction services. Common materials include dirt, gravel, and bark. These trucks generally consist of the front cab and a large, open-top trailer. In addition to the risks associated with other large trucks, these trucks can cause an accident if the material in the truck falls onto the roadway or on another vehicle.
Why Large Trucks Are so Dangerous
Trucks are designed differently than passenger vehicles. They need to be able to transport large amounts of products across long distances. This means their body, mechanics, and maneuvering capabilities are different than most other vehicles on the road. A fully loaded tractor-trailer is legally allowed to weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That’s about twenty times the size of a passenger vehicle.
Other variables that can make an accident happen include:
- Greater stopping distance: A fully loaded truck traveling 65 miles per hour takes the length of two football fields to come to a complete stop. This means if a vehicle traveling in front of the truck comes to a sudden stop or cuts in front of the truck, the driver of the larger truck will likely not have enough time to stop. Never cut in front of a truck and avoid any sudden stops.
- Large blindspots: Every vehicle has blind spots, but the issue is exponentially worse for large trucks. Large trucks have blind spots at the front and rear of the truck as well as both sides. If you are traveling behind the truck, the driver will not be able to see you unless you are at least 30 feet behind the vehicle. In front of the truck, the blindspot extends 20 feet. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t see the driver in his mirrors, he can’t see you.
- Large trucks are higher off the ground: A truck’s trailer sits high above the road to allow for easy loading and unloading. Often, the trailer height sits at the same level or higher than the hood of a passenger vehicle. This is a serious problem in the event of a collision. When a passenger vehicle collides with a large truck, the smaller car can become pinned underneath the trailer. This can tear off the top of the car and will usually lead to catastrophic injury or death. Federal law requires most large trucks to install underride guards on the rear of the truck. However, drivers are not required to install such guards on the sides of the vehicle.
- Wide right turns: Large trucks require more room to complete a turn, especially right turns. These trucks usually drive beyond their desired lane to allow enough room for the trailer to follow. Once the truck has begun the turn, they begin to transition back into the other lane. Wide right turn accidents happen when the truck driver travels into the path of oncoming traffic, turns too sharply and tips the truck, or when a passenger vehicle becomes caught in the truck’s “pinch zone” between the cab and the trailer.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Edison
Commercial trucks are enormous vehicles, measuring up to 53 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and 13.5 feet high. When fully loaded, they weigh up to 80,000 pounds—around 30 times the weight of many vehicles they share a road with. This presents maneuverability issues, including the need to make wide turns, significant blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle, and an increased stopping distance.
Commercial trucks often travel hundreds of miles over a week, and the weight they’re hauling across those long distances causes the need for more frequent maintenance.
Like most types of traffic-related accidents, nearly all truck accidents occurring in Edison are the result of human error. While many people balk at this fact along with reminders about the long and severe winters in the northeast, weather-related factors are seldom the sole cause of a truck accident.
Most accidents in which inclement weather is a factor also feature factors related to the driver, such as driving too fast for the conditions of the road. Here is a look at Edison’s most common causes of truck accidents.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration—the federal agency tasked with regulating the trucking industry—around 13 percent of all commercial truck drivers in accidents are fatigued at the time of the crash. Fatigued driving among large truck operators has been such a concern in recent years that the agency passed hours of service regulations to require truck drivers to take regular off-duty breaks throughout their workweek.
One of the most common causes of driver fatigue in the trucking industry is disruptions to the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. Most people instinctively feel more tired around the hours of mid-afternoon and late night due to the circadian rhythm, with late-night driving often being preferred by truck drivers as there are fewer hazards on the roadway during that time.
While the FMCSA prohibits the use of hand-held cell phone devices by truck drivers as part of the requirements for maintaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL), many drivers bend those rules and engage in other types of distractions such as eating, drinking, smoking, visiting with a passenger or co-driver, adjusting vehicle and GPS controls, or daydreaming.
Speeding refers not only to exceeding a posted speed limit but also driving too fast for the weather or traffic conditions of the roadway. Truck drivers are on tight deadlines, with many expressing that those deadlines have become even tighter since the advent of the hours of service requirements. Speeding is one of the leading causes of all types of traffic accidents.
Some of the hazards involved in driving a commercial truck too fast for the conditions of the roadway include:
- Reduced time allows the driver to see hazards on the roadway and respond by braking.
- An increased stopping distance after the brakes have been applied due to the vehicle’s weight and the increased force placed on the braking system due to the excess speed.
- The difficulty of drivers entering a travel lane or pedestrians crossing the road to determine if a safe gap in traffic will allow them to complete their maneuvers.
- Increased accident severity from the force speed added to the collision.
Blind Spot Accidents
As previously mentioned, commercial trucks feature significant blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle, making it difficult for the driver to determine if a travel lane is clear before pulling onto the roadway, merging, or changing lanes. Despite regular warnings about avoiding driving alongside a tractor-trailer within its “no-zone,” the burden of ensuring a travel lane is clear before merging into it is on the truck driver, not on the drivers of other vehicle types.
Work Zone Accidents
The no-zone refers to the blind spots along both sides, the truck’s front and rear. However, the work zone refers to construction work zones, which are common locations for commercial truck accidents.
Some of the reasons these zones are so accident-prone for truck drivers include:
- Traffic often stops unexpectedly in work zones. This can be an issue for the driver of a vehicle that—in the very best of circumstances—requires up to 40 percent more stopping distance than other vehicle types due to its weight.
- The configuration of travel lanes in the work zone often is narrower.
- Heavy equipment and vehicles working in the work zone often enter the roadway unexpectedly.
- Drivers of other vehicles in a work zone often become confused or overwhelmed by lane configurations, a line of cones, and a lack of clarity about where they are supposed to drive on the roadway. Confusion is often the mother of error in these circumstances.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Federal trucking industry regulations require the owners of tractor-trailers to commit to a regular maintenance schedule to ensure that all of the vehicle’s systems are in safe working order.
Additionally, truck drivers are required to perform a pre-trip inspection before every trip. The pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of all of the vehicle’s major systems, including the engine compartment, the fuel tank, and battery area, the coupling system, the trailer, the lights for turn signals, four-way flashers, brake lights, and high beam/ low beams, in-cab inspection, and air brakes.
FMCSA regulations state that the truck should leave service pending repairs if the pre-trip inspection finds any issues. However, many drivers do not take the truck out of service, opting to honor their deadlines and worry about safety later.
The FMCSA rules prohibit CDL-holding truck drivers from consuming alcohol when driving, with a legal impairment limit of .04 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood—half the legal impairment limit for most adult drivers in Edison. Again, however, some drivers will break these rules. Additionally, some drivers are operating their vehicles while taking over-the-counter or prescription medications that have intoxicating effects. Some are using illicit drugs to stay awake and keep driving, despite the impairment to their driving skills that many types of medications can experience.
When a truck-involved accident occurs, the truck driver is generally subject to drug and alcohol screenings. These screenings are also regularly required to obtain and maintain a CDL.
Lack of Experience
Truck drivers must obtain a special license (CDL) to operate their vehicles on public roadways. Usually, the driver obtains some course or study materials to master the truck’s basic operations, which are the subject of many questions on the written CDL test.
However, this education barely scratches the surface of truck drivers’ daily issues. Trucking companies are also tasked with ensuring that their drivers are adequately trained to handle the day-to-day rigors of the job. However, the truck driver shortages that the industry has been grappling with often prevent these companies from insisting that new drivers get the training they need to operate the vehicle safely.
Recovering Damages After a Truck Accident
Truck accidents can cause serious injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, the law allows you to pursue financial compensation for your injuries.
The amount of your recovery will depend on a variety of factors, but may include:
- Medical bills, including medical transport, surgeries, doctor visits, medication, therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages for any time missed from work as a direct result of your injuries.
- Pain and suffering, including physical pain, emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
- Loss of companionship, when your injury interferes with your personal relationships, including loss of a physical relationship.
- Loss of enjoyment, when you are unable to participate in activities you enjoyed before
- Wrongful death, to help cover the cost of the funeral and burial, as well as any outstanding medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
When it comes to recovering these damages, it’s important to determine who holds financial liability. When it comes to truck accidents, many parties may hold responsibility.
- The truck driver: The truck driver is the most obvious person to blame after a truck accident. The driver holds ultimate responsibility for inspecting their vehicle and driving it in a safe manner. Regardless of any other circumstances, the trucker driver almost always holds some level of responsibility.
- The driver’s employer: Employers have a big impact on their employees’ performance. It all begins with the hiring process. Employers should always screen their drivers and perform a drug test. These drug tests should happen on a regular occurrence throughout the driver’s employment. The trucking company is also responsible for making sure the driver is properly licensed and trained and for following up on inspection requirements. If the employer pushes the driver to work beyond federal regulations or in an unsafe manner, they will likely hold some level of financial responsibility.
- The truck or part manufacturer: Unfortunately, sometimes parts fail. Often, drivers can catch problems with parts before they become a bigger issue. But far too often, they cannot. When an accident happens because a part failed, the vehicle or part manufacturer may potentially hold all liability. Defective parts that may affect the truck’s performance include the tires, brakes, steering mechanisms, transmission, and safety devices.
Seeking Compensation After Being Injured in an Edison Truck Accident
While commercial trucks only account for around four percent of the traffic on U.S. roadways, they account for 10 percent of the vehicle miles traveled and nine percent of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents. There are more than 100,000 truck accident crashes involving injuries in the U.S. each year, and the occupants of other vehicles incur 68 percent of these injuries.
If a commercial truck driver or another negligent party injures you, you can seek compensation. This process involves submitting the claim to the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy provider. You can go to court and let a judge or jury decide liability and compensation if the insurance provider fails to compensate the claim.
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims is generally two years from the accident’s date. This is an extremely important deadline. Failing to file the claim n two years will usually result in losing your ability to use the court to seek compensation. Because insurance companies offer settlements to avoid the expense and uncertainty of litigation, they are doubtful to make a settlement offer if litigation is off the table due to an expired statute of limitations.
The Services a Truck Accident Attorney Can Provide
Many individuals attempt to file a truck accident claim independently, only to become quickly overwhelmed and frustrated by the process. Because of the enormous amount of federal regulations applied to the trucking industry, these claims often require a lot of evidence to find the best evidence to prove the claim.
In addition to having the experience to know which evidence you need, an experienced truck accident attorney also can:
- Determine all sources of liability in the accident and the insurance resources to provide your compensation
- Establish a claim’s value that considers the expenses you incurred as a result of your injury and the psychological impacts of the injury on your quality of life
- Communicate with the at-fault party’s insurance provider to negotiate a settlement
- Gather the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your claim
- File your claim as a lawsuit within the statute of limitations
- File motions, prepare evidence exhibits, arrange for expert testimony, and present your claim in court
- Collect your settlement or award. Because truck accident lawyers use a contingent fee billing method, you will not be responsible for paying for your attorney’s services until there is a positive resolution to your claim.
If You Are Injured in a Truck Accident, We Can Help You
Let an experienced Edison truck accident lawyer from Jacoby & Meyers, LLP explore your legal options for obtaining compensation for the expenses and impacts of injuries incurred due to a truck accident. For your free case evaluation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP online or by calling (732) 287-6890.
Edison Truck Accident FAQs
Each year, dozens of accidents involving tractor-trailers occur on New Jersey roadways, including those in and around Edison. Due to the massive size of a commercial truck—which measures about 70 feet long and can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a small passenger car—the people most likely to die or suffer an injury in a truck-involved accident are the occupants of other vehicles.
If you have sustained an injury in an accident in Edison that involved a tractor-trailer and resulted from someone else’s careless or reckless actions, read on for the answers to questions we often hear from our Edison truck accident clients. You can obtain answers to questions about your specific case through a free case evaluation with an experienced truck accident attorney from Jacoby & Meyers LLP.
Our results in cases involving truck accidents include a $2.5 million settlement for a client who suffered an injury when a tractor-trailer turned too wide and struck the front of his car, causing a neck injury that required fusion surgery.
How do I obtain compensation for the injuries I incurred in a truck accident?
The process for pursuing compensation for the impacts and expenses of the injuries that you sustain in a truck accident is through a truck accident lawsuit.
Claims are generally not filed directly against the at-fault party. Instead, your attorney will submit a demand to the at-fault party’s insurance provider. If the provider refuses to pay the claim or offer fair compensation through a settlement agreement, you may file a lawsuit in civil court. In New Jersey, plaintiffs must file their truck accident lawsuits within two years of the accident. Contact the legal team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP for advice on if and when to file your claim.
Who is liable for an Edison truck accident? How do I prove liability?
The potential sources of liability in an accident involving a truck include:
- The truck driver, who is tasked with adhering to state and federal regulations regarding the safe operation of a commercial motor vehicle, including obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL), observing federal hours of service rules that control how many hours a commercial truck driver can drive before taking an off-duty break, ensuring his or her truck is safe to operate, and understanding the traffic laws that all users of the roadway are subject to.
- The company that the truck driver works for, which is tasked with performing background and driving history checks on hired drivers, ensuring that the trucks are properly maintained and have the required amount of insurance and that the driver receives the proper training to handle the rigors of the job.
- The shipper, who is tasked with ensuring that the logistics company it uses and the driver who is transporting the load are in good standing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the federal agency that oversees the trucking industry in the U.S. and also is sometimes tasked with ensuring that the cargo is properly loaded in the trailer of the truck.
- Other roadway users, including motorists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, or bicyclists, whose careless or reckless actions result in an accident involving a commercial truck, regardless of whether the liable driver’s vehicle was actually involved in the collision.
- The manufacturer or distributor of defective parts used on the truck or another vehicle, if a defective auto part or vehicle malfunction caused the accident.
- The individual or entity tasked with providing maintenance and service on the truck, if the accident resulted from a maintenance issue.
To establish the at-fault party’s liability, you must prove:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care, which is the duty to act as a reasonable person would in similar circumstances, to protect the safety and well-being of others. The duty of care that truck drivers and other motorists owe, for example, is to operate their motor vehicles safely and legally.
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care, which refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that contradicted the duty of care owed at the time of the accident.
- This breach in the duty of care resulted in the accident, which caused you to suffer an injury and related expenses and impacts.
What damages are available to me after my truck accident?
New Jersey allows the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages through the truck accident legal process. Economic damages refer to a payment made in compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses you incurred because of your injury. Non-economic damages refer to the negative impacts that your injury has had on your quality of life.
Some common expenses and impacts appearing on damage claims in Edison truck accident cases include:
- Medical expenses, such as the cost of emergency care, diagnostic testing, ambulance transport, hospitalization, prescription medication, physician and surgical services, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the provision of items aimed to assist an injured person with mobility, such as a wheelchair, crutches, or prostheses.
- Lost wages from missing work because of injuries or to attend an injury-related medical appointment.
- Loss of future earning capacity if you acquire permanent disabilities in the accident and can no longer earn as much money as you did before.
- The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle that suffered property damage in the truck-involved accident.
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
I was partially responsible for the truck accident that caused my injuries. Can I still seek compensation?
Motor vehicle accidents are often complex situations that arise due to errors or negligence by more than one roadway user. Generally, you can still seek compensation from other liable parties, depending on the specific circumstances of your accident. However, the compensation you receive may decrease. Contact the legal team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP to discuss the details of your accident and determine whether you qualify to pursue compensation for your injuries.
What types of evidence will my attorney need to prove the truck driver’s liability?
Truck accidents often result in the need to acquire and analyze massive amounts of information and evidence to determine liability.
Some information that your attorney will obtain from the truck driver and/or the trucking company include:
- The most recent truck inspection reports and maintenance records.
- Black box information from the truck that will reveal any risky driving behaviors, such as speeding or hard braking, and how many hours the truck operated before the accident occurred.
- On-board computers and GPS systems from the truck that can provide information necessary for accident reconstruction.
- Documentation, such as the driver’s hours of service logs, phone records that could reveal if the driver was using his or her phone at the time of the accident, the driver’s personnel file, the results of the driver’s post-crash drug and alcohol tests, the results of the driver’s most recent physical examination, dispatch instructions, and reports from weigh stations and docks involved in the driver’s route.
I lost a loved one due to a truck accident. Can I seek compensation for the financial and emotional losses?
Yes. The process you would use to seek compensation for the loss of your loved one’s services, support, companionship, care, and the expenses incurred from medical treatment of his or her final injuries, funeral expenses, and burial expenses, is a wrongful death claim. Like truck accident claims, wrongful death lawsuits are legal claims filed in civil court within two years of the date of death in cases in which the deceased individual would have had cause to file a truck accident claim if he or she had survived the accident.
I was in the truck’s blind spot when the accident occurred. Does that mean that I’m liable for the accident?
All vehicles have blind spots, which are areas around the vehicle that the driver cannot see by checking his or her rear- or side-view mirrors. Commercial trucks have significant blind spots on all four sides, which are often called no-zones.
While the FMCSA generally encourages drivers to avoid lingering in these no-zones, the truck driver must clear a travel lane before entering it and make sure no obstacles are behind the truck when backing up. This means that liability in no-zone accidents tends to primarily reside with the truck driver.
What is the average settlement in a truck accident case?
Because truck accident cases each come with unique expenses, impacts, and other details, it is really not possible to determine an average settlement for a truck accident claim.
Several factors, however, will affect how much compensation you receive, including:
- The at-fault party’s level of insurance coverage. If the value of your case is higher than the policy limit on the at-fault party’s insurance policy, you may have to deal with uncovered expenses. Your attorney may determine all sources of liability and all insurance resources that you may access to obtain the amount of compensation you need to cover the full costs of your injuries.
- How much you earn at work. Your income factors into different damage categories, including wage loss, loss of future earning capacity, and even the non-economic impacts of your injury. A person in a successful career will often have a case worth more than a young person who does not have a job or a retired person who no longer earns an income.
- The severity of your injury. The more severe your injury is, the more likely you are to incur additional expenses and impacts. The calculation of your non-economic damages directly considers the severity of your injury.
- How patient you are through the process. It is not unusual for an accident victim to receive a settlement offer rather quickly. Receiving a fair settlement offer, on the other hand, often takes time. Usually, the fairest settlement offers come just before the insurance provider faces the expense of litigation.
How can an attorney help with my truck accident claim?
An experienced accident attorney from Jacoby & Meyers LLP can ensure that you receive the maximum compensation available in your case.
These services include:
- A free case evaluation, in which you can learn more about the truck accident claims process and your options based on the details of your case.
- A determination of liable parties and insurance resources in your case.
- A valuation of your case based on the expenses and impacts you have already incurred due to your injury as well as those that you will likely incur in the future.
- Skilled settlement negotiations based on your attorney’s deep understanding of the compensation that you may receive.
- Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting an offered settlement.
- Gathering and organizing the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your case.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
Truck accidents are capable of producing some of the most life-changing and even life-threatening injuries that a person can incur, and this kind of case requires a tremendous amount of knowledge pertaining to the truck driver’s employment and adherence to federal regulations, as well as an understanding of the medical battles that you face now and will face in the future because of your injuries.
An experienced member of our legal team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP is looking forward to speaking with you about your Edison truck accident case. For your free case evaluation, contact us right away.
Edison, NJ 08817
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“I’m really grateful for the settlement my lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers helped me to obtain. I was badly hurt when another driver crashed into my card. The driver was carelessly. My team at Jacoby & Meyers didn’t let the reckless driver get away with it. I’m really glad I made the call to Jacoby & Meyers and would suggest anyone hurt in a car crash do the same.”
Review by: Jose V.
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