New Jersey Truck Accident Lawyers
Trucks pose a significant danger on the road. A large commercial motor vehicle (CMV)—a tractor-trailer or big rig—can weigh 20 to 30 times what a small passenger car weighs. A truck accident in New Jersey can obliterate a smaller car and its motorists. Even trucks smaller than a CMV, such as a pick-up, can cause significant damage to smaller vehicles.
Not only does a truck’s immense size pose a danger, but their weight. Trucks are more subject to rollovers, spilling their cargo across the road, causing more accidents. Smaller cars may suffer an underride, in which a passenger car following a truck cannot stop in time and goes under the truck’s carriage.
Did a truck accident injure you and damage your vehicle? Are you staring down medical and repair debts no honest person can pay—all through no fault of your own? Call (973) 643-2707 the New Jersey truck accident lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers LLP today. Our New Jersey personal injury lawyers can seek compensation for you to cover all of those losses.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP: Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in New Jersey
The Garden State is a crossroads between many areas of the country. CMVs carry cargo throughout New Jersey every day, from Newark to Trenton, on roads large and small, posing potential dangers to other drivers.
If a New Jersey truck accident injures you or a loved one, contact the experienced attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP. Our initial consultation is always free. Injuries caused by a truck accident may take months to heal or even prevent you from working again. In the meantime, bills pile up, causing financial and emotional stress.
Don’t go it alone. Truck accidents are complex, and getting to the bottom of what happened may be beyond the resources of any one individual. Jacoby & Meyers, LLP’s attorneys can help you investigate the causes of the accident and receive a just settlement from the entities that caused you harm.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we have more than five decades of experience litigating New Jersey truck accidents. Our winning cases speak for themselves. Past settlements have included a $5 million settlement for the victim of an accident involving multiple trucks and a $2.5 million settlement for a victim struck by a tractor-trailer while riding in another vehicle.
Who Pays My Medical Bills After a Truck Accident?
That’s an excellent question. If you’re injured, you will almost certainly accrue medical bills. But medical bills are only part of the potential compensation for your injuries. Let’s briefly look at who and what pays compensation after an accident.
As most Garden State drivers know, New Jersey is a no-fault state for vehicle accidents. In a no-fault system, the individual driver’s insurance company pays for minor medical bills after an accident, without regard to who or what caused the accident.
Most no-fault insurance policies in our state also pay for reimbursement of lost wages lost due to the accident or injury, payment for services such as child care while you are recuperating, and a death benefit in case of a death from an accident.
In New Jersey, all drivers must obtain insurance— liability, personal injury protection (PIP) to cover minor injuries, and uninsured motorist coverage if you’re in an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance.
However, the state also allows insured people to step outside the no-fault system if they sustain serious injuries.
The state defines serious injuries as:
- A displaced broken bone
- Permanent injury (an injury that has not healed to allow normal functioning and won’t fully heal in the future)
- Loss of a body part
- Significant scarring
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
What does “step outside of no-fault” mean? You may seek damages from the party that caused the accident directly, from that party’s insurance company or a lawsuit.
Stepping outside of no-fault also means that insurance company limits do not restrict your potential damages.
You can seek these damages:
- Past and future medical costs and accident-related expenses, including emergency transport, diagnostic tests and imaging, hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s office visits, physical therapy, nursing services, prescription medication, retrofitting a living space, and more.
- Loss of income from missing work, including the value of vacation or sick days not used
- Loss of future income if your injuries render you unable to work
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Emotional trauma and distress
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of intimate or personal relationships
- Property damage for personal property damaged in the accident
New Jersey law may also allow you statutory damages (payment mandated due to someone’s violation of a specific law) or punitive damages (payments to punish an at-fault party for a record of extreme misconduct).
Determining Who Is At Fault for the Accident
Truck accidents pose unique challenges to injured parties. In most cases, drivers exchange contact information after an accident, such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and insurance coverage information. You need to know insurance coverage information because if you step outside of no-fault, you must know the other party’s insurance carrier.
But while the driver may be at fault, other parties can also be at fault in a truck accident. Most CMV accidents require an investigation to determine who was at fault. Was a truck speeding, for example? It may seem like a clear case of driver error.
But what if the driver attempted to slow down, but the brakes weren’t effective? In that case, a brake manufacturer could be at fault for manufacturing defective brakes, or a truck repair company could bear responsibility for inadequate repair. Trucking companies must periodically inspect, maintain, and repair their fleets; if they fail in their inspection, the trucking company may bear responsibility for any subsequent vehicle accidents.
The cargo loading company may also bear responsibility for overloading the truck and contributing to brake failure. Finally, truck drivers must receive adequate training and instruction in operating a CMV’s brakes—they are very different from passenger car brake systems.
Suppose the drivers didn’t receive training, or their employer didn’t verify their training. In that case, you can hold the trucking company or the company tasked with hiring responsible for accidents their drivers caused.
Investigation results may present a challenge. However, an experienced truck accident attorney will know how to obtain the necessary evidence to determine the at-fault party.
But the challenges don’t end there. Most potentially at-fault parties in a truck accident have separate insurance policies. The driver’s policy may differ from the trucking company, manufacturer, or subcontractor’s policies. They likely won’t have the same provisions, either.
Thus, to know which insurance company to approach and their policy provisions, engage an attorney after an accident.
What Are the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 317,000 crashes involving large trucks occurred in one recent year.
Some of the most common truck accidents are:
- Head-on collisions – Head-on crashes occur when a truck tries to pass without adequate time to get back in a lane, turns too wide, or loses control and crosses over into an oncoming lane. Driver fatigue, a known problem in the trucking industry, can cause head-on collisions.
- Rear-end collisions- A CMV traveling 65 mph requires the length of two football fields to stop. Poor road conditions or heavy cargo may increase the stopping distance. Heavy traffic and fatigue can affect drivers’ reaction times, leading to rear-end collisions.
- Jackknifes- A jackknife results when a problem occurs in the hitch connecting a tractor truck and the trailer—the two fold up like a jackknife. Jackknifing trucks are out of control and can spread across lanes of traffic.
- Rollovers– Trucks are top-heavy. A truck may roll over if a truck takes turns or curves too quickly or a jackknife occurs. Rollovers can smash other vehicles and spill (potentially hazardous) cargo on the roadway, causing further accidents.
- Underrides- An underride refers to a smaller vehicle going under the truck. Underrides can occur from a side impact or rear-end collision. Underrides are frequently fatal or catastrophic for motorists in the smaller vehicle.
The Statute of Limitations
If you are in a truck accident in New Jersey, the statute of limitations is two years after the accident. After the statute of limitations for a truck accident ends, the court will refuse to hear the case.
But injured folks should never hear two years and think they can let the clock run. Waiting can imperil their case and chance for just compensation. All legal cases depend on evidence. Judges and courts determine compensation by looking at who or what caused the accident. They examine records of how you were injured and the consequences of those injuries. They talk to medical experts about how much medical care you might require in the future. They may look at surveillance footage, pictures of the accident, X-rays, and more. They may also talk to eyewitnesses.
All these forms of evidence can deteriorate or become lost with time. The most prudent action is to talk to an attorney shortly after your accident, when the evidence is fresh, or as soon as you realize you need one.
Negotiating with an Insurance Company
Accident victims sometimes think that insurance companies are their friends. After all, they are the issuers of checks to pay medical bills and help with lost wage compensation. These actions may make insurers look benign.
This assumption is incorrect. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit, like other companies. Trucking insurance companies know that their insureds may cause damage, and they seek to protect their insured, not you.
Never agree to a settlement or sign anything from an insurance company without consulting an attorney. Why? Both at-fault parties and their insurers may try to contact you and offer you a cash settlement if you sign settlement papers or an agreement. And that step may seem acceptable to you, especially if you face a stack of unpaid medical bills. But the initial agreement will likely offer an amount far less than the settlement you deserve. They are trying to limit their losses by settling early.
But settling early is only one strategy insurance carriers for at-fault parties use.
They may also try to:
- Blame another party for the accident rather than their insured
- Argue that your injuries are not related to the accident, but stem from another source
- Allege that your injuries are not as severe as your claim states
- Allege that your injuries don’t have the effect you say
- Argue that your injuries don’t require the compensation you seek
Do these tactics sound heartless and even frightening? Don’t be disheartened. These arguments and concerns are standard negotiating tactics to get you to settle for less than you deserve. Your lawyer has heard every tactic many times and knows how to navigate them to protect your interests.
Most importantly, your lawyer can negotiate back. Evidence can refute these insurance company tactics. Your lawyer will come armed with evidence of who or what caused or contributed to the accident, the harm they caused, your injuries, your prognosis, and what medical treatment and lost income may accrue during your recovery.
Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP to Discuss a New Jersey Truck Accident
The truck accident attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP can help you seek damages from the at-fault party after a truck accident. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your accident in several convenient offices across the state, in Edison and Newark. We will fight for you to get the justice you deserve. Contact us today at (973) 643-2707.