Newark Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accidents are monumental life events that devastate victims and their families from the day of the accident to well beyond. Regardless of the type or size of a truck, it will be at least double the weight and size of a passenger vehicle. Large semi-trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded and a medium-sized car weighs somewhere around 3,500 pounds. When a truck and passenger vehicle collide, the increased weight creates a larger force upon impact, resulting in more property damage, more severe injuries, and higher chances of fatality than other types of traffic collisions.
If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident in Newark or the surrounding area as a result of negligence or intentional harm, New Jersey law permits you to take legal action against the party who caused you harm. The Newark Truck Accident lawyers from Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, are here to assist you in the wake of a truck accident. Contact us today at (973) 643-2707 for a free case evaluation to discuss the details of your accident and injuries, and to help devise the best strategy for your case.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP’s Results in Truck Accident Cases
The award-winning legal team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, has four decades of experience in the negotiation, settlement, and litigation of personal injury cases, including those involving truck accidents. The firm’s commitment to client service and passion for professional excellence has led to the recovery of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients.
In a recent tractor-trailer accident case, our client was the passenger in a car waiting at a red light. The truck driver made an improper wide turn, hit the corner of the car, and fled the scene of the accident. The driver in our client’s vehicle followed the truck to the next light and got all identifying information. Our client suffered neck pain and lower back pain, had to undergo neck surgery, and have doctors insert a pain management device in his lower back. We ultimately settled the case for $2.5 million.
This is only an example and does not guarantee any results in a particular case. Your truck accident and injuries involve distinctive characteristics that will ultimately determine their value; however, we will aggressively pursue the best outcome possible for your circumstances.
Common Types of Truck Accidents
All types of traffic collisions can lead to injury or fatality, but certain types of accidents are strongly associated with trucks. Common types of truck accidents on New Jersey’s roads include:
- Head-on collisions. When passenger vehicles and trucks collide head-on, the injuries are often severe, and sometimes fatal. If a trucker loses control of their vehicle because he is fatigued, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or distracted by one of many things, he can swerve into the lane of oncoming traffic and cause a head-on collision. Mechanical problems can also lead to a trucker losing control of his vehicle.
- Rear-end collisions. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it takes a semi-truck the length of two football fields to stop when they are traveling 65 miles per hour, much greater stopping distance than a smaller vehicle. When truckers are distracted or tailgating the vehicle in front of them, they risk causing severe rear-end crashes.
- Jackknife accidents. A jackknife accident occurs with trucks who have trailers that connect at a pivot point to the cab. When a trucker hits the brakes too hard or uses their engine brake at the wrong time, he can cause his trailer to skid and turn along the pivot point until it lies perpendicular to the cab, causing a jackknife. When this type of accident blocks traffic, or causes a truck to slide into the path of oncoming traffic, severe and fatal collisions might occur.
- Rollover accidents. These dangerous accidents occur when a truck driver loses control of their vehicle; tire blowouts are the most common cause of a rollover truck accident. Depending on where a rollover happens, a truck might crush one or more nearby vehicles, or block traffic causing a multi-vehicle crash that can result in dangerous and potentially fatal injuries.
- Underride collisions. An underride collision is a type of rear-end crash that can only occur when a large semi and much smaller vehicle collide. Small vehicles who might be distracted or following too closely can get stuck under the trailer when they rear-end a semi. The car then rides under the trailer until it breaks away or the trucker stops. Most underride crashes cause death and present real challenges for insurance companies and courts trying to determine liability.
- Cargo spills. Trucking companies, their truckers, and their other employees are tasked with loading trucks securely and carefully, so a load doesn’t shift during transport. When someone drops the ball and doesn’t secure the freight, cargo might wind up all over the road putting all nearby vehicles at risk for a multi-vehicle collision.
Causes of Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the U.S. agency that oversees the trucking industry, collects data on all truck crashes in the United States. While many different situations might result in a truck crash, the FMCSA reports the following driver behaviors as the most common driver-related causes for truck crashes:
- Driving while distracted. Any activity that takes a trucker’s hands off the wheel, mind off driving, or eyes away from the road can be a distraction that leads to a severe or fatal accident. The most common driver distractions are using a cell phone, programming a GPS, eating, drinking, reaching for a fallen item, personal grooming, and daydreaming. Although engaging in these behaviors are dangerous, most of them are legal. Truck drivers, however, cannot use cell phones unless they are hands-free, or they are violating a federal regulation.
- Driving while fatigued. We depend on trucks to transport the goods we need throughout the nation. Truckers must work long hours, sometimes driving overnight to get to their destination. Even when they take mandatory breaks, they might still be drowsy or fatigued. In fact, the FMCSA warns that drivers who go without sleep for 18 hours have the same level of impairment as a driver with a 0.08 blood alcohol level. When fatigued or drowsy drivers nod off for a few seconds or fall asleep at the wheel, nearby motorists are in danger of being injured or killed in a truck accident.
- Driving under the influence. Truck drivers aren’t known for using drugs and alcohol when they drive because of the strict random testing policies implemented by the FMSCA. Truckers are also held to a higher standard than the average motorist; the legal alcohol limit for a commercial driver is 0.04 BAC. Yet, some drivers still abuse drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of their demanding job. Drivers who consume alcohol, take illegal drugs, or fail to follow directions on prescription drugs risk causing treacherous and potentially fatal accidents because their ability to judge time and distance was impaired.
- Speeding. According to the FMSCA, more than 30 percent of all fatal truck accidents involve drivers who were speeding. The massive weight of a large truck turns it into a deadly weapon when traveling at high speeds. Excess speed makes it more difficult for a driver to stop or make maneuvers, and overall more difficult to control a truck. Traveling too fast for conditions can also be dangerous, especially in inclement weather. Unfortunately, the danger of speeding doesn’t stop some rushed truckers from going as fast as their truck will let them.
- Following too closely. Rushed truck drivers might also follow other vehicles too closely. Driver Eeducation instructors teach new drivers to leave a two-second gap between them and the vehicle in front. The FMSCA suggests truckers leave a four-second gap to allow for the extra time and distance it takes to stop. When it’s snowing, raining, sleeting, or road conditions are poor, the FMSCA recommends truck drivers leave up to an eight-second gap to avoid causing a rear-end collision with the vehicle in front of them.
Liable Parties in New Jersey Truck Accidents
Truck accident cases are sometimes complicated and might include more than one defendant. If you bring a lawsuit against those who caused you harm, you might name one or more of the following as defendants:
- Truck driver. When truckers don’t follow the rules of the road and drive while fatigued, distracted, or after drinking or using drugs, they put all others with whom they share the road at risk for accident and injury, and might be liable for damages if an accident occurs.
- Trucking company. The owner of the truck, which is often a trucking company, but can be the driver, can be partially or fully liable for a truck collision depending on the situation. The trucking company/owner is responsible for hiring and training qualified drivers and maintaining trucks so they are safe for the road. When companies don’t uphold these duties, they might be liable for a truck accident.
- Other driver. Careless drivers in other vehicles can also be liable for a truck accident, especially if they break one or more traffic rules and cause a truck driver to lose control of his rig, leading to a dangerous accident.
- Truck manufacturer. If truck manufacturers, or truck part manufacturers, sell defective trucks or parts that cause a mechanical failure that leads to an accident, they might be liable for the accident and injuries. In fact, any party involved with a truck’s chain of distribution might be liable depending on the specifics of the defect.
- The state of New Jersey, Essex County, or the city of Newark. Government entities can be held liable in a New Jersey court if a truck accident is a consequence of poorly maintained roads, poor road design, or malfunctioning traffic control devices.
Recovering Damages After a Newark Truck Accident
If you have suffered injuries in a Newark truck accident and decide to sue the at-fault party to recover damages, you might receive compensation for the following losses incurred as a result of your accident and injury:
- Medical expenses such as ambulance service, emergency department services, hospital stay, surgery, radiology, medication, and aftercare
- Future medical expenses when a truck accident leads to a severe injury or permanent disability requiring indefinite, ongoing care
- Rehabilitation expenses for visits with physical therapists, occupational therapists, or others who can help restore lost function or teach how to adapt to permanent injuries.
- Lost wages for time away from work as a result of a truck accident, treatment, and recovery
- Lost future wages when an injury prevents a truck accident victim from going back to work
- Non-economic damages such as loss of consortium with a spouse, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and others that might apply to a particular case.
Newark Truck Accident FAQs
Newark ships out or receives approximately 48.4 million tons of domestic freight each year. That means a lot of big trucks traveling through Newark and the surrounding counties, especially on I-95, which forms a major corridor for trucking activity through the area. With tens of thousands of trucks on the roads during the year, most Newark residents are used to seeing them as they head out on their daily commute or to enjoy leisure activities.
Unfortunately, those big trucks can pose a substantial accident hazard. If you suffered serious injuries in a Newark truck accident, consult a truck accident attorney at Jacoby & Meyers LLP to learn more about your right to compensation.
1. Do I need a lawyer to file a Newark truck accident claim?
Yes. Any time you suffer serious injuries in an accident, you should consider working with a Newark truck accident attorney like Jacoby & Meyers LLP to determine how much compensation you may deserve and who bears liability for the accident. This might be especially helpful in a truck accident claim, since truck accidents may require a more in-depth investigation and a deeper look at what may have caused or contributed to the accident.
2. Why can a Newark truck accident claim be more difficult to investigate than an accident involving passenger vehicles?
Truck accident claims may require a more in-depth investigation than claims involving only passenger vehicles driven by private drivers for several reasons.
Truck accidents may cause more serious injuries. Big trucks may weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. That excess weight can cause catastrophic damage to passenger vehicles and their occupants, especially in the case of smaller vehicles or those with poor support.
If you suffer serious injuries in a truck accident, you may deserve compensation for those injuries. While truck drivers must carry substantial insurance coverage that could help cover the cost of those bills, the insurance company might also fight hard to reduce the compensation it has to pay out as much as possible. You may need to provide clear evidence of the injuries you suffered and their overall impact on your life to establish how much compensation you really deserve for those injuries.
The trucking company may share liability for your accident. The truck driver, as the one making decisions on the road, can bear liability for any action that he or she takes while transporting a load. However, in many cases, the trucking company that employs the driver may share liability for an accident. Your attorney would need to look at the driver’s logbooks, the company’s policies, the company’s past accident history, and any information about the driver’s record to assess how much compensation you may deserve for your injuries.
Your attorney would look for:
- Information that suggests that the company regularly pushes its drivers to break the law. For example, truck drivers can only spend 11 hours out of each 14-hour shift on the road before they have to take a break. Some companies, however, may push the driver to exceed those hours to meet tight deadlines. The company may also push drivers to speed or engage in other dangerous behaviors on the road, usually to decrease the time needed to make deliveries.
- Information suggesting that the driver has a known history of driving while inebriated, but the company employed him or her anyway.
- Any sign that the company failed to properly maintain its vehicles, which could cause a brake failure or engine trouble and contribute to an accident.
If your attorney can turn up information that indicates that the trucking company shares liability for the accident, it could, in some cases, increase the compensation you might receive for your injuries. However, it may take an in-depth look at that information to uncover the evidence you need, which may extend the time needed to investigate your claim.
3. What should I do if the truck driver’s insurance company offers me a quick settlement after a Newark truck accident?
If you have serious injuries, especially injuries that prevent you from immediately going back to work, you may find an insurance company’s initial settlement offer very tempting. It can put fast cash in your hands during a period when you may have steadily increasing bills and serious worries about how you will pay them.
Before accepting a settlement offer from the truck driver’s insurance company, however, take the time to go through a consultation with a Newark truck accident attorney. Do not simply accept that offer, which might not reflect the compensation you really deserve. It may, in fact, leave you struggling without the money you really deserve for your injuries.
The insurance company may issue a low offer for that initial settlement. A low offer usually contains just enough money to sound tempting, but not enough to provide you with the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. Often, insurance companies will prey on your lack of knowledge to convince you to accept that low settlement offer. An attorney, on the other hand, can provide you with a better look at the compensation you really deserve after a Newark truck accident.
4. What should I do about my hospital bills after a Newark truck accident? Who pays them?
As the person receiving care, you will need to make arrangements to pay your medical bills. While a Newark truck accident claim can provide you with much-needed compensation that can make it easier for you to pay those bills, it does not require the liable party to pay your bills directly. You should also keep in mind that it may take some time before you actually have the funds from your Newark truck accident claim in hand. In the meantime, you can take several steps to make it easier to manage the cost of your injuries.
Use your PIP coverage. In New Jersey, drivers must carry personal injury protection coverage, or PIP insurance, to legally operate a motor vehicle. Your PIP insurance will pay the first percentage of your medical bills after an accident, regardless of who caused that accident. Generally, New Jersey PIP coverage starts with up to $15,000 of coverage, minus the amount of your deductible. In many cases, however, you may choose to take out additional PIP coverage to provide more protection.
Generally, you will provide your PIP insurance information at the hospital. Your PIP coverage will kick in to cover your initial medical expenses after your injury.
Use your medical insurance. If you carry medical insurance, it can provide vital financial protection after any type of accident that results in severe injuries. Medical insurance can be especially valuable if you suffer injuries that will result in the need for long-term or ongoing medical treatment. For example, if you suffer serious spinal cord injuries, you may have immense medical costs every year for the rest of your life. Your medical insurance could help provide much-needed protection, allowing you to cover many of those medical bills.
Talk to your medical insurance provider to learn how much coverage you have and how it will apply after your accident. You may want to ask questions about in-network versus out-of-network providers, especially if you have different copays and deductibles for each one. You may also want to ask what coverage you have for specific elements of care related to your accident: durable medical equipment, in-home medical care, or a stay in a long-term care facility, for example. Make sure you know how much coverage you will have upfront so you can make effective treatment decisions.
Have your attorney write a letter of protection. Sometimes, your PIP insurance may run out before you have the funds from your Newark truck accident claim in hand. You may not have adequate health insurance to cover the rising cost of your medical bills. Those bills start rolling in, and you do not know what to do next.
Your attorney could submit a letter of protection that would state your intent to pay your bills once you have the funds from your Newark truck accident. The letter can help prevent collection actions until you resolve your claim. It will not, however, end your financial liability for those bills, so you still need to make arrangements to pay them.
5. How long does it take to settle a truck accident claim in Newark?
The length of time required to settle your claim may depend on the circumstances that led to your truck accident and what the investigation will involve, as well as the extent of your injuries. An attorney can provide you with a more accurate assessment of how long it may take to resolve your Newark truck accident claim.
The estimate may include:
- Time for investigating the accident and the trucking company. Your lawyer would need to review all the circumstances that led to your accident and how they contributed to your injuries. In addition, your attorney may need considerable time to look through the trucking company’s records, since those records may help establish that the trucking company contributed to your injuries. That investigation can take considerable time, especially if your attorney uncovers relevant information.
- Time for you to heal. In the case of some severe injuries, your attorney may recommend that you take time to heal before filing your Newark truck accident claim. If you suffered very severe injuries, your doctors may not have a good idea of how long it will take for you to recover or what your eventual prognosis will look like. You may develop complications that lead to greater limitations or higher medical bills than initially anticipated. Your attorney may advise waiting for several months before you file your Newark truck accident claim so that you have time to recover and get a better feel for how much your injuries will eventually impact you both financially and medically.
- Time to negotiate. Settling a truck accident claim may involve several rounds of negotiation between you and the liable party, especially if you suffered severe injuries and, therefore, need to ask for substantial compensation. Each round of negotiation can help increase the odds that you will receive the compensation you really deserve, but it may also add to the time needed to settle your claim.
6. Does the trucking company always share liability with its driver after a Newark truck accident?
Not every truck accident leaves the trucking company liable for the injuries suffered because of its driver’s actions. You may have grounds to pursue a claim against the trucking company when the trucking company’s negligent actions contribute to your accident or its severity. Generally, this means a company that requires its drivers to ignore the rules of the road or the rules governing truck drivers on the road; a company that fails to take care of maintenance on its vehicles; or a company that deliberately puts its drivers in harm’s way. An attorney can investigate the specific terms that led to your accident and let you know whether you may have grounds for a claim against the trucking company.
7. What should I do to protect myself after a Newark truck accident?
First, report the accident. Unless you need to seek immediate medical attention or feel unsafe at the scene, do not leave the scene until the police arrive. Next, make sure you seek medical attention. Many victims suffer serious injuries that they do not recognize at the time of the accident—including back and neck injuries and broken bones. Those injuries can worsen without treatment, leaving you suffering from more serious injuries than you initially thought.
If you do not seek medical attention immediately after the accident, it can also turn out harder to prove exactly when your injuries took place. Finally, get in touch with a Newark truck accident lawyer as soon after your truck accident as possible to learn more about your right to compensation and to help ensure that you know how to protect yourself legally and financially. Contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP today.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP,: Your Newark Truck Accident Lawyers
If you have sustained injuries in a truck accident in or around the Newark, New Jersey area as a result of a negligent trucker, trucking company, or third party, you deserve full compensation for your injuries. With more than 40 years of experience, the skilled legal team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, knows how to handle insurance companies and the complexities of truck accident cases. We can guide you through the lawsuit process while you focus on healing from your injuries.
If you were injured in the Newark area, contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, online, visit our Newark office at 50 Park Place, Suite 101, or call our Newark office at (973) 643-2707 for a free case evaluation to discuss the circumstances of your truck accident and your injuries.
One of our truck accident lawyers can determine the likelihood of your eligibility for compensation and advise you on the best path forward. Remember, nobody should have to navigate the legal system alone, particularly when they are recovering from a serious accident. A trusted advocate can help ensure the best possible outcome for your case, and allow you to focus on what really matters: your family, your career, and your recovery.
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