Edison Truck Accident Lawyer
As drivers, we pass large trucks every day. These trucks are a vital part of our economy. They transport goods from large suppliers to smaller businesses and deliver products for companies of all sizes. As consumers, we rely on trucks for every aspect of our life. They deliver our gas, our food, and the clothes that we wear.
According to theAmerican 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.
If you or a loved one were injured in an Edison truck accident, contact the Edison personal injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, for a free case evaluation.
Common Trucks on the Road
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 Large Truck Accidents
Any accident involving a large truck has the potential for catastrophic injuries. Despite the known dangers of these vehicles, accidents continue to happen. In one recent year, 54 large trucks were in fatal accidents in New Jersey. That’s more than 6 percent of all vehicles in fatal accidents across the state.
Knowing why these accidents happen may help keep you safe. Common causes include:
- Speeding: Truck drivers are often under a tight deadline. Their jobs rely on them getting products to their destinations by given deadlines. A late driver may increase speed to make up time. Speeding not only increases the amount of stopping distance, but it also decreases the amount of time a driver has to react to any hazards. High-speed crashes involving large trucks are almost always fatal. If you see a large truck traveling too fast behind you, do not tap your brakes to try to get them to slow down. Move over and allow the truck to pass.
- Distracted driving: We commonly associate distracted driving with using the phone, but distractions can come from inside or outside of the vehicle. A driver may become distracted by an animal, another driver, or even another accident. Inside the truck, distractions include phones, the radio, and eating while driving.
- Drowsy driving: Truck drivers work long hours, sometimes up to 70 hours per week. When drivers don’t get enough sleep they increase the risk of an accident. Drowsy driving can result in delayed response time, poor decision making, diminished vision, and loss of control of the vehicle.
- Inexperienced driver: Driving a large truck is a big job. It takes skill and experience. New drivers or poorly trained drivers don’t have the experience to respond appropriately to dangerous situations. In addition to general inexperience, a lack of familiarity with the area can cause an accident. If a driver is inexperienced with the locale’s weather or roadway system, they are more likely to be distracted, become lost, or travel in an area not designed for trucks. This is why you always need to practice defensive driving.
- Driving under the influence: Fortunately, the large majority of truck drivers know the dangers that come with driving under the influence. But still, a small number of drivers drive their truck while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a driver is called in on a day off, they may return to work knowing they are not in the condition to do so. On top of that, prescription and non-prescription medication can interfere with driving. If you are in an accident with a driver who you suspect has been drinking, do not approach them. Instead, call 911 right away.
- Mechanical failure: The Federal Motor Carrier Association regulates maintenance requirements for large trucks. All drivers are required to inspect their vehicles before getting on the road. They must also comply with annual inspections. Accidents can happen when the driver fails to complete their inspection, takes shortcuts, or there is an unseen mechanical defect.
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.
Your Injuries Matter. Get the Compensation You Deserve.
Truck accidents don’t just affect the victim: they affect the victim’s entire family. These accidents can cause severe and often permanent injuries. When you are injured in an accident, you want someone who will defend your rights and aggressively fight for fair compensation.
For over 40 years, the lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, have fought for the rights of accident victims. You shouldn’t have to suffer the financial cost of an accident because of someone else’s negligence. If you or a loved one has been in an accident involving a large truck, your injuries matter. With offices throughout New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, our team is here to support you. Our Edison office is located at 1929 Route 27, Edison, NJ 08817.