Because motorists in New Jersey must share the road with trucks and tractor-trailers, driving is inherently dangerous. Given the size and weight of a typical commercial truck, an accident can be catastrophic for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. When a truck accident is the result of another’s negligence, injury victims are entitled to significant compensation.
The Bergen County law firm of Levin & Malkin is dedicated to protecting personal injury victims from negligent truckers and trucking companies. Well-versed in the applicable state and federal truck safety laws, we have a proven track record of achieving significant settlements and jury awards. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, we will work tirelessly to help you obtain the medical care that you need and the financial compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Some of the leading causes of truck accidents include:
- Driver Fatigue — Truck drivers must follow federal regulations that impose hourly driving limits and require them to take regular breaks. In spite of these rules, driver fatigue is a systemic problem in the trucking industry. Truckers are typically required to meet strict delivery deadlines and are paid based on mileage, which forces them to cover long distances over short periods of time. Both the trucking company and the trucker can be held liable for accidents arising from driver fatigue.
- Distracted Driving — Truckers typically utilize onboard technology such as GPS navigation systems and smartphones, which increases the risk of an accident. If a truck accident is caused by such a distraction, the truck driver can be held legally responsible.
- Improper Maintenance — Federal laws require trucks to be properly maintained, including the braking systems, engines, tires, braking lights, hitch assemblies and straps, and other vital parts. A trucking company can be held liable if an accident is caused by improper maintenance.
- Inadequate Training — It is a sad, but common practice for trucking companies to pay new drivers less than experienced ones, and put inexperienced drivers on the road too quickly. A trucking company can be held liable for failing to properly train a truck driver who causes an accident, or failing to verify the driver’s licensing credentials.
- Improper Loading — An improperly loaded truck can be difficult to maneuver or to stop, which is why there are state and federal laws regulating the weight of cargo trucks can carry. In the event of an accident, a lawsuit can be filed against the party responsible for loading the truck — the trucker, the trucking company, a freight operator and warehouse owner.
Types of Truck Accidents
Failing to safely maneuver a truck or tractor-trailer can lead to a wide range of accidents, such as:
- Rollover Accidents — Often the result of speeding, swerving around objects on the road or taking a curve too fast, rollover truck accidents also frequently occur on steep inclines or when a vehicle is improperly loaded.
- Jackknife Accidents — A jackknife can occur if the drive axle brakes on a tractor-trailer lock, causing the trailer to skid, stopping at a 90-degree angle with the tractor and possibly tipping over.
- Brake Failure Accidents — Improperly installed, poorly maintained, and aging brakes are prone to overheating and failure, particularly in heavier trucks.
- Defective Tires Accidents — Blown out tires and unsafe inexpensive tire retreads which peel off at high speeds are a known safety hazard
- Runaway Truck Accidents — An experienced trucker will apply the brakes in a way that gradually reduces the speed of the vehicle. A trucker who fails to use proper braking techniques can cause the brakes to fail, culminating in a runaway truck accident.
- Blind Spots — Commercial trucks have large blind spots along the sides and rear of the vehicle, referred to as “No Zone” areas. A motorist who fails to avoid a No Zone area can become involved in a tragic accident.
- Rear-End — Such accidents occur when a truck runs into the back of another vehicle, often resulting in serious injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
- Under-Ride — If a trucker slams on the brakes, a vehicle traveling behind the truck can become crushed under the rear truck trailer, often resulting in catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
- Wide Turn Accidents — Also referred to as a “squeeze-play accident”, a wide turn accident can occur when a trucker underestimates the amount of room needed to complete a turn or fails to notice smaller vehicles in the path of a trailer.
Hackensack & Bergen County Truck Accident Attorneys
At Levin & Malkin, we know that being injured in a truck accident is a terrifying experience. The need for ongoing medical care, being unable to work for an extended period of time and handling the medical expenses can become a difficult burden to bear. Our legal team can help ease that burden by providing you with the right aggressive legal representation.
We will conduct a thorough investigation — often with the assistance of accident reconstruction specialists — to determine which party was at fault. We know in advance that trucking companies and their insurers typically seek to deny their liability, so we have the knowledge and experience to hold them accountable. We work diligently to help you obtain compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, temporary and permanent disability, future damages, and all other losses. Above all, we always put your best interests first and never stop fighting for you. Call our office today to set up a free consultation.