PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY IN NEW JERSEY ASSISTING CLIENTS WITH TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIMS
Jordan Rickards is an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer. He’s ready to listen to the details of your case today. Call our office to begin work on your case.
Whether you are driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, the Atlantic City Expressway, or another interstate or highway in the state, you will likely be sharing the road with many large trucks. Even drivers on local roads can find themselves behind a semi-truck carrying goods to local businesses. Many New Jersey drivers get behind the wheel without incident, but large truck accidents happen much more often than they should. These collisions often result in debilitating and fatal injuries.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), most deaths that occur in truck collisions affect passenger vehicle occupants. Large trucks typically weight between 20 and 30 times as much as a passenger car or SUV. They also have a greater ground clearance. The combination of these things means motorists riding in smaller vehicles tend to sustain very serious injuries when they collide with a big rig. If you or someone you love recently got hurt in a trucking crash, an experienced New Jersey lawyer can assist with your case. An advocate at the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards can speak with you today about your options for seeking financial compensation.
GETTING THE FACTS ABOUT TRUCK ACCIDENTS IN NEW JERSEY
What do you need to know about truck accidents in New Jersey? The following are some key facts and figures provided by the IIHS and HLDI:
- Nearly 4,000 people suffered fatal injuries in large truck accidents in 2016
- About 17% of the deaths in large truck collisions were truck occupants
- Approximately 66% of the fatalities in semi-truck crashes were occupants of passenger vehicles
- Nearly 16% of all truck accident fatality victims were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists
- Truck accident injuries and fatalities are on the rise, with a 27% increase in fatalities between 2009 and 2016
- More than 10% of all crash deaths involved a large truck
- Nearly 75% of all deadly truck collisions involved tractor-trailers
- Approximately 60% of all large truck collisions resulting in at least one fatality happened on major roads that were not interstates or freeways
- Around 32% of reported truck crashes and fatalities occurred on interstates or freeways
- Nearly 50% of all truck collisions occurred between the daylight hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- The majority of deadly trucking crashes occurred on the weekdays
CAUSES OF NEW JERSEY TRUCKING CRASHES
What causes large truck collisions resulting in serious injuries and fatalities in New Jersey? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a large truck crash causation study. The study discusses a number of different causes of truck collisions, including but not limited to the following:
- Driver error, which can include driver fatigue, distracted driving, aggressive driving, and drunk driving
- Mechanical defects in the truck or truck parts
- Improper maintenance on the truck
- Tire blowout
- Improper loading of the truck
- Damaged road or driving surface
- Inclement weather or poor driving conditions
POTENTIAL DEFENDANTS IN A NEW JERSEY TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIM
In many truck accident cases, plaintiffs may be able to file a claim against more than one party. The parties who may be responsible depend upon the specific facts of your case and how the accident happened, but examples of potential defendants may include:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company (truck driver’s employer)
- Owner of the truck
- Loading company
- Manufacturer of a truck part
- Designer of a truck part
DAMAGES IN A NEW JERSEY TRUCK COLLISION
New Jersey plaintiffs in truck accident cases can be eligible for two types of compensatory damages. Both compensate a victim for losses:
- Economic damages — damages tied to a specific financial loss, such as hospital bills or lost wages
- Non-economic damages — damages tied to intangible, subjective losses, such as pain and suffering
In some cases, punitive damages may be appropriate. Punitive damages are not designed to compensate a victim for losses, but rather to punish the defendant for particularly harmful behavior. Under New Jersey law (N.J. Rev. Stat. § 2A:15-5.9), punitive damages cannot exceed five times the amount of a compensatory damages award or $350,000 — whichever of the two is greater.
CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE IN NEW JERSEY TRUCK ACCIDENTS
What happens if you are partially responsible for a truck accident? In other words, can you still file a claim and seek compensation? Under New Jersey’s contributory negligence statute (N.J. Rev. Stat. § 2A:15-5.1), a plaintiff can still recover damages as long as they are not 51% or more to blame. However, the percentage of negligence decreases the award by the exact number.
For example, if a plaintiff receives $100,000 in damages but is 20% responsible, their award drops 20% (or $20,000), and they would recover $80,000. However, once the plaintiff is found to be 51% or more to blame, they cannot recover anything.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR A NEW JERSEY TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWSUIT
When a collision with a large truck causes an injury, you only have a specific period of time in which to file your claim. This is the statute of limitations. Under New Jersey law (N.J. Rev. Stat. § 2A:14-2), plaintiffs who get hurt in truck accidents have two years from the date of the accident to initiate a claim.
The statute of limitations begins “running” as soon as the plaintiff suffers an injury. If the plaintiff fails to file a lawsuit within two years from that date, New Jersey law says that the victim cannot obtain compensation through a personal injury claim.