After an accident involving a commercial truck, many injured victims seek representation from a car accident lawyer. However, it is important to recognize that a typical car accident is vastly different from an accident that involves a semi truck. There are different rules and regulations involved, there are different liability issues in play, and there are even different physics involved.
With this in mind, it is important to retain an attorney who understands trucking laws, complex liability issues, and how to collect commercial truck-specific evidence.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving a commercial truck, Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help. Our personal injury lawyers have more than 80 years’ worth of experience in personal injury litigation, and we have the resources and skills to fight for you. We have collected more than $300 million for the injured in New York and New Jersey, including several large verdicts and settlements in truck accident cases:
- $6.2 million for a commercial truck driver who was struck by another truck driver while pulled off on the side of the road, resulting in a disabling brain injury
- $5 million for a husband, wife, and four children after they were struck by a semi truck making an improper turn
- $2.8 million for a driver who crashed into the side of a truck that pulled into his path, resulting in multiple knee surgeries
- $1.067 million to a truck driver who suffered fibromyalgia after a multi-vehicle accident
For a free legal consultation, call (201) 585-9111
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi are committed to pursuing justice. We will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, using our resources to interview witnesses, collect police reports, and obtain medical evidence. Our years of experience have given us the tools and resources to stand up to large corporations, manufacturers, and opposing attorneys alike. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury as a result of a commercial truck accident, contact us today for a free consultation. Call (201) 585-9111 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced car accident lawyers.
Truck Accident Cases vs. Car Accident Cases
Commercial truck cases are different from regular car accidents in a number of important ways. Here is a brief overview of the major differences between the two types of accidents:
Differences in size and weight: The most obvious difference between a truck accident and a passenger car accident is the massive size difference. A fully loaded commercial truck can easily weigh more than 80,000 pounds, compared to the average motor vehicle that weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Because of this size difference, accidents that involve commercial trucks produce more serious injuries and vehicle damage than other types of car accidents. Truck accidents are more likely to result in serious injuries like:
- Catastrophic injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe burns
- Brain injuries
- Multiple fractures
- Permanent disability
Differences in rules and regulations: Another significant difference between truck and car accidents is the set of rules involved. Attorneys and insurance adjusters will try to piece together the moments leading up to an accident and determine the exact cause of the accident, whether it’s driver negligence, a defective car part, unsafe roadways, or something else entirely. In a typical car accident, they will compare the evidence and the driver’s conduct to the New Jersey Rules of the Road to determine if the driver was negligent.
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However, when investigating a truck accident, the rules and regulations go beyond the Rules of the Road. Because of the increased difficulty that comes with operating a vehicle with that size, weight, and cargo load, commercial truck drivers are held to higher legal standards and must follow more strict rules. For example, truck drivers must follow hours of service regulations (i.e. not drive more than x number of hours in a row without rest), as well as specific rules for driving in inclement weather.
Differences in evidence: Since truck drivers are subject to different set of rules and regulations, there are also different types of evidence that must be collected. The normal evidence collected in car accident cases (i.e. witness statements, police reports, security camera footage, photographs of the scene, etc.) is still useful in truck accident cases, but there are also other types of important evidence to collect. This may include:
- Driver evidence, such as the driver’s qualifications file, the driver’s training file, the hours of service documentation, the driver inspection records, and post-collision drug and alcohol screening results
- Vehicle evidence, such as downloads of the onboard systems, maintenance history documentation, inspection history, and data GPS tracking systems
- Cargo evidence, such as weight tickets, trip envelopes, dispatch instructions, delivery documents, and bills of lading
Differences in liability: Ownership and liability are significantly more complicated in a trucking accident case. A typical car accident involves the other driver, who is most often the owner of the vehicle itself. (In certain cases, a vehicle owner can be held liable for damage caused by someone borrowing their car, but this is more rare than filing a lawsuit against the other driver him or herself.) Unless the accident was caused by an unsafe roadway or defective car parts, it is pretty clear right away who the other party in the claim will be.
However, when it comes to trucking accidents, the driver is not typically the owner of the truck. The trucking company and the driver may have an employment contract that states the company is legally responsible for any accidents caused, but the driver could also be an independent contractor who is simply supervised by the trucking company in some way. Depending on the relationship between the trucker and the company he or she works for, different levels of liability are assigned to different parties.
A number of different parties could be open to liability for a trucking accident, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. These parties include:
- The driver, who could be company drivers or owners/operators, which are contracted by a trucking company for a certain amount of time
- The employer, who could own the tractor-trailer or be leasing it through a third party
- The truck owner, who could own just the trailer, just the tractor, or both
- The cargo crew, which includes shippers, loaders, brokers, and more, who could be liable if the cargo was loaded improperly or weighed incorrectly
- Safety companies, such as third-party maintenance crews, repairmen, safety compliance officers, or insurance companies