Few motor vehicle crashes are more traumatic than those involving tractor-trailers. Heavy trucks dwarf the majority of vehicles on the road. When truck drivers and other parties in the trucking industry are careless or ignore rules and regulations, the results can be catastrophic.
New Jersey is home to a number of busy highways with a high volume of commercial trucks. This poses a significant risk for the drivers of passenger vehicles, particularly in high traffic areas such as:
- The New Jersey Turnpike
- The George Washington Bridge
- The Lincoln Tunnel
- And More
If you have been seriously injured or a member of your family was killed in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it is important to seek experienced legal guidance as soon as possible. The New Jersey trucking accident attorneys at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi handle claims in Fort Lee and throughout New Jersey. Please call (201) 585-9111 today for a free case review.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Many different issues can lead to accidents involving big rigs. To recover compensation, you must prove that the truck accident was caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of one or more parties.
Our truck accident attorneys fully investigate the factors that led to the crash. Some of the most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents include:
- Excess speed and driving too fast for conditions
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving, such as disobeying stop signs and traffic lights, unsafe lane changes, etc.
- Driving while fatigued/driving for too many consecutive hours
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Inadequate driver training
- Failure to inspect the rig
- Defective or malfunctioning components
- Unsecured loads
- Driving drunk or under the influence of drugs
Any one of these errors can lead to a truck accident. Oftentimes, however, a combination of issues (as well as the negligence of multiple parties) causes truck drivers to crash.
What Are the Different Types of Truck Accidents?
A number of different vehicles can be involved in truck accidents. Different rules and legal procedures may be involved depending on who owns and operates the truck.
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi has extensive experience representing clients in claims involving:
- Semi-truck accidents
- Tractor-trailer accidents
- Box truck accidents
- Delivery truck accidents
- Tanker truck accidents
- Municipal vehicle accidents
- Utility truck accidents
Our New Jersey trucking accident attorneys have also seen the many ways trucking accidents can harm others. Some of the most common types of accidents we see involving commercial and municipal trucks include:
- Rear-end collisions
- Blind spot accidents
- Jackknife accidents
- Truck rollovers
- Underride accidents involving smaller vehicles
- Tire blowout accidents
- Brake failure accidents
- Head-on collisions
- T-bone accidents
- Accidents caused by falling cargo and debris
- Multi-vehicle collisions
Many different factors can give rise to these and other collisions involving big rig trucks. It is important to examine the actions of the driver (e.g., speeding, tailgating, etc.), the performance of the truck and trailer (e.g., tire blowouts, brake failures, etc.), and other potential issues to get to the bottom of how the crash occurred.
What Are the Most Common Injuries in Truck Accidents?
Fully loaded tractor-trailers weigh 80,000 pounds. Most cars weigh anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 pounds. This difference in size and weight results in a high likelihood of serious and even fatal injuries for the occupants of vehicles other than the 18-wheeler.
Catastrophic injuries come in many different forms. Our trucking accident lawyers are committed to pursuing maximum compensation on behalf of victims who suffer injuries such as:
- Complex bone fractures
- Joint and soft tissue injuries
- Serious lacerations
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Eye injuries, including vision loss, blindness, and loss of the eye
- Damage to the inner ear resulting in hearing loss or deafness
- Injuries to the neck and back
- Spinal cord injuries
- Damage to internal organs
- Nerve damage
- Amputation injuries
- Damage to soft tissue
- Burn injuries
Tragically, it is not uncommon for motorists to suffer fatal injuries in the event of a truck accident. If your loved one was killed in a crash with an 18-wheeler, our attorneys can pursue compensation on your family’s behalf through a wrongful death claim.
How Are Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents?
Trucking accident litigation involves a number of complex challenges not present in most auto accident claims. It is crucial to hire an experienced New Jersey truck accident attorney who can help you navigate and overcome some of the following issues:
Trucking Industry Regulations
Commercial trucking industry is subject to a wide range of federal regulations and state laws. Truck drivers, their employers, and other parties in the trucking industry are required to obey state and local laws and abide by the federal code. Serious accidents can and do occur when they fail in this duty.
The success of your claim rests on your ability to prove negligence. Your truck accident lawyer needs to have advanced knowledge of the applicable laws and regulations to determine how the parties at fault violated the rules and caused your injuries and damages.
Evidence in Truck Accident Claims
Proving negligence in a truck accident case is also more complicated than it is in other types of motor vehicle accident claims. Often, trucking accident attorneys have to look beyond the obvious (i.e., the truck driver’s actions) to uncover how the accident occurred and who is at fault.
Evidence in a commercial truck accident can be divided into three distinct categories:
- Driver evidence, which includes 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, including downloads of the onboard systems, maintenance history documentation, inspection history, and data GPS tracking systems
- Cargo evidence, including weight tickets, trip envelopes, dispatch instructions, delivery documents, and bills of lading
None of this evidence is readily available. In some cases, trucking companies might even attempt to hide or destroy these records. As such, you need a qualified truck accident lawyer who can investigate the crash and collect and preserve the evidence you need for your claim to succeed.
Complex Liability in New Jersey Truck Accidents
Another major factor that separates truck accident claims from other kinds of vehicle accidents is the complicated nature of liability. Unlike a “standard” car accident case where the driver is usually the one and only party responsible, multiple parties can be held at fault for a big rig collision.
Investigation of the truck accident may reveal negligence on the part of the truck driver’s employer, the company that loaded the truck, and much more. The only way to uncover evidence of wrongdoing is to investigate the accident thoroughly. Experienced trucking accident lawyers know where to look and how to get the necessary evidence.
I was one of those people who thought I would never sue anyone. That changed after I slipped and fell on a snow-covered hotel parking lot. I suffered a severe shoulder injury and it became apparent that I was not going to be compensated for my injury acting on my own. I live in Tennessee, so I was somewhat nervous about how I could coordinate with a legal team given the distance and the difference in time zones. I researched personal injury lawyers and was impressed with what I learned about the Maggiano law firm. I needed an attorney who had the knowledge, experience and reputation to represent me, but just as important was having an attorney who could relate to me and one who I could trust.
I knew after my first phone call with him that Mr. Maggiano was the attorney I wanted on my case. Mr. Maggiano brought in the right people to document and validate my situation which helped reinforce the facts of my injury. Everyone at the law firm was wonderful to work with! Linda Reid was a great source of information and support. I was very pleased with the settlement, and I know I would not have gotten this level of compensation without Mr. Maggiano and his team representing me. He definitely deserves a five star rating.
Stefanie/Mike: can’t express in words my gratitude. Thank you both for all the hard work and Mike, you’re simply the best!
Choosing Michael Maggiano and his firm was the best decision my husband and I made at a most horrific time in our lives. Multiple doctors, with whom we had trusting relationships, were confidently telling me that nothing was wrong when, in fact, that was not the case; allowing a cancer to grow over several years to an advanced stage.
Michael Maggiano and his incredible colleagues took our case, even though extremely complex. They patiently answered our endless questions, diligently pursued every aspect of our case, handled our anxieties; especially during trial preparation and settlement discussions. Due to their experience and skill, the final outcome was a sizable settlement.
We hope that this message helps you make the right decision during what is probably a difficult and trying time by speaking with Mike Maggiano.
How Will a New Jersey Truck Accident Attorney Help Me After an Accident?
The aftermath of a trucking accident is overwhelming. You or a member of your family may be seriously injured. Even worse, someone you love may have been taken from you far too soon.
In any of these situations, you shouldn’t have to face the challenges alone. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in Fort Lee can help.
One of the major roles our trucking accident attorneys can fulfill is investigating the crash on your behalf. We have the experience and resources to:
- Examine the damage to your vehicle and other vehicles involved in the accident – where the damage is located and the severity thereof can tell a lot about how the sequence of events in the accident
- Inspect the scene for vital evidence, including skid marks, damage to the roadway, etc.
- Speak to witnesses who saw the truck accident
- Obtain and review copies of all accident reports, including those prepared by local and state police and the National Transportation Safety Board (if applicable)
- Perform a background check on the truck driver
- Reconstruct the truck accident using photographs, witness testimony, and other evidence
- Assess the nature and seriousness of your injuries by reviewing medical records and talking to your doctors
- Demand copies of trucking company records and electronic data such as the driver’s cell phone records, data from the truck’s “black box,” etc.
- Hire experts to provide testimony concerning the cause of the accident, who is at fault, the severity of your injuries, the damages in your claim, etc.
All of these steps enable us to develop a personalized strategy for pursuing the full compensation you deserve for the losses you sustained in the truck accident.
How Much Is My Truck Accident Claim Worth?
The high likelihood of serious and catastrophic injuries in semi truck accidents means that the damages involved are often substantial. Our Fort Lee truck accident lawyers account for all of your losses and pursue fair compensation on your behalf.
You may be entitled to compensation for the following damages if you were injured in a truck accident:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Medical-related travel, attendant care, home-based services, and other out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of support, services, and guidance
Your eligibility for full compensation is based in part on your insurance coverage. New Jersey is one of only a few states to offer motorists a “choice” no-fault option. If you purchase standard auto insurance and retain your right to sue, you can bring a claim regardless of the seriousness of your injuries. However, if you have basic insurance or opt for a limited right to sue, you must sustain a significant injury to bring a fault-based truck accident claim.
Verdicts and Settlements
A man who suffered serious knee injuries when a truck pulled out in front of him
To a 42-year old truck operator and auto mechanic who suffered ulnar neuropathy, bulging lumbar disc, torn meniscus right knee and post traumatic stress disorder when he was struck by a tow truck backing up during a job thereby ending his two occupational careers.
A mother and her 3 sons traveling to NY with a car rental from Hertz, the car began to act up and loose power. The mother called Hertz for help and was told they didn’t provide road side assistance but that she should head to their nearest location for further help, that was about 25 miles from her location. She couldn’t go more than 25-30 miles per…
Wrongful Death Compensation for Truck Accident Fatalities
Unfortunately, the severity of injuries in truck accidents often results in loss of life. In the most recent Fatal Vehicle Crash report, the New Jersey State Police recorded 169 deadly truck accidents over a 5-year period.
If you lost a loved one in a truck accident caused by someone else, you have the right to bring a fault-based truck accident claim regardless of the insurance policy. Compensation that may be recoverable in a wrongful death claim includes:
- Funeral expenses
- The cost of burial or cremation
- Loss of financial support, including income, benefits, inheritance, etc.
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of services
- Medical expenses (if paid by the family)
The estate of the deceased can also recover compensation that the victim would have been entitled to had he or she survived the truck accident. This could include pain and suffering, medical expenses paid by the estate, and more.
Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident?
Liability for a truck accident is rarely confined to just one person or entity. It is crucial to identify any and all potential defendants in building your truck accident claim. Knowledgeable trucking accident attorneys at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi will perform a comprehensive investigation to determine what led to the crash and who is liable.
Are Truck Drivers Liable for Damages?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires commercial truck drivers to carry public liability insurance to cover damages if they are at fault for an accident. Coverage requirements range from $750,000 to $5 million depending on the size of the load and the type of cargo being transported.
If you were injured or lost a family member in a truck accident and the truck driver was at fault, you are entitled to bring a claim against the driver’s public liability insurance. However, the truck driver might not be the only liable party.
Are Trucking Companies Liable for Accidents?
Although some truck drivers are classified as independent contractors (known as an owner-operator), many more are employed by trucking companies to move freight. Generally, employers are exposed to liability when the carelessness or misconduct of a worker causes injury.
It is crucial to establish that the truck driver was operating within the scope of his or her job when the accident happened. It is also important to investigate the role the trucking company might have played. Many truck accidents can be attributed to various acts of negligence on the part of the carrier, including:
- Failure to hire qualified truck drivers
- Negligent hiring practices, such as ignoring previous violations and accidents
- Inadequate driver training and supervision
- Failure to test drivers regularly for alcohol and drug use
- Negligent inspection and maintenance of trucks and trailers
- Hours of service violations – the company may coerce drivers to operate rigs longer than they are legally allowed or forgo mandatory rest breaks
The potential consequences of trucking company negligence are easy to anticipate: unqualified, untrained drivers carelessly operating unsafe rigs. However, actually finding evidence of the carrier’s wrongdoing can be extremely challenging.
Our truck accident lawyers know what it takes to hold commercial trucking companies accountable for negligence that results in crashes. We will take decisive action to preserve and obtain documents, electronic records, the truck and trailer, and other evidence.
Who Else Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?
Every truck accident is unique. Full investigation of the crash might show that one or more additional parties could be at fault.
Other possible defendants in your truck accident case could include:
- A shipping company that improperly loaded the trailer
- A mechanic or repair center that performed faulty maintenance on the rig
- Companies involved in the design, manufacturing, sale, and marketing of defective trucks or components
- A careless driver who causes the truck driver to crash
- A government entity – the carelessness of a municipal employment or negligent maintenance of public roads can lead to truck accidents
Identifying all of the at-fault parties is essential for recovering maximum compensation after a truck accident. The team at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi will dig into the facts of your case, determine who is responsible, and present compelling evidence of their negligence and the damages you are entitled to as a result.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Truck Accident Claim?
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for truck accident claims is 2 years from the date of the crash. Similarly, a wrongful death claim must be brought within 2 years of the date your loved one died from injuries sustained in a trucking accident.
There is no time to lose if you suffered injuries or lost someone you love in a collision with an 18-wheeler. Our truck accident lawyers take immediate steps to start building your claim and pursuing the compensation you and your family deserve.
What Is the Truck Accident Claims Process?
Just as no two truck accidents are exactly alike, no two legal claims are identical either. Generally, however, your case will involve the following steps:
1. Filing a Claim with Your Insurance
You need to notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. Regardless of your injuries and the coverage you have, you can file a claim under your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP coverage will pay for medical expenses related to the crash and part of your lost wages (up to the policy limits) regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
2. Bringing a Fault-Based Claim
After all of the evidence is collected and a determination is made concerning who is at fault, the next step is bringing a claim against the insurance companies for all liable parties. The initial claim consists of a demand letter outlining the circumstances of the accident, allegations of fault, and the damages you are pursuing.
3. Settlement Negotiations
Ideally the insurance carrier(s) will agree to negotiate and ultimately offer you a fair settlement. Most truck accident claims are settled out of court. However, if the insurer or insurers refuse to settle, you may need to file a lawsuit to recover the compensation you deserve.
4. Filing a Lawsuit
A lawsuit is an official complaint filed with the appropriate court. Once the lawsuit is filed, the next step is preparing for trial. A key part of trial preparation is the discovery process, where both sides request and exchange information.
5. Going to Trial
Settlement is possible even after a lawsuit is filed. The defendant(s) may return to the negotiating table to avoid the uncertainty inherent in any trial.
However, if the court date arrives and no settlement has been reached, your truck accident lawyer will present your case. This involves questioning witnesses, introducing evidence, and arguing your case in court.
Throughout the process of your truck accident claim, it is essential for you to be represented by an experienced trial lawyer. Even if your case doesn’t go to court, a reputation for going to trial and winning carries a lot of weight with defendants and insurance companies.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Truck Accident?
Although the majority of accident claims settle – even those involving 18-wheelers – the unique characteristics of trucking accidents can make negotiations more challenging. Some of the issues that may arise in trying to settle your truck accident claim include:
- Disputed liability: If defendants and their insurance carriers can pass blame to someone else, they will.
- Serious and complex injuries: The more serious the injury, the more it costs to treat. Injuries resulting in permanent impairment or disability carry additional costs.
- High damages: Commercial truck accidents adversely affect victims’ lives in many different ways. Experienced trucking accident attorneys know how to quantify the damages associated with these losses, frequently resulting in substantial demands for compensation.
- Available insurance coverage: Insurance companies will never agree to a settlement that exceeds the policy limits.
Negotiating an accident settlement always takes time. However, the issues above can make reaching a settlement after a truck accident more time-consuming. In our experience, it can take anywhere from six months to more than a year to settle a truck accident claim.
Do You Have a Truck Accident Case in New Jersey?
Seeking legal counsel is one of the most important steps you can take after a trucking accident. For qualified assistance, we encourage you to contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi as soon as possible after a collision with a big rig.
Truck accidents are serious, and they require serious representation. Our attorneys have achieved significant compensation on behalf of those harmed in crashes involving 18-wheelers, including:
- $6.2 million for a truck driver who suffered a disabling brain injury after his parked rig was struck by another tractor-trailer
- $5 million on behalf of a family of six when a truck driver executed an illegal turn in front of the family’s SUV
- $2.8 million for a man who required total knee replacement after a big rig pulled into his path
- $1.478 million for an off-duty police officer who sustained injuries when a truck collided with the door of his personal vehicle
- $1.067 million on behalf of a truck driver who developed fibromyalgia from injuries she sustained in a multi-vehicle accident
These results demonstrate our experience and success handling truck accident claims. Our clients inspire us to take positive action and pursue favorable outcomes by developing unique legal strategies and fighting for justice.
Please call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 today for a free review of your case. Our truck accident lawyers serve clients in Fort Lee and throughout New Jersey.