The number of truck accidents in the United States has increased by 20 percent since 1980, causing a significant number of fatalities and injuries. Most of these fatalities and injuries happen to occupants of passenger vehicles.
Due to their large size and heavy weight, truck accidents often cause more serious and debilitating injuries than ordinary car accidents. If you are injured by a truck driver, it can be difficult to determine who should be held liable for the damages you sustained. Should you sue the driver? Their employer? The trucking company?
Because truck accidents pose numerous unique issues, injured victims would benefit from the advice of a South Jersey truck accident lawyer at the D’Amato Law Firm who is experienced in handling these types of cases.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Trucks are inherently dangerous because of their massive size. The typical tractor-trailer weighs over 80,000 pounds. The average passenger car, by comparison, weighs only 3,000 pounds.
A number of factors can cause a truck driver to lose control, causing serious damage, injuries, and even death:
- Jackknifing. Eighteen-wheelers are prone to jackknifing if they need to brake or turn suddenly because the driver was not paying attention.
- Inadequately trained and inexperienced drivers. It is no secret that there is a severe shortage of drivers in the trucking industry. As a result, companies are employing drivers with little to no experience—and it has been established by several studies that inexperienced truckers are more likely to be involved in accidents.
- Fatigue. Many trucking companies encourage drivers to get as many miles logged as fast as possible, which means drivers do not get adequate rest, and often speed. A drowsy driver is just as dangerous as an intoxicated driver. Their reaction times have been shown to be similarly slowed.
- Turning accidents. Because it can be difficult to turn large commercial trucks, drivers often need to use two lanes to make a right-hand turn. This can endanger passenger cars nearby, and may be perceived by courts as negligent.
- Limited visibility. Trucks have many large blind spots, and if a driver is rushing, inexperienced, or not paying attention, this can be a recipe for disaster.
Although the trucking industry is governed by state and federal regulations intended to protect the public from trucking accidents, like laws about Hours of Service that aim to prevent driver fatigue, employers and truck drivers do not always adhere to these rules.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Truck Accidents?
Federal law provides that any permitted trucking company is responsible for all vehicles that bear its name on the truck. Even if the driver is classified as an independent contractor, the company can still be held liable for the driver’s negligence.
A number of parties can be sued for a trucking accident, including:
- The truck driver
- The truck’s owner
- The truck driver’s employer
- The person who leased the truck from its owner (the borrower)
- The person who loaded the cargo, if improper loading was a cause or contributing factor in the accident
- The truck manufacturer, or manufacturer of a specific part that caused or contributed to the accident
Although the various defendants often will point fingers at the other defendants, an experienced truck accident lawyer can hold any or all of these parties responsible in a personal injury lawsuit, if their negligence caused or contributed to the accident.
Damages and Settlement Awards
If you have suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a truck accident, you may be entitled to lost wages, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, property damage expenses, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of quality of life. In some cases, parties may settle before the matter gets to trial.
South Jersey Truck Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Get Answers for Victims of Truck Accidents
If you have been injured in a trucking accident, or if you have lost a loved one, we will fight to get you the answers and compensation you deserve to move forward. To learn more about how we can help you, contact an experienced South Jersey truck accident lawyer at the D’Amato Law Firm today. We can be reached at 609-926-3300, or you can fill out our convenient online contact form. We provide free consultations to clients throughout southern New Jersey including Atlantic County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Gloucester County, Burlington County, Salem County, Camden County, and Ocean County.