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FAQs For Truck Accidents in New Jersey

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Posted on March 7, 2023

If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial motor vehicle or truck, here are 15 important things our personal injury lawyers in South Jersey think you need to know before pursuing legal action.

What is a truck accident?

A: A truck accident is an incident in which a commercial truck, such as a semi-truck or tractor-trailer, collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, or stationary object, resulting in property damage, injuries, or fatalities.

What do I do immediately after an accident involving a truck?

A: Seek medical attention and report the accident to the police. Gather as much evidence as possible, such as photographs of the scene, contact information of witnesses, and contact information of the truck driver and trucking company as well as a South Jersey truck accident lawyer.

What makes a truck accident different from a regular motor vehicle accident?

A: There are several key differences in the legalities that separate the two. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Regulations: Trucks are subject to a different set of federal and state regulations than other types of vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) establish safety standards for commercial motor vehicles, including trucks, and require trucking companies to carry certain types of insurance. Violations of these regulations can lead to a liability in a truck accident case.
  2. Potential for severe injuries: Due to their size and weight, trucks are more likely to cause severe injuries or fatalities in an accident. This can lead to higher damages awards in truck accident cases.
  3. Complex liability: Liability in a truck accident case may be more complex than in a motor vehicle accident case. There may be multiple parties involved, such as the driver, the trucking company, the owner of the truck, and the manufacturer of the truck or its parts. Sorting out liability can be challenging and may require the expertise of an attorney and accident reconstruction expert.
  4. Insurance coverage: Trucking companies are required to carry higher levels of insurance than other types of vehicles. This means that there may be more insurance coverage available to compensate injured parties in a truck accident case.

Who is responsible for a trucking accident?

A: The responsibility of a trucking accident can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the accident. The truck driver, trucking company, and the manufacturer of any faulty equipment may be held responsible.

What damages can I recover in a trucking accident case?

A: Like other motor vehicle accidents, you may be able to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the accident. Ask a car accident attorney in South Jersey for more information.

Can I still file an accident claim if I was partially at fault for the accident?

A: Yes, you may still be able to file a claim. New Jersey follows a modified comparative fault system, meaning that your damages may be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.

How long do I have to file a truck accident claim in New Jersey?

A: In New jersey, the statute of limitations for filing a truck claim is typically two years from the date of the accident.

What is the role of an expert witness in a truck accident case?

A: An expert witness can play an essential role in providing testimony and analysis to assist the court or jury in understanding technical or specialized aspects of the case. They can contribute by:

  1. Establishing fault: An expert witness can investigate the accident scene, review records, and reconstruct the accident to determine who was at fault They can provide unbiased and impartial opinion about the cause of the accident, which can be critical in determining liability.
  2. Calculating damages: An expert witness can provide an accurate assessment of the damages incurred in the accident, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. They can also testify to the future cost of medical care, rehabilitation, and ongoing therapy.
  3. Explaining complex concepts: Truck accidents can involve complex concepts related to trucking regulations, safety procedures, and industry standards. An expert witness can help to explain these concepts to the court or jury in a way that is easy to understand.
  4. Providing credibility: An expert witness can lend credibility to a case, especially if they have extensive experience and credentials in the relevant field. Their testimony can carry weight and influence the outcome of the case.

Can I sue a trucking company if the truck driver was an independent contractor?

A: Yes, you may still be able to sue the trucking company depending on the specific circumstances of the case, and if the trucking company exercised a sufficient degree of control over the driver’s actions. This is known as the “control” test, which considers the following factors:

  1. The extent to which the trucking company controlled the driver’s work schedule.
  2. The extent to which the trucking company controlled the driver’s method of payment.
  3. The extent to which the trucking company controlled the driver’s equipment.
  4. The extent to which the trucking company controlled the driver’s training and supervision.
  5. The extent to which the trucking company controlled the driver’s ability to work for other companies.

If the trucking company exercised a sufficient degree of control over the driver, they may be held liable for any accidents caused by the driver’s negligence, even if the driver was an independent contractor.

Can I file a wrongful death claim after a fatal trucking accident?

A: Yes, if a loved one was killed in a trucking accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to recover damages for your losses.

Can I file a trucking accident claim if I was a passenger in the truck?

A: Yes, as a passenger in the truck, you may be able to file a claim against the driver and/or the trucking company.

What New Jersey laws apply to truck accidents?

A: The following laws set forth important statutes that may apply to your case:

  1. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Code: This state law regulates the operation of all motor vehicles on NJ roads, including trucks. The code covers a wide range of topics, such as traffic laws, licensing requirements, and vehicle equipment standards.
  2. New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A.): This is the official compilation of NJ state laws and includes a wide range of statutes that apply to truck accidents, such as laws governing negligence, liability, and damages.
  3. Case law: In addition to statutes and regulations, truck accidents in NJ are also regulated by case law. This includes court decisions that have interpreted and applied the relevant laws to specific situations.
  4. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): The FMCSA regulates the safety of commercial motor vehicles and drivers that travel across state lines. The FMCSRs establish safety standards for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), including requirements for driver qualifications, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and cargo securement. They may conduct investigations after a trucking accident to determine if any federal regulations were violated.

What happens if the truck company refuses to settle?

A: If they refuse to settle, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Seek legal representation: If you haven’t already done so, you should consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in truck accidents in NJ. Your attorney can review your case, advise you on legal options, and negotiate on your behalf with the truck company and their insurers.
  2. Gather evidence: You should collect and preserve as much evidence as possible to support your claim. This may include photos of the accident scene, witness statements, police reports, medical records, and repair estimates for your vehicle.
  3. File a lawsuit: If negotiations with the truck company and their insurers fail to result in a settlement, your attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit in civil court. This will allow you to seek compensation for your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  4. Attend mediation or arbitration: In some cases, the parties may agree to attend mediation or arbitration, which are alternative dispute resolution processes. This can be less formal and less expensive than a trial and may result in a settlement that is agreeable to both parties.

Can I still file an accident claim if the truck company has filed for bankruptcy?

A: Yes, but the process can be more complex. Some things to keep in mind are:

  1. Automatic stay: When a company files for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect, which means that all collection activities against the company are halted. This includes any lawsuits or claims that were filed against the company prior to the bankruptcy filing.
  2. Bankruptcy court: All claims against the company must be filed with the bankruptcy court, rather than in state court. This process is governed by the Bankruptcy Code and involves submitting a proof of claim to the court.
  3. Priority of claims: If the truck company has limited assets, your claim may be competing with other claims in the bankruptcy case. Claims are typically prioritized based on the type of debt owed, with secured collectors (such as banks) being paid first, followed by unsecured creditors (such as accident victims).
  4. Insurance coverage: Even if the truck company has filed for bankruptcy, they may still have insurance coverage that could be used to pay your claim. You may need to work with the bankruptcy trustee and the company’s insurers to pursue compensation.

Can I file a claim against a government entity for a truck accident?

A: Yes, in some cases, you may be able to file a claim against a government entity if their negligence contributed to the accident.

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