Truck Accidents In New Jersey – What Makes Trucks So Dangerous

accident-between-car-truck-1According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 317,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes in 2012. 3,921 people were killed and 104,000 injured in truck accidents. 73% of the fatalities were occupants of other vehicles. Tractor-trailers are especially dangerous because of their weight. A tractor-trailer moving at 60 miles per hour will take approximately 310 feet to come to a full stop. That means it will travel the length of a football field before stopping, and that is if the brakes are in top working condition.

What makes trucks so dangerous?

1. The drivers are compensated for miles driven, not hours worked.

As a result, they drive as far as they can for as long as they can, which may mean ignoring the speed limit, the need to repair and maintain their vehicle, and even their own need to rest and eat. Drivers are allowed to remain on the roads for eleven hours in a single day, even though studies have shown the risk of a crash increases exponentially after eight hours of consecutive driving. According to the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) “driver fatigue is a factor in at least 30% of truck crashes.”

2. As the trucks on our roads grow in size and number, the danger to other drivers increases.

There are now trucks on the road comprised of multiple trailers hitched together, making them as much as 20 times heavier than the average passenger vehicle. It is no surprise that the driver of a car that collides with a truck is five times more likely to die than the truck driver.

3. Legal and illegal drug and alcohol use is a factor in 65,000 truck crashes each year.

Studies by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) have shown that commercial drivers who failed a drug test resorted to job-hopping. After losing their job with one company due to a positive drug test, the drivers would then test negative on their pre-employment screening with a new carrier, and return to driving. Some of the drivers engaged in this job-hopping operated trucks carrying hazardous materials for periods of a month to over a year.

4. There are commercial drivers operating large trucks despite disqualifying medical conditions such as epilepsy.

Studies conducted by the GOA also discovered 204 commercial drivers operating commercial vehicles despite suffering epilepsy, a condition that has the potential to cause seizures, loss of bodily control, and unconsciousness. 31 of these drivers were involved in accidents.

The Role of Your Attorney in a Truck Accident Case

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a truck accident, it is important to seek legal representation. An attorney can conduct the necessary research to help find out the cause of the accident, and the amount of compensation that should be awarded.

There are a number of factors that may have contributed to the accident, which an experienced attorney will look for:

  • Failure of the driver to properly maintain his vehicle. Such problems as brakes that are in need of replacement or tires that have lost their tread may prove to be the cause of the accident.
  • The driver’s vehicle history. Was this his first crash?
  • The police report, which may indicate the driver’s use or possession of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • The accident report, which shows how the crash occurred.
  • Eyewitness accounts. Was the truck driver speeding or improperly changing lanes? Did he run a red light?
  • The driver’s log, which may indicate how many hours the driver operated the vehicle prior to the accident. This can show whether fatigue was a cause of the accident, and whether the driver was operating the truck for more hours than allowed by law.

The Potential Parties in a Lawsuit

If you were injured in a truck accident, the truck driver may not be the only one responsible. Many truck drivers do not own their own vehicles. A driver who does not own the vehicle involved in the crash may not be solely liable if the accident was caused by the failure to inspect and maintain the vehicle. The owner of the truck will be liable for the accident if the owner was negligent in the care of the truck. Examples of this type of negligence include the failure to replace balding tires or to routinely inspect the brakes. A truck owner may also be held liable if he failed to properly train his driver, encouraged the driver to operate the vehicle for more hours a day than permitted by law, or failed to conduct a background check that would have revealed issues such as drug abuse, psychological problems or poor driver history. If the accident was caused in part by faulty tires or brakes, then the manufacturer of the tires or brakes may be liable. The company whose products were being transported may be liable if the truck was loaded with more weight than is permissible, or if the loaders failed to properly secure the cargo.

Your Personal Injury Lawyers at Villani & DeLuca

The attorneys of Villani & DeLuca understand the intricacies of a truck accident case, which may involve multiple parties, complex injuries, and the need for expert witnesses. Our firm will examine the evidence of the crash scene and interview the drivers and bystanders who were present to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will work with your physicians and other specialists to gain a better understanding of the extent of your injuries and the long-term impact they will have on your life to make sure you are adequately compensated and cared for. We can negotiate with insurance companies and the defendants to settle your case, but we are prepared to go to trial if necessary and litigate zealously on your behalf. If you or a family member were injured in a trucking accident, or if you lost a loved one in a fatal crash, contact our offices today at 888-389-9533 . At your free initial consultation, a qualified attorney will review your case and assess your options thoroughly and compassionately.