Truck Accident FAQ
Answers from New Jersey Truck Accident Lawyers
Accidents involving commercial trucks can make for high stakes personal injury cases, and draw numerous questions and concerns from injured victims and families. Because our team at Bendit Weinstock, P.A. knows that the legal process of seeking justice and compensation after a tractor-trailer accident can seem daunting, we wanted to answer some of the most common questions our New Jersey personal injury attorneys we hear from clients.
- Why are truck accident cases any different from other car accident cases?
- What caused my trucking accident?
- Who’s responsible for my accident?
- Am I able to file a personal injury lawsuit?
- What damages can I recover?
- Do I need a lawyer?
Why are truck accident cases any different from other car accident cases?
When it comes to personal injury law, truck accidents are differentiated from other accidents involving standard passenger vehicles for several reasons. First and foremost, commercial trucking wrecks have an overwhelming potential to result in serious if not fatal accidents, which means that victims and families commonly incur substantial economic and non-economic damages. This in turn makes these cases high stakes matters upon which their physical and financial well-being and futures may very well ride.
In addition to the more serious injuries and elevated damages created by commercial trucks, these cases also involve a unique and tightly regulated industry. Commercial trucks and tractor-trailers are subject to numerous local, state, and federal laws, as well as a range of federal trucking regulations by which companies and truckers must abide. These regulations cover everything from vehicle upkeep and inspections to cargo loading, trucker training, the number of hours drivers can be on duty, and more. Attorneys who handle truck accident cases need to have an understanding of these regulations in order to identify when they’ve been violated and how those violations may have led to preventable accidents and the damages victims suffered.
What caused my trucking accident?
Each and every accident is different, which is why personalized investigations will be critical to understanding the unique facts of your case. Generally, however, trucking accidents can have many potential causes. Some of these may stem from less-controllable outside factors, including the erratic driving of another vehicle or poor weather and roadway conditions. Others, however, commonly stem from negligence or regulatory violations, including:
- Driver error / negligence (i.e. speeding, reckless driving, unsafe lane change)
- Distracted driving or drunk driving
- Improperly maintained vehicles
- Negligent hiring or retention of drivers (i.e. unqualified drivers or truckers with a history of poor driving, substance abuse, or medical conditions that would prevent them from holding a CDL)
- Violations of cargo securement or vehicle weight regulations
- Violations of Hours-of-Service Rules (which limit on-duty and driving time)
- Defective products or auto parts
Who’s responsible for my accident?
Who can be held responsible for your truck accident and financially liable for the damages you suffered is again a matter that depends on the unique facts and circumstances involved. While investigations can provide further insight into who may have caused or contributed to a crash, there are a few parties commonly implicated in trucking accidents. These include:
- Truck drivers, including truckers that violated traffic laws, trucking regulations, or otherwise failed to safely operate their vehicle.
- Trucking companies that failed to abide by trucking regulations, failed in their duties to hire qualified and responsible drivers, or otherwise failed to take reasonable measures that would have prevented a wreck.
- Product manufacturers or auto makers that designed, manufactured, or marketed unsafe and defective trucks or auto products, including faulty brakes, tires, or airbags.
- Other vehicles and drivers which may have caused or contributed to wrecks by driving negligently, such as cutting off a truck or causing a truck or victim’s vehicle to swerve.
Am I able to file a personal injury lawsuit?
Personal injury lawsuits are civil legal actions filed by injured victims who allege another party should be held financially liable for the accident and their damages. You may have the grounds to pursue a personal injury case if you believe your accident was caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of another, including the negligence of a truck driver, or the negligence of a trucking company that failed to uphold its legal duty for reasonably ensuring safety.
While it may be clear what led to some accidents and whether it would make for a viable case, there are some accidents where the underlying cause is not so apparent. Our legal team can assist you in further evaluating your accident to determine your rights when it comes to pursuing a personal injury claim. Because there is a statute of limitations in place (i.e. a time limit for filing), we encourage victims to reach out for legal assistance as soon as possible after a crash.
What damages can I recover?
Although it is difficult to place an estimated value on any case, you can gain a better understanding of the compensation to which you’re entitled by knowing what damages you may recover. In personal injury lawsuits, victims have a right to recover the economic and non-economic damages resulting from their accident and injuries. These may include, among others:
- Costs associated with medical treatment
- Expected costs of any future medical needs
- Lost income caused by missing work
- Diminished earning potential or lost future earnings
- Physical pain and suffering
- Physical disability, permanent impairment, disfigurement, etc.
- Mental and emotional injuries
- Property damage
In cases involving the most serious injuries, there may be the potential for family members of victims to recover compensation for their losses, including their emotional suffering, loss of emotional support or companionship, and more. Those same damages are also available for families in wrongful death lawsuits. Lastly, some cases involving egregious acts of misconduct or negligence may result in awards for punitive damages, which are designed to further punish wrongdoers and serve as an example to others that such conduct is not to be tolerated.
Do I need a lawyer?
While there isn’t any law requiring you to have legal representation, working with a skilled attorney can make all the difference. However, you need to be sure you choose an attorney with experience in personal injury law, as well as experience handling trucking accident cases. Truck accidents can entail a number of complex issues, including numerous potential causes and dense trucking regulations. They also typically involve commercial trucking companies and insurance providers that prioritize profits over people when defending against claims, which means they often try to pay victims, and especially those without representation, as little as possible – even if it fails to meet their needs.
By working with our attorneys at Bendit Weinstock, P.A., you can gain the support and guidance you need to navigate an unfamiliar legal journey, as well as the proven representation to help you fight for the maximum compensation possible. If you have questions about your own potential truck accident case and legal rights, please do not delay in contacting us for a FREE consultation.