In unwelcome news for passenger vehicles, the number of truck accidents on American roadways is on the rise. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) maintains that one in 10 fatal traffic accidents involve a large truck. Worse still, due to their size and weight, large trucks have the potential to cause serious damage when colliding with a passenger vehicle – even when traveling at low speeds. If you or a loved one is a victim of those accidents, you need to speak with a Cherry Hill truck accident attorney.
Truck Accident Liability Can Be Shared By the Owner, Driver & Truck Company
Assessing liability for a truck accident is a complicated process, with the potential inclusion of multiple defendants. A skilled truck accident lawyer can help determine who is at fault. A truck driver who is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can clearly be held liable for causing a crash which leaves innocent victims with serious injuries. Similarly, a truck driver who speeds, drives recklessly, drives while drowsy, or otherwise fails to abide by the rules of the road is easily identifiable as a defendant in a personal injury action.
Occasionally, however, third parties not directly involved in a truck accident can also share liability for a crash. Oftentimes the driver of a large truck is not the owner of the big, and it is the owner who is responsible for maintenance and ensuring that a truck is safe to operate. When a truck is not subjected to routine safety inspections or is operated with a known, preexisting defect, the owner can be held accountable. Similarly, when a driver operates a truck at the behest of an employer who has leased the truck from an owner, both the employer and the owner of the fleet can be deemed liable. A consultation with a Cherry Hill truck accident attorney will explain all of your possible legal claims and who can be named as a defendant.
Design Defects and the Importance of Proper Loading
At other times a truck is rendered unsafe through no fault of the driver, the owner, or the driver’s employer. Design flaws and errors made during the manufacturing process present a hidden danger, for a truck can appear to be in good working condition until the defect becomes apparent – often when it is too late. A product liability action can be filed against the manufacturer when tires are not constructed to withstand the load and miles advertised. Similarly, a weak or cracked underride guard – which prevents a car from wedging itself under the bed of a large truck during a rear-end accident – can result in a lawsuit against the manufacturer. Fortunately, a Cherry Hill truck accident attorney from our firm is ready to help.
Even when a truck is fully operational, deemed safe and driven responsibly, it can still cause a crash. A large truck which is loaded improperly by a shipper will suffer from instability because weight is unevenly distributed throughout the cargo bed. In such a scenario a large truck can easily overturn or be unable to brake in time to avoid a collision. Victims of a large truck accident caused by improperly loaded cargo can also include the shipper as a defendant in any ensuing personal injury action.
Trucking accidents occur daily, often with disastrous results. Because large trucks can be 30 times larger than a motor vehicle and take up to 40 percent longer to come to a complete stop, passengers in motor vehicles stand little chance. To that end, the IIHS maintains that 68 percent of the 3,660 Americans fatally injured in large truck accidents in 2014 were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, while just 16 percent were occupants of the truck.
Rear-End Truck Accidents
If you’ve been rear-ended, chances are that you’ll find it relatively straightforward to establish that the defendant-driver was negligent. Unless you suddenly brought your vehicle to a stop (leaving the defendant without enough time or space to avoid a collision), an attentive driver will be aware of your speed and position and can react appropriately. Failure to do so is likely indicative of negligence on the part of the defendant-driver.
Rear-end accidents can cause significant trauma. For example, if you are waiting at a four-way intersection stop sign, and a truck slams into the back of your vehicle, then you could experience severe back, neck, and head injuries due to the forward-back “snapping” motion created by the impact. In some scenarios, a light collision can exacerbate a pre-existing condition (i.e., a spinal degenerative condition), thus giving you a right of action for damages despite the collision having occurred at a low speed.
Head-On Truck Accidents
Head-on collisions are uniquely dangerous, as the force of impact is a sum of the independent contribution of force of each vehicle. For example, if two vehicles of similar weight collide head-on at a speed of 50 miles per hour, then the force of impact will be roughly equivalent to a collision occurring at 100 miles per hour (with one vehicle hitting a static object).
Given the severity of head-on accidents, the damages can be substantial. Defendants tend to therefore be aggressive in arguing such disputes. They often assert, for example, that the plaintiff is also at-fault for their own injuries. They might argue that the plaintiff did not do enough to avoid the collision. If they can show that the plaintiff is at least 51 percent at-fault for the collision, then New Jersey law will prohibit the imposition of liability altogether. A Cherry Hill truck accident attorney at our firm will be sure to present all of the evidence possible to provide you with your strongest liability claim.
A Cherry Hill Truck Accident Attorney Will Seek Justice for Injured Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck accident, contact a South Jersey truck accident lawyer at Folkman Law Offices who will aggressively pursue your claim in court. Contact us today at 856-354-9444 or complete our online contact form to learn how we will put our experience to work for you. At our Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania offices, we proudly serve clients throughout the region.