Navigating the aftermath of a truck accident can be a daunting and complicated process. These incidents often involve severe injuries, extensive property damage, and multiple parties, including trucking companies with legal teams ready to defend their interests. At Cuneo & Leonetti Law Firm, our experienced Camden Truck Accident Lawyers understand the complexities of these cases. We are committed to leveling the playing field and fighting tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve. When life takes an unexpected turn, you don’t have to face it alone—contact us today for legal support tailored to your unique circumstances.
What Defines A Truck Accident?
A truck accident refers to a collision involving a commercial truck that occurs in Camden, New Jersey. Unlike typical car accidents, truck accidents often involve unique complexities due to the size and weight of commercial trucks, the potential for severe injuries or fatalities, and the multiple parties that may be involved. These parties can include the truck driver, the trucking company, manufacturers of truck parts, and other drivers on the road.
Truck accidents in Camden may involve various types of large vehicles such as:
- Semi-trucks or 18-wheelers
- Delivery trucks
- Tanker trucks
- Flatbed trucks
- Tow trucks
Because of the severity and complexity of truck accidents, specific federal and state laws and regulations apply to the trucking industry. These rules cover aspects such as driver rest periods, truck maintenance, and weight limitations, among others.
Federal Motor Carrier Laws
Federal truck accident laws in the United States are primarily governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). These laws and regulations are designed to improve the safety of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) like semi-trucks, flatbeds, and tanker trucks. Here are some key federal laws pertaining to truck accidents:
- Hours of Service Regulations: These rules dictate how many hours a truck driver can work without rest. For example, drivers carrying goods cannot drive more than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The aim is to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue.
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Requirements: Truck drivers must hold a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to operate a CMV. To obtain a CDL, drivers must pass a series of tests that evaluate both their driving skills and knowledge of safety regulations.
- Drug and Alcohol Testing: FMCSA mandates drug and alcohol testing for commercial drivers. Drivers may be tested randomly, after an accident, or if there’s reasonable suspicion of substance abuse.
- Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance: Federal laws require regular inspections and maintenance of commercial trucks. Drivers must conduct pre-trip inspections and report any defects or issues immediately. Failure to do so can result in liability in the event of an accident.
- Weight and Size Limits: The DOT sets weight and size limits for commercial trucks. Overloading or oversizing a truck not only violates federal law but also increases the risk of accidents.
- Cargo Securement Rules: FMCSA provides guidelines for properly securing cargo to prevent it from shifting or falling off, which can lead to accidents.
- Transportation of Hazardous Materials: Special rules govern the transportation of hazardous materials. These rules include specific labeling requirements, and special training is required for drivers transporting hazardous substances.
- Employer Responsibilities: Trucking companies have a set of responsibilities, including ensuring their drivers are qualified and properly licensed, that their trucks are maintained and that drivers are complying with Hours of Service regulations.
- Record-Keeping Requirements: Both drivers and employers must keep records of hours worked, vehicle maintenance, inspections, and other aspects of trucking operations. Failure to keep proper records can result in penalties and may be used as evidence in the event of a truck accident lawsuit.
Common Types of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can be particularly devastating due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles. In Camden, several common types of truck accidents occur more frequently than others. Understanding these can help you grasp the risks and potential legal complexities involved in such incidents. Here are some common types of truck accidents you might encounter:
- Jackknife Accidents: This happens when the trailer of the truck swings out to the side, forming a 90-degree angle with the cab. This can happen if the driver brakes suddenly or loses control of the truck.
- Rollovers: Due to their high center of gravity, trucks are more susceptible to rollovers, especially while navigating curves, ramps, or uneven road surfaces.
- Rear-End Collisions: Given the heavy weight of trucks, they require longer stopping distances. If a truck cannot stop in time, it may result in a rear-end collision with the vehicle in front.
- Blind Spot Accidents: Trucks have larger blind spots on all four sides compared to smaller vehicles. Accidents often occur when a truck changes lanes or turns without noticing a vehicle in its blind spot.
- Wide Turns: Trucks often need extra room to make turns, especially right turns. Cars that try to squeeze by or don’t give the truck enough space can get caught and crushed between the truck and the curb or another vehicle.
- T-Bone Accidents: Also known as side-impact collisions, these occur at intersections and are often the result of one vehicle failing to yield the right of way.
- Head-On Collisions: Though less common, head-on collisions involving trucks are often catastrophic, frequently leading to severe injuries or fatalities.
- Underride Accidents: These happen when a smaller vehicle slides under the rear or side of a larger truck, often with devastating consequences.
- Lost Load Accidents: If a truck’s cargo is not properly secured, it can fall off and cause accidents.
- Tanker Truck Accidents: Specific to trucks carrying liquid cargo, these accidents can involve spills that pose additional risks, including hazardous materials incidents.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can be particularly devastating and complex to resolve. In Camden, there are several common causes of truck accidents that everyone should be aware of:
- Driver Fatigue: Truck drivers often work long hours and can become fatigued, increasing the likelihood of errors and accidents.
- Distracted Driving: Use of mobile devices, eating, or any form of distraction can divert a driver’s attention, resulting in accidents. This affects a variety of different motor vehicles. Contact a Camden car accident attorney today for specialized legal help.
- Speeding: Operating a large vehicle at high speeds decreases the driver’s ability to steer safely around curves and increases the stopping distance, which can contribute to crashes.
- Impaired Driving: Alcohol or drug use significantly impairs a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: Failure to adequately maintain a commercial vehicle can result in mechanical failures like brake issues or tire blowouts, which can cause accidents.
- Inadequate Training: Driving a large commercial truck requires specialized training. Inadequate or incomplete training can result in driver errors that lead to accidents.
- Cargo Issues: Overloading or improperly securing cargo can lead to unbalanced weight distribution, making the vehicle hard to control.
- Weather Conditions: Rain, snow, fog, and icy roads can all contribute to truck accidents.
- Reckless Driving: Tailgating, abrupt lane changes, and ignoring traffic signs or signals can lead to serious accidents involving trucks.
- Blind Spots: Trucks have larger blind spots than passenger vehicles. A failure to adequately check these blind spots before changing lanes or making turns can lead to collisions.
- Traffic Congestion: Heavy traffic conditions can make it difficult for trucks to maneuver and stop in time to prevent an accident.
- Road Defects: Sometimes the condition of the road itself, such as potholes, lack of signage, or inadequate lighting, can contribute to truck accidents.
Camden Truck Insurance Requirements
Insurance requirements are in place to ensure that in the event of an accident, there are sufficient funds to cover property damage, bodily injury, and other potential liabilities. The specifics can vary based on the type of cargo being hauled and whether the truck is involved in intrastate (within New Jersey) or interstate (across state lines) commerce.
For trucks engaged in interstate commerce, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets minimum insurance requirements. These can vary greatly depending on the type of cargo. For example:
- General freight trucks often need a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance.
- Trucks transporting hazardous materials may need up to $5 million in liability insurance.
For trucks operating only within the state of New Jersey (intrastate commerce), the state has its own minimum insurance requirements. Like the federal requirements, these can also depend on the type of cargo and the truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Here are some general guidelines for different types of vehicles in New Jersey:
- General freight: The minimum requirement is often similar to the federal requirement, starting at around $750,000.
- Passenger vehicles: Buses and other passenger transport vehicles have different insurance requirements based on the number of passengers they can carry.
- Hazardous materials: Trucks transporting hazardous materials within New Jersey may have higher insurance requirements, potentially mirroring or exceeding federal guidelines.
Statute of Limitations for Camden Truck Accidents
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim related to a truck accident in Camden is generally two (2) years from the date of the accident. This means that if you’re involved in a truck accident in Camden, you typically have two (2) years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit seeking damages for injuries sustained, property damage, and other losses. After this period, you may be barred from bringing a claim.
The two-year statute of limitations usually applies to:
- Personal injury claims
- Wrongful death claims (though the two-year period might begin from the date of death, not necessarily the date of the accident)
- Property damage claims
Also, while the statute of limitations governs the time within which a lawsuit must be filed, insurance claims often have their own deadlines that are much shorter. Promptly reporting the accident to your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company is generally advisable.
Contact Our Camden Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident in Camden, the clock is ticking to assert your rights and claim the compensation you’re entitled to. At Cuneo & Leonetti Law Firm, we specialize in navigating the intricate web of state and federal laws surrounding truck accidents. Our dedicated Camden truck accident lawyers are ready to provide the personalized attention and knowledge your case deserves. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation, and let us be your Camden personal injury attorney advocates in this challenging time. We’re committed to fighting tirelessly on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.