Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

Commercial trucks are massive and difficult to maneuver, outweighing the average passenger vehicle by as much as 14,000 pounds. A truck accident in New Jersey commonly requires a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the accident and the party liable for damages to victims, including property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages. After a truck accident, the insurance company representing the trucking company assigns an adjuster to investigate the accident with the goal of protecting company profits. That’s why an injury victim in a commercial truck accident should have an attorney on their side investigating the accident and carefully documenting evidence of liability to protect their client’s right to full compensation for damages. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, it’s important to understand the complex issue of liability for truck accidents.

Truck driving in New Jersey.

How Does Truck Driver Liability Work?

Truck accidents are not only more devasting than typical traffic accidents, but truck accident claims are more challenging to navigate when an injury victim seeks compensation for their damages. Unlike most car accidents, the driver of a truck isn’t necessarily the liable party even if they appear to be at fault for the accident. A diligent investigation identifies the cause of the accident, the negligent or reckless action responsible, and the party that’s liable for the damages. In a truck accident, any of the following parties could bear liability or may have contributed fault in the accident:

  • The driver if they are an independent contractor
  • The trucking company
  • A negligent freight loading company
  • A negligent commercial truck maintenance company
  • The manufacturer of a defective truck or trailer part
  • The manufacturer of materials hauled by the truck if the load caused an accident

Less commonly, the investigation could reveal a third party as liable for the accident such as a negligent road maintenance agency or a third-party driver.

Truck Company Negligence

Commercial truck companies may be liable for damages to accident victims even if the driver made an error or committed negligence. If the trucking company failed to properly log or monitor driving hours, made unrealistic driving goals for drivers, or used negligent hiring or training practices they could be liable for damages to the victims. In many cases, an accident victim has a good case for liability against a trucking company under the premise that the company holds ultimate responsibility for its employee’s actions. This is the “Respondeat Superior Theory.” Under this premise, the trucking company is responsible for an accident as long as the driver is acting within the terms of their employment when the accident occurs.

Important Evidence for Your Truck Accident Case

Several entities investigate commercial truck accidents after they occur. Although local law enforcement makes a report, they typically limit the scope of the investigation and reserve funds for criminal investigations. Instead, the most in-depth investigation takes place by the trucking company’s insurance provider and their attorneys as well as an attorney representing the accident victims. Important evidence in commercial truck accident states include the following:

  • The police report
  • Photos and videos of the damaged vehicles and the accident scene
  • Any available footage from traffic cameras, dash-cams, and nearby surveillance cameras that might have captured the accident itself
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • The damaged truck and other vehicles
  • The medical report proving injuries occurred in the accident

When accident victims take photos and videos while on the scene immediately following the accident it helps provide compelling evidence, but often truck accident victims are too seriously injured to take photos. If a case lacks sufficient evidence from the scene or video evidence, attorneys often rely on expert witness testimony from accident reconstruction experts. Medical experts also provide important insight into the impacts of the injury on the victim’s life and their ability to earn a living.

What Kinds of Injuries Are Common in Truck Accidents?

Truck accidents cause serious or even catastrophic injuries including those that cause long-term disability and impairment. Common injuries in truck accidents include the following:

  • Traumatic head injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Fractures
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Internal organ damage
  • Soft-tissue injuries
  • Burns
  • Facial injuries

Even minor injuries can quickly cause financial hardship. More serious injuries can cause life-altering changes.

How a Cherry Hill Attorney Can Help

The aftermath of a truck accident is chaotic and confusing. The police typically prioritize quickly clearing the scene to restore traffic flow, but this erases critical evidence. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck accident in Cherry Hill or the surrounding New Jersey area, an experienced Cherry Hill truck accident lawyer will thoroughly investigate the accident, examine evidence, and meticulously document proof of liability. Evidence of liability must show the following:

  • That the at-fault party owed a duty of care to the injury victim and others to take reasonable measures to prevent causing injury
  • They breached their duty of care by acting negligently or recklessly
  • Their breach of duty caused the accident and injuries
  • The injury victim suffered significant damages from the injury

Damages in Cherry Hill truck accident cases are often significant, causing financial hardship for victims.

Common Damages in New Jersey Truck Accident Cases

Damages in a truck accident often include far more than just property damage to a vehicle, which is often totaled due to the massive weight of a commercial truck. All of the consequences of an accident to the victim are the damages in a truck accident claim. Common damages include the following:

  • Property damage
  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical costs related to the injury
  • Lost wages
  • Future income loss
  • Diminished future earning capacity due to disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other non-economic damages that apply in unique cases such as emotional damages or compensation for traumatic limb loss or disfigurement

When an attorney documents ample evidence of liability in a truck accident case, it makes a strong case for a settlement. If the insurance company fails to offer a settlement for the full value of damages, an accident attorney will file a plaintiff’s lawsuit and litigate the matter in court seeking a jury verdict for damages. Injury victims in New Jersey have up to two years after a truck accident to file a lawsuit to recover their damages.