Determining Negligence in Truck Accident Cases
Truck accidents are the most devastating vehicle collisions on the road. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large trucks were involved in 4,862 fatal accidents in 2018 alone. Almost all truck accidents are preventable. They result from negligence or a trucking company’s reckless acts. Determining negligence is often necessary to recover fair financial compensation for injuries and losses after a truck accident in New Jersey.
Examples of Negligence by Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies
In personal injury law, an individual or entity is negligent if that party was careless – or failed to take the proper care for this situation – and this caused harm to another person. Negligence that causes injuries or deaths in New Jersey can give victims grounds to file truck accident lawsuits. These are claims that can lead to financial compensation to reimburse the victim for past and future related losses.
Truck drivers and trucking companies are behind many truck accidents in New Jersey. Common causes include:
- Truck driver negligence. A truck driver is negligent if he or she does something that an ordinarily prudent driver would not have done in the same circumstances. Negligence does not have to be intentional; it can refer to a careless or unintentional mistake behind the wheel, as well.
- Truck driver recklessness. Reckless driving is a step above negligent driving. It describes actions the truck driver knows to be wrong and dangerous yet are intentionally committed anyway. Examples are driving under the influence, texting and driving, speeding, tailgating, aggressive driving, and red-light running.
- Trucking company negligence. A trucking company could be guilty of negligence in the form of lax hiring or training procedures, improper fleet maintenance, broken federal safety regulations, pressuring drivers to break the rules, and improper cargo loading.
A trucking company can be directly liable for causing or contributing to a truck accident. A company could also be vicariously liable for the actions of its employees, including truck drivers. Holding a truck company liable for an accident requires a ponderance of the evidence.
Evidence Used in Truck Accident Cases
A preponderance of the evidence is clear evidence that convinces a judge or jury that the defendant is more likely than not guilty of committing the wrongful act in question and that this was the actual cause of the truck accident. The success of a truck accident lawsuit in New Jersey rests on whether the victim or his or her attorney can present enough evidence to prove the defendant’s liability. Evidence may include:
- A copy of the truck accident police report
- Photographs and witness statements
- The truck’s black box (data recorder)
- Downloads from onboard systems
- The driver’s inspection reports and electronic logging device
- The truck driver’s cell phone records
- Employment records from the trucking company
- The truck driver’s driving and medical records
- Fleet inspection and maintenance reports
- The trucking company’s federal law compliance history
- Alcohol and drug screening results
It is imperative to hire a truck accident attorney as soon as possible to help you collect evidence. An attorney can immediately take action on your behalf to preserve evidence, such as sending the truck company a spoliation letter to prevent it from destroying any important evidence. Then, your lawyer can present the evidence for you for optimal results.
Who Could Be Responsible for Causing Your Accident?
The person or company most at fault for causing your truck accident in New Jersey will be financially responsible for your injuries and losses if the crash was serious enough to allow you to file a personal injury claim outside of the no-fault insurance system.
The party you name as the defendant in your truck accident lawsuit could be the trucking company, the owner/operator of the truck, a cargo company, a maintenance crew or repair shop, an auto manufacturer, a third party driver, the government, or a combination of parties. The best way to determine liability for your truck accident is with help from an experienced attorney in New Jersey.