Collisions involving trucks can cause severe and even fatal injuries to pedestrians, bikers, cyclists, and occupants of smaller vehicles. In most cases, the trucking company or driver bears at least partial responsibility. An injured person could hold them liable for damages.
Contact an East Brunswick truck accident lawyer immediately after a crash. Insurers for the commercial transportation industry aggressively try to discourage claims, so it is important to have a steadfast personal injury attorney who can push back against any attempts to intimidate you or your family.
New Jersey’s no-fault system for vehicle crashes limits who has access to the courts after an accident. Anyone injured in a collision must first turn to their personal injury protection (PIP) for coverage. Passengers who do not have PIP would claim against the PIP of the vehicle they occupied when the crash happened. If the PIP is inadequate to cover an injured person’s expenses, they could turn to the liability coverage of the at-fault driver.
In most cases in the state, the injured party has no access to the courts unless they either bought a Standard policy with an unlimited right to sue or have qualifying injuries. However, New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 39:6A-2 does not include commercial vehicles in the state’s no-fault scheme. Anyone who suffered injuries in a truck collision could sue for damages if PIP is inadequate to cover their losses.
Trucking companies have commercial insurance policies offering significant coverage to people with injuries resulting from the trucker’s or company’s negligence. An East Brunswick truck accident attorney could examine the evidence, including police reports, trucker’s logs, vehicle damage, witness statements, the truck’s data recorder, and other relevant information to establish the company had responsibility for the crash. Insurance company representatives might contact an injured person soon after the incident, so engaging legal counsel as quickly as possible could make a big difference in settlement discussions.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Board reports that trucker error is a factor in a significant percentage of truck accidents that cause injury.
Sometimes the trucker made the error but the trucking company could be liable. If the driver was an employee, the company would be responsible for their negligence. If the driver was an independent contractor, the company might claim they are not responsible. However, if a trucking company rule or decision led to the driver’s error, an East Brunswick attorney could hold the company liable in many cases.
Truck collisions often involve multiple liable parties. The company that loaded the trailer, the contractor responsible for maintaining the truck, and the vehicle manufacturer could all potentially have liability, depending on the facts of the accident. The complexity of these cases makes it imperative to work with an experienced advocate.
Anyone suffering from injuries sustained in a truck accident could claim compensatory damages, which comprise economic and non-economic damages. In rare cases, an East Brunswick attorney could prove a truck accident victim is entitled to punitive damages.
Economic damages include losses like medical expenses, property damage, incidental costs of seeking treatment, rehabilitation expenses, and other outlays. Unearned wages and lost earning opportunities are part of an injured person’s economic damages. An injured person could claim losses they will suffer in the future, such as necessary medical treatment and permanently diminished earning capacity, in their claim for economic damages.
Non-economic damages are losses that do not have a price tag but impact the injured person’s ability to live a full and enjoyable life. Physical pain, scarring, temporary or permanent disability, emotional distress, lost enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship could be elements of a claim for non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are only available when the injured person proves the responsible party acted intentionally or willfully disregarded the danger their conduct posed to others. The burden of proof to obtain punitive damages is heavy, and there is insufficient evidence to meet the burden in most truck accident cases.
However, if a trucking company clearly ignored a safety concern to increase profits, a trucker was driving drunk, or in similarly outrageous circumstances, pursuing punitive damages could be worthwhile. New Jersey caps punitive damages at twice an injured person’s compensatory damages, or $350,000, whichever is more.
Incidents involving trucks often cause significant injuries and potentially wrongful death. When the trucking company or its driver contributed to the crash, you could hold them liable for damages. These cases require aggressive, experienced counsel, so contact a New Brunswick truck accident lawyer today.