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Car Accidents With Commercial Vehicles: What to Know

Car accidents involving commercial vehicles can be complex and devastating. Understanding who is responsible and the intricacies involved is crucial for anyone affected by such incidents.

This article offers insight into the key aspects of commercial vehicle accidents, including responsibility, major factors to consider, compensation in New Jersey, and the nature of commercial vehicles themselves.

Car Accidents With Commercial Vehicles: What to Know

Who is Responsible for Car Accidents That Happened Due to Commercial Vehicles?

Determining who is responsible for car accidents involving commercial vehicles can be quite complex. Here’s a simple breakdown of the key points:

Commercial Vehicle Driver

The driver of the commercial vehicle is often the first to be considered responsible. If the driver was speeding, not paying attention, or breaking traffic laws, they can be held accountable.

For example, on busy New Jersey roads like the New Jersey Turnpike, driver error is a common cause of accidents.

Commercial Vehicle Owner or Employer

The company that owns the vehicle or employs the driver can also be responsible. This is especially true if they do not follow safety rules or force the driver to work too many hours. A notable case of a crash on the New Jersey Turnpike involving a Walmart truck highlighted the potential liability of employers.

Vehicle Manufacturer

If the accident was caused by a vehicle defect, like faulty brakes, the manufacturer of the commercial vehicle might be responsible.

Other Factors

Sometimes, other factors like poor road conditions or the actions of other drivers can contribute to an accident. For instance, potholes on local roads like Route 1 in New Jersey can be a factor.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2020, of the 35,766 fatal crashes in the U.S., 4,588 (12.8%) involved at least one large truck or bus, and out of an estimated 5,215,000 nonfatal crashes, 440,000 (8.4%) involved at least one large truck or bus.

Legal Citations

Under the New Jersey Statute 39:4-97, careless driving or failure to observe safety standards by commercial vehicle drivers can lead to legal liability.

The case of Schramm v. Foster highlights employer liability, where the court held that employers can be responsible for accidents caused by their employees while working.

According to FMCSA in 2020, the U.S. had over 10 million single-unit trucks, about 3 million combination trucks, and over 1 million buses, with large trucks covering 10.4% of total vehicle miles traveled.

Additionally, it highlights that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates over 750,000 active interstate and intrastate commercial motor carriers, emphasizing the vast scale and regulatory oversight of commercial vehicle operations in the U.S.

See also: What Happens If I’m Responsible For The Car Accident?

7 Major Things to Know About Car Accidents with Commercial Vehicles

Understanding car accidents involving commercial vehicles is crucial, especially given their complexity. Here are seven major aspects to consider, explained in simple terms:

Commercial Vehicle Size and Weight

Bigger and heavier vehicles, like trucks and buses, can cause more damage in accidents. Their size also makes them harder to control and stop quickly.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large trucks are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents.

For example, on roads like the New Jersey Turnpike, accidents involving large commercial vehicles can be particularly severe due to their size and weight.

Cargo Problems

If cargo is not properly loaded or secured, it can shift or fall off, causing accidents. Overloading also affects the vehicle’s stability and braking.

An overloaded truck on Route 1 in New Jersey could lose control or have its cargo spill, leading to accidents.

Case Reference: Mavroudis v. Pittsburgh-Corning Corp. emphasized the importance of adhering to safety regulations and proper cargo loading standards.

Insurance Policies

Commercial vehicles typically have more complex insurance policies with higher coverage limits compared to personal vehicles.

Understanding these policies is important for accident victims seeking compensation.

Driver’s License Issues

Driving a commercial vehicle requires a special license, like a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License).

Drivers without proper licensing or with violations can lead to legal and safety issues. For instance, a CDL holder violating traffic laws on I-95 in New Jersey faces serious penalties.

New Jersey Statute 39:3-10: Requires proper licensing for commercial vehicle drivers.

Rules and Regulations

Commercial drivers must adhere to strict regulations, including hours of service, rest periods, and drug and alcohol testing.

Violations can lead to liability in accidents. For example, a driver exceeding the hours of service on the Garden State Parkway could be held responsible for resulting accidents.

Employer Liability

Companies are often held liable for accidents caused by their employees. This includes not just driving errors, but also failing to enforce safety standards or proper training.

Tracy Morgan crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, Walmart was found partially liable due to the actions of their employee driver.

Maintenance Records Issue

Regular and proper maintenance of commercial vehicles is not just a legal requirement but also crucial for safety.

Under federal regulations, companies must keep detailed maintenance records. Lack of maintenance leading to an accident, such as brake failure on a busy road like Route 130 in New Jersey, can result in liability for the company.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR): Sets standards for commercial vehicle operations, including maintenance and driver conduct.

How Commercial Vehicle Accidents Be Compensated in New Jersey

When a commercial vehicle accident happens in New Jersey, the process of getting compensated can be a bit complex, but it’s important to understand how it works:

Types of Compensation Available

  1. Medical Expenses: This covers hospital bills, medication costs, and any future medical care resulting from the accident.
  2. Lost Wages: If you can’t work because of the accident, you can get money for the time you’ve missed at work.
  3. Pain and Suffering: This is for the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident.
  4. Property Damage: This includes repairs or replacement for your vehicle and any other personal property damaged in the crash.

New Jersey’s Laws

New Jersey follows a “Modified Comparative Negligence” rule. This means if you’re partly at fault for the accident, your compensation might be reduced.

For example, if you’re 10% at fault in an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike, your compensation will be reduced by 10%.

New Jersey Statutes Title 39, Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation, provides guidelines on motor vehicle operations and responsibilities in case of an accident.

A notable case, Sotomayor v. Vasquez, underscored the importance of evidence in claiming full compensation.

Comprehensive Overview: Commercial Vehicles Types

Commercial vehicles are a common sight, especially on busy roads like the New Jersey Turnpike or Route 1. These vehicles are crucial for transportation and business operations.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are strict regulations for operating commercial vehicles, especially those carrying hazardous materials.

Here’s a simple overview of the different types of commercial vehicles you might see:

  1. Delivery Vans and Trucks: Used for transporting goods to stores or directly to customers. Commonly seen in urban areas and on highways.
  2. 18-wheelers and Semi-Trucks: Large trucks with a significant cargo capacity. Often used for long-distance transport of goods.
  3. Buses: Includes city buses, school buses, and long-distance coaches. Used for public and private passenger transport.
  4. Dump Trucks and Garbage Trucks: Specialized for waste management and construction work. Frequently spotted in urban and suburban areas.
  5. Utility Vehicles: Such as those used by electric, cable, and phone companies. Often seen in neighborhoods performing maintenance work.
  6. Tow Trucks: Used for moving vehicles that are unable to drive. Visible on all types of roads, providing roadside assistance.
  7. Tanker Trucks: Transport liquid goods, like fuel or chemicals. Require special handling due to their potentially hazardous cargo.

See also: What Are Some Key Differences Between Commercial Truck Crashes & Car Accidents?

What Percentage of Motorcycle Accidents Are Caused by a Car in NJ?

In New Jersey, a significant number of motorcycle accidents involve cars. Data from the New Jersey Department of Transportation indicates that cars are involved in approximately 60% of motorcycle accidents.

These accidents often happen due to cars not seeing motorcycles, especially at intersections or while changing lanes on busy roads like the Garden State Parkway.

Key Factors in Motorcycle And Car Accidents

  1. Visibility Issues: Motorcycles are smaller and less visible than cars, making it hard for car drivers to spot them.
  2. Road Conditions: On roads like Route 1, heavy traffic and frequent stops increase the risk of accidents between cars and motorcycles.
  3. Driver Behavior: Sometimes, car drivers may not adequately check for motorcycles or underestimate their speed, leading to collisions.

Consult with Car accident lawyers in New Jersey

If you’ve been in a car accident in New Jersey, talking to a car accident lawyer can be a very important step. Here’s a simple guide on why consulting a lawyer is essential and what they can do for you:

Why Consult a Car Accident Lawyer in New Jersey

  • Understanding Your Rights: A lawyer can explain your rights under New Jersey law. This includes how to file an insurance claim and what compensation you might be entitled to.
  • Navigating Laws: New Jersey follows a ‘Modified Comparative Negligence’ rule. This means if you are partly at fault, your compensation could be reduced. A lawyer can help understand how this applies to your case.

How a Lawyer Can Help

  • Dealing with Insurance Companies: Lawyers are experienced in negotiating with insurance companies. They can help you get a fair settlement. Firms like Rosengard Group have expertise in these negotiations.
  • Gathering Evidence: They can collect evidence to support your claim, like traffic camera footage or witness statements, especially in accident-prone areas like the intersection of Route 1 and Route 18.
  • Legal Representation: If your case goes to court, a lawyer will represent you, ensuring your side of the story is heard.

Important Legal Citations

  • New Jersey Statute 39:4-129: Deals with duties in case of an accident, like reporting the accident, which a lawyer can assist with.
  • Case Reference: In Fernandes v. DAR Development Corp., the court highlighted the importance of legal guidance in car accident cases.

Choosing the Right Lawyer

  • Experience: Look for a lawyer with experience in car accident cases.
  • Reputation: Check their track record and client reviews.

Consulting with a car accident lawyer in New Jersey, such as those at Rosengard Law Group, can greatly improve your understanding of the situation and your chances of getting fair compensation. They guide you through each step, making the process less stressful and more effective.

FAQs

What Should I Do After Commercial Vehicle Accidents in New Jersey?

After a commercial vehicle accident in New Jersey, ensure your safety and call emergency services. Then, document the scene with photos, gather witness information, and report the accident to the police.

Who Is Liable for Accidents in a Commercial Vehicle Accident in NJ?

In New Jersey, liability for a commercial vehicle accident can fall on the vehicle’s driver, the employer, the vehicle manufacturer, or other parties, depending on the specific circumstances of the accident.

Conclusion

Car accidents involving commercial vehicles in New Jersey are governed by a complex set of factors.

From determining liability to understanding the compensation process, it’s crucial to be informed.

Consulting with experienced lawyers can provide essential guidance and support. Understanding these aspects can significantly aid those involved in or affected by such incidents.

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