New Jersey is a thoroughfare for interstate commerce, a manufacturing hub, and home to nearly 9 million people.
While the state is geographically small (fewer than 8,800 square miles), it's the most densely populated in the nation. Jersey City, Newark, and New York City are notorious for their traffic and long commute times. For each of these cities, the average commute time for all commuters was more than 35 minutes, which means they spend about 133 hours per year in traffic. New York City is included because so many New Jersey residents commute into the City on a regular basis.
While many of these commuters take public transportation, there are also plenty who drive — and more time on the road means more opportunity to be involved in a crash. As a manufacturing hub, New Jersey roads are also populated by many semi-trucks and tractor trailers, which means truck accidents are common in the Garden State.
There were 32 tractor-trailer crashes and 35 truck accident fatalities in New Jersey in 2018. The following charts are based on data compiled by the New Jersey State Police Fatal Accident Investigation Unit:
Other contributing factors that commonly causes truck wrecks, based on New Jersey law enforcement data, include:
It's important to protect your legal rights if you're involved in a truck accident.
Most of us have been in a car accident at some time in our lives (maybe more than 1). You probably know the drill — exchange information with the other driver (or drivers), call your insurance company, and take it from there. If it's clear which driver was at fault for the accident, the insurance companies can often handle things on their own.
But a truck accident is more complicated.
Even if you're certain that the accident was the result of the truck driver's action (that is, not your fault), it's still not clear-cut as to who is liable.
The premise of personal injury law is that a plaintiff (the injured party) should be made whole (compensated) for their injuries if they were the result of a defendant's negligence. "Made whole" means that the plaintiff is restored to the financial condition they'd have been in if the accident hadn't happened.
Liability is a legal word for fault. New Jersey is a no-fault state, which means your accident damages are typically paid by your own insurance policy, regardless of whether you were or another driver was at fault.
However, your truck accident might leave you with injuries that are greater than what your own insurance will cover. New Jersey allows for a lawsuit to cover expenses outside Personal Injury Protection (PIP)/no-fault insurance for accidents that result in serious injuries such as:
If your insurance doesn't cover the extent of your injuries, knowing who was liable will be crucial to your case. In a truck accident, there can be a number of potential defendants:
Statistics can give you an idea about the frequency of truck accidents, but they don't tell you what to do if it happens to you. Any vehicle accident can be devastating, and plenty of "regular" car accidents result in serious or fatal injuries. But a truck accident is often more severe than a car accident because of the sheer size of the truck compared to a passenger car.
If you drive an average-sized car, it probably weighs around 4,000 pounds. A "big rig" tractor trailer or semi-truck might weigh more than 30,000 pounds. In addition to the weight difference, the center of gravity for a large truck is far higher than a passenger car, which means the truck and its driver are likely to fare much better in a crash than the car occupants.
These tips for what to do after a car accident depend on how severely you're injured. If you can't get out of the car, walk, move, or believe you have other injuries, stay put until help arrives.
If you are able to do so safely and without further injuring yourself, here are 6 post-truck accident tips:
Workers' compensation is available to most New Jersey residents who are injured in a truck accident, whether you're a truck driver or someone in a passenger car who drives for your job.
Generally, workers' compensation covers:
What doesn't workers' compensation cover?
If you were injured in a truck accident while performing duties for work, you should consult a workers' compensation lawyer in order to file a claim.
While there's no limit on ways a truck accident could happen, these are some of the most common types we see on New Jersey interstates, highways and roads:
A passenger car can slide underneath a truck, either from the rear or the side. The height difference in the vehicles could mean that the top or front of the car could be crushed and its occupants seriously injured. This is an especially deadly type of truck accident.
A "jackknife" is when the cab and trailer portions of a big rig fold at the joint. If the back of the trailer moves faster than the cab, it creates a sharp angle that causes the truck to face 2 directions. If this happens, the driver no longer has control over the vehicle. A nearby car could collide with the swinging trailer or wedge underneath the rear of the truck.
"Hazmat" stands for hazardous materials. This classification could include anything from gasoline, to pesticides, to lithium batteries, to dry ice. What classifies cargo as hazardous is if it's either highly flammable or could become harmful to breathe if it becomes airborne.
A hazmat accident can affect not just the drivers on the road, but also anyone in surrounding areas. If a toxic substance is released into the air or certain bodies of water, it can affect people in nearby communities.
There are many federal regulations for loading cargo, and the main consideration is that the haul must be immobile and secure. The truck's restraint system must be strong enough to keep cargo from sliding or shifting.
There are 2 ways an unsecured load accident could happen:
Both cars and trucks can have tire blowouts. When that happens, it can cause the vehicle to swerve into another lane, roll over, or (in the case of semi trucks) jackknife. A tire blowout is usually caused by wear and tear, defective manufacturing, or lack of routine maintenance. If a truck tire blows out, the debris from the broken tire could hit other cars, or the truck could collide with other cars if it swerves out of its lane.
Sometimes, accidents truly are... accidents. But many truck accidents are caused by driver error, either on the part of the truck driver or a passenger car driver (or both).
Here are 5 ways that driver error can result in truck accidents:
If your truck accident injuries are serious, it's important to call a lawyer as soon as possible.
Damages after a truck accident include:
A qualified lawyer can help maximize your recovery by working with accountants, actuaries, and medical experts to ensure that your future expenses are covered to the greatest extent possible. To find a New Jersey truck accident lawyer, feel free to use the Enjuris law firm directory — it's thorough, free, and a great resource to get you on your way to financial recovery.
You can also find everything you need to know about truck accidents in our free, downloadable Truck Accident Guide — complete with FAQs, printable forms, and information on a variety of truck accident-related topics.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more