Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Burlington County Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney

Truck accidents across the state of New Jersey are literally an everyday event. Because of the size of a tractor-trailer versus the size of most other vehicles, when a collision occurs, serious injuries are almost a guaranteed result. Tractor-Trailer crashes account for approximately 12 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities with the occupant of the other vehicle being killed in about 98 percent of those cases. Any claim that commercial tractor-trailer accidents in New Jersey are deadly is a drastic understatement. The primary reason is the massive weight and size difference between an 80,000 pound fully loaded Tractor-Trailer and a 3,000-pound passenger vehicle.
Need Help With a Tractor-Trailer Accident Case?
Some of the most common reasons for semi accidents involving include:

  • Driving while tired and drowsy
  • Driving in an aggressive manner
  • Driving at excessive speeds
  • Disregarding weather conditions
  • Driving with a truck that has been overloaded
  • Driving a truck that has not had the proper maintenance.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

A Tractor-Trailer crash is not just a “motor vehicle accident with bigger vehicles.” This type of collision involves complex and highly specialized litigation requiring an Attorney with knowledge of the following:

  • Thorough understanding of the regulations that govern the commercial trucking industry
  • Awareness of unethical industry practices including destroying and altering critical evidence
  • Access to trucking accident experts who can quickly be dispatched to the scene of a Tractor-Trailer accident
  • Many years of experience and specialized training in handling commercial trucking accidents
  • Intimate familiarity with trucking industry customs and practices

The injuries that the victim of a Tractor-Trailer accident typically suffers can have a significant impact on the rest of one’s life. Some of the more common injuries include:

  • Head and Neck Injuries
  • Serious Brain Injury
  • Permanent Debilitating Spinal Cord Damages
  • Loss of Function of Internal Organs
  • Compound fractures and crushed bones

The medical and other economic costs of these types of semi injuries can easily exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in financial loss not to mention the physical and emotional toll.

When you’ve been injured in a truck accident, your whole life can change. Similarly, if someone you love is killed in an accident on the highway, the emotional and financial distress can be overwhelming.

Need Help With a Tractor-Trailer Accident Case?
The Problem of Disappearing Evidence in Tractor-Trailer Accident Cases

Tractor-Trailer accidents can be complex because critical evidence often conveniently “disappears.” Trucking companies have been known to send their investigators and experts to the scene of a Tractor-Trailer accident within minutes of a collision. The big-rig truck can be moved or evidence at the scene can be altered which may make it harder to prove what caused the Tractor-Trailer accident.

Other evidence that can be tampered with is the “logbook” of a driver or the onboard data recorder. These logbooks are maintained by drivers to record the number of hours they have been on the road and compliance with mandatory rest period requirements. These logbooks are routinely manipulated or altered. There are specific “hours of service” regulations that a driver is not supposed to violate that require the driver to rest for mandated periods of time. A truck driver’s violation of these rules may be important to establishing negligence and proving that driver fatigue was a cause of the Tractor-Trailer crash. Unfortunately, drivers abuse these rules all the time to increase their earnings. In the name of profit, trucking companies often look the other way or encourage this practice. This results in many overly fatigued Tractor-Trailer drivers on the road, and fatigue is a common cause of many Tractor-Trailer accidents throughout the U.S. When you are a victim in a Tractor-Trailer accident it is important that you have a team of insurance adjusters, investigators, and Tractor-Trailer accident lawyers looking out for your best interests. Trucking companies have enormous resources and experts at their disposal and so should you.

Maintenance of Tractor-Trailers

Recently there was a study done on the correlation between defective mechanical parts and equipment on Tractor-Trailers and the likelihood that this will lead to a tractor-trailer accident. Their findings were released in a national report – and were nothing short of shocking.

Researchers began by looking at a number of Tractor-Trailer accidents and focused on trucks that were recently examined by the state highway patrol for dangerous and faulty problems. When a Tractor-Trailer is found to be “out of service” with bad brakes it is 1.8 times more likely to be a cause of a Tractor-Trailer accident according to another national study.

When several of these 18 wheelers were subsequently involved in an accident on the highway – experts involved in the study set out to determine the extent to which the defective parts were at fault. In the end, the findings pointed to the fact that over three-quarters of the trucks had defective parts. Of these, over half of these had defective brakes and another quarter of them had problems with their steering. Additionally, the condition of the poor truck tires can be a serious issue particularly on the front of the big rig.

Only a third of the trucks in the study did not have defects.

Ultimately, the trucking company has responsibility of insuring proper maintenance is done on the trucks and that the tractor-trailers are in safe operating condition.

After a truck accident the victim’s family does not care if the truck driver or motor carrier received a citation for causing the truck accident- only that the trucking company is held accountable for the damages they caused.

Federal Regulation of Trucking Companies

Truckers are regulated by the FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY REGULATIONS, which provide comprehensive rules that both driver and Motor Carrier must follow. There are a few exemptions from the Regulations, but if the truck travels state to state the company and driver have to comply with the regulations.

Some of the main regulations which are important in many Tractor-Trailer lawsuits are as follows:

391 – Qualification of drivers -many times drivers are not fit to drive as provided by the minimum standards of the regulations 392- Driving of vehicles – this section provides for pre and post trip inspections, the physical condition of the driver, and other important standards.

393 – Deals with necessary safety requirements for the condition of commercial vehicles- such as brakes, lighting and warning reflectors. 395- Provides the maximum on duty and driving hours a driver can log.

Complete Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations can be found at www.fmcsa.dot.gov

“This is where we need a testimony from one of Costello’s previous Tractor-Trailer cases.”
Bobby Shane, Automobile Accident Law Client

COSTELLO LAW FIRM

1213T High St. Burlington, NJ 08016 (609) 386-5400