Ask an Attorney: Five Questions You Should Ask About Truck Accidents
Corradino & Papa, LLC, the personal injury law firm based in Clifton, has issued guidance on some of the questions that drivers should ask if they are involved in a trucking accident. According to Robert C. Papa Jr., a partner for Corradino & Papa, truck accidents account for many of the inquiries the firm receives. “The fact is those truck accidents are different from standard car accidents, due to the amount of weight that semi-trucks or tractor-trailers are hauling. Everything from regulations to damage to liability can be a bit different when the other vehicle is a truck instead of a sedan.”
Corradino and Papa, LLC shared their insights on five common questions pertaining to truck accidents in New Jersey.
Why are trucking accidents so serious?
“There’s no such thing as a ‘fender bender’ in a trucking accident,” says Corradino. A semi truck accident or tanker truck accident is going to cause a lot more damage than an accident involving two small cars, just because of the mass of the vehicles in question. The average sedan in the United States usually weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. A semi-truck can weigh 70,000 or 80,000 pounds. All that extra weight and momentum makes truck accidents a lot more devastating, both in terms of property damage and personal injury. Fatalities are sadly common with truck accidents.”
Is the truck driver always to blame?
“While New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, discussing fault and liability is still important for civil cases, especially in truck accidents where the consequences of a collision tend to be much larger,” Papa says. “The weight and size of trucks are complicating factor because they make it harder for truck drivers to stop or avoid other drivers. In fact, drivers of smaller vehicles are the cause of around 75 percent of commercial truck accidents.”
Are truckers beholden to special laws or regulations?
“Truck drivers are required to hold commercial driver’s licenses and abide by numerous other special laws and regulations,” Corradino says. “For instance, if a truck driver has driven too many hours in a row without rest, he or she is more likely to be found negligent in the case of a collision. If the truck is loaded beyond capacity, that’s another factor. And of course, truck drivers often have different speed limits on the highway than people driving smaller vehicles.”
What should I do after a truck accident?
“If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, call a truck accident lawyer right away,” Corradino says. “It could be that the truck driver was negligent and that you are eligible for damages, ranging from reimbursement of medical bills to the damaged property to disability damages and beyond. It could also be that your actions on the road caused the accident, in which case you should consult a lawyer to explore your next steps. At Corradino & Papa, our attorneys work on truck accident cases all the time.”
How can I avoid a truck accident?
“In a battle between a car and a semi truck, the car loses,” Papa says. “It’s essential for drivers to be aware of the risks of driving around trucks and to plan accordingly. Defensive driving is crucial here and can protect your car or even save your life. Don’t merge too closely in front of a semi truck, or slam on your brakes when you are only a few car lengths in front of a truck. Don’t follow too closely either. Pass quickly on the highway to stay clear of the truck driver’s blind spots. These strategies seem basic, but they can mean the difference between life and death.