Establishing liability in truck accidents

by | Sep 20, 2021 | Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are assuredly some of the most serious accidents occurring on the New Jersey highway system. Big-rig trucks are constantly in the traffic mix. They are also commonly involved in many accidents, both on the open road and cities and local communities, with many of those being fatal collisions. When truck accidents happen, determining liability is often difficult because standard vehicle operators commonly share some of the fault with truck drivers. There are specific rules that apply when truck accidents are officially reconstructed, and the actual fault does not always come from the official accident report. Fault is determined as the cases are being negotiated or when they actually go to court when case settlements are not reached.

Accident investigation and liability

All motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey are investigated by law enforcement officers, but truck accidents also receive Department of Transportation attention. They can be very difficult to unravel concerning fault. All involved drivers are evaluated for their actions regarding causation with respect to vehicular control and adherence to rules of the road, which means that truck drivers are not always primarily responsible.

Vicarious liability

One significant aspect of truck accidents is that there may very well be other parties who can be pursued for damages. Not only are contracted drivers required to carry extensive liability insurance, but the employing shipping company or the contracting shipment company could be liable as well. Truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons other than driver negligence, and all aspects of them should be investigated thoroughly for multiple sources of liability.

It is important to understand that punitive damages can also be pursued in cases of gross negligence or when multiple parties are liable. However, punitive damages can only be awarded by a jury following a complete trial. Some cases go to trial because the truck driver’s insurance company thinks it has a considerable comparative negligence defense when other drivers are also liable, and some cases go to trial at the request of the injured plaintiff’s legal counsel in pursuit of whole or punitive damages for their clients. This is especially true with wrongful death claims that are common with truck accidents.