What Puts the Truck Driver at Fault in an Accident?

On June 9, westbound traffic on Route 3 was shut down for many hours after a deadly car accident involving an 18-wheeler truck and a car, near Rutherford in Bergen County.

According to an NBCNewYork.com report, the truck’s driver attempted to go underneath an overpass that was too low for the truck’s trailer to clear. The freight container detached in the collision with the overpass, sliding off of the trailer and backward into a car that was traveling behind. The impact resulted in the death of the car’s driver, a 39-year-old man.

Dangers to Passenger Vehicles in Car Accidents with Large Trucks

Photo of a truck accident

In car accidents involving passenger vehicles and large trucks, the occupants of the passenger vehicle are much more likely to be injured or killed in the crash. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2012 car accidents involving large trucks and other vehicles, 73 percent of people killed in the accidents were occupants of other vehicles.

Large 18-wheeler trucks tend to be more dangerous in car accidents than passenger vehicles largely due to the difference in weight of the vehicles. Large trucks can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and passenger vehicles usually weigh in at around 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. The huge difference in weight translates into a huge difference in momentum. Semi trucks need much more time to stop or slow down than passenger vehicles, and in the event of a car accident, the truck will cause much more damage.

Improperly-Secured Loads

According to a 2012 study conducted by the Government Accountability Office, unsecured loads and road debris caused a combined 10,000 injuries and killed 440 people in 2010. If a truck’s load isn’t secured properly, what would have been a minor accident can quickly turn deadly if the freight falls onto a car. If a large freight container being pulled by an 18-wheeler truck detaches for any reason, it could crush a passenger vehicle underneath several hundred pounds of freight, as seen in the accident on Route 3 in Bergen County.

Where does the Blame Fall in an Accident Involving an 18-Wheeler Truck?

A truck driver’s error might to be to blame for causing a car accident, but the legal liability could lie with the company employing the driver. If the crash resulted from an equipment failure, such as a tire problem or issue with the truck’s trailer hitch, the liability may belong to the equipment manufacturer. Or, in the case of an improperly-secured load, the company that loaded the freight onto the 18-wheeler truck’s trailer may be liable instead.

If you were involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler truck, you should consult an experienced truck accident attorney to help you determine who is liable for the damages caused in your car accident.

Spevack Law Firm – Middlesex County Injury Attorneys