In these accidents, the fault may involve multiple parties. The truck driver is a primary consideration, especially if their actions or negligence directly contributed to the accident. Factors like driving under the influence, speeding, or violating hours-of-service regulations can all point to driver liability.
However, liability can extend beyond the driver. The trucking company itself may be responsible, particularly if the accident was caused by inadequate maintenance of the truck, improper loading, or if the company failed to comply with safety regulations. In such cases, the legal principle of “respondeat superior” can apply, where employers are held responsible for employee’s actions conducted within the scope of their employment.
Third parties can also be liable. For example, if a mechanical failure caused the accident, the manufacturer of the truck or its parts may be at fault. Additionally, if poor road conditions were a contributing factor, a government entity responsible for road maintenance might be held accountable.
New Jersey’s comparative negligence laws add another layer of complexity. If you, as the victim, are found to be partially at fault for the accident, it doesn’t bar you from seeking compensation. However, your compensation amount may be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.
When it comes to claiming compensation after a truck accident, damages are generally categorized into two types: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are quantifiable financial losses resulting from the accident. This includes medical expenses, which can be substantial in cases involving severe injuries and may encompass not only immediate medical costs but also ongoing treatment and rehabilitation expenses. Lost wages are another major component of economic damages. This encompasses not only lost income due to missed work but also potential loss of future earning capacity if the injuries result in long-term disability or impairment.
Non-economic damages, while more challenging to quantify, are equally important. These damages cover the intangible impacts of the accident, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. For many victims, these non-economic damages can be more debilitating than the financial strain. Evaluating these requires a thorough understanding of the accident’s impact on the victim’s day-to-day life and future.
In some cases, punitive damages might also be pursued. These are not related to the direct losses suffered by the victim but are instead intended to punish particularly egregious conduct and deter similar actions in the future. However, punitive damages are relatively rare and are only awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions are found to be willfully reckless or malicious.