“I was crossing the street to get to my apartment on my way home from a friend’s comedy show when it happened. I had the right of way. The driver ran a red light. I saw him coming before it was too late to get out of the way….I turned my body at an angle at the last possible second, and felt about 23,000 pounds smash into me at 25 miles an hour. My body was flung out of the way of the wheels, and I landed on my back, hard. My shoes popped off like a cartoon character.”
This firsthand account of a woman surviving being hit by a semi-truck is amazing, but unusual. Rarely do pedestrians get hit by big rigs and survive!
Unfortunately, she didn’t get as much justice as she deserved. Instead of exchanging insurance information with her, the truck driver spewed obscenities and sped away, leaving this young woman to eat the costs of her medical treatment.
It should have been the red-light-running truck driver who paid the bill. And, if he had a history of this kind of behavior, his trucking-company employer as well.
A Truck Accident and Liability
In general, a truck driver can be found liable for an accident for multiple reasons. Reckless driving, speeding, driving under the influence, or even just falling asleep at the wheel can have serious consequences. (Breaking traffic laws, like running a red light, are included in “reckless driving.”) The occupants of passenger vehicles—or worse, pedestrians—don’t have much chance against the larger, heavier, more powerful semi-trucks. This is why professional truck drivers must be more careful than other vehicle drivers.
However, trucking companies have a responsibility, too. If a truck driver has a past history of being careless on the job, or breaking the rules, the trucking company that hired him may be found partially responsible for any injuries that driver causes in a collision.
Of course, in New Jersey, if a pedestrian or motorist helps cause the accident with a truck, he or she may be found partially at fault. As a consequence, the settlement or jury verdict awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault the victim contributed to the accident.
Let this case remind us all of the dangers of semi-trucks, and take care while we’re traveling New Jersey’s highways. Also, to look twice before crossing the street!
If you have questions about a truck accident, feel free to speak to Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., at (609) 240-0040. There is no charge.