The nationally reported New Jersey Turnpike truck accident that left one person dead and comedian Tracy Morgan critically injured in June 2014 was followed by at least three additional fatal truck accidents, prompting renewed focus by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and others about driver fatigue, the responsibilities of employers of truck drivers, the effectiveness of safety systems included in commercial trucks, and the safety of commercial trucking in general. According to the NTSB, the number of fatal large-truck accidents has increased over recent years, including nearly 4,000 such deaths in 2012, alone.
Though official investigations of these accidents have not been completed, the Tracy Morgan truck accident has been reported to have involved a driver who was overly fatigued from having worked longer hours than allowed by federal law. In addition, though the truck involved in the accident contained several safety devices designed to help a driver avoid collisions such as the one that occurred, these devices did not serve to prevent the accident. Whether the failure of the devices to prevent the accident was due to a defect or defects in the devices or to driver negligence has not yet been determined.
Who is responsible if someone is injured in a truck and car accident? If a truck is outfitted with certain safety features, can the manufacturer of the safety system of or the truck be held liable for injuries that would have been prevented or lessened if the system had not been defective? Depending on the circumstances of a particular case, the negligence of a truck driver may lead to liability not only of the driver but also of the driver’s employer. If a defect in a truck’s collision-avoidance system is found to have been a cause of a plaintiff’s injuries, the manufacturer of the truck and of the safety system, as well as others, may be held liable for the injuries sustained by an accident victim as a result.
The Killino Firm’s injury lawyers, personal-injury lawyers, car-accident lawyers, auto-accident lawyers, truck-accident lawyers, motorcycle-accident lawyers, brain-injury lawyers, product-liability lawyers, and wrongful-death lawyers have extensive experience with truck and vehicle accidents of any kind, including those involving injuries caused by a defective vehicle or vehicle safety device or by the negligence of a driver or of the driver’s employer. Contact the Killino Firm’s nationally-recognized team of lawyers for expert and aggressive assistance with your case.
Legal Liability for Truck Accident Injuries
If the negligence of the driver of a truck or other motor vehicle is found to have been a cause of a plaintiff’s injuries or someone’s death, the driver may be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries in an action for negligence. The employer of a truck driver may also be held directly liable for a plaintiff’s injuries if the employer was negligent in screening, hiring, training, or retaining the negligent driver. In addition, the employer may be held vicariously, or indirectly, liable for injuries caused by the negligence of its employee-driver if the driver was under the employer’s control at the time of the accident.
Wrongful Death Actions
Actions for the wrongful death of an accident victim may also be brought against the driver of a truck or other motor vehicle if the negligence of the driver is determined to have been a cause of the victim’s death. Wrongful death actions may also be brought against the employer of a driver whose negligence was a cause of someone’s death if the employer was negligent in the screening, hiring, training, and/or retaining of the negligent driver.
Under the wrongful death statutes of most states, wrongful death actions may be brought by certain survivors of a victim to recover damages suffered by the survivors as a result of the victim’s death. In most states, the survivors allowed to bring such actions include members of a victim’s immediate family, such as the spouse of a victim or the parents of a minor victim.
Damages that may be recoverable in wrongful death actions against a negligent driver include funeral expenses, medical expenses incurred as a result of injuries that ultimately led to the victim’s death, financial support the survivors would have received from the victim if the victim had survived, and the pain and suffering endured by the survivors as a result of the victim’s death.
Product Liability Actions
If a plaintiff’s vehicle accident injuries are determined to have been cause by a defect in a truck or other motor vehicle, or by a defect in a safety feature of such a vehicle, the manufacturer and others in the chain of the vehicle’s distribution may be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries in a product liability action. Wrongful death damages may also be obtained from the manufacturer and others in the chain of distribution of a defective product if the defect in the product is determined to have been a cause of the victim’s death.
Under the product liability law of most states, a manufacturer and others in the chain of a truck’s or other vehicle’s distribution may be held strictly liable for injuries or deaths caused by a defect in the product. The strict liability theory of product liability relieves a plaintiff from proving negligence or other fault on the part of the manufacturer and other defendants. The plaintiff need only prove that the product was defective, that the defect was a cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, and that the injuries sustained were legally compensable.
Though most states’ product liability laws allow for strict liability recovery against manufacturers, designers, suppliers, assemblers, and retailers of a product, some states exempt retailers of certain motor vehicles from strict liability for injuries that were not caused by any act or omission of the retailer.
Obtain Expert Assistance from The Killino Firm
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck or other vehicle accident as a result of a defective product or someone’s negligence, the Killino Firm’s highly-regarded injury attorneys, personal-injury attorneys, car-accident attorneys, auto-accident attorneys, truck-accident attorneys, motorcycle-accident attorneys, product-liability attorneys, brain-injury attorneys, and wrongful-death attorneys will work diligently to obtain justice from those responsible for your injuries or your loved one’s death.