Colleen Burgos Killed, Thomas Burgos Injured in Linden, NJ, Accident
Linden, NJ -- January 5, 2017, Colleen Burgos was killed and Thomas Burgos was injured after an accident where their vehicle hit a disabled 18-wheeler.
The incident occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike at about 8:30 p.m. According to authorities, an 18-wheeler had broken down on the turnpike, though it's unclear if it was on the shoulder or in traffic lanes.
As it sat on the turnpike, 49-year-old Thomas could not avoid the accident in time, and the Burgoses' Toyota Matrix crashed into the back of the semi-trailer.
Due to the collision, both Thomas and 39-year-old Colleen suffered serious injuries. EMS arrived shortly afterward, but Colleen succumbed to her injuries at the scene. Thomas was transported to University Hospital in critical condition.
Reports say that another vehicle, a Volkswagen, also crashed into the back of the same 18-wheeler. It's unclear when this occurred in relation to the fatal crash.
Authorities did not release any further details. Investigations are ongoing.
Map of the Area
This is definitely an accident that requires a very thorough investigation. I've seen plenty of accidents where an 18-wheeler broke down on the highway and either didn't pull off far enough from the roadway or failed to put down an adequate amount of warning flares or reflectors. Truck drivers are required by law to provide adequate warning to drivers when they are obstructing the roadway.
This somewhat depends, however, on how much time passed between the truck breaking down and the vehicles hitting it. If the truck driver was in the process of pulling off the highway when he was hit, there's not much warning that could have been given. However, if turns out there was a minute or several that passed, this would suggest there was not proper warning on the road. One vehicle hitting a disabled truck is an accident. Two vehicles hitting the same one definitely means that something was wrong in the incident.
Another thing that needs to be considered is the breakdown itself. Commercial trucks are complicated machines, and they break down all the time. All machines do from time to time. Sometimes, this is unforeseeable. If the nature of the mechanical failure couldn't have been prevented and showed no prior signs of trouble, then there's really nothing you could expect the trucking company to do there.
However, I've seen many accidents and truck breakdowns caused by poorly maintained vehicles. It's not uncommon to see a trucking company skimp out on repairing their vehicles just so they can save some money. This is a blatant disregard for the law and for public safety--not to mention the safety of the truck driver that works for them. When a vehicle shows clear signs of wear and tear, and a trucking company should reasonably know that it needs repairs, then they are required to get the issue resolved. If they don't and that issue causes harm to someone, they can and should be held liable.
In the end, there are still a lot of details that haven't been released yet. Whether or not the things I've talked about apply to this accident still remains to be seen. If this tragic acccident was caused by someone's negligence, then they need to be held accountable for their actions.
--Grossman Law Offices