2 Injured in Paramus, NJ, Truck Cargo Accident on Route 17
Paramus, NJ -- February 22, 2017, two people were injured due to an accident where an 18-wheeler crashed and lost its cargo on Route 17.
The New Jersey State Highway Patrol was called to the accident scene in the morning hours of Wednesday. It occurred near the intersection of Route 17 and Fairview Avenue.
According to preliminary reports, an 18-wheeler broke down in the middle of northbound Route 17 after its brakes locked in traffic. The 18-wheeler driver activated hazard lights and called for assistance. A short time later, a truck carrying steel beams tried to avoid the disable truck but failed to.
The cargo truck hit the back of the disabled vehicle before swerving left and crashing into the center concrete barrier. As a result, multiple steel beams came loose and fell from the trailer. One of these beams went into southbound lanes where it collided with an oncoming Toyota. Another beam also hit a southbound Ford.
Following the crash, the driver of the Toyota was transported to a local hospital with critical injuries. He is expected to survive. The driver of the Ford suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was also taken to the hospital. No additional injuries were reported.
Police did not say if any citations or charges were filed after the crash. Their investigations are ongoing.
Map of the Area
Cargo related accidents have a lot of complexities compared to a typical car accident, and it's something I've discussed more in-depth in the article below.
However, there is another facet of this accident that could create additional complications. Trucking companies who are facing liability for an accident will seek to minimize their fault by shifting blame onto someone else. In this case, the prime target for that blame would be the broken down 18-wheeler.
The typical argument a trucking company makes for these scenarios is that the broken down vehicle was improperly marked or stopped in the roadway, and their truck driver didn't have enough time to react. This is certainly a viable scenario. Many times, vehicles breakdown very suddenly, and drivers have little to no time to react. If that's the case, it's reasonable to believe a commercial vehicle would have trouble avoiding a collision.
However, the reports of this accident have indicated that the driver of the broken down truck was using emergency lights and had enough time before the accident to call for assistance. This implies that the driver of the cargo truck should have had plenty of time to react to the obstruction but either wasn't paying attention to the road or was driving too fast. If this is the case, the cargo truck could be at fault for causing the accident and therefore liable for the damage caused by the loose cargo.
Still, this won't stop trucking companies from pointing the finger at any and everyone they can to mitigate their own losses. Their goal isn't always to avoid blame entirely; their goal is to avoid as much of it as possible. Even if they can convince a jury that someone else was 10% at fault for the accident, they just saved themselves a lot of hassle. Even if a trucking company's fault seems obvious from an outside perspective, there's no guarantee a jury will see it the same way when the trucking company's professional lawyer is doing everything they can to influence their decision.
This strategy seems ineffective at a glance, but it can work if it's not countered by tangible evidence. In order to overcome barriers put in place by trucking company defense lawyers, there needs to be a secondary, independent investigation into the accident. By having the evidence examined by a third party professional outside of police investigators, all of the factors contributing to the crash can be uncovered and properly preserved for use in combating the blame-shifting techniques of trucking companies.
--Grossman Law Offices