Truck Drivers Attorney (Co-Driver Injury Attorney)

In the event of an accident involving a commercial truck or bus, the other drivers and the trucking company seek legal advice and representation, if necessary. It makes sense, then, that the drivers and co-drivers of the truck obtain legal services to protect themselves. Lawyers for truck drivers, like those at RAM Law in New Jersey, help you navigate the legal process to get the money you’re entitled to after an accident that caused an injury or damage, call the experienced truck driver attorneys at RAM Law.

Best-Rated Truck Drivers Attorneys in New Jersey
Best-Rated Truck Drivers Attorneys in New Jersey

Are Co-Drivers Liable for a Truck Accident?

In a majority of truck accidents, the driver who caused the crash is held accountable. But there are instances when the co-driver was considered partially liable. According to the Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash report, about 25 percent of fatal accidents in New Jersey are due to the truck driver being distracted. If it’s proven that the co-driver did something to distract the truck driver from the road, the co-driver may be held responsible.

Distracted driving truck accidents rank as the number one cause for fatalities in the Garden State. This is why truck drivers and co-drivers need to seek out NJ lawyers that represent truck drivers. At RAM Law, attorneys for truck drivers offer years of experience protecting the rights of New Jersey truckers.

Contact the expert lawyers for truck drivers at RAM Law if you’ve had an accident anywhere in New Jersey, including in:

How Does the Law Define a Co-Driver?

From a legal standpoint, a co-driver is someone who shares the responsibility for driving the most common trucks on the road.

Co-drivers navigate and do some of the driving for commercial trucks such as:

Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has stipulated that truck drivers aren’t allowed to drive more than 14 hours a day. And there must be a compulsory 10-hour break. All drivers must abide by this to avoid drowsy driving accidents and significant penalties.

If a truck driver lawyer investigation discovers inconsistency in the hours of operation, that fact complicates any lawsuit for damages. Your RAM Law attorneys for truckers understand the pressure drivers face with every load to reach their destination faster. Court cases take into account all extenuating circumstances.

What Are Reasons for Co-Driver Negligence?

The main purpose of having a co-driver with the truck driver is to minimize accidents. The attention required to drive a large vehicle and the long hours of driving take a toll on the overall health of every truck driver. The co-driver basically cuts the hours spent sitting and driving while still maintaining efficiency in delivering the goods. There have been cases, however, where co-drivers are guilty of negligence.

Some of the common causes of trucking accidents include:

  • Speeding. While trying to deliver the load on time, some truckers tend to speed. Co-drivers are obligated to reprimand the driver to follow the speed limit.
  • Reckless driving. Some accidents are caused by truckers taking risks to cut the driving time. They may ignore traffic signals, sideswipe other vehicles, change lanes too quickly or leave the scene of an accident. Co-drivers must try to stop any such dangerous behavior.
  • Drowsy driving. If a truck driver or co-driver continues to operate the vehicle without sleep, it’s a violation of federal regulations. Both may then need a truck driver attorney.
  • Drunk or drugged driving. Co-drivers must always make sure the truck driver is physically and mentally capable of driving. The penalties for drunk or drugged driving are severe.
  • Poor road conditions. Co-drivers act as additional eyes and ears for the truck driver, always on alert for potholes, road construction signs and other problems.
  • Inexperienced drivers. Some trucking companies hire inexperienced drivers or co-drivers who aren’t familiar with the trucks or the route. Some foreign truck drivers may not be fluent in English or aware of road signs.
  • Poor cargo loading. All drivers should check for an overloaded truck, including cargo that’s lopsided or unsecure, as the cargo may fall off the truck.

Other types of accidents may not be the direct responsibility of the driver and co-driver. These accidents — which include those caused by faulty brakes, ire damage that causes wheel-off injuries and product defects with the truck — require lawyers for truckers. They may be due to trucking company negligence. Truck drivers and co-drivers are encouraged to check the truck throughout the journey, keeping a record of issues. This helps your truck driver attorney prove you’re not at fault.

What Is the Duty Status of the Co-Driver?

When your truck gets involved in an accident, the duty status of the co-driver comes into play. The co-driver maybe held legally accountable for the accident based on it. An insurance company may even use this as an excuse to deny the claim.

The co-driver’s duty status falls into one of four categories, including:

  1. Off-duty. The co-driver has no obligations in the truck or for other related tasks.
  2. Sleeper berth. When the co-driver needs to sleep or relax, the sleeper berth is often the place to go. This duty status means you can’t be sued for any truck accident liability or damages.
  3. On duty. According to the FMCSA, if the co-driver is sitting alongside the driver in the cabin, the status is on duty, even if the co-driver isn’t technically behind the steering wheel.
  4. Driving. In any trucking accident, the co-driver may be held accountable if driving the truck. Both drivers need to retain a truck driver lawyer as soon as possible.

The crucial witness to the duty status is the logbook because it must be maintained accurately. Otherwise, both drivers face hefty fines. Truck driver attorneys from RAM Law are aware that the duty status in a logbook is sometimes manipulated to shift the blame. Having attorneys for truckers on your side puts you in a stronger legal position.

Are Co-Driver Injuries Covered by Insurance?

Yes, co-driver injuries are covered by insurance. But there are limitations and challenges. In New Jersey, no-fault insurance may make fair settlements more difficult to manage. Irrespective of who caused the accident, your personal injury protection or PIP covers your medical bills and lost wages.

Yet the minimum PIP coverage of $15,000 isn’t sufficient to compensate for most of the common injuries in truck accidents, such as:

You have the right to sue in New Jersey for pain and suffering, especially for a permanent injury and even when it isn’t classified as serious. Determining the at-fault party, however, isn’t always simple. Hazardous materials in truck accidents may allow you to sue the cargo company. Consult experienced lawyers for truck drivers to make the strongest case for the best outcome.

Should I Depend on Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a benefit for an employee who’s sustained an injury at work. Unfortunately, insurance companies have been known to deny workers’ compensation to co-drivers. A recent case proved that companies misclassify some drivers as independent contractors to avoid liability issues. Lawyers for truckers often use New Jersey’s ABC Test to determine the status of an independent contractor vs. an employee.

The test determines whether:

  1. The employer exerts no control over the driver
  2. The work isn’t within the scope of normal business or in the place of business
  3. The employee can continue to work in the business if terminated

All three have to be false for a person to be judged an employee. As an independent contractor, you may not have access to workers’ compensation. A study by the University of Kentucky showed that co-drivers in the sleeper berth are more than likely to sustain serious injuries or even death. Your workers’ comp package may not be enough to cover all your needs. Lawyers that represent truck drivers and co-drivers may suggest alternatives, depending on your situation.

Why Do I Need a Truck Driver Lawyer?

You are three times more likely to get injured in a trucking accident than in a car accident. Whether a trucking company overlooks safety concerns or not, commercial vehicles are larger and more likely to inflict greater damage.

To protect your legal rights and receive the best settlement, you need truck driver attorneys to answer your questions, such as:

RAM Law attorneys for truck drivers review your case before providing the most pertinent answers. They also guide you through the process, performing many of the necessary tasks for you. If you’re struggling with legal questions from an accident, contact RAM Law.

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To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600, in Somerville at (908) 448-2560, or in Freehold at (732) 828-2234.

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