You arrive for your first day at work, eager to start. Then your boss loads you and your colleagues onto the back of his truck to drive you to the job site. Is this even legal? What happens if you get injured?
The short answer is that if you’re in New Jersey, it is legal to ride in the bed of a truck as long as you’re on duty. After you clock off, however, your boss should let you sit up front.
Is It Safe to Transport Workers This Way?
While the practice is common, it’s not necessarily safe. Even when the driver is careful, passengers in the truck bed have non-safety features, such as:
- Nothing to hold onto in the event of a collision
- No seatbelts, meaning that passengers will be thrown around if the vehicle rolls
- Nothing to prevent the passengers from being flung free of the vehicle (if the truck bed is uncovered)
- Carbon monoxide poisoning if the truck bed is enclosed
- No airbags or built-up areas to prevent injury during a wreck
How to Maximize Your Safety
You can maximize your safety by ensuring that everyone sits down. The risk of injury is most significant when standing, as you’re supporting less of your body’s surface area.
The vehicle should have roll-bars and some sort of railing. You can then hold onto the railing to prevent some jostling. The bar may also be useful if there’s an accident as it can prevent you from being thrown out of the vehicle.
Finally, the clothes you wear may also protect you in the event of an accident. Bright colors might help other drivers see the vehicle. More importantly, wearing heavy fabrics like denim jeans provides some protection from gravel and asphalt if you are flung from the vehicle.
The Driver and Vehicle Play a Role
Naturally, a lot depends on the driver in question. Are they a careful driver? Do they obey the rules of the road and stick to the speed limits?
Should the driver act recklessly and cause an accident, they may be liable for the resulting injuries. As employees, you should keep a record of reckless behavior and report it to management.
Your employer has a duty of care in providing a safe working environment. Should they not do so, you may be able to report them to the relevant authorities. Keep a record of all infractions and proof that you informed management about the situation in the event of an accident.
The condition of the vehicle also plays a role. If the truck’s tires are smooth and lack appropriate tread, for example, the vehicle won’t be able to stop quickly enough to prevent a collision.
As an employee relying on the vehicle for safe transport, it’s crucial to keep a record of its performance. Note faults where applicable and make sure you notify management. You may also, if necessary, report the company to the relevant authority if they fail to act.
What Happens if There Is an Accident?
A car accident can happen in seconds. Some wrecks are unavoidable, even for the safest drivers. Determining who is to blame is often a challenging undertaking – few people will willingly admit liability and open themselves to a civil suit.
Your first step should be to seek medical attention. It is also essential to notify the police so they can conduct an accident investigation. Then give the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates a call.
In the interim, you should refrain from making statements except to the police. Do not speak to any of the other parties involved in the accident or the local media. It’s also wise not to speculate on the cause of the accident, as you don’t know how your statement will impact your potential compensation claim.
Don’t sign any settlement agreements presented before you’ve had your attorney check them. Unfortunately, some companies try to reduce their losses by taking advantage of accident victims who are still in shock.
They may pretend to come to the rescue with what they say is a “more than generous” settlement because they know you’re worried about money. It is usually a low-ball offer because they feel you don’t know any better.
Personal injury attorneys will ensure you are adequately represented and fight for a fair settlement. They have experience working with various personal injury cases and know how to navigate the complex legal system.
How to Determine If You Are Entitled to Compensation
If you are driving and someone hits you, it’s pretty easy to determine who is at fault. As long as you can prove that the other driver was at fault, you may claim compensation.
When you’re an employee, and the injury occurs during working hours, it becomes a little less clear. Who pays you compensation for your injuries? Do you file a claim against the driver of your company vehicle, your company, or the other party at fault? How do you even begin to sort out who is responsible?
For example, your company might say the other driver was at fault. They might assist you with a workers’ compensation claim but refuse to pay you for lost income or any other medical bills related to the accident. The company might also limit its liability by claiming that its driver acted against company policy.
Your employer might claim that you should not legally have been on the back of the vehicle because you weren’t working. They might also deny responsibility for the same reason. You could potentially walk away with nothing, thanks to New Jersey’s modified Comparative Negligence Act.
This act also considers if the victim’s behavior was legal when determining compensation. For example, you will not receive compensation if the law determines that you’re more at fault for the accident than the other party.
If you’re traveling on the back of a truck outside of working hours in New Jersey, you’re committing an illegal act. Is this enough to negate the distracted driving of the other party? Not necessarily, but it may muddy the waters and delay your settlement.
Thanks to comparative negligence, you may find your options limited by minor technicalities. Seeking legal advice immediately after an accident should be your first step. You can rest assured the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates will navigate the complex claims process to ensure you receive the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
Why Call Personal Injury Attorneys?
Dealing with an opposing attorney while you’re trying to recover can be stressful. Their job is to get the best possible deal for their client, and they will try to make you settle for the least amount of money. Some firms will pressure you when you’re at your most vulnerable with no remorse for your state or condition.
Strengthen your case by calling the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates. Discuss your situation with our team in a no-obligation, free consultation to learn more about your options and how to proceed forward.
We’ll discuss whether or not you may claim the following:
- Your medical costs and future care expenses
- Loss of income and potential future income lost
- Social Security Disability
- Supplemental Security Income Benefits
- Worker’s compensation
- Personal injury compensation
- Long-term disability
If we feel that you have a reasonable cause of action, we’ll recommend the next steps. First, we’ll advise you on who you may claim compensation from, your chances of success, and how to proceed. You may then decide whether or not to continue.
Should you decide to proceed, our team springs into action. We work with several investigators to examine the evidence from all angles. We consider not only the immediate impact of the accident on you but the long-term effects as well.
Will this accident preclude you from working again? If not, might it damage your progress in your chosen career? How much will you need to heal as fully as possible? What are the long-term health effects of the injury?
Is it possible to assign blame to the other party? What, if anything, should they have done differently? Could they have avoided the incident altogether?
Is more than one party responsible? Say, for example, that a distracted driver rammed the back of the truck because they didn’t see it stop? What if your driver wasn’t keeping a safe following distance and slammed on breaks?
These are all arguments the opposing attorneys will examine in an effort to shift the blame from their clients. Without proper representation, however, you might not achieve the results you feel are fair.
Contact Us Today
Call The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates today at 1-800-810-3457 to learn more about your rights and discover whether or not you have a valid cause of action. The professionals on our team are looking forward to helping you receive fair compensation for your personal injury.