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Driver fatigue likely; New Jersey trucker charged in fatal crash

Sleep deprivation is an issue that seems to be surfacing more and more as investigators reconstruct tractor-trailer crashes all across the country. Federal trucking regulations are in place to help prevent tired truck drivers from operating these big rigs that can crush a smaller vehicle in an instant. But quite often it seems that these standards and guidelines are being ignored in favor of the profit or the paycheck.

This choice is reported by investigators as the cause of a fatal accident in a neighboring state. The New Jersey man who was driving the tractor-trailer is in trouble with the law, and families are mourning the death of three innocent victims. The 56-year-old was headed east on May 12 when he didn't slow down for stopped traffic in a construction zone despite appropriately posted warning signs. His truck slammed into the vehicles ahead, killing three people and injuring several others.

It was reported that the man was arrested last week on three counts of homicide by vehicle, two counts of aggravated assault by vehicle, three counts of involuntary manslaughter and multiple counts of reckless endangerment and reckless and careless driving. Reconstruction of the accident revealed that the man was sleep-deprived because of air travel the previous night. Records show he landed in New Jersey at 5:45 a.m. and reported for work at 7 a.m. He was behind the wheel 15 minutes later. Further records show traffic citations and crash reports indicate his involvement in seven prior accidents, six of which were reportable.

From a personal injury claim perspective, this news story would seem to support claims by all the injured victims and survivors of the fatalities. But even straightforward accident investigation supported by criminal arrest of the responsible party doesn't automatically equate to a big settlement. Victims and survivors are entitled to seek compensation - insurance companies may fight to prevent it. Recovery is possible with a solid, evidence-based strategy.

Source: WFMZ-TV News, "Tractor trailer driver charged with vehicular homicide in crash that killed 3 people on Interstate 78" Liz Kilmer, Nov. 26, 2014

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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