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Truck smashes into New Jersey driver at tollbooth

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported more than 5.3 million commercial motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. during 2011. Eighty-eight thousand people were injured in 273,000 large truck collisions, and more than 3,700 people died.

Serious injuries and fatalities are common in semi-truck accidents in Bergen County and throughout the country. Victims in smaller vehicles are overpowered by the trucks' size, speed and weight.

A New Jersey man died after he stopped to pay a toll at the state line. The Hackettstown victim's car was struck and crushed by an 18-wheeler. The wreckage caught fire, and the car was trapped and dragged beneath the truck cab. The 65-year-old car driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

State troopers have said very little about the tollbooth crash on Interstate 78, which also injured the 55-year-old truck driver. Authorities reported that the unidentified trucker was hospitalized with non-serious injuries.

Investigators have not explained how the accident happened. No charges have been filed for the fatal weekday morning crash. Police confirmed they were gathering details from witnesses and documents, including information about the trucker and the tractor-trailer's mechanical condition.

Several agencies, official and private, may be involved in a commercial truck accident investigation. Law enforcers, insurers, transportation officials at various government levels and legal investigators may be talking with the same witnesses and pouring over the same inspectors' reports to establish fault.

The investigation doesn't begin and end at the crash site. The truck log books and records of a leasing firm or employer will be scrutinized, including the driver's individual safety record. The maintenance and service history of the truck will be examined.

The evidence discovered is critical to a victim's claim for compensation. A connection must be made between an accident victim's injury or death and a defendant's negligent or reckless actions. Solid proof increases the chances of a favorable settlement or verdict.

Source: The Express-Times, "Hackettstown area man killed in Interstate 78 tollbooth tractor-trailer wreck, police say" Tony Rhodin, Jan. 14, 2014

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