Three cement workers, a 42-year-old and 22-year-old father and son, and a 58-year-old driver were struck by a tractor-trailer on Route 287 in New Jersey on June 24, according to state police. Authorities report that the men were repairing a disabled cement truck when a 58-year-old female motorist driving a 2000 Toyota Avalon slowed her vehicle as she approached them. The tractor-trailer, a 2012 Freightliner driven by a 45-year-old man, then hit the rear of the Toyota, sideswiped the cement truck and hit the three men. The Toyota and the Freightliner landed on the shoulder of the highway and burst into flames.
The driver of the Toyota, her 59-year-old husband and the driver of the Freightliner all escaped from their vehicles. The three cement workers were killed.
The highway was closed for nearly 10 hours as police investigated and cleared the scene. No charges have been filed yet, however, as authorities report that the investigation could take weeks.
In fatal commercial vehicle accidents, authorities must consider several factors when determining charges. It's possible for those injured in an accident to begin a civil lawsuit against the driver separate from the criminal case. A personal injury attorney could begin to build a strong wrongful death case after considering evidence such as police accident reports, eyewitness accounts, evidence from the scene and footage from traffic cameras.
In this case, the driver of the Freightliner may be deemed responsible if it can be proven that he failed to exercise due care in the operation of his vehicle. Was he negligent in his efforts to accurately gauge traffic speed and avoid hitting the Toyota? Could he have taken evasive action or slowed down in time to avoid the accident? If the plaintiffs can prove that he was negligent while on the job, then they can seek compensation for their losses from the company that employed him as well.