Dump Truck Driver John Morales of Guttenberg Died In Berkeley Heights Crash On I-78 After The Truck Experienced Tire Problems On The Driver’s Side
UNION COUNTY, NEW JERSEY (October 21, 2021) – A dump truck driver identified as John Morales has died following a collision with a highway guardrail, caused in part by some catastrophic failure involving the truck’s tires.
Union County police officials are saying that the collision took place around 2:33 p.m. on Monday, October 18th. John Morales was driving a dump truck on I-78 by milepost 43.4 when a tire on the dump truck’s driver’s side experienced some type of catastrophic failure.
The tire blowout caused the dump truck to travel across multiple lanes of the highway before it hit a guardrail and traveled down an embankment. Firefighters and paramedics were called to the scene of the collision in order to help the victim.
Despite the best efforts of first responders, John Morales was pronounced dead at the scene. New Jersey State Police closed down eastbound lanes of 1-78 for several hours as they investigated and worked to clear the crash.
Liability In Berkeley Heights Dump Truck Accidents
According to one report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019 alone 612 people died in tire-related crashes. Thousands more are left with serious injuries. One of the best ways to prevent tire blowouts is to perform proper maintenance on tires. For example, tires should be properly inflated to the correct level. Tire should also be periodically rotated, balanced and aligned. In the event of a catastrophic tire failure, there are a number of steps that drivers can take to help stay safe.
- For starters, remain calm after a blowout.
- Resist the urge to step on the brakes. Stepping on the brakes can lead a vehicle to become unstable.
- Accelerate slightly and try to steer as straight as possible.
- Slowly ease off the accelerator and pull over when it’s safe to do so.
- Turn on the emergency lights and call for help.
When a worker is injured or killed on the job in New Jersey, they or their family will be protected by a number of laws. The family of any worker that dies on the job could seek help through the worker’s compensation system. Worker’s compensation in New Jersey is a no-fault insurance program. It can help cover lost wages, medical bills, funeral expenses.
Depending on the facts of any case, there could be third-party negligence for an accident in New Jersey. Third-party negligence negligence claims are possible when an entity separate from a worker’s employer contributed to an accident. For example, a company responsible for maintenance on a dump truck’s tires could be liable for a collision. Like all commercial vehicles, trucks must undergo periodic maintenance so that they can operate safely. A lack of maintenance or improper maintenance could create a source of liability.
The company that manufactured a dump truck’s tires could also be liable for a crash through a product liability claim. Companies have a legal responsibility to create products that are reasonably safe. Under N.J. Stat. § 2A:58C-2, the manufacturer or seller of a product can be liable if a claimant is able to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that a product was not reasonably safe due to:
- The product deviating from design specifications, formulae or performance standards of identical units.
- The product failed to contain adequate warnings or instructions.
- The product was designed in a defective manner.
Many tire blowouts are due to tires that have design defects. For example, if the chemical bonding process in a tire doesn’t happen correctly, the tread could separate from the base tire. During a tread separation the tread literally peels off and the tire falls apart. It can take months or even years for a poorly manufactured tire to eventually come apart. A common sign of a tread separation occurs when the tire begins shaking at certain speeds.
The family of any victim that died in a tire blowout may be able to seek justice through a wrongful death claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Potential beneficiaries in a civil claim will typically include a victim’s next of kin. It is extremely important that evidence is properly gathered and examined after a collision. A wrongful death attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and get to the bottom of what caused an accident.
Investigating A Berkeley Heights Dump Truck Accident
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of John Morales. Any person that may have information about what happened should reach out to police. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened for the sake of all who have lost so much.
This accident raises a number of safety concerns. What caused the tire on this dump truck to fail? Was the tire being properly maintained? Did a design defect with the tire contribute to the crash? It is our sincere hope that safety measures are put in place to help prevent additional tragedies like this.