Our Knowledgeable Attorneys Can Answer Your Questions About Truck Accidents
Truck accidents tend to be more serious than typical car accidents, and more legally complex. Because of the potential damages and legal complications, it is important to have a skilled lawyer on your side as early as possible.
Crandall & Katt, handles trucking accidents and commercial vehicle accidents throughout Virginia and the surrounding states. We can address the specific issues in your case if you or a loved one was involved in a truck crash.
What causes most truck accidents?
According to studies conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the top causes of truck accidents include:
- Brake problems (and bald tires)
- Truck drivers traveling too fast for the conditions
- Truckers unfamiliar with the roadway
- Problems with the road itself
- Over-the-counter drug use by the truck driver
- Truck driver fatigue from too many hours on the road
- Illegal maneuvers (passing, failure to stop or yield)
In almost every scenario listed above, there is an element of human error or human judgment. The job of a lawyer is to establish the negligence or dangerous condition and how the crash could and should have been prevented.
When do most fatal truck crashes occur?
According to statistics from the Virginia Highway Safety Office, truck fatalities are mostly likely to occur (from most to least): Saturday, Sunday, Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Monday, Thursday. The most dangerous time to be on the road with trucks is between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Of course, truck accidents can occur any day, any time and anywhere.
Where is a truck’s “no zone” or “blind spot”?
Motorists typically think of a truck’s blind spot as being to the left of the truck. Actually, trucks have blind spots on all four sides: left, right, front and back, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Driving in the no zone is risky because the trucker may not see that vehicle until too late.
Do trucks have special protections against lawsuits?
No. Truck drivers must have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) and are subject to strict federal regulations in addition to all state traffic laws. These include weight restrictions, rules for securing cargo and carrying hazardous materials, and limits on how many hours a trucker can drive in one day and total hours in a week. Violation of these trucking regulations can be construed as negligence or willful conduct when it contributes to an accident.
While trucking companies are typically well-insured, they are also well-defended. You need experienced representation to take on the trucking firms and their insurers.
Who is responsible for a truck accident?
In a tractor-trailer accident, the cab and the trailer may be owned by different parties. The truck driver might independently own the rig or be an employee. The manufacturer, distributor or freight company might be liable, each with different insurance policies. An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to sort out who is responsible and what coverages may apply, in pursuit of your maximum compensation for a serious or fatal accident.
Can I recover compensation if I was partly at fault for a truck accident?
Virginia is a contributory negligence state. This means if you were partially to blame, you are barred from suing for damages even if the truck driver was 95% at fault. Trucking companies and their insurers will try to exploit this extreme legal doctrine by claiming some minor negligence on your part that lets them off the hook.
Our attorneys will vigorously counter any attempt to blame you for an accident that was clearly caused by a drowsy or distracted trucker or by the trucking company’s disregard of safety regulations. In any motor vehicle accident, you should never volunteer that you were at fault or partly to blame. That is something the other party has the burden to prove. Talk to a lawyer if you believe you may have been partly responsible.
How is a personal injury lawsuit arising from a truck accident claim different from a car accident claim?
Truck accident claims require additional considerations beyond those in car accident claims. For example, a claim against a truck driver may implicate the driver’s employer. We recommend coordinating with the police at the scene of the accident to find out who owns the truck. This information may be obtained while exchanging insurance information with the driver.
Commercial truck drivers are also subject to certain federal safety regulations. This may result in more complex legal allegations. There may also be claims available against third parties such as the freight company or the owner of the trailer.
Finally, truck accident claims often involve additional evidence such as drivers’ logs, training records and/or other sources. Your attorney must know what questions to ask and what evidence must be preserved.
What proactive steps can I take to protect my legal rights?
The police or other first responders at the scene may assist in identifying potential witnesses to the accident. If possible, take pictures of the site with your phone. The police may ask you for your insurance information and some accident details. However, do not offer an opinion on the issue of fault; limit your conversations with the other driver and any third parties to only your basic personal and insurance information.
The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner you will be on the path to protecting your legal rights.
Contact Our Firm Right Away
A truck accident investigation must be conducted as soon as possible before evidence is lost or destroyed. For a free consultation about a truck accident in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina or surrounding areas, contact Crandall & Katt.
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