Virginia is a bustling commerce center. Trucks routinely traverse the state, moving consumer goods and other cargo. From highways to city roads, trucks are a vital part of the economy. With so much activity, the chance for a driver to be involved in a truck accident is relatively high.
Accidents involving large commercial trucks are different from car accidents in many ways. Truck accidents almost always cause more injuries and deaths than vehicle accidents, given the sheer size and weight of a truck. Additionally, there may be more than one at-fault negligent party in a truck accident. Discerning the negligent party in a truck accident takes the skills and knowledge of a truck accident lawyer.
The primary responsibility of a lawyer is to establish negligence in the accident. There are four general elements of a negligence claim in a truck accident case:
- The truck driver had a duty to be reasonably careful.
- The truck driver breached that duty.
- That breach of duty caused a victim’s injuries.
- There are provable injuries and monetary loss.
How can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help Me With My Case?
A lawyer knows how trucking companies defend themselves in accidents. They can use their skills to determine who is at fault when the negligent party tries to:
- Create distance in the relationship between themselves and the driver, vehicle, or cargo.
- Claim the driver was an independent contractor.
- Claim that the truck was not driving in the scope of their employment when the accident occurred.
A lawyer will also use evidence found in the truck’s black box to help determine:
- Tire pressure
- Duration of trip
- Recent activity
- Application of brakes
- Sudden deceleration or acceleration
A truck accident lawyer will also collect other evidence to build a strong case for the victim, including:
- Witness statements
- Photographs and videos taken by bystanders
- Traffic camera footage
- Expert witness testimonies
- Testimonies from accident reconstruction experts
- Medical records and receipts
Insurance companies rarely offer a victim compensation that covers the total amount of their damages. That is why a truck accident victim should never accept a settlement offer from an insurer without consulting a lawyer.
What are Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Even though trucks are subjected to laws and safety regulations, accidents routinely occur. The following list contains some of the most common causes of truck collisions.
Drivers of both passenger vehicles and trucks are prone to distracted driving. Distractions include talking or texting on a cellphone or on the truck’s radio, eating and drinking, and even an interesting roadside sign or attraction can cause driver distraction.
Federal regulations require truckers to take breaks after a certain number of hours and not drive more than 11 consecutive hours. Truck drivers may ignore these regulations to make good time or because their employers have unrealistic deadline expectations.
Lack of Training and Experience
Although truck drivers must legally hold a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), some do not, and their employers do not check. Even with a CDL license, it takes years for truck drivers to handle their trucks in various traffic and road situations safely.
Truck drivers are always subject to weather conditions. Snow and ice can make roads slippery, while rain and fog reduce visibility. Truck drivers must adjust their speed and driving techniques to overcome adverse weather. Sometimes, the need to make a tight deadline overrides the need to drive with caution.
Additionally, road hazards can also cause truck accidents. Construction, merges, yields, traffic tie-ups, closed lanes, and other roadblocks can cause accidents if the truck driver does not respond in time.
Improper Truck Inspections and Maintenance
Trucking industry regulations require commercial trucks to undergo periodic checks and consistent maintenance. When inspections and maintenance does not happen, damage to brakes, steering, tires, and the engine can lead to accidents.
Shifting or Uneven Cargo
Trucks are constantly being loaded and unloaded. Federal regulations limit how much a truck can carry, and weigh stations on the highway exist to ensure trucks are not over weight limits. Still, trucks are often overloaded or improperly loaded. Their cargo can shift while in motion, causing steering and braking problems and accidents.
Truck drivers can be cited for moving violations just like other drivers. Speed is a common violation that puts both the driver and other vehicles on the road in danger. Other violations include changing lanes too frequently or too quickly or braking suddenly, leading to the truck jackknifing and swerving. Trucks have large blind spots, so it is easy for them not to see a vehicle around them until it is too late.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law no matter the type of vehicle being driven. No one can make sound judgments while driving when impaired. Impairment can come from prescription and over-the-counter drugs, too.
Truckers may suffer chronic or sudden illnesses that can impair driving and cause accidents. Medications to treat conditions can also cause side effects that lead to driving mistakes.
Malfunctioning Tires or Truck Parts
A truck’s tires and systems, such as brakes and steering, must be in top working conditions for the driver to operate the vehicle safely. Occasionally, there are recalls on parts or tires, or a problem is known only after repeated accidents or system failures.
Who can be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?
There are many reasons for truck accidents, which is why more parties can be involved in a truck accident case. Some possible liable parties are listed below.
The truck driver may or may not be the only person liable in an accident. A truck driver may be liable if the following factors were involved:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Reckless driving
- Drowsy driving
- Inexperienced or unlicensed
The trucking company that hires a truck driver can also be at fault and negligent in an accident. A lawyer will analyze information related to the following:
- Delayed maintenance or no maintenance.
- Missing or incomplete inspections.
- Safety violations under the law.
- Unreasonable expectations and deadlines.
- Hiring unlicensed drivers.
- Allowing drivers to drive unsafe trucks.
Often, a trucking company or driver will not own the truck, but they will lease it from another owner. A truck owner can be found liable for faulty, delayed, or missing inspections and failure to maintain or repair engines, brakes, and other truck parts.
Shipper or Cargo Loader
Federal and state laws govern a truck’s weight and cargo loading requirements. Improper loading can result in the loss of truck control if the cargo shifts or is too heavy. Falling cargo, which could injure or kill people, could also happen.
A company that made or assembled the truck or truck parts may also be found liable. Some examples include:
- A tire manufacturer if a truck’s tire blows out and causes an accident.
- A parts manufacturer if a part is known to have defects, but there is no recall, or the recall is too late.
A dedicated lawyer will be able to help their client determine the cause of the truck accident.
Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Victims Prove Negligence in Truck Accident Cases
The unsafe or reckless behavior of a truck driver, their employer, or even the truck manufacturer can cause accidents, injuries, and deaths. Victims of truck accidents deserve justice. The Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC work hard to protect the rights of truck accident victims. Contact us online or call us at 757-LAW-0000 today to arrange a private consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we represent clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.