VIRGINIA BEACH TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS
SEEKING JUSTICE FOR INJURED VICTIMS SINCE 1973
While people can suffer from the same kinds of injuries and issues in a truck accident as they do in a car accident, a semi-truck or commercial truck accident involves different regulations and policies that require an experienced lawyer to understand. For more than 45 years, our truck accident attorneys in Virginia Beach have helped individuals when they’re at their most vulnerable. As a family-owned law firm, Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, P.L.L.C. wants to protect you and your legal rights to compensation if you’ve been hurt due to someone else’s carelessness.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CAR AND TRUCK ACCIDENTS
Car and truck accidents can occur due to the same factors and result in the same kinds of injuries, but there are several differences to note, especially those involving insurance policies and regulations. While cars are typically owned by the drivers, commercial trucks are owned by companies and are under the company’s insurance policy.
Below are a few differences that our attorneys take into account when working on injury claims involving trucks.
Significant Insurance Coverage
Many people who are seriously injured in a car accident are frustrated to find out that they can only recover a portion of the damages they need due to insurance policy caps. In a truck accident claim, hitting the insurance cap will be much less likely because trucking companies usually purchase insurance policies with high insurance caps. Trucking companies do not want to pay a cent from their own finances, so buying a sizeable policy is beneficial to them, too. It is not unusual for a truck’s insurance policy to include up to $1,000,000 in third-party bodily injury coverage, which is 50 times larger than many car insurance policies.
Because truck insurance policies may be worth millions of dollars, the insurance carrier may try their best to avoid taking responsibility for an accident, which can include attempting to hold the injured partly liable for the accident, or simply denying the injury claim altogether. We can prevent these parties from evading responsibility through careful investigation and plenty of evidence.
Truck Accidents Result in Greater Injuries & Medical Bills
Because of the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks, injuries are often much more severe in an accident than those resulting from accidents between passenger-sized cars. Unfortunately, many accidents involving large trucks result in death. As personal injury lawyers, we’re also experienced in wrongful death claims and can provide support if that’s the case.
Truck accident claims often cite the following injuries and more:
- Amputations or multiple bone breaks
- Spine or neck injuries causing paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Severe injuries suffered in a truck accident will call for extensive medical treatments, which add up to steep medical bills. It is not unusual for a truck accident survivor to require multiple imagining tests like x-rays and MRIs, lengthy hospitalization, and a prolonged and painful recovery time. Some injuries might even be severe enough to be permanent and life-changing.
When a truck accident causes a motorist’s death, the surviving family members can be as financially burdened as they are emotionally devastated. A wrongful death claim can be filed instead of a truck accident claim, which seeks additional and unique types of damages. For example, funeral costs and a portion of the wages the deceased would have earned had the accident not happened are included in many wrongful death claim damages.
TRUCKS HAVE DIFFERENT REGULATIONS – AND THAT’S IMPORTANT
Truck drivers and trucking companies must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in order to legally conduct business. Both groups impose numerous regulations to try to prevent truck accidents. The same rules and regulations, though, may make it more complicated to determine liability when compared to the average car accident.
Some specific truck regulations include:
- Commercial driver’s licenses: Truck drivers who operate a vehicle capable of interstate travel must obtain and maintain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Earning a CDL requires extensive training and additional certification.
- Hours of service: Motorists can drive as long as they want, but it is advised they stop once they grow tired. On the other hand, truck drivers can only drive up to 11 hours in a 14-hour shift in most cases before violating an FMCSA regulation. Despite hours-of-service requirements, truck driver exhaustion continues to be one of the worst causes of fatal truck accidents.
- Logbooks: On a typical route, a truck driver must use a logbook to record their driving activities for the day. A logbook should include notes like starting time, break times, highways or streets used, etc.
- Maintenance: A commercial truck must be routinely serviced to look for part defects and normal wear-and-tear. Failing to bring a truck in for maintenance at reasonable intervals not only breaks an FMCSA regulation but it also puts the truck driver and other motorists at a heightened risk of a crash.
- Health requirements: The FMCSA and DOT do not allow people of unsafe or fragile health to be truck drivers. People with severe health conditions that may cause sudden unconsciousness are often barred from being an interstate truck driver. Alcohol and drug dependencies can also interfere with a trucker’s career options.
WHO IS FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR SEMI-TRUCK ACCIDENT INJURIES?
There could be many parties who are technically liable for your injuries after a truck accident that you did not cause. For example, it is quite common for the truck driver and the trucking company that employed or contracted them to split liability. Other parties like a maintenance or cargo crew can also be partially liable depending on what caused your accident.
Divided liability does not necessarily mean that we will need to file multiple claims and fight for compensation numerous times. Instead, it is typical for all defendants to answer a single claim or lawsuit. If the case ends in your favor and a fair settlement or verdict amount is reached, then it will be up to those defendants to decide who pays what amount. However, you should still receive the same final total.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR CASE TODAY
As if personal injury law isn’t already confusing, learning about driving regulations can seem even more daunting. Fortunately, sorting through the details and using what we know to build your case is what we do. You can trust our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers to do the digging and use our decades of experience to aid your case.
Call us today for a consultation in English or Spanish at (757) 599-6050 today. We don’t get compensated until you do.
- Can overloaded/improperly loaded trucks cause accidents?
Overloaded and improperly loaded trucks pose a serious risk to others on the road. When commercial truck loads exceed state and federal regulations regarding maximum weight and capacity, truck drivers can easily lose control of their vehicles, leading to devastating accidents. The same is true when cargo is not loaded properly, as this can lead to shifts in weight as the truck travels down the highway and makes left and right turns on city streets. Unsecured cargo can also block the driver’s view or may fall from trailers and become hazards in the roadway.
Common types of truck accidents caused by overloaded or improperly loaded cargo include jackknifing (when the trailer swings around so the end is next to the tractor), fishtailing (when the trailer begins swerving from side to side), and rollovers (when the tractor and/or the trailer roll over partially or completely).
- Can data from a truck’s black box be used for my case?
While many people have heard of “black boxes” in terms of airplane crashes, few know that commercial trucks are also equipped with this technology. Black boxes record various data, including the speed of the truck, the hours of operation, the time of impact, whether brakes were applied, and more. This data can be very useful in a truck accident investigation, as it allows one to uncover certain details regarding the crash. For example, if the brakes were not applied, this could indicate that the truck driver was distracted or had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Unfortunately, obtaining black box data after a truck accident can be difficult, as the technology is controlled by the trucking companies. These entities are typically the ones that are liable for these accidents, meaning they do not usually stand to benefit from black box data. However, our attorneys know how to leverage the law to obtain this data and use it to identify the true facts of what happened. We can then put this information to work in your case.
- How long do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit?
The statute of limitations—or deadline to file a claim—for truck accidents in Virginia is two years from the date of the accident/injury. In other words, you have two years to file your truck accident lawsuit. If you fail to bring your claim within this timeframe, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case. There are very few exceptions to this statute of limitations, so it is important that you act quickly. We encourage you to reach out to our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers right away to learn how we can help you with your potential claim.