Skilled Alexandria Trucking Accident Attorneys Serving Clients Throughout Virginia
THE LEGAL COUNSEL YOU NEED AFTER A CRASH INVOLVING A LARGE TRUCK
Pursuing claims for injuries or death caused by truck accidents are more complicated and challenging than are claims involving car crashes. As such, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a truck accident, it is important that you consult lawyers like us at Curcio Law, who have handled such cases and are familiar with the issues which must be addressed.
How Commercial Vehicle Crashes Differ from Regular Auto Accidents?
Although commercial vehicles share the same roads as regular motorists, they are subject to different rules and regulations. Federal and state laws hold commercial drivers to a higher standard than ordinary drivers. Commercial vehicles are typically larger and heavier than the average car, truck, or SUV, and they often include semi trucks, work trucks/vans, or buses. These types of accidents tend to be more severe than collisions between standard passenger vehicles. Even at low speeds, accidents involving commercial vehicles can result in extensive damage to smaller vehicles and severe injuries. Semi trucks, big rigs, tractor-trailer trucks, and 18-wheelers are just a few examples of commercial motor vehicles.
The issue of liability is also more complex when it comes to commercial drivers since they are typically employees. The employer, employee or both may be held accountable for the damages caused by the accident, as well as the owner of the cargo they are transporting.
Who is liable in an accident involving a commercial truck?
A critical first step in handling such a claim is knowing who the responsible parties are, as there may be several potentially liable parties. In general, the employer of the commercial driver is liable for any damages caused by their employee while driving for work purposes.
- the truck driver can be held accountable for his or her negligence
- driver is using their work vehicle while off-duty, in which case you should pursue recovery from the driver’s personal insurance company.
- the trucking company employing the driver is liable for the actions of its employee driver
- the trucking company and truck owner are also potentially liable if the accident was caused by poorly maintained equipment
- the broker selecting the trucking company is potentially liable for negligent hiring if the trucking company has a poor safety record
- also, the truck or equipment manufacturer can be held accountable if a defective part contributed to the crash
Determining the amounts and priority of the insurance available among the potential parties is another challenge, knowing what must be proved to prevail, and understanding how to obtain all necessary information through the discovery phase of litigation is critical.
Most Common Commercial Vehicle Accidents
The following are some of the common reasons why trucking accidents take place:
- Driver error: This is by far the most common cause of trucking accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has found that 88 percent of all truck accidents were caused by the action or inaction of the driver. Common reasons for this include over-the-counter drug use, speeding, and unfamiliarity with the road. However, most semi-truck accidents are due to fatigue and sleep deprivation.
- Distracted Driving: while there are laws specifically directed to commercial truck drivers, not all drivers obey these safety rules, and truck crashes caused by drivers distracted by cell phones and other devices are increasing.
- Truck equipment failure: Defective design and manufacturing, as well as improper maintenance, may cause trucking equipment to fail. The FMSCA has strict requirements for every truck driver and trucking company to perform inspections and maintenance on their vehicles throughout the year, the goal being to ensure the proper working condition and safety of their equipment.
- Weather conditions: Inclement weather may affect both small and large vehicles on the road. However, because large trucks cannot stop as quickly, poor weather conditions and slippery road surfaces lead to many 18-wheeler crashes.
- Improper loading: Since heavy loads weigh down trucks, it is important that cargo is loaded correctly. An unbalanced or improperly secured load can cause the truck to be unstable and more difficult for the driver to control, causing the truck to lose cargo onto the road or topple over, both of which are common causes of crashes involving trucks.
- Improper selection of trucking company: Many shippers who need products transported via truck do not perform due diligence in finding a trucking company that complies with FMCSA regulations to safely ship their cargo. This results in improper vehicles hauling loads beyond their proper safety levels. One of the reasons why truck accident claims are more complicated than other auto accident cases is because of the numerous potential liable parties. The truck driver can be held accountable for his or her negligence. The trucking company employing the driver is liable for the actions of its employee driver. The trucking company and truck owner are also potentially liable if the accident was caused by poorly maintained equipment. Even the truck’s manufacturer can be held accountable for a personal injury if a defective truck part contributed to the crash.
Steps to take after getting in an accident with a large truck or commercial vehicle.
- Seek immediate medical attention after a tractor-trailer accident, even if you feel fine. It’s likely you have injuries that are not yet apparent.
- Document the accident scene, if possible. Take photos of the crash scene, including the vehicles and damages, skid marks, vehicle positions, and your injuries. The trucking company may send a team to the accident scene to collect evidence.
- Do not speak to anyone. The trucking company’s claim adjuster may try to contact you, but it’s best not to speak with them. They are only interested in protecting the company’s interests after the accident, and anything you say could be used against you. Instead, let your commercial vehicle accident attorney handle communication with the insurance company.
- Contact a commercial vehicle accident lawyer. The insurance adjuster may discourage you from hiring an attorney, but it is essential to have one when you are involved in a commercial vehicle accident.
Get experienced representation for your truck accident in Alexandria, VA
If you have been involved in a crash with a truck and have questions or need help, contact a lawyer with experience in this field. A capable accident attorney at Curcio Law is ready to help. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 703-836-3366 or contact our Alexandria office online.