Truck crashes can be far more devastating than other motor vehicle accidents. Victims may feel trapped by physical pain, medical expenses, and emotional trauma. These invisible scars add to the challenges and often leave truck accident victims feeling vulnerable and distressed. Insurance companies make the process even more difficult by using their vast resources to minimize payouts and exploit legal nuances.
An experienced Newport News truck accident attorney can help victims pursue appropriate compensation. After a truck accident, having a dedicated personal injury lawyer is essential for getting just and fair treatment.
The personal injury claims process can be quite complicated. As the person asserting a claim, you have the burden of proving that someone, such as a trucker or a trucking company, is legally liable for your damages. Insurance companies and defense lawyers know many ways to try to minimize the amount they or their clients must pay you.
The attorneys at Montagna Law know all of these tricks, and they know how to avoid or respond to them. They can help you navigate the truck accident claims process by:
These tactics are important in all Newport News personal injury cases. Truck accident claims can present additional legal challenges. The trucking industry is subject to laws and regulations at both the state and federal levels. Determining who is liable for your injuries, such as the truck driver, the trucking company, or the truck manufacturer, will depend on the circumstances of the accident.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) defines a “large truck” as a large commercial truck, also known as an eighteen-wheeler, tractor-trailer, semi-truck, or big rig. While large truck crashes only made up 2.4 percent of all motor vehicle accidents in Virginia in 2022, they can be severe.
Truck drivers and passengers were much more likely to escape accidents unharmed than occupants of other vehicles. Virginia had sixty fatal truck crashes in 2022, but only twelve fatalities among large truck occupants. Large truck occupants accounted for 42 percent of truck accident injuries. The remaining fatalities and injuries were to people in other vehicles or pedestrians.
Most large truck accidents in Virginia in 2022 occurred on major highways such as I-81 and I-95. A majority of accidents — about 58.3 percent — involved multiple vehicles.
If you have been involved in a truck accident, you might be disoriented and confused. Here are some of the steps you should take to keep yourself safe and preserve your rights in a personal injury claim.
If you have obvious injuries, you need to seek medical care from first responders on the scene. Even if you feel fine, you should have a medical professional examine you. Some common accident injuries, such as whiplash, might not show symptoms for hours, days, or longer.
Calling 911 after a truck accident is necessary for several reasons. EMTs need to determine if anyone needs further medical attention. The police will investigate the scene and create a police report. You will need a copy of this report when you make a claim to an insurance company.
If you are able, take pictures at the scene of the accident that show the following:
You can also attempt to get the names and contact information of witnesses on the scene. They may be able to provide details about the accident that you were not able to see.
You should speak to a Newport News personal injury attorney before you give any statements to an insurance company. Once you have established an attorney-client relationship, they can work on preparing your claim and dealing with the insurance company. You can focus on recovering from your injuries.
It may be possible to reach a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Your lawyer will be able to help you with this process.
According to the DMV, improper action by a truck driver was a factor in 54.4 percent of truck accidents in Virginia in 2022. Some truck accidents, however, are not the truck driver’s fault. Trucking companies may be responsible for policies that result in fatigued drivers, for example, or other unsafe practices. Maintenance companies or manufacturers may be responsible for problems with the vehicles themselves.
Large trucks take up a significant amount of space on the road. As a result, they need to take greater care when they move between lanes to avoid hitting other vehicles. The DMV states that more than 12 percent of truck drivers involved in accidents in 2022 made errors while changing lanes.
Because of their large size, big rig trucks need additional space to slow down and come to a stop. The faster they are traveling, the more space they need. Truck drivers need to leave space between themselves and vehicles ahead of them in case traffic slows or stops. The second most common improper action by truck drivers, according to the DMV, involved following too closely. This accounted for 7.9 percent of truckers in accidents.
Other driver errors that can cause truck accidents include:
Driver fatigue is a factor in many truck accidents. Trucking companies often set strict deadlines for truckers, which can result in driving for extended periods of time without proper rest. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets hours-of-service regulations that limit how long truckers may drive before they must stop and rest.
Large commercial trucks are complicated machines that require regular maintenance. Accidents may result from errors that are beyond a truck driver’s control, such as:
Truck accidents can cause serious injuries because of the difference in size between large trucks and other vehicles. Common types of truck accident injuries include:
If you sustained injuries in a truck accident in Newport News, you may be able to receive two types of compensation.
Economic damages cover losses that come directly out of your pocket because of your injuries. These may include:
The impact of your injuries may go far beyond what it has cost you monetarily. Non-economic damages try to compensate you for the accident’s subjective effect on your life. These may include:
Virginia is a “contributory negligence” state. This means that a plaintiff must prove that a defendant was 100 percent at fault for an accident. If the plaintiff contributed in any way to the cause of the accident, even if they were only 1 percent at fault, they will not be able to recover damages. Most states have moved away from this rule, but Virginia still maintains it.
Parties that may be held liable for a truck accident include:
A truck driver may be liable for an accident if they caused the accident and were not acting as an employee of the trucking company. Some truckers own their rigs and work as independent contractors, which may make them individually liable in many situations.
A trucking company may be liable for the actions of its employees. It could also be liable if an accident resulted from its employment policies, such as if it forced its drivers to work long hours, leading to driver fatigue.
Trailers loaded improperly can affect large trucks’ balance and cause accidents despite truckers’ best efforts. The company that loaded the trailer could be liable in that situation.
Spending so much time on the road puts an enormous strain on large commercial trucks. Inadequate maintenance can cause something to fail while the truck is out on the highway. Flaws in their design or assembly can also cause catastrophic problems. The company that failed to keep the truck in top condition would be liable.
The Newport News truck accident lawyers at Montagna Law represent people who have suffered injuries due to large trucks and other commercial vehicles. Our team has extensive experience dealing with the legal complexities of Virginia truck accident cases. We can help you assert claims against trucking companies and recover the damages owed to you. Contact our Hampton Roads law firm today at 877-622-8100 or through the online contact form to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.