Truck Accident Lawyer
A crash with a truck on any road or highway can cause devastating injury, and should you find yourself in this situation you should contact our truck accident lawyers who will come to you.
There are trucks on our highways that are 70 feet long and weigh almost 80,000 lbs (36 tons). Many truck drivers are skilled professional drivers, who do an important job in transporting their cargo while obeying laws. However, some drivers are simply motivated by profit and they ignore safety regulations and laws, so that they can transport more loads in an unsafe manner. Our truck accident lawyers have seen the full gambit and will help you every step of the way.
At The Joel Bieber Firm, we handle a lot of car and truck accidents. However, handling truck accidents that involve commercial drivers’ licenses require a special knowledge of those laws and our truck accident lawyers know them at a detailed level. It requires an understanding of the following:
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Lawyers who handle truck accidents typically have the pocket sized book of these regulations to refer to, for commercial truck drivers. A recent case that we tried included presenting evidence to the jury where the truck driver violated twenty of these regulations. That gave rise to a claim and ultimate verdict that included punishment (punitive) damages. That is why, as a Virginia truck accident lawyer, it is important to know and understand the application of these laws.
- Hazardous Material Regulations
Federal regulations provide for the safe and secure transportation of hazardous materials. The driver must receive special training on proper packaging and operational requirements for such transport. During the discovery state, the Joel Bieber Firm investigates and moves quickly to verify that the hauling regulations were applied in the hauling of hazardous materials.
- Hours of Driving
The Department of Transportation has recently provided statistics regarding crashes involving large trucks. There are an average of about 5,000 truck crashes each year, that result in fatality. Of those crashes, 713 truck drivers were killed. One of the factors reported in many of these crashes was a truck driver who was dozing to sleep. The truck driver is required to keep a log book to document that they are complying with the appropriate driving “hours of service”, which have been effect in some form since 1939. At the Joel Bieber Firm, we work to document that the truck driver is complying with the “hours of service” requirement by reviewing the route of the driver and their log book. In some cases, we have found that the driver has maintained two different log books, so as to look as though the truck driver is in compliance. In some of those circumstances, the trucking company knew of this and ignored or even encouraged the violation of these laws.
- Corporate Liability
A trucking company has a duty to properly screen, test and train a potential employee before letting them drive a truck. During a claim involving a truck, we determine if companies are in compliance with Federal regulations during the hiring process. This includes knowing the correct investigations, familiarity with trucking requirements to research and compile information that may be used in litigation. A trucking company cannot just put a driver on the road and disclaim responsibility of the trucking company. We also begin to make a determination whether a lawsuit will be filed in state or federal court. Information in the preliminary stages can be lost, such as the computer data in the truck, if we do not move quickly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.gov) states that their responsibility is to “investigate safety defects in motor vehicles, enforce fuel economy standards, help state and local communities reduce the threat of drunk drivers, promote the use of seat belts, investigate odometer fraud, enforce vehicle anti-theft regulations and provide consumer information on motor vehicle safety topics”. All those are good goals. The problem that we see as Virginia truck accident lawyers is that drivers and companies, many times, go into “cover up mode”. They send out a company representative called a “safety director”, who immediately begins working to reduce the responsibility of the company. If the truck driver’s log book is inaccurate, or there is driver alcohol use, sometimes the evidence begins to disappear.
A preventable truck accident is one which occurs because the driver failed to take the precautions to prevent it. If you or a loved one have been injured because of a truck crash, please contact us for a free consultation. The Joel Bieber Firm has handled many crashes involving trucks. Some where the truck driver is our client and others where the truck is at fault. We never represent insurance companies, we only represent the injured. Putting us to work soon after the crash allows us to gather the information to hold the at fault driver accountable. Finding the responsible party, the cause of the crash and the aggregating circumstances, may mean that we need to do an investigation quickly. Evidence may be lost, if we can’t investigate in timely manner.
Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer at The Joel Bieber Firm today for your free initial consultation. Please fill out the form on this page.
WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?
Frequently Asked Questions
While many are under the impression that car accidents and truck accidents are similar, there are several differences between the two.
Trucks are capable of causing much more damage than car accidents. Because of a truck’s size and weight, getting into an accident with one can have severe consequences. Trucks are destructive, and a collision can result in significant injuries and property damage.
The trucking industry is highly regulated. Unlike regular vehicles, those involved in the industry must follow strict regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Violating these regulations can have serious consequences.
Because semitrucks can cause so much damage and injury, they are protected by more significant insurance coverage. While minimum car insurance requirements can be a few thousand dollars, insurance coverage for trucks can go into the millions. Insurance companies often make handling truck accident cases much more challenging.
For the most part, truck accident cases are much more difficult to manage than car accident cases. Therefore, having a qualified truck accident attorney on your side is critical to the success and outcome of your case.
While it may come as a surprise, filing a lawsuit is not the first step after a truck accident.
Usually, your truck accident lawyer will start by investigating your case to better understand the cause, liability, and extent of your damages. Then, they will send the insurance company a demand letter detailing why their insured is responsible and presenting the value of the damages you suffered.
In some cases, the insurance company will negotiate with your attorney, and if a settlement is reached, that’s the end of your claim. If the insurance company is unwilling to settle or does not respond to the demand letter, your lawyer can file a truck accident lawsuit.
Once the lawsuit is filed in court, your attorney will begin the discovery phase. This phase allows both parties to gather important evidence and information as they build their cases.
Once the discovery phase has concluded, your attorney can once again try to settle before the case goes to trial. This is often successful, eliminating the need to go to court.
If the insurance company is still unwilling to negotiate fairly, your lawyer will take your case to trial to seek fair compensation.
Whether your case involves a settlement or trial, you can count on your truck accident lawyer to protect your rights and fight for financial recovery.
Liability is yet another detail that makes truck accidents unique and different from car accident cases. It is not uncommon for multiple parties to share responsibility for a truck accident.
Many parties can be liable for a truck collision, including:
- The truck driver
- The employer of the truck driver
- The owner of the truck or the cargo
- The party that loaded the cargo
- The manufacturer of the truck or truck parts
- The party responsible for truck maintenance
While the finger is usually pointed at the truck driver, they are not always the only party responsible, if they’re even responsible for the collision at all. For example, if faulty brakes caused your collision, it’s unlikely the truck driver would be found responsible. Instead, the manufacturer of the parts might be liable.
The first step in determining liability is discovering the cause of the accident. Your truck accident lawyer will investigate to determine what caused your accident and who could be responsible. Once they’ve decided who’s liable, they can then pursue compensation from this party or their insurance company.
How much compensation you can get from your semitruck accident depends on the details of your collision and resulting losses.
Damages for truck accident cases are either economic or non-economic.
Economic damages are tangible losses resulting from your accident. These damages are usually easier to prove, as evidence is readily available. Economic damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are not as simple to prove. These kinds of damages represent intangible losses, and as such, evidence can be more difficult to acquire. Typical examples of non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Additionally, depending on your situation, you may be eligible to pursue punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed as a measure for the courts to use to punish defendants when their actions go beyond negligence and deter future actors from doing the same.
Your truck accident attorney can calculate your damages to determine the true value of your case and fight for your right to fair compensation.
Ultimately, what happens to truck drivers if they’re in an accident depends on whether they caused the accident.
If a truck driver is involved in a collision but the cause was entirely out of their control, they would not be financially liable to the victim.
For example, if the cargo on their truck was improperly loaded, fell out of the truck, and resulted in an accident, the truck driver may not be found liable. The blame for the accident instead falls on the parties who loaded the truck improperly, so the truck driver may not face repercussions.
On the other hand, if a driver causes a truck accident, they could be held responsible and face consequences. For example, a truck driver who caused an accident while engaging in distracted driving would likely be liable.
In many cases, when a truck driver is liable for causing a semitruck accident, they will be fired. Depending on the cause of the accident, truck drivers could also face consequences for violating federal regulations.
Even when a truck driver is at fault for a collision, liability might also fall on the truck driver’s employer.
Semitruck accidents have been a serious issue for some time and remain a problem.
Although truck accidents are less common than car accidents, they are more likely to be fatal. This is because the sheer size of semitrucks means that these vehicles are highly capable of causing catastrophic injuries.
Trucking accidents also happen because truck drivers are overworked. Even though regulations exist to limit the number of hours a truck driver can drive in a day, drivers are often forced to violate these rules. Fatigued driving is one of the leading causes of truck accidents.
Substance abuse is another issue in the trucking industry that can contribute to the likelihood of drivers getting into accidents. Due to the high stress, demanding hours, and isolation, alcohol and drug abuse rates are high for truck drivers. This puts not only the drivers at risk but also everyone they share the road with.
Trucking accidents often result in life-altering injuries or even fatalities for everyone involved, whether they are drivers, passengers, or pedestrians.
Since every truck accident is unique, there is no average settlement for semitruck accident cases.
To determine the value of your case, your truck accident attorney can review several factors. Certain details help determine how much your case is worth, including the following:
- The type and seriousness of your injuries
- How long it takes for you to recover
- The total cost of your medical expenses and rehabilitation
- Whether you needed to take time off work and how much income you lost
- Whether you’re left with any permanent disability
- What intangible losses you sustained
- The extent of your financial losses
The settlement that you can pursue may also depend on who was liable for the truck accident and how many parties in total shared responsibility for your injuries. When multiple parties share liability for an accident, you’ll have a chance to pursue compensation from all of them.
Determining how much your case is worth is one of the trickiest parts of a semitruck accident case, but a lawyer has the skills and experience required to assign a fair value.
Each type of semitruck accident is capable of causing major damage and significant injury. Some of the most common truck accidents include:
- Wide turn accidents
- Jackknife collisions
- Head-on accidents
- Rear-end collisions
A wide turn collision occurs when a truck is attempting to make a turn. Because of their large size, trucks cannot turn in the same way a car would. Therefore, semitrucks need to make wide turns, which could easily cause accidents.
Jackknife accidents occur when a truck’s brakes either lock up or a driver brakes too quickly. Either event can cause the truck’s trailer to skid and form a 90-degree angle. This loss of control over a truck can result in serious accidents for drivers in the surrounding area.
Head-on collisions are common and often occur because a driver fails to notice road signs, is fatigued and falls asleep, or is under the influence. These accidents are catastrophic and often result in fatalities.
Because trucks require a greater stopping distance, when they don’t have enough space to stop safely, they can cause rear-end accidents. These collisions can also occur when a driver is driving too fast or not paying attention.
A truck accident lawyer can benefit your case greatly, as they have the knowledge and resources to skillfully handle your case.
Truck accident lawyers can take on the most important tasks related to your truck accident claim, including:
- Thoroughly investigating your accident
- Collecting essential evidence
- Determining the cause and liability for your accident
- Drafting and sending demand letters
- Drafting and filing court documents
- Calculating the value of your case
- Communicating with the insurance companies
- Representing you at trial, if necessary
While legal representation from a truck accident lawyer is not required, it is truly in your best interests to have an attorney manage your case. If you’re unfamiliar with the laws surrounding truck accident cases, it’s particularly challenging to successfully perform the tasks listed above.
Your truck accident lawyer will have your best interests at heart, fiercely representing you and working toward getting you the fairest possible outcome. They can fight against insurance companies and negligent drivers to help you secure the full value of your claim, even taking the matter to court if necessary.
Semitruck accidents are scary and stressful, but try to remain calm. The following steps can protect your rights and help your future claim:
- Call 911: Request police assistance and emergency medical services
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you receive emergency medical care, always follow up at the emergency room or with your primary physician
- Report Your Accident to Your Insurer: Car insurance companies need to be made aware of accidents involving their insured vehicle
- Follow Through with Medical Treatment: Always make sure to complete medical treatment to help ensure maximum recovery
- Consult with a Car Accident Attorney: As soon as you’re able, schedule a consultation with a lawyer to discuss your accident
Always put your health and well-being first after a truck accident, especially if you’ve sustained serious injuries. Get the medical attention you need and take your treatment seriously. Not only is your health the most important thing, but your medical records play a vital role in car accident claims.
If you’re confused or unsure about what’s next, rely on your car accident lawyer to give you peace of mind and determine the best plan to pursue financial recovery for your losses.