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Truck accidents can cause serious injury. Semi-trucks usually carry heavy cargo and travel at high speeds on freeways. In mere seconds, a wrong turn or swerve can cause a truck to overtake a small car. This can lead to vehicle damage and catastrophic injuries for the other drivers and passengers.
There are many types of truck accidents, but they all share some common characteristics. A transport truck is bigger and weighs more than a car, often leading to greater injury than a collision between two or more cars. Trucks are usually commercial vehicles whose drivers must follow strict federal guidelines. Trucking employers are responsible for the inspection and maintenance of vehicles. And truckers must adhere to specific rules about on-the-job driving practices.
In Virginia, you can only recover compensation if you are 0% at fault for a car or truck accident. Because of this strict rule, it is essential to work with a Virginia truck accident lawyer to safeguard your rights and your potential to recover some of your losses.
What Is Liability in the Context of Truck Accidents?
Personal injury is an area of the law that focuses on holding to account people who have caused you harm. One subset of personal injury is vehicle accidents. Truck accident victims can take legal action against the responsible party to seek compensation for their losses.
In order to have a successful lawsuit, truck crash attorneys must establish liability. If a person is liable for the accident, they can be held legally responsible.
The Importance of Establishing Fault in Truck Accident Cases
Virginia is a “fault” state for truck accidents, which means that the driver who caused the accident is responsible for covering the medical expenses and other damages that resulted. In a "no fault" state, each driver's insurance company is responsible for paying their own damages.
Typically, in "no fault" states, drivers must have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to pay for their own medical expenses resulting from a car accident, regardless of who was responsible. PIP insurance is not required in Virginia.
The fault system makes it very important to determine who caused the accident.
Legal Principles Governing Liability in Virginia Truck Accidents
Virginia is a contributory negligence state. This means that a defendant driver must be 100% at fault for the collision in order for you to win a lawsuit. If you hold even 1% liability, you unfortunately do not have a legal case.
It’s important not to confuse “contributory negligence” with “comparative negligence.” Many other states have a comparative negligence system in which people can recover damages even if they hold some fault in a truck or car accident. This is not the case in Virginia.
Factors Considered in Determining Fault in Virginia Truck Accidents
There are many factors that a court looks at to decide who is at fault in a truck accident. They include the rules of the road that all drivers must follow. They also include considerations unique to operators of commercial trucks, who are subject to federal trucking regulations.
Role of Driver Negligence in Establishing Fault
Truck drivers must follow several federal guidelines including hours of work and rest periods. If they have been in violation of any of these rules, or if they have broken any other traffic laws, it might indicate that they are negligent and at fault. Examples of some ways a trucker could break the law and cause a commercial trucking accident are:
- Driving for over 14 hours without a rest period
- Driving in excess of local and highway speed limits
- Disobeying traffic control signals, such as driving through a red light
- Texting while driving or distracted driving
- Driving recklessly
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
Some common causes of truck accidents that might help shed light on liability include:
- Road conditions
- Bad weather conditions
- Faulty brakes
- Defective tires
- Poor vehicle maintenance
A commercial truck accident lawyer can look at the details of what happened in your collision to determine how a driver’s actions might have caused the crash.
Negligence of Trucking Companies and Employers in Determining Liability
One factor that makes commercial vehicle accidents different from car accidents is the ownership of commercial trucks.. As employers of professional drivers and operators of commercial truck fleets, trucking companies take on particular responsibility when it comes to preventing truck crashes. A semi-truck accident lawyer can analyze the actions of the company to make sure it performed reasonable safety measures, including:
- Regular truck inspection and truck maintenance
- Proper training of drivers of semi-trucks on defensive driving
- Ethical practices of hiring competent and fully licensed drivers
- Proper loading and packaging of cargo
Truck accident attorneys take steps to investigate personal injury claims to determine how the crash happened. This includes interviewing witnesses, gathering documentation on company practices, and obtaining evidence at the accident scene.
The Impact of Defective Truck Parts on Fault Determination
Sometimes a semi-truck accident lawyer or third party investigator finds that the collision was not directly the fault of either driver or the trucking company. Perhaps the truck had a defective part that led to the crash. An example could be improper brakes or faulty engine wiring.
In this case, your truck injury lawyer might recommend taking legal action against the company that manufactured the truck part. In Virginia, it is possible to launch a lawsuit for a defective product. Your lawyer can help you to take appropriate action against the negligent party.
Choose the Right Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Needs
An experienced attorney can be an important partner in your truck accident claim. In order for you to have the best chance of recovering maximum compensation, your truck crash lawyer must know the standard for liability in Virginia and other legal considerations. Commonwealth Law Group has the experience and expertise to build the strongest case possible for truck accident and other personal injury claims. Every case is important to us, and each client is treated with the highest level of respect. Talk to us today for a free consultation.
If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.