Collisions involving 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles are some of the most devastating accidents that could occur on Virginia roads. Those involved often suffer severe, catastrophic, or fatal injuries due to the size and weight of commercial trucks compared to cars, bikes, and pedestrians.
Additionally, truck accident injury claims are frequently more complicated than other motor vehicle collisions, in part because multiple parties could potentially share liability for the crash.
What Factors Make Truck Accidents More Complicated Than Car Accidents?
Because the potential for injury, damage, and fatalities with truck accidents is so great, those who own and drive these large rigs have to undergo additional training and also adhere to more regulations than passenger vehicle drivers. In Virginia, truck drivers and owners must follow Virginia state laws and restrictions, as well as federal laws.
Some other factors that often make truck accident claims more complicated include:
- Truck ownership. In accidents involving only cars or similar passenger vehicles, the drivers or passengers are very often the owners of the vehicles. This can make it easier to deal with insurance companies and recover damages for your injuries and losses. Truck drivers could be owner-operators, lessees, or company drivers, and their particular status can have can affect who is ultimately responsible for their actions.
- Cargo. The heavy cargo that trucks haul can increase the severity of accidents involving them, since the cargo adds weight, increases stopping time, and decreases driver visibility behind and beside the rig. Cargo can also complicate truck accidents because the accident may not be entirely the driver’s fault if the cargo was not loaded and secured correctly. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets specific legal responsibilities for cargo loaders and cargo manufacturers.
- Insurance coverage. Truck owners have to follow minimum insurance coverage rules just as automobile owners do, but truck coverage types vary. There are coverages based on type of load, such as with hazardous materials, or even if there is no load at all. Unraveling which coverage applies and whether it was legally adequate given the circumstances can be a daunting task.
- Determining fault. Any vehicle accident can lead to finger-pointing by affected parties, and truck accidents are no different. A witness may have seen the truck driver dozing off, which could indicate a violation of federal rules on hours driven and mandatory rest periods. However, the driver may claim that they swerved due to a shifting load, or that there was a mechanical malfunction. They or their insurance company may try to claim that the other party is at fault, either fully or partially, by staying in the truck driver’s blind spot for too long, or for not giving them enough time to stop or room to turn a corner. Untangling the conflicting reports and unearthing all pertinent evidence can require considerable skill and experience.
Seeking Compensation After a Truck Crash
Insurance companies are not in the business of giving accident victims as much compensation as they deserve. They are in the business of protecting their bottom line, by only paying out as little as they can get away with or what is legally required.
With truck accidents, which often involve several vehicles, this becomes even more complicated, as multiple insurance companies each attempt to deny or diminish fault. They may also point the finger at you for partial blame, which under Virginia’s contributory negligence law can significantly reduce the amount you receive.
How a Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer Could Help
If you receive an immediate offer from an insurance company after a truck accident, it can be tempting to accept it, so you can pay your medical bills and focus on your recovery. This is completely understandable, but it can be a life-altering mistake.
A Virginia personal injury lawyer with experience handling truck accident cases can conduct a thorough investigation, determine which parties might be liable and what insurance policies are in play, and fight to get you the full and fair compensation to which you’re entitled.
In Virginia you only have two years to file a lawsuit after a truck accident in most cases. Depending on the complexities of the case and the various forms of evidence involved, this is not long. So get started today with a free consultation with Virginia truck accident lawyer Mike Deering, by calling 757-383-6848 or contacting him online.