If you are involved in a serious accident with a large truck in Richmond, our team at the offices of Emroch & Kilduff, LLP can help. Our Richmond truck accident lawyers have been serving clients in our state for nearly 50 years, and we have the resources necessary to pursue a successful claim on your behalf.
Richmond may be one of the oldest cities in the country, but today, it has the same modern amenities—including hundreds of miles of highway—as the rest of America. Highways such as I-95, I-64, I-295, and I-288 are key transportation routes in the state, and are some of the most heavily traveled highways in Virginia. Yet these roads are also dangerous. Not only are these highways congested with vehicles traveling at high speeds, but large trucks on a daily basis also use them. Sometimes, negligence occurs, and these large trucks are involved in serious accidents.
The Virginia Department of Transportation indicates that more than 2,300 crashes took place involving large trucks during 2016—that’s more than six each day. While these vehicles perform an essential function in the state’s economy, they are also capable of causing extensive damage to other vehicles and property and leaving accident victims with extremely serious injuries.
When the negligence of commercial truck drivers, trucking companies, or other parties involved in the industry injures people, the victims are often legally entitled to compensation for the losses they incur as a result of the crash. Unfortunately, however, trucking insurers are often reticent to pay victims, even when their claims are valid. Furthermore, even when they concede liability, they often do everything they can to frustrate victims into accepting settlements for far less than the damages they’ve incurred.
Emroch & Kilduff’s attorneys are committed to representing the rights of truck accident victims and do not hesitate to take on large trucking insurance companies. We are skilled negotiators who understand how to get insurance companies to settle and aggressive litigators who will readily take a case to trial should our clients’ best interests demand it. We offer completely free case evaluations and will not collect any legal fees unless we obtain you compensation for your losses.
To schedule a consultation with one of our truck accident lawyers in Richmond, call our office today at (804) 358-1568 or contact us online.
What Makes Truck Accidents Different?
Auto collisions are complicated enough, but become even more so when a commercial truck is involved.
Anyone who has seen the wreckage of a truck accident understands how devastating these accidents can be. A large truck can weigh up to 20 times more than average passenger car, which means that in a collision, thousands of pounds of metal are involved. Often, these trucks are traveling at high speeds. When combined with any dangerous materials that a large truck may be carrying, ranging from flammable materials to toxic chemicals, these accidents can have tragic consequences.
We can classify most accidents involving large trucks (including delivery vehicles, box trucks, or tractor trailers) as head-on collisions, under-ride or override accidents, jackknifes, or rollover crashes. All of these truck accidents can result in serious injuries, disabilities, or fatalities. As with most auto accidents, truck accidents must take into account considerations like road conditions, equipment failure, and driver performance.
Interstates are said to be the safest roadways, but this is where most commercial vehicle and truck accidents occur. Large trucks account for a small percent of total registered vehicles, yet per unit of travel, these trucks are involved in more fatal crashes than passenger vehicles.
According to the most recent 2010 report from The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the number of accidents involving semi-truck, tractor-trailer, and commercial vehicles is increasing.
- 500,000 commercial vehicles and large trucks were involved in accidents
- 100,000 or more persons sustained serious injuries
- 5,000 or more persons died
The Devastating Nature of Richmond Truck Accidents
Two of the most devastating types of truck accidents that often leave victims with fatal or life-altering injuries are:
- Underride truck accidents. In an underride truck accident, the passenger vehicle rides under the rear of the truck, causing the front end of the vehicle to be completely crushed. This usually happens when the rear-driver—the passenger car—is following too closely to the truck and the truck stops.
- Override truck accidents. An override truck accident occurs when the front of a large truck rides over the rear of a passenger car. This may occur because the truck driver is following the car too closely, or the passenger car changes lanes aggressively, cutting too closely in front of the large truck.
- Of course, these are not the only types of truck accidents. Truck rollovers, sideswipe collisions, head-on crashes, and T-bone accidents are all possible. While the severity will depend upon the type of accident and the amount of force involved—determined by the mass of the vehicles and the speed at which they are traveling at the time of the crash—truck accidents are almost always quite serious for the drivers and passengers of the smaller vehicle.
Truck Accidents Are Often Caused by the Negligence of Truck Drivers
Driving a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle is not like getting behind the wheel of your family sedan. These vehicles can weigh 20 or 30 times as much as a standard passenger vehicle and take up much more space. As a result, they handle much differently than anything that most of us have ever driven before. They are slower to accelerate, and need much more room to turn. They dramatically restrict visibility. In addition, driving a large truck involves using equipment that is simply not found on passenger vehicles, such as air brakes and coupling devices.
Because driving commercial trucks is so much different than driving passenger vehicles, commercial vehicle drivers are required to undergo specialized training and obtain commercial driver’s licenses to legally drive them. Unfortunately, commercial truck drivers continue to make mistakes and drive carelessly despite these measures, often resulting in catastrophic accidents. Truck driver negligence that often leads to accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Failure to yield
- Following too closely
- Improper turns
- Failing to signal lane changes
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
Negligence can often prove hard to spot, so victims should always review the facts of their case with an attorney—even if the truck driver was not doing something obviously wrong at the time of the accident.
The Trucking Industry is Subject to Federal Regulation
It’s not just personal injury lawyers who know that large commercial trucks pose a risk to others on the road. The federal government also recognizes this, and agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) impose strict regulations on trucks, truck drivers, and the trucking industry in general. Government regulations restrict:
- The number of hours a truck driver can drive during a given period
- The number and placement of lights or reflective material on a truck’s trailer
- The health condition of drivers
- Drivers’ blood alcohol content
- The frequency with which trucks are inspected
- The weather conditions in which truck drivers may drive
These regulations are important for accident victims because failure to comply with them may establish liability on the part of a truck driver or the driver’s employer. As a result, anyone involved in a commercial truck accident should retain an attorney familiar with federal trucking regulations. Knowing the regulations is a prerequisite to identifying violations.
Our Richmond Truck Accident Lawyers Get to the Bottom of What Happened
Our lawyers are skilled at accident investigation, meaning that we have the resources, skills, and experience to open a thorough investigation into your truck accident to determine exactly what happened, who is at fault, and against whom we should file a claim. We don’t do it on our own: instead, we work with accident reconstruction experts, vehicle design experts, engineers, and other professionals.
One of the areas we will investigate is whether the truck driver violated federal regulations. As mentioned above, one of the agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation—The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—enforces federal safety regulations created for the U.S. trucking industry. The FMCSA’s regulations require truck drivers to take proper breaks after a certain amount of driving time and regularly inspect their trucks. A commercial truck driver’s violation of FMCSA regulations could be used as evidence against the driver in a truck accident case.
Truck accident claims are complex—and not only because these types of accidents often result in serious injuries and enormous losses. Truck accident claims are complicated because determining precisely what caused the accident and who should be held liable can be complicated. There are often multiple parties involved in a truck accident claim. Potentially liable parties include the truck driver, the trucking company, the shipper or loader of cargo, the manufacturer of the truck, or a third-party driver. If more than one party is to blame, we can help you to recover compensation from multiple insurance companies.
How Much Will a Richmond Truck Accident Attorney Cost?
In the aftermath of a serious, injury-causing accident, you are likely looking for ways to save money—not take on additional expenses. This logic often makes truck accident victims question the wisdom of retaining at attorney—after all, if the insurance company seems ready to settle, why just not handle the matter yourself?
Understand that you will incur no out-of-pocket costs from retaining the lawyers at Emroch & Kilduff. We employ a contingent fee arrangement with all of our personal injury clients, which means that we will not collect any legal fees unless we successfully recover compensation from the party or parties responsible for your injuries. If we do not secure a settlement or award on your behalf, you owe us nothing—period.
Secondly, as a victim, you should recognize that trucking industry insurers do not have your best interests in mind. If you are unrepresented by counsel, the insurance company may make you unreasonably low settlement offers to take advantage of your inexperience with truck accident litigation. If you accept such an offer, there is little chance that you may recover any additional compensation in the future, even as your medical bills continue to pile up.
Retain an attorney to represent you, even if the other party concedes liability. An attorney who is unable to come to a reasonable settlement arrangement with the insurance company may file a lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in court.
Remember, the trucking company probably has some of the best defense attorneys in the business on its side. You should, too. At Emroch at Kilduff, we take the time to fully evaluate your case and extensively document both your economic and non-economic losses to ensure that you recover as much compensation as possible. In cases of contested liability, we will conduct a thorough investigation into your accident to uncover any evidence of negligence that may exist.
Damages You May Seek in a Richmond Truck Accident Claim
Whether you are the truck accident victim yourself or the family member of someone who was killed in a truck accident in Richmond, you have the right to seek the full value of damages suffered. This includes compensation for:
- Medical expenses, both past and future
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Lost benefits and value of household contributions
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
There are no caps on damages for economic (financial) damages or noneconomic (intangible losses, such as pain and suffering) damages in Virginia truck accidents. There are, however, caps on punitive damages. Punitive damages, which are not always given, are designed to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior and are limited to $350,000 in Virginia.
How Long Do I Have to File a Richmond Truck Accident Claim?
If you are involved in a truck accident or lose a loved one in a truck accident, we highly recommend that you contact our law offices as soon as possible so that we can begin the claims process and get to work investigating your accident. If you wait too long to take action, you may be barred from recovering damages at all. This is because, per Virginia Code Section 8.01-243, the statute of limitations in Virginia for all personal injury claims, including truck accident claims, is two years from the date the cause of action accrues. This means that if you have been injured in a truck accident, you have just two years from the date of the accident to file your claim. If you are bringing the claim on behalf of a deceased relative, you will have two years from the date of the victim’s death to file the claim.
Thousands of vehicle accidents occur in the Richmond area each year. According to the most recent edition of Virginia Traffic Crash Facts, 2,306 crashes in Virginia that year involved large trucks. Truck crashes can happen anywhere. Fifty-two percent of deaths in large truck crashes in 2017 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, 32 percent occurred on interstates and freeways, and 15 percent occurred on minor roads.
Being in any type of car accident can be upsetting, but being involved in a truck accident can be catastrophic. At Emroch & Kilduff, we have the experience and dedication to fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
What causes truck accidents?
Causes of truck accidents may include:
- Trucks are significantly taller than passenger vehicles. This increases the risk of an underride crash, an accident in which a passenger vehicle goes partially or totally under a truck or trailer. Research shows that the use of rear and side underride guards on large trucks could help prevent such accidents.
- Braking capability plays a part in some truck accidents. Stopping a loaded tractor-trailer takes a distance 20 to 40 percent farther than stopping a car. The difference is even greater when brakes are poorly maintained, or roads are wet or snow-covered and slippery. Rear-end collisions are common types of tractor trailer accidents in Virginia.
- Large trucks also often roll over during braking and crashes. Recent regulations requiring electronic stability controls may reduce such accidents.
- Truck driver fatigue is another major cause of accidents. Federal law determines how many hours a trucker can drive without a break, but drivers sometimes violate the regulations. Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that truck drivers who have been behind the wheel for more than eight hours are twice as likely to have an accident. As of December 2017, federal law requires electronic logging devices to help control driver compliance.
- Drug and alcohol use is a factor in many crashes. Federal regulations require drug testing before employment, as well as random testing.
- Speeding and reckless driving lead to serious truck accidents.
- Defective truck parts can cause accidents and lead to liability on the part of manufacturing companies.
- Dangerous road conditions can cause a truck crash. These may include not only weather conditions but also hazards on the roadway.
- Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo can shift or break loose, causing a truck driver to lose control.
What rules influence truck accident lawsuits in Richmond?
Complex state and federal regulations apply to the trucking industry. Most of these are based on safety considerations. Violating these regulations can constitute negligence on the part of a truck driver or trucking company.
When someone injures you, especially because of recklessness or carelessness, that person is responsible for the harm caused. Negligence is the failure to use the proper care expected of a reasonable person in a similar situation. All drivers have a duty to use ordinary care by keeping the vehicle under control at all times, driving while alert, and obeying all signs, signals, and rules of the road. Drivers who are negligent may be held financially responsible for any damages. For example, injuries caused by a failure to obey traffic signals, or an accident resulting from drunk driving is generally considered negligence.
Virginia is one of a handful of states that follow the rule of “pure contributory negligence.” This rule means that when an injured person is found to share any blame for the accident, even a small percentage of the fault, he or she will not be able to recover damages from other at-fault parties, even if those parties bear most of the blame. It’s important to have an experienced lawyer on your side to make sure you protect yourself against this rule when seeking damages from other parties.
There are time limits for filing lawsuits, called statutes of limitations. Each state has these limits, which vary from state to state and according to the area of law. Your lawyer will advise you on the applicable statute of limitations for your accident. However, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.
Who is at fault for a Richmond truck accident?
There are lots of parties who may have legal liability for the damage caused by a truck accident, as such:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company or the trucker’s employer
- The truck’s manufacturer
- Parts manufacturers
- Companies who performed maintenance or repairs on the truck or trailer
- The company who loaded or shipped the freight
Often, the party with legal liability for a truck accident will carry insurance, which means insurance companies typically play a large role in truck accident matters. Experienced truck accident attorneys know how to negotiate with insurance companies to achieve maximum recoveries for their clients.
What injuries typically result from truck accidents?
Truck accidents cause serious damage. Usually, the injuries resulting from a truck accident are more severe than those resulting from other types of car accidents. Common injuries include:
- Back and neck injuries - These include anything from minor neck pain to spinal cord injuries such as dislocated discs or paralysis. Serious back and neck injuries can have a long-term effect on your work and daily life.
- Head injuries - Brain trauma may range from mild to severe. Such injuries may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, cognitive impairment, and loss of motor functions. Head injuries tend to be life-altering and heartbreaking.
- Internal injuries - Blunt force trauma from car accidents can cause internal bleeding in the organs such as the bladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and spleen. These injuries are dangerous and difficult to treat.
- Rib and torso injuries - The rib cage protects the body’s vital organs, so injuries to the ribs and torso can be dangerous.
- Lacerations and burns - Cuts, lacerations, and burns from truck accidents can be extremely painful and leave the victim with massive scars.
- Broken bones - The powerful impact of a truck crash often leads to multiple broken bones.
- Seat belt injuries - We all know that seat belts save lives, but in some cases, they can also cause injuries, such as whiplash.
- Wrongful death - A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of personal injury claim that is brought by the family or heirs of someone who has been wrongfully killed in an accident.
What compensation can I get for a Richmond truck accident?
Damages recoverable in truck accident cases vary widely, but may include:
- All medical care, including the cost of an ambulance, the emergency room visit, hospital bills, medications, surgeries, doctor visits, therapy, and rehabilitation
- Loss of wages and possible loss of future income
- Pain, suffering and emotional trauma
- Loss of your ability to enjoy your life
- Scarring and disfigurement
Contact an Experienced Richmond Truck Accident Attorney
If you have suffered an injury in a truck accident in the Richmond area, then speak with an attorney right away. The experienced, dedicated attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff can investigate your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve. For more information or a free consultation, call (804) 358-1568, or contact us online.
Contact Experienced Richmond Truck Accident Attorneys
Our lawyers cannot tell you what it is like to suffer from a traumatic brain injury, a spinal cord injury, an amputation, or another type of tragic and life-changing injury. We can tell you, however, what it is like to watch victims of these injuries and their families try to figure out what happens next. We know that what you are going through is excruciating and emotional, and that at this time, you may feel alone and hopeless.
Nothing can change what has been done, but we can help you prepare for the future. When you contact our law firm, we will review your case for free. If all parties decide to move forward with the truck accident claim, we will work on your case on a contingency fee basis and prioritize recovering for you the compensation you deserve.
If a serious injury or fatality occurred, handling complicated legal matters just adds to the stress of an already complex and traumatic situation. Leave it to the Richmond truck accident lawyers at Emroch & Kilduff to provide the support and representation you need to reach a faster resolution and more substantial settlement or verdict.
If you were injured by a tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle, you deserve to know your rights. Do not hesitate to contact us, or visit one of our offices in Richmond, Petersburg, Tappahannock, or Fredericksburg, to schedule a consultation with our compassionate Richmond truck accident lawyers today. Talk to us online, or call us at (804) 358-1568. We are here for you.