Tappahannock Truck Accident Attorneys
Large commercial trucks play an important role in interstate commerce, transporting millions of dollars’ worth of products all over the country. However, semi-trucks and other large vehicles also pose a serious risk to others on the road. This is primarily because commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, have much larger fuel tanks than standard vehicles, and often carry dangerous cargo, including hazardous materials. Furthermore, because they are so large, commercial truck accidents usually involve more than one vehicle and can block multiple lanes of traffic.
For these reasons, injuries sustained in truck crashes tend to be particularly severe and can leave victims permanently disabled or disfigured. While injured parties can collect compensation for their losses, filing a claim and dealing with the various insurance companies can be complicated and time-consuming. If you were injured or lost a loved one as a result of a truck accident, it is important to speak with an experienced Tappahannock truck accident lawyer who can help protect your interests.
Types of Commercial Trucks
There are a variety of large trucks that use public roads and highways every day, but the most common include:
- Flatbed trucks, which have an open trailer and are used for transporting cargo that cannot fit inside a closed trailer, such as logs, lumber, or construction equipment. Unfortunately, because these trucks lack a roof and walls, careless loading procedures and driving are much more likely to result in cargo spills and collisions.
- Logging trucks, which are commercial trucks used to carry logs. While some of these trucks have flatbeds integrated into the truck, others have tractors, and sometimes, more than one trailer is attached to the truck. When these types of trucks jackknife and lose their cargo, they can cause serious injuries to victims.
- Dump trucks, which are another popular type of large truck and are often used to transport loose materials, such as gravel, dirt, sand, tree branches, and trash. Dump trucks are also more likely than other large trucks to be involved in rollovers because they are so top-heavy. Dump truck drivers must undergo special training to avoid backing-up collisions, which are common because of the trucks’ uncommonly large blind spots.
- Tanker trucks, which are used to carry liquids, such as oil and gas. Many of the liquids transported by tanker trucks are hazardous or flammable, which puts these vehicles at a higher risk of exploding if they are involved in an accident. Liquid cargo also tends to shift during transit, and this can lead to a loss of control or a rollover.
- Semi-trucks, which are the most common type of commercial truck and are involved in the most accidents. Semi–trucks have significant blind spots, and because of this, truck drivers have trouble noticing approaching cars. These types of trucks are quite heavy, so a driver’s failure to allow for proper stopping distance can cause a tractor-trailer to jackknife across multiple lanes of traffic. A semi-truck’s high center of gravity also makes it more likely to roll over when turning sharply or getting caught in a crosswind.
Common Accident Causes
Regardless of the type of truck involved, road conditions, equipment failure, and driver performance may contribute to a truck crash. Most accidents are caused by one or more of the following:
- Driver fatigue
- Driving while intoxicated
- Distracted driving
- Mechanical failure
- Cargo spills
While the types of collisions are varied, the most common include:
- Multi-vehicle crashes
- Jackknife accidents
- Rear-end accidents
- Underride accidents, in which a smaller car becomes lodged beneath a large truck
These accidents can result in severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, crushed bones, and whiplash. The worst end in fatalities.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation, regulates the trucking industry. To decrease the number of truck accidents happening across the nation, the FMCSA sets out a wide variety of safety regulations that commercial truck drivers must follow. A commercial truck driver’s violation of these FMCSA regulations can be used as evidence against the truck driver in a personal injury case.
The FMCSA’s regulations include rules on:
- Driving time
- Proper loading and unloading of cargo
- Vehicle weight limits
- Proper maintenance
- Safety inspections
Truck drivers are also barred from operating a commercial vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 percent or higher; this is lower than the 0.08 percent BAC standard established by all states for drivers of non-commercial vehicles.
Who Is Liable?
When a truck driver fails to comply with federal or state regulations, he or she can be held personally liable for any resulting injuries. Yet truck drivers are not the only parties whose negligence leads to a crash. For instance, if a trucker’s employer failed to provide necessary training or required its drivers to meet unreasonable deadlines, it can also be required to pay a portion of the victim’s damages. Manufacturers can be held liable for injuries resulting from collisions caused by negligent design, and so, too, can mechanics who perform improper maintenance or fail to repair a broken part.
While truck drivers are often at fault in causing crashes, some are caused by another driver’s negligence, which could include:
- Abruptly and improperly changing lanes in front of a commercial vehicle
- Driving in a truck’s blind spot
- Driving between two trucks
- Improperly passing
- Leaving a disabled vehicle on the road
These types of negligent actions can trigger a chain reaction involving multiple vehicles and victims. Fortunately, negligent or reckless drivers who cause crashes involving a truck can be held accountable for their actions and required to foot the bill for the following damages:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Collecting compensation from negligent parties is especially important for truck accident victims, given that many are forced to pay expensive medical bills for the rest of their lives.
Truck Accidents by the Numbers
Interstates and major roadways are said to be the safest roadways. According to a recent report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however, this is where most commercial vehicle and truck accidents occur. Large trucks account for a very small percent of total registered vehicles, yet per unit of travel, these trucks are involved in more fatal crashes than passenger vehicles.
The number of accidents involving semi truck, tractor trailer and commercial vehicles is on the rise.
- 500,000+ commercial vehicles and large trucks were involved in accidents
- 100,000+ people sustained serious injuries
- 5,000+ fatalities
Contact an Experienced Tappahannock Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is in an accident involving a commercial vehicle or tractor trailer, it is a difficult and overwhelming time. If a serious injury or fatality occurred, handling complicated legal matters just adds to the stress of an already complex and stressful situation.
While financial compensation cannot make an injured party whole, it can prove beneficial in helping him or her begin the long process of recovery, which usually requires expensive medical treatments and therapies. Leave it to the personal injury attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff to provide the support and representation you need to reach a quick resolution and more substantial settlements.
If you were injured by a truck, tractor trailer or commercial vehicle, you deserve to know your rights. To learn more about your chances of recovery, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with an experienced truck accident attorney by contacting us at Emroch & Kilduff.