Every year, hundreds of thousands of locals, tourists, and truck drivers all converge on Virginia highways and roads. The sheer number of vehicles makes it no surprise that automobile accidents are common throughout this area. As semi-trailer trucks make their way to Virginia’s numerous ports, other drivers and motorcyclists are at risk.
Commercial truck accidents are not as uncommon as many people think—according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Highway Safety Office, there were 2,306 accidents involving large trucks in 2017. There were an additional 4,570 accidents involving smaller commercial vehicles.
Work with an Experienced & Dedicated Law Firm
If you or your loved one was involved in a commercial vehicle or semi-trailer truck accident, we can help. Our team at Breit Cantor Grana Buckner knows how to win cases. We use a “no stone left unturned” approach to maximize our clients’ chance for a successful outcome. Truck accident cases can be complex and rely heavily on forensic evidence.
Our experience, connections, and resources allow us to handle these cases with the experience that is needed to secure the results our clients need and deserve. Since 1979, we have successfully recovered hundreds of millions on behalf of our clients; find out how our Virginia truck accident attorneys can help you with your case.
Call (888) 635-9500 or fill out and submit an online contact form to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation with our legal team today.
Who Is at Fault for a Commercial Truck Accident?
Semi-trailer truck accidents tend to result in severe, catastrophic injuries and fatalities due to the size and weight of these vehicles. While motorists and passengers in everyday vehicles tend to suffer the brunt of the injuries, it is not always easy to prove who was at fault for the accident. This is due, in part, to the number of different parties that may be partially responsible.
Depending on the specific circumstances of your accident, any of the following parties may be liable:
- The truck driver
- The truck driver’s supervisor
- The truck driver’s employer
- The company that owns or leases the truck
- The company responsible for truck maintenance
- The manufacturer of the truck or a specific truck part
For example, say a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel, causing an accident with another motorist. While it may seem obvious that the truck driver is at fault, he may have fallen asleep due to fatigue caused by unrealistic quotas set by his employer. The truck driver’s supervisor may have failed to note that the truck driver was not keeping accurate driving logs recording his time spent on the road.
In this case, the truck driver, his supervisor, and the employer may all be partially responsible for the other motorist’s injuries and related damages. A defective truck tire may blow out while the truck is traveling on the highway, causing the truck driver to swerve into another car. In this case, the tire manufacturer and/or the person or company in charge of conducting truck maintenance may be liable.
Building a Truck Accident Case
We take a focused approach to each case, with an emphasis on attention to detail that leaves no stone unturned. Our truck accident lawyers have won major recoveries in just about every kind of motor vehicle accident claim. One of our team members literally wrote the book on it, as one of the authors on the team behind the book “Handing an Automobile Injury Negligence Case in Virginia.” Others on our team have lectured on the subject or written published articles about representing truck accident injury victims.
At Breit Cantor, we take a team approach to every case, working together as lawyers, assistants, and investigators to build the strongest possible cases for our clients. We often call on outside experts to create even more impenetrable cases for those we represent.
These experts may include:
- Forensic engineers
- Truck accident investigators
- Accident reconstructionists
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Defective Brakes & Truck Accidents
Brake failure is a relatively common cause for tractor-trailer and truck accidents. Unfortunately, these types of mechanical failures are often evidence of dangerous negligence on the part of truck drivers. Federal regulations require truck drivers and trucking companies to perform regular safety checks and scheduled maintenance for their vehicles. It takes the average 18-wheeler the length of two whole football fields to come to a complete stop. For obvious reasons, working brakes are extremely important in operating a massive tractor-trailer. Semi-trucks need an elite braking system in order to operate safely.
When that doesn’t happen, accidents can occur, such as:
- Jackknife accidents
- Out of control trailers
- Loss of vehicle control
Trucks are equipped with complex braking systems and safety back-up features. The standard brakes work as a pressurized air system. Many are also equipped with a back-up set of emergency brakes that use springs and cables. If properly maintained, experts say that it is very unlikely for truck brakes to simply “go out” without warning
Title 49 under the Code of Federal Regulations requires truck drivers to complete a thorough brake inspection every single day while on the road. Truckers must write down any potential issues in their daily log. Truckers must also ensure that these problems are repaired before they get back on the road. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Too many truck drivers fail to obey the rules and put others at risk.
Accidents Resulting from Overloaded Trucks
Overloaded trucks are dangerous and can cause major accidents. These trucks violate federal trucking regulations and put other drivers on the road at serious risk.
Tractor-trailers can extend to about 80 feet in length and can haul as much as 80,000 pounds. That’s 20 to 30 times the weight of a regular passenger car. This puts a great deal of excess strain on the vehicle’s braking system, which is why fully-loaded tractor-trailers take much longer to come to a full stop—a length that is roughly the equivalent of two football fields.
For these reasons, the way a truck is loaded is critical. Improper loading or overloading of a vehicle can have catastrophic results. That is why federal trucking regulations require commercial truck drivers to stay within specific loading limits and to adhere to certain requirements when loading their vehicles in order to avoid being overweight.
The amount a truck can carry is determined by its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), a designation placed on the vehicle’s license plate. The truck driver must adhere to this limit and must follow all applicable regulations when loading the vehicle.
The GVWR is determined based on the rating of a vehicle’s:
- Power train
You shouldn’t hesitate to speak with a Virginia truck accident attorney from our team at Breit Cantor about your situation as soon as possible for answers to your questions and help moving forward.
Truck Driver Fatigue & Negligence
Truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of tractor-trailer accidents in the United States. Federal regulations do require drivers to limit their time on the road in order to preserve attention and alertness. Studies on drowsy driving by the NHTSA show that at least 7,000 people died over a 10-year period in accidents related to tired driving. Some medications can increase the risk of drowsy driving, as well as alcohol consumption.
Federal truck regulations have a “zero tolerance” policy for drug/alcohol use by truck drivers, but fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Unfortunately, with the pressure to make deadlines and to keep employers happy, many drivers drive longer than they should and forge their logbooks to conceal their real hours on the road.
Injured? We Can Help.
Our team at Breit Cantor handles truck accident cases in the Richmond and Virginia Beach areas, as well as throughout the state of Virginia. With years of experience and a winning track record, we are familiar with the various mechanical and drivers’ failures that can contribute to truck accidents. We encourage you to call a Virginia truck accident attorney from our office if you or a family member sustained an injury in a tractor-trailer collision, including accidents caused by defective brakes, overloaded trucks, and fatigued truck drivers.
Our goal is to win. Call us today at (888) 635-9500 for a free case evaluation. There are never any fees for you unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.