Accidents involving tractor-trailers and other oversized commercial trucks are often some of the most catastrophic on our country’s roadways. The people involved in these collisions often sustain serious, devastating, or even fatal injuries because the weight and size of commercial trucks are much greater than those of a standard passenger vehicle. Another reason that truck accident claims are almost always more complex than car accident claims is that multiple parties often shoulder a portion of the liability.
Are there any differences between a car accident case and a truck accident case?
The Virginia Beach trucking accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have more than five combined decades of experience in handling commercial truck accident cases. We operate on a contingency fee, meaning you pay nothing unless we win your case. Call our Virginia Beach office today to schedule your free consultation.
What Factors Add to the Complexity of a Truck Accident Claim?
Due to the increased potential for property damage, physical injury, and death in a truck accident, commercial truck operators are required to undergo special training and abide by numerous state and federal regulations and laws that simply do not apply to other drivers.
Some additional factors that often make commercial truck accident claims more complicated are:
- Ownership of the truck: In traffic accidents involving non-commercial passenger vehicles, the owner of the vehicle and driver of the vehicle are often one and the same. This makes it simpler when dealing with insurance companies and recovering damages. A truck operator, however, might be a company driver, a lessee, or an owner-operator. Their status will have an effect on who is ultimately liable for the accident.
- Freight Loaders: The heavy freight that commercial trucks transport increases the severity of any accident in which they are involved. Heavy payloads add weight. This added weight increases braking distance and reduces operator visibility beside and behind the rig. A truck’s freight can also complicate matters. If the freight was not loaded or secured properly, the crash may not necessarily be the trucker’s fault. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has set forth specific responsibilities for any person or company that loads commercial trucks.
- Insurance coverage: Just like the drivers of passenger vehicles, truck owners have minimum insurance coverage amounts they are required to carry, but these types of coverage can vary. There is insurance coverage based on load type, like with hazardous materials, and even based on a truck carrying no load at all. Determining which form of coverage applies and whether the owner met the legal minimum requirements given the circumstances is not an easy task.
- Establishing fault: Regardless of the types of vehicles involved, any traffic accident can lead to he said/she said arguments, blame, and finger-pointing. Commercial truck accidents are no different. An eyewitness might claim to have seen a truck driver who veered into another lane nodding off, which could suggest a violation of the hours of service rule. The trucker might respond by saying they experienced a mechanical issue or a problem with their load. They might claim that the other driver is at fault because they were driving in their blind spot or did not give them enough room to turn or time to stop. Unraveling the conflicting statements and tracking down all relevant evidence takes a significant amount of experience and skill.
Pursuing Compensation After a Truck Accident
Insurance companies are not in the habit of paying truck accident victims the compensation they deserve. They are for-profit businesses looking to make as much money as possible. One way that they achieve this is by offering victims the smallest settlements possible.
Where commercial truck accidents are concerned, especially those that involve multiple vehicles, this is even more complex as several different insurance companies try to diminish or deny fault all at once. They may even try to shift some or all of the blame onto you which, under Virginia’s contributory negligence law, could leave you ineligible to collect financial compensation.
Were You Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident?
In most cases, Virginia truck accident victims only have two years from the day of their accident to file a lawsuit. Depending on the available evidence and how complex the case is, this is not a lot of time. Get started by scheduling a free consultation with the experienced Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp by calling (833) 997-1774. We also have offices in Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Hampton.