Accidents involving commercial trucks can result in severe injuries, significant property damage, and even fatalities. When these accidents result from negligence or wrongdoing of trucking companies or their employees, it is crucial to hold those responsible accountable. Virginia law provides legal options for victims to seek compensation and justice in these cases. The following is a brief overview of the different steps a Virginia Beach truck accident attorney can take to obtain a successful outcome.
Negligence is a common legal basis for holding trucking companies accountable for accidents. To establish negligence in a truck accident case, the plaintiff (injured party) must prove the following elements:
- Duty of care: The trucking company owed a duty of care to operate its vehicles safely and follow all applicable laws and regulations.
- Breach of duty: The trucking company breached this duty by failing to meet the required safety standards. This could include violations such as inadequate maintenance, driver fatigue, or disregarding hours-of-service regulations.
- Causation: The breach of duty directly caused or contributed to the accident and resulting injuries or damages.
- Damages: The plaintiff must have suffered actual damages because of the accident. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and more.
Trucking companies can also be held liable for the actions of their employees under the legal doctrine of vicarious liability, also known as “respondeat superior.” This principle holds employers responsible for the actions of their employees when those actions occur within the scope of employment. In the context of truck accidents, this means that if a truck driver’s negligence causes an accident while they are performing job-related duties, the trucking company may be held vicariously liable for the driver’s actions.
Negligent Hiring, Training, or Supervision
Trucking companies have a responsibility to hire qualified and competent drivers and provide them with proper training and supervision. If a trucking company fails to do so and hires drivers with a history of unsafe driving, substance abuse issues, or inadequate training, they may be held liable for any accidents caused by those drivers.
Violation of Federal Regulations
Trucking companies and their drivers are subject to numerous federal regulations imposed by agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations govern various aspects of the industry, including driver hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and load securement. If a trucking company or its driver violates these regulations, it can be used as evidence of negligence in a legal claim.
Product Liability Claims
In some cases, the trucking accident may be caused by a defect in the truck itself or one of its components, such as faulty brakes or tires. In these situations, victims may have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor of the defective part.
Virginia follows a modified comparative negligence system, which means that a plaintiff’s recovery may be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault in causing the accident. However, if a plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, they may be barred from recovering any damages. Trucking companies often attempt to shift blame onto the victim, so it’s essential to have a skilled Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer to defend against such claims.
Wrongful Death Claims
In the tragic event of a fatal truck accident, surviving family members may pursue a wrongful death claim against the trucking company. This type of claim seeks compensation for the loss of a loved one, including funeral expenses, medical bills, and the emotional pain and suffering caused by the wrongful death.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Navigating the legal complexities of holding trucking companies accountable in Virginia can be challenging, especially when dealing with powerful companies and insurance companies with substantial resources. Victims and their families are strongly advised to seek the counsel of experienced truck accident attorneys who specialize in truck accident cases.
Each Virginia Beach truck accident attorney at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can:
- Investigate the accident thoroughly to gather evidence and identify responsible parties.
- Negotiate with insurance companies and, if necessary, file a lawsuit on behalf of the victim.
- Advocate for the victim’s rights and seek fair compensation for damages.
- Handle all legal aspects of the case, allowing the victim and their family to focus on recovery and healing.
To find out what legal options you may have, contact our office today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve, like the $225,000 insurance settlement we obtained from one client who suffered shoulder injuries, lacerations to her hand from broken glass, and a closed head concussion injury when a truck driver slammed into her vehicle twice trying to avoid rear-ending other vehicles.