How is Fault Established in a Truck Accident?

Commercial trucks are designed to transport heavy freight and travel at high speeds. Unfortunately, this means accidents involving these oversized vehicles often result in serious injuries. In a matter of seconds, an unexpected swerve or a wrong turn made by the driver of an 80,000 truck can cause a catastrophic collision, resulting in heavy property damage and potentially life-changing injuries for those in the smaller vehicle. Truck operators and their employers must obey stringent federal guidelines pertaining to hours behind the wheel, vehicle maintenance, and medical conditions along with numerous other factors. If you were injured in a truck accident and need help proving someone else’s negligence, the experienced Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help.  

What Laws Govern Liability in a Virginia Truck Accident?

Virginia is a fault state for any type of vehicle accident, including truck accidents. Simply put, the driver at fault for the collision is liable for any medical bills and other damages arising from the crash. Virginia is also a pure contributory negligence state, so you will only be able to recover compensation if you were 100% blameless in causing the accident. With these laws in mind, it is vital to partner with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible to ensure your right to compensation is protected.   

What Factors Are Considered When Determining Fault for a Truck Accident?

In addition to following basic driving laws, there are several unique considerations, such as federal regulations, when it comes to proving fault for a truck accident. They include:

Driver Negligence

Truck operators are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These regulations are made up of several hundred rules created to keep both intrastate and interstate transportation and commerce uniformly regulated and safe throughout the country. Some common forms of truck driver negligence that often lead to serious truck accidents include:  

  • Driving for more than 14 hours after coming on duty or more than 11 hours after a 10-hour break without an appropriate rest period
  • Exceeding highway and local speed limits
  • Disregarding traffic signs and signals, like running a stop sign or red light
  • Driving while distracted, such as texting behind the wheel
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while intoxicated

Other common causes of commercial trucking accidents that can impact liability include:

  • Weather conditions (ice, snow, etc.)
  • Road conditions (potholes, missing road signage, etc.)
  • Improper vehicle maintenance (bald tires, worn brakes, etc.)
  • Defective components (hydraulic malfunctions, faulty steering, etc.)

A skilled Virginia Beach truck accident attorney can examine the details of the crash and determine how the truck driver’s actions could have caused it. 

Freight Company Negligence

Another factor that makes trucking accidents different from accidents involving passenger vehicles is the ownership of the truck. Since they operate commercial fleets and employ professional drivers, freight companies also have a duty of care to prevent truck accidents. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, our truck accident attorneys are able to analyze the company’s actions and ensure it upheld its duty by:  

  • Conducting routine inspections and performing required maintenance 
  • Ensuring its drivers are properly trained, qualified, and licensed
  • Making sure all cargo is properly loaded and secured

Part of a truck accident investigation includes thoroughly examining each of the factors listed above. If one or more forms of negligence caused or contributed to the crash, you have a valid claim for financial compensation.  

Manufacturer Negligence

It is, sadly, not uncommon for a truck accident to be neither the fault of the driver nor the freight company, but rather of a defective component, such as engine wiring or brakes. If this is the case, your attorney may recommend that you take file a defective product lawsuit against the company that manufactured the faulty part.  

Talk to a Virginia Beach Truck Accident Attorney

The Virginia Beach trucking accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp know how confusing and frightening truck accidents can be. We work diligently to ensure that you know your rights, gather evidence that establishes fault, and build a compelling case that supports your claim for compensation. That is how we achieved a $3.5 million wrongful death settlement for the family of a man who died when the vehicle in which he was riding was rear-ended by a negligent truck driver. 

If you sustained injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, schedule a free consultation by calling (833) 997-1774 or by filling out our online contact form. Our offices are in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Hampton, and Norfolk.