The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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What laws apply to tractor trailer drivers who injured me in an accident?Many federal, state and local laws apply in truck accidents. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has regulations about the number of hours the truck driver can drive in a certain period; the training drivers must complete; how often the truck must be maintained; and the weight limit of the truck and load.
Who can I collect from in a tractor trailer accident suit?
One of the distinguishing factors about truck accident lawsuits is they get complicated fast. It is common to name more than one party in a personal injury lawsuit in a tractor-trailer crash, including the truck driver, owner of the company, employer of the driver, truck manufacturer, truck maintenance company, and more.
What is a DQF in a truck accident?
One of the most critical pieces of evidence in a truck accident is the driver qualification file (DQF) that is kept by the trucking company that employs the driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency that oversees all commercial carrier companies, requires that a DQF is kept on every driver. The file should contain the following:
- Any medical certifications, as well as results for any medical test results
- Copies of all licenses
- Driving record of the truck driver
- Drug and alcohol test results
- Employment applications
- Personnel records
- Records of service hours
- Records of annual reviews
- Road test results
- The driver’s employment history
- Training certificates
- Vehicle maintenance records
It is not uncommon for a trucking company to not willingly want to provide a truck accident attorney the DQF, especially if it contains damaging information. If this occurs, then the attorney can obtain a subpoena from the court to force the company to turn over the file.
Needless to say, the truck company attorneys try to make it difficult for personal injury trucking attorneys to get to the bottom of the truth if the negligence of the truck driver caused a serious trucking accident. There are many other avenues we take to get to the truth: driver logs showing the hours of service, subpoenas for the medical records of the truck driver where relevant, credit card receipts, and records can also show important variables in some cases and then surveillance video footage maintained by highway departments or truck stops sometimes can be relevant as well. There are a lot of pieces to put together a solid tracking injury case on behalf of an injured victim, and that is why it is important to consult with a truck injury attorney with years of experience and prior jury trials in this field.
Our trucking accident injury firm always supplies free confidential consultations to potential clients involved in serious truck accident cases.
What makes commercial trucks so dangerous?
Commercial trucks, also referred to as tractor-trailers or semi-trucks, often weigh 80,000 pounds, more than 15 times the average passenger vehicle. Tractor-trailers are approximately 55 feet long and almost 10 feet wide. The height of these vehicles reaches approximately 13 feet high.
It takes a tractor-trailer twenty times the stopping distance of a passenger vehicle. And if the truck isn’t properly loaded, it becomes even more dangerous, spiking the risks of a rollover crash.
In addition to their massive size, commercial trucks are often transporting hazardous materials. It is these factors that often cause catastrophic injuries and death when there is a truck accident, especially for the victims in the other vehicle.
How is fault determined in a truck accident?
In order to determine who is at fault in a truck accident, a Virginia truck accident attorney will use several tools in order to determine liability. Your attorney will conduct an investigation of the crash site, interview eyewitnesses, and use the information contained in the police report. A Va. truck accident attorney will also investigate both the truck driver and the trucking company they work for, check to see what type of driving record the driver had, what type of experience and training they had, how many hours the driver had been working in the days leading up to the crash, and what type of maintenance schedule was conducted on the truck involved in the crash.
Both the truck driver and the company can be held liable for the crash, depending on the accident circumstances. Other possible negligent parties include the freight company who loaded the truck and truck manufacturing companies if the accident was caused by a defective part.
What types of cell phones are legal for truckers to use behind the wheel?
The FMCSA states that truck drivers can legally use a cell phone while driving if it has an earpiece or if the speakerphone function is being used. It also is legal for the trucker to use voice activated dialing, as well as the hands-free feature. The driver may initiate, answer or terminate a call only by touching a single button.
What are consequences of trucker using cell behind wheel?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a commercial vehicle driver can be disqualified from driving for using a mobile device with his hands behind the wheel. Penalties can be as high as $2750 for the driver and $11,000 for the trucking company. The trucker and company also may be sued for personal injury damages.
What are the major causes of truck driver distraction?
Truck driver distraction usually falls into three major categories:
- Visual – Eyes of driver are not on the roadway during or right before the accident
- Manual – When the heads or feet of the driver are not touching the pedals or steering wheel
- Cognitive – Truck driver is not focused on his driving
One of the most common reasons for truck driver distraction today is cell phone use. It is illegal for truck drivers to use a cell phone that is not hands-free while operating a commercial vehicle.
I was in an accident where a tractor trailer rear-ended my car, and it appears the driver may have fallen asleep. Do I have a valid claim against him even if I can't prove for sure he fell asleep before he struck my vehicle?
In serious car accident cases involving large, commercial trucks, a myriad of federal regulations require that truck drivers not exceed a certain number of hours of service in each calendar day and also measured over several days. A skilled Virginia and North Carolina trucking injury attorney with our firm can require the trucking company to produce log books, and other data which shows how much the driver was operating the truck in the couple of days before the incident. This becomes very important in any case like the one you describe.
What kind of damages can I seek for truck accident injuries?There are two different types of damages you can receive when you are injured in a truck accident. These are economic damages and non-economic damages.Economic damages are those that cost you money out of your own pocket. These can include immediate medical expenses, such as emergency room and hospital bills, and can also include long-term medical expenses, such as physical and occupational therapy, medications and other ongoing medical treatment. Lost income because of time missed from work because of injuries, or lost earning capacity, also falls under economic damages. Damage to property, such as a vehicle replacement, would as well.Noneconomic damages are for those losses which are not tangible ones. A truck accident victim can seek damages for the pain they suffered and may continue to suffer from; the emotional impact the accident may have had on the victim, as well as the mental anguish the victim may still struggle with.