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 is the 11-hour rule for truckers under the Hours of Service regulations?A truck driver is allowed to drive up to 11 hours after taking a break of at least 10 consecutive hours. The trucker can violate this if he does not take the entire 10-hour break between his shifts.
What are the requirements of truckers and trucking companies regarding brake maintenance?Drivers are required by law to write post-trip inspection reports, and trucks are subject to yearly inspections and roadside audits. The trucking company is responsible for ensuring that regular inspections and post trip reports take place. If an accident results due to a brake failure, both the driver and company may be held liable for damages.
What are the major problems with truck brakes that lead to accidents and injuries?Contrary to popular belief, brakes do not just 'fail.' The failure is almost always due to poor maintenance, manufacturing defects or improper use, meaning negligence may be involved. Common brake failure causes are brakes being out of adjustment; poor air pressure; overheated components; condensation, worn brake parts.
How many serious tractor trailer accidents are caused by brake failure?National statistics show that brake failure on tractor trailers causes almost 1/3 of all truck crashes. Large trucks use air brakes, and these can be more prone to failure if they are not maintained or used properly. If these brakes are not maintained and/or used improperly and an injury results, a personal injury lawsuit is possible.
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.
- The Major Kinds of Truck Accidents
- Evidence in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
- Top Five Causes of Truck Accidents
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.