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 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.
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What steps should I take if I’m in a truck accident?If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, the first thing you should do is call for medical assistance. There are, however, other steps you should take in order to protect your rights against what is most likely a large commercial trucking corporation. These steps include:
- If possible, take photographs of the scene of the accident. Things you will want to document are weather conditions, road conditions, skid marks or any other debris on the road. Make sure to get photos of the damage to your vehicle and any other property around the location. If you don’t have access to a camera, then try to make notes of all this information.
- Obtain the names and contact information of any other drivers involved in the crash, as well as passengers and witnesses.
- Make sure accident reports are filed with the local police department, as well as the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Never, under any circumstances, speak with the truck company’s insurance carrier, including the claims adjuster, or sign any documents.
- The side-effects of injuries from truck accidents can sometimes take days or weeks before symptoms appear, so it’s important to visit your physician to be completely checked out for any injuries.
- Contact a truck accident attorney, who has experience in dealing with commercial truck company attorneys and insurance carriers, right away to make sure you are protected.
What are the most common causes of truck accidents caused by commercial drivers?There are approximately 500,000 commercial truck driving accidents in this country every year. One of the most common causes is driver fatigue, which is responsible for almost 40 percent of truck accidents. This is often due to the trucking company’s unrealistic delivery schedules they often have their drivers on. The pressure this schedule may put the driver under can also lead to the truck driver traveling at excessive speeds or failing to follow other rules of the road. Other causes include:
- Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks: When trucks are carrying too much weight, or loads that are not evenly distributed throughout the vehicle, there is a much greater chance the driver will lose control of the truck, which often results in over-turned accidents.
- Improper training or lack of experience of the truck driver.
- Improper inspection and/or maintenance of the truck.
- Truck drivers operating the vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Drivers with a reckless driving history.
I was hit by a commercial truck. Is my claim against the driver, or his company?
This is one of the many reasons it is smart to contact a Virginia truck accident injury attorney when you’ve been involved in an accident, because often a lawyer will help you locate all of the insurance coverage available to you. Usually, both the driver and the company he was working for will be named as defendant in a potential suit, but speaking with your lawyer about this is the best way to figure out what to do.
A rock fell off of a dump truck and caused me to crash my vehicle, do I have an injury case?
If you suffered injury due to the negligence of a truck driver, yes, you may have a potential case. Truck drivers and operators are responsible for securing their loads, and if they are negligent in doing so, then you have rights as an injured party. If you are stuck behind a truck that is carrying a load that appears to be unsafe and can't move over to another lane, make sure you remember enough information about the truck or the company so that you can identify the responsible party in case of an accident.
Do commercial trucks have a right-of-way superior to that of a car when travelling on public roads?
No. Commercial trucks must obey the same, and sometimes more extensive traffic laws that an average passenger vehicle does. All too often, some truck drivers take the "I'm bigger, so you must move out of my way" approach to driving, but you have an equal right to travel on the same roads that they do. Of course you should always be mindful of your safety when encountering large commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers on the road.
Are there different rules that apply to accidents involving commercial trucks?
Yes. The majority of federal regulations dealing with the trucking industry can be found within Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. These federal regulations apply to commercial tractor-trailers in interstate commerce and are adopted by many states.
Trucking accident lawsuits involve a variety of elements which are different from car accident cases. For example, an extremely important piece of evidence in a trucking accident case is the driver's logs. Federal law requires truck drivers to record their driving data in a driver's log. In a trucking accident case, a thorough examination of the log is important. The driver's log may be used to show violations of federal hours-of-service regulations, illegal conduct and negligent conduct.
The training, education, experience, traffic violations, and mental and physical status of the truck driver are all elements that should be considered in determining whether the driver and trucking company were following federal and state regulations.
About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.