As Virginia truck accident injury lawyers we know that even though they may seem similar, being involved in a truck accident is very different than being in a simple car crash - and on many levels. Although many of us know how to handle the basics of a car accident, a collision with a semi or big rig can be much more dangerous and much more complicated. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about commercial truck accidents.
Q: What qualifies as a "commercial truck"? Do they have to have 18 wheels?
A: A commercial truck is simply a vehicle used by businesses for transportation of commercial goods or for use in service of the business. Commercial trucks come in all shapes and sizes: tankers, delivery trucks, freight trucks, eighteen-wheelers, tractor-trailers, box trucks, and semis.
Q: What causes commercial truck accidents, and why do they happen so frequently?
A: Truckers drive as their profession, and as such, the reasons for their accidents differ from those of other drivers on the road. According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report, one in 20 truck drivers will be involved in an accident each year. The major causes in order? Prescription drug use, speeding, lack of familiarity with the road, over-the-counter drug use, fatigue, illegal maneuvering, distraction, and aggressive driving.
Q: Are truck accidents more likely to cause serious injury? Why?
A: Yes, truck accidents are much more likely to cause serious injury and fatalities. Although there are several reasons for this, the biggest reason is weight: a fully loaded truck can weigh 80,00 pounds (40 tons), with the average car weighting 4,000 pounds. Basically, the impact of that much more weight will lead to significantly more damage done to the cars and car passengers involved in the accident.
Q. What happens when a truck jackknifes and causes an accident, and is the truck driver responsible?
A: A jackknife occurs when a truck accidentally folds (like the weapon it's named after) because the truck is out of control, causing the truck to spin out of control and end up backwards. Jackknifing can be caused by improper breaking, wet or icy roads, or equipment failure. A truck jackknifing does not necessarily mean that the truck driver was negligent or in the wrong - it depends on the original cause of the accident. However, if you were involved in a jackknifing case, you should certainly contact a specialized and knowledgeable attorney to review your case.
Q: Are commercial and 18-wheeler tuck accidents legally different than non-commercial car crashes?
A: Absolutely. Because they are more dangerous, trucks are required to care large amounts of insurance coverage and meet higher safety standards than other vehicles (for examples, trucks face regular inspections and weight limits). Since commercial trucks are tied to businesses, and the drivers are on the job, they also face a number of federal regulations (drug and alcohol tests, limited time on the road, etc.). In general, approaching a truck accident case legally can be much more complicated.
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