Can You Sue a Trucking Company If the Truck Never Touched You?

The short answer is: Yes. You can sue a trucking company even when the truck never actually touched you or your vehicle.

All drivers must prioritize roadway safety. This is especially true for truck drivers, who are in control of up to 80,000 pounds of metal and cargo hurtling up and down Virginia’s highways at speeds of up to 75 or 80 miles-per-hour. The potential for severe damage is escalated exponentially given the weight and size of tractor trailers.

But how can you be injured if the truck never touched you? Here are some scenarios in which a tractor trailer can cause a contactless accident.

Three types of truck accidents which may not involve a direct hit

Not all truck accidents involve the truck physically coming into contact with another vehicle. An out-of-control truck can wreak extreme havoc even if it never touches you or your vehicle.

Jackknife accidents: The cab of the truck and its trailer end up at opposing angles to each other when a truck jackknifes. Picture a half-opened folding pocket knife or straight razor and you have the right idea. A truck with a light load is more likely to jackknife since the light trailer is at an increased risk of getting out of synch with the speed of the cab.

A jackknifed truck will likely skid across the roadway. Drivers in its direct path are in danger, but so are vehicles behind it who have to brake hard and maneuver to avoid the accident. This can result in collisions or rollovers for the other vehicles, causing severe damage even without contact from the truck. Lack of driver training or poor vehicle maintenance are among the many possible causes of a jackknife incident.

Rollover accidents: A tractor trailer is most likely to roll over if it is carrying a heavy load. A heavy load runs the risk of becoming unbalanced, increasing the chance of a tipping accident. It is against federal regulations for a driver to bypass weigh stations in order to avoid detection of an overweight load.

Another frequent cause of rollovers is excessive speed. Speeding can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle, particularly on curving roadways. Drivers carrying liquid loads such as gasoline, hazardous materials, or food-grade contents must be especially cautious on sharp turns, since a large surge of liquid from one side of the tank to the other can lead to a rollover.

In a rollover, these materials can also be spilled onto the highway, creating a serious road hazard for other vehicles without any contact with the truck itself.

Blowout accidents: Most of us have seen the remains of a truck tire blowout alongside I-64, I-295, and other major roadways in Richmond. The wreckage is usually cleared and moved safely to the side of the road after the truck has been serviced. The actual moment of a tire blowout, however, is a seriously dangerous one, with the debris of the truck tire potentially exploding across the tarmac. Other drivers may be forced to swerve to avoid large pieces of tire or to avoid other cars swerving out of the way. This increases their chance of losing control of the vehicle or hitting another driver.


As with jackknife accidents, poor maintenance is a likely cause of blowouts. Tires are at risk of blowing out if they are under-inflated, making proper safety checks and maintenance of truck tires a must.

Who is responsible if the truck didn’t hit you?

Truck drivers and fleet operating companies may be held responsible for accidents caused by their vehicles regardless of contact, whether it’s a physical crash between other vehicles or a rollover caused by trying to avoid the truck.

Our Richmond-based truck accident attorneys analyze all of the circumstances of an accident to get you the justice you deserve. With decades of experience, we know what to look for in order to get the best possible outcome for your case.

Here are six common factors that may determine liability for your damages.

  1. The driver or company may be responsible if the accident was the result of negligence of the federal FMCSA regulations.
  2. The company may be accountable if they missed red flags in an employee’s professional references and employment history.
  3. A trucking fleet may be accountable if they encouraged or forced employees to drive excessive distances in recklessly short periods of time.
  4. The driver or company may be found responsible if they or any of their agents knowingly manipulated or deleted any ELD data.
  5. Trucking companies are required to provide all necessary safety training to drivers, or they risk being held responsible.
  6. All drivers’ supervisors must, in turn, also receive adequate FMCSA training.

How much are most truck accident settlements in Virginia?

The amount of a potential settlement depends on a variety of different factors. What type of injuries have you sustained and how serious are they? Are you unable to work due to the nature of the injuries?

Truck accidents can cause any number of neck and spine injuries. Victims may also suffer from traumatic brain injuries that occur when the brain forcefully makes contact with the skull. Bones may also be broken in any number of places, including the arms and legs, hips, pelvis, ribs, face, and chest. Truck crash injuries can include spinal cord trauma or other neurological damage.

Damage isn’t only limited to physical injuries. A person can experience psychological trauma that has very real and lasting effects. Many accident survivors suffer from debilitating conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can be ongoing, life-long conditions.

Phelan Petty can fight on your behalf for the best possible outcome no matter the type of injury you have sustained. Contact us or call us today for your free case evaluation by a member of our Richmond-based team. Not in Richmond? Not a problem. We proudly serve clients throughout the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.