Handling complex truck and tractor-trailer accident claims in Virginia
At Phelan Petty, our Richmond motor vehicle accident attorneys fight for justice on behalf of truck accident victims. We know that successfully handling a truck accident case requires more than aggressive negotiation techniques. We also have a thorough understanding of the complicated state and federal regulations that govern the industry. Our experienced injury lawyers know these laws even better than the truck drivers and the companies that employ them.
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Common causes of truck accidents in Richmond
In 2018, the Virginia Department of Transportation reported more than 5,025 commercial vehicle crashes—and 2,540 of these wrecks involved a large truck. Both of these were a rise from the 2017 data. Our state’s challenging terrain, unpredictable weather, and congested highways pose challenges to even the most responsible truck drivers. Unfortunately, many truckers today are under pressure from their employers to drive unsafe equipment without adequate rest. Their employers remain more focused on profits than safety.
Catastrophic truck accidents typically result from multiple causes. While some of the crash factors might seem obvious, others are more complex and difficult to uncover. At Phelan Petty, we carefully investigate our clients’ truck accident claims, searching for evidence that identifies exactly who was at fault. Some of the most common causes of truck crashes include:
- Driver errors, including reckless behaviors like speeding, improper lane changes, failure to yield, tailgating and distracting driving
- Fatigue and drowsy driving
- Drunk and drugged driving
- Violations of federal and state trucking regulations such as the hours-of-service (HOS) rules
- Negligent truck maintenance
- Defective or dangerously designed truck parts and systems
- Irresponsible company policies regarding truck driver hiring, training, and retention
- Unsafe road conditions
When necessary, our truck accident lawyers work with expert witnesses, including physicians, accident reconstruction specialists, psychologists, and occupational therapists to uncover all the complex factors that may have contributed to a collision.
Common types of tractor-trailer accidents
Because of the size and weight of trucks, an accident is nearly always serious for the passenger vehicle involved. The type of accident can also make a difference in the severity of the accident, as well as your injuries. Some of the more common types of truck and tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Jackknifes. A truck jackknifes when the trailer skids and slides, ending at an angle to the truck’s cab, similar to an open pocketknife. A jackknifing tractor trailer causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle and can cause a serious accident.
- Rollovers. Drivers with improperly loaded trucks, or drivers who take a turn too fast, are at risk for a rollover accident. Once a truck begins tipping and rolling, a trucker will be unable to stop it.
- Tire blowouts. If a tire blows out on a semi-truck, it can cause a deadly accident. Whether it is the flying debris or the truck driver losing control, blowouts are dangerous for everyone on the road.
- Underride accidents. These are among the most serious types of truck accidents, and occur when a vehicle slides underneath a truck. If the car hits a tractor-trailer with enough force, it can be completely crushed under the truck, with fatal results.
Our injury attorneys can talk to you about your accident, how it happened and who to hold accountable.
Why do I need a Richmond truck accident attorney?
Many lawyers say they will take truck wreck claims, but few firms have the knowledge and resources to handle these cases successfully. Truck accidents are far more complex and destructive than collisions between passenger vehicles, and the resulting claims require much more investigation, analysis, and preparation.
Trucking companies use aggressive strategies to defend against injury claims. Some inexperienced attorneys do not realize that companies and drivers can destroy crucial evidence if it is not preserved by a certain date following a truck accident.
As an example, federal law only requires trucking companies to preserve their drivers’ logbooks for six months. These logs can often help an attorney identify regulatory violations and negligent behaviors. However, unless an injury lawyer preserves this evidence, the company will destroy it as soon as they can after a crash.
Additionally, some truck companies rush teams of representatives and lawyers to accident sites to minimize liability and influence official investigations. They may even remove telematic systems and other equipment, such as on-dash cameras, from the truck. These devices track a driver’s behavior and can provide crucial evidence in an injury claim.
If you have been hurt in a truck accident, time is of the essence. Trucking companies have significant resources at their disposal and will try to protect themselves after a crash. Our attorneys start preserving evidence and protecting your rights immediately.
What is the value of my truck accident claim?
At Phelan Petty, one of the most common questions our attorneys hear is, “What is my truck accident claim worth?” The monetary value of your truck accident claim will depend on many factors, including:
- The extent of your injuries
- Your likelihood of fully recovering from your injuries
- Your ability to return to work and earn income
- The cost of your current and expected future medical treatment
- The amount of insurance coverage involved in your claims
- The strength or weakness of the liability case against the truck driver or the trucking company
- The scope of your pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages
- The strength of the insurance company’s defenses
It is important to note that the truck companies are not the only opposition victims of truck accidents face. Insurance companies also try to take advantage of unrepresented accident victims by pressuring them into unreasonably low settlements.
Before you accept a truck accident settlement, you need to know what your case is really worth. To protect yourself, you should always consult with a Virginia injury lawyer before you respond to an insurance company's settlement offer. A lawyer can help you accurately calculate the value of your claim and determine if the insurance company’s offer is fair and reasonable.
Our accident attorneys understand that every truck wreck claim is different. That is why we carefully assess the individual strengths and challenges of each case and then craft aggressive, thoughtful legal strategies to address them and get victims the compensation they deserve.
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Aggressive and dedicated attorneys for truck accident victims in Richmond
At Phelan Petty, our injury lawyers give complex truck accident cases the time, attention, and resources they deserve. Our team of experienced truck accident attorneys will listen to your story, assess your claim, and educate you about your legal options – and, when you’re ready, work with you to seek the maximum compensation for your case.