Richmond Truck Accident Lawyer
The sound of squealing tires on the freeways is, unfortunately, a common sound on the roadways of Virginia. The number of vehicles on the highways has drastically increased over the years as more people move into the state, and as the growth of commerce throughout the country continues to grow. Trucks navigate the roadways to deliver goods to consumers throughout the country, leading to the ease of merchandise convenience, but also leading to the unfortunate side effect of potential accidents involving heavy trucks. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving a commercial or semi-truck, reach out to a dedicated Richmond truck accident lawyer as soon as you are able.
Trucks and Commerce
When Henry Ford rolled his first Model T off the conveyor belt, he may have anticipated the reliance on motor vehicles today, but he likely did not anticipate the types of vehicles and the number which now roll across the highways. The larger truck was only manufactured initially to cart around the new motor vehicles which Henry Ford was creating.
The early types of trucks were unable to compete with the speed of railroads and trains and therefore largely went unutilized for years. It was not until the 1920s that trucks became equipped with pneumatic tires, which allowed trucks to travel at a higher rate of speed. By the 1930s, there were over 300,000 registered “long-haul” trucks throughout the country. World War I and World War II were a great influence in the evolution of the trucking industry and is the time period when many modern trucking companies were formed. Unfortunately, while the advent of the trucking industry led to an economic advantage throughout the country, it has also led to devastating car accidents.
Truck Accidents in Virginia
Virginia has seen a gradual decrease in the total number of car and truck accidents in recent years. While only a small decrease, it is evidence that law enforcement officers and legislators have been working together to attempt to curb this number of accidents which plagues most roadways. The implementation of steeper penalties for distracted drivers has led to a decreased number of accidents caused by distracted driving and driving while on smart phones. Additionally, the increased penalties for driving while under the influence and the implementation of “no refusal” weekends has also helped stem the incidence of drunk driving accidents throughout the state.
However, truck accidents remain relatively high due to the number of trucks which bring commerce to the state. The number of truck accidents in Virginia has remained relatively steady since 2011, with approximately 55,000 accidents reported each year. In 2014, there were approximately 17,000 people injured in truck accidents and nearly 150 fatalities. Most crashes were not due to any one specific reason but are often the culmination of various conditions, each of which will be carefully considered by an experienced personal injury attorney and the insurance companies involved.
Types of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents take many forms and our Richmond truck accident attorneys have experience handling rollover accidents, head-on collisions, jack-knife accidents, and much more. The type of accident will often correspond to the severity of the injuries received. Any accident involving a passenger vehicle and a heavy truck will have dramatic repercussions on the passenger vehicle given the weight and size differential between the two vehicles.
Rollover accidents are often the most severe and result in one, or both, vehicles turned on its side. While this is typically an accident that affects larger “top heavy” vehicles, such as trucks and sport utility vehicles, this can also happen to smaller sedans if they are struck on the side by a truck.
Head-on accidents are often the result of distracted driving or drunk driving and can have devastating consequences for the individuals involved. In head-on collisions, the impact alone could crush a small vehicle and all of its occupants.
Jack-knife accidents are common in the trucking world, and occur when a truck trailer loses its traction and begins to slide toward the tractor. This action mirrors a pocket knife folding in, hence the name of the accident. Any other vehicles which are caught in the way of the truck during this type of accident may face extreme injuries due to the impending impact of both sides of the trailer and the truck.
Underride accidents occur when a small car becomes trapped underneath a semi-trailer truck. There are often few protections for the driver and passengers of the car during these accidents, and the accident can, therefore, lead to extreme injuries, including brain injuries. Trucks can take methods to safeguard against these accidents by installing a guard bar on the underride or including lights and reflective tape along the rear of the trailer. Many of these accidents occur at night, given the low light conditions.
Blind spot accidents or “no-zone” accidents occur when a truck changes lanes and does not notice a car in its blind spot. Blind spots in certain vehicles are often quite prominent, so it is no surprise that large semi-trailers have even larger blind spots. However, truck drivers, therefore, must be vigilant in their lane shifting to ensure no vehicles are in their blind spots.
Negligence and Tort Law
The legal definition of a tort relates to a wrong which was caused by the negligence of one party, or the breach of their duty to act as a reasonably prudent person. Tort law developed in old English common law and continued over to the early United States. The essence of modern personal injury law and negligence law is based on this older tort law, although has been updated to account for more modern understandings of the law.
A negligence claim may be brought against any individual who has behaved in a manner less than that of a reasonably prudent person. This can mean the actions of a truck driver who sent a text from his smart phone while driving, which is not the actions of a reasonably prudent truck driver. This can also mean the actions of a truck driver who did not adequately have his truck inspected, thereby leading to a maintenance malfunction or tire blow out while driving. Certain types of truck accidents occur due to driver error, such as braking too quickly on slick roads, driving at excessive speeds, or the failure to slow down in work zones.
Virginia is, unfortunately, a contributory negligence state, meaning that if the victim is even one percent at fault, they may not be eligible to bring a claim for damages. Contributory negligence is a subset of tort law which dates back to English common law, and the belief that the responsible party should be held liable for any injuries caused during an accident. Therefore, if a victim’s injuries were exacerbated by their own actions, such as not buckling their seatbelt, then the victim could be prevented from bringing a claim for the extent of their injuries. In these scenarios, it might be best to consider the options of a settlement with the insurance company, but you should always consider speaking with a knowledgeable Richmond truck accident lawyer before settling.
Virginia does not require that every motor vehicle driver in the state be insured. However, if a driver is not insured, they must pay an annual fee to the state Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”). The DMV clearly mandates that the annual fee is not a form of insurance, but is a requirement for all uninsured drivers. If an uninsured driver is involved in an accident, they must cover the cost of any related expenses out of pocket, rather than seek the inclusion of an insurance company.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, the other side’s insurance company (if they have one), will likely have contacted you shortly after the accident. It is important to keep in mind that insurance companies are in the business of making money, and will work to settle a case as efficiently and expediently as possible. This will not always mean that you will get the best outcome so you should seek the legal counsel of a Richmond truck accident lawyer before speaking with the other side’s insurance company. Insurance companies are able to coerce settlements with the promise of immediate payment. However, it is important to recognize that you may be entitled to a greater settlement offer than what the insurance company offers.
Personal Injury Claims
As the victim of a truck accident, you are likely suffering extreme injuries. Trucks are large, multi-ton vehicles that cause a great deal of damage in even the most minor of car accidents. As such, any victims in passenger vehicles, unfortunately, suffer serious injuries such as broken bones, concussions, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and severe burns. Each of these injuries requires a long-recovery time, and many will never be able to have a healthy life again after the accident.
The responsible party should be held liable for any resulting injuries after the accident and the amount of damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages
- Future earnings
- Pain and suffering
While some of these damages may be difficult to project into the future, an accomplished Richmond personal injury attorney will be able to assist you in these valuations.
Consult a Richmond Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Christina Pendleton & Associates. Our lawyers have years of experience in handling personal injury claims related to truck accidents. As the victim of a truck accident, you should not be forced to cover the expenses of your injuries. Truck accidents often lead to extensive injuries which require weeks, and even months of rehabilitative care. This could, in turn, impact your monthly wages in addition to leading to a pricey hospital fee. Your mind should be on your recovery and not on these additional expenses. Our attorneys will handle your claim for damages for you so you can focus on your family and your recovery. Call us at 804-554-4444 today for a free legal consultation.