There are a variety of reasons for trucking accidents – sometimes the truck driver is at fault, sometimes the driver of the other vehicle involved is at fault, and sometimes other factors – like road condition – are to blame. And consider the startling growth of the trucking industry. In the last 5 years, the number of registered truck drivers has grown by about 1.3 million – that is a lot of new truck driver’s on American highways. With all these new trucks and new drivers, it’s inevitable that tractor trailer accidents will continue to be a problem on America’s highways.
How Can a Skilled Tractor Trailer Accident Attorney Help Me?
Tractor trailer accidents aren’t like regular car accidents. There are several ways in which accidents involving these enormous vehicles need special consideration. If you’ve been involved in a tractor trailer accident, it’s in your own best interest to find a law firm that specializes in this type of accident. Some of the factors that make truck accidents unique:
1. Tractor trailer rules and regulations. There are many more state and federal laws for tractor trailers, the companies that own and operate them, and their drivers. With so many laws, rules, and regulations coming into play it’s important to find an attorney with actual experience in tractor trailer litigation. You don’t want to lose your case because your attorney didn’t know to check whether or not the truck involved in your accident was in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws at the time of the crash!
2. More insurance. Insurance requirements are different for truck drivers and the companies that own them, and a single truck can often be covered by multiple insurance companies. The driver may have a policy, the company that owns the truck may have a policy, and the company contracting the truck and or the driver for services may have yet another policy. In order to get what you deserve from a tractor trailer accident, you’ll need to have an attorney who knows how this complicated web of insurance works to get you the compensation you deserve.
3. Tractor trailer size and dynamics. Compare the size of a tractor trailer (legal weight 80,000 pounds) to that of a passenger car (average weight 5,000 pounds) – it’s easy to see why truck accidents are often so much more serious than other kinds of traffic accidents. The state of Virginia monitors tractor trailer compliance with both state and federal size and weight restrictions. Tractor trailer size and dynamics can also make accident reconstruction much more complicated. This means that everyone involved in evaluating the accident – from law enforcement to attorneys to expert witnesses – must have a good grasp of these unique factors. Otherwise, faulty assumptions could be made, which could negatively impact your case.
4. More defendants. If you’re involved in a tractor trailer accident, you may suddenly find yourself facing a whole host of defendants. You’re not only going to have to deal with the truck driver, but you may also have to deal with the truck owner, the trucking company, the trucking company’s management company, the trucking company's suppliers and the trucking company’s insurance providers. Wow! With a list like that, it’s no wonder we keep urging you to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer.
5. Accident investigation. Do you think that trucking companies just sit and wait for an accident report to come out when one of their vehicles has been involved in the accident? Heck, no! Very often a special team of accident investigators will be sent to the scene immediately – a team assembled and paid for by the trucking company. Do you think they’re doing this for your benefit? Again, no. There’s potentially a lot of money at stake in a serious tractor trailer accident, and the trucking company wants to make sure it gets a head start on its defense. In order to protect your own interests in an accident, you need to speak with a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. Don’t give the trucking company extra time to build up its case against you.
6. Intrastate vs. Interstate. The majority of truck accidents in Virginia involve interstate tractor trailers (that is, trucks registered in a state other than Virginia). If you’re involved in an accident with an interstate tractor trailer, you’ll need a lawyer to consider the laws of the tractor trailer’s home state. This can get complicated.
7. Mandatory drug testing. Truck drivers are required to undergo drug testing after being involved in an accident. While the majority of truck drivers are safe and conscientious, you could find yourself in an accident with a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’re involved in an accident with a truck driver, you’ll want to be sure that evidence from this drug test is saved for your case – something your lawyer can help you do. However, a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found numerous problems with drug testing for truck drivers. This means that even if a driver tests negative on a drug test, the test could have been falsified. You’ll want a skilled lawyer to consider all the evidence in the case, and not let drug test results either be blocked from admission or relied on too heavily.
8. Fraudulent licensing. It’s not a huge problem, but it is a problem. The trucking industry has grown so fast in such a short period of time that unfortunately there have been cases of truck licensing fraud and poorly run truck driving schools. Because of this, your accident could have been caused by a driver who fraudulently obtained a license and had no business being on the road.
The attorneys at Dulaney, Lauer, and Thomas, LLP care about your safety on Virginia’s roads and highways. If you or somebody you love is unfortunate enough to be involved in a serious tractor trailer accident, our law firm wants to help. Please contact Dulaney, Lauer, and Thomas to discuss your case for no cost and no obligation. We can help you recover from the shock of a serious tractor trailer injury and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.