Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
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Can I receive punitive damages in my truck accident case?
In Virginia, a negligent truck driver and trucking company who caused you to suffer injuries in a truck accident are liable to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Depending on the cause of your crash and the trucker’s actions, you may also be entitled to punitive damages under Virginia law.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are only awarded in limited circumstances when the truck driver’s negligence is especially egregious. The purpose is not to compensate you, but to punish the trucker. These awards send a message to him and others that this type of behavior will not be allowed and will be severely punished.
Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Truck Accident Cases
One of the situations where punitive damages are commonly awarded is in drunk driving cases. Under Virginia Code Section 8.01-44.5, you may be entitled to these damages if you can show the following:
- The trucker’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.15 or higher.
- At the time the truck driver was consuming alcohol and when he was driving, he knew or should have reasonably known that his ability to drive a truck would be impaired.
- The truck driver’s intoxication was the cause of your accident.
If the truck driver refused to take a blood alcohol content test, his conduct may be presumed to justify a punitive damage award if there is other evidence showing his intoxication.
Punitive Damages Under Virginia Common Law
In other cases that do not involve drunk driving, punitive damages may be awarded under common law, which are laws that are stated in Virginia court decisions. To be entitled to punitive damages, you must show that the trucker acted with malice against you or that his conduct was so willful and wanton as to show a complete disregard for the rights of others. This standard is hard to meet.
Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages in Virginia?
There is a cap on the amount of punitive damages you can receive in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The maximum amount you are entitled to is $350,000. In addition, even if you prove your right to punitive damages, it is up to the judge or jury to decide whether to award them.
If you or a family member were seriously injured in a truck accident in Norfolk, our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to fight for all the compensation that you are entitled to—including punitive damages. To learn more about your legal options and our extensive experience fighting for the rights of truck accident victims, call our office to schedule your free case evaluation today.
What are common defenses that could be raised in my truck accident case?
In Virginia, the trucker and trucking company that caused you to suffer injuries in a truck accident are responsible for compensating you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, you have the burden of proving their negligence in order to hold them accountable. To be successful when filing your claim, you must know how to prove their negligence.
Top Defenses That May Be Raised in a Truck Collision Case
It is important to anticipate the defenses that the insurance company for the trucker and trucking company will bring up so that you can collect the evidence and arguments that you need to refute them. You will need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney in order to determine which ones may be used given your particular circumstances. However, here are some common defenses in these cases:
- Contributory negligence. A common tactic that the insurance adjuster may employ is to claim that you were partially or completely at fault in causing your accident. Virginia is one of a few states that follow the contributory negligence doctrine. Under this rule, a victim of a truck accident who is at all at fault in causing the crash is barred from receiving any compensation. However, just because the insurance company says this is true does not make it so, and your lawyer may have strategies to defeat this argument.
- Another driver. If another vehicle was involved in your wreck, the insurance company may try to point the finger at its driver, claiming that he, and not their driver, was to blame. If this is an issue, your attorney may decide to file an additional claim with this individual’s insurance company and let the companies fight it out.
- Statute of limitations. If you are unable to settle your claim, you must file your lawsuit against the trucker and trucking company within the statute of limitations, or time period, for doing so or you waive your right to damages. In Virginia, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a complaint for your injuries and five years from that date to sue for property damages. If you let the statute of limitations expire, you should expect the insurance company to raise this as a defense.
- Mitigation of damages. You have a duty to mitigate your damages, which means that you must take reasonable actions to try to reduce them. The insurance company could claim that you failed to mitigate your damages if your medical condition worsened because you did not receive prompt medical care or because you did not follow your doctor’s instructions. They may also argue that you breached this duty by getting unnecessary medical treatments.
If you must file a claim for compensation following a truck accident in Norfolk, you need an experienced truck accident attorney who understands the unique laws and challenges in these cases. Our skilled and dedicated lawyers have decades of experience fighting for the rights of truck accident victims. To learn how we can assist you, call our office to schedule a free, no-obligation, consultation.
How can the truck’s black box help in my truck accident case?
When you are injured in a truck accident in Norfolk, you must prove the truck driver’s and trucking company’s liability for causing it. The truck’s black box can record data before and during a collision that provides you with a wealth of information that can help you establish fault. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you obtain black box information on your behalf before it is lost.
What Helpful Data Is Recorded by a Black Box?
The truck’s black box is similar to one on an airplane and is also referred to as the Electronic Control Module (ECM). Almost all trucks manufactured since the 1990’s come equipped with an ECM. In some cases, an accident reconstruction expert can use this data to create a reenactment of a truck accident. Here is some of the crucial information that it collects that can help you prove the trucker’s negligence:
- Overall average speed
- Highest speed
- How long the truck was driven
- Amount of time the truck was traveling at 65 miles per hour or faster
- Average revolutions per minute
- Seat belt usage
- Airbag performance
- Idling time
- Tire pressure
- GPS information
How Quickly Do You Need to Obtain Data From the Truck’s Black Box?
An electronic control module usually records data for 30 days before it tapes over it. This means that you must obtain this information as soon as possible after your crash. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that the trucking company will voluntarily turn it over to you. You need to retain an experienced truck accident attorney quickly to assist you with this. He can send the trucking company a spoliation letter immediately to advise them of your claim and that the data from the black box is required for litigation. Once the company receives this letter, it is prohibited from destroying or altering the data.
Were you injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver? Our experienced truck accident attorneys can obtain the black box data and other evidence you need to hold the trucker and trucking company responsible for compensating you for your injuries. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free initial consultation.
How much will it cost me to hire an attorney in my truck accident case?
When you must file a claim with the trucker’s and trucking company’s insurance company for injuries suffered in a truck accident, you may quickly realize that you are at a serious disadvantage trying to handle negotiation on your own. However, worries about the attorney fees you would owe may stop you from retaining an experienced truck accident attorney. Fortunately, you can lay these concerns to rest because most lawyers who handle these cases do not charge their fees up front.
How a Contingency Fee Agreement Works
In most personal injury cases, including truck accident injury cases, attorneys charge their fees on a contingency fee basis. Here is how these fee arrangements work:
- You do not owe the attorney any attorney fees at the beginning of your case.
- Your attorney would agree to accept an agreed-upon percentage of the amount that you receive in a settlement or at trial as his fee. You would only owe this amount if you win your case and receive money from the insurance company.
- When your case is settled, your lawyer would deduct what you owe for his services from the settlement proceeds before you receive your payment.
- If you lose your case, you do not owe any money to your lawyer.
Additional Costs Associated With Your Case That You May Owe
There are other expenses besides attorney fees that you may incur in pursuing a truck accident claim. It is important to understand what they are and how they will be paid when you hire your attorney. Some lawyers require clients to pay these costs before they are incurred, while others will pay them and then deduct them from the settlement proceeds. Additional expenses in truck accident cases may include:
- Investigator fees
- Expert witness costs
- Costs of copying medical records and other documents
- Filing fee and other costs for filing a civil lawsuit
- Deposition costs
Your attorney should explain his fees and costs before you hire him. When deciding on an attorney, it is important to consider his experience in truck accident cases, track record of success, and communication skills as well as the cost. You want a lawyer who will aggressively fight for your rights and is someone that you can trust.
Our skilled legal team would be happy to discuss your legal options, our experience in these cases, and our contingency fees with you. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re here to help!
How much is my truck accident case worth?
While how much your truck wreck claim is worth may be one of your burning questions, not even an experienced truck accident attorney cannot give you a precise number. That is because each crash is unique, and many factors can affect the value of your case.
Factors That May Influence the Value of Your Truck Crash Settlement
You can get a sense of how much you will receive from the trucker and trucking company by understanding factors that can affect your claim’s value. Your lawyer will most likely use these factors to give you an idea of what you can expect to receive. Here are some of what influences how much your case is worth:
- Your damages. The amount of compensation that you may be entitled to will have a large effect on the value of your claim. In Virginia, you should be compensated for your past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other out-of-pocket expenses. The amount that you are owed may be substantial because the injuries caused by commercial truck accidents versus those just involving passenger vehicles tend to be so severe.
- Liability. You have the burden of proving the trucker’s and trucking company’s negligence in causing your injuries in order to be entitled to any compensation. When your evidence of negligence is strong, this will increase the value of your claim because it will be harder for the insurance company to dispute the liability of its insured.
- Your negligence. Your partial negligence in causing the accident can have a dramatic effect on your claim’s value. Virginia has a harsh contributory negligence law that prevents you from obtaining any compensation if you were at all to blame for your injuries. Legitimate disputes about your fault can reduce the strength and value of your case. However, an attorney who has handled many of these cases will have strategies to deal with issues of your own fault.
- Severity of your injuries. If you suffered more serious injuries or one that caused a permanent disability, this can increase the value of your claim because your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages will be more. If you suffered a catastrophic injury, such as traumatic brain injury, amputation, or paralysis, you may be entitled to damages to compensate you throughout your life. Unfortunately, long-term injuries are common in these cases.
What Should You Do to Ensure That You Receive What You Deserve in Your Truck Collision Case?
Retaining an experienced truck accident attorney soon after your collision is the best way to be certain that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to from the at-fault truck driver and trucking company. To learn of our track record of success in these cases and how these factors influence the value of your claim, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.
What is the statute of limitations to file my truck accident lawsuit in Virginia?
While some truck accident victims are able to settle their claims with the negligent truck driver, trucking company, and other liable parties without the need for litigation, others must file a lawsuit and litigate their claim for compensation. If you must file a claim for your injuries in a truck wreck, you need to be prepared for this possibility. One key deadline that you need to know and follow is the statute of limitations.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing Your Complaint in Virginia?
The statute of limitations is the time period that you have for filing a civil lawsuit in your truck accident case. This deadline is usually strict, and the penalty for failing to file it is that you are barred from filing a complaint. Every state has its own statute of limitations for the filing of truck accident and other personal injury complaints. In Virginia, the time period you have to file your lawsuit is:
- Two years from the date of the accident for personal injuries
- Five years from the date of the crash for property damage
- Two years from the date of the victim’s death if he died due to injuries caused in the truck wreck
If your truck accident happened recently, you may feel like you have a lot of time to retain an experienced truck accident attorney and pursue your claim. However, this would be a big mistake. Important evidence could be lost and you could make other mistakes that weaken your claim and make it harder for your attorney to negotiate a settlement for what your claim is really worth.
Do you need to file a claim for compensation following a truck accident? We urge you to contact our office as soon as possible so that we can begin a thorough investigation of your crash. Call our office or fill out our online form to get started and to schedule your free initial consultation.
Who could be liable for compensating me for my injuries in a rollover truck crash?
While it is true that truck driver negligence causes the majority of truck rollover accidents, this does not mean that there were not multiple reasons—and liable parties—for a rollover wreck. If you or a family member were injured in a rollover wreck, you could suffer catastrophic injuries that may prevent you from working for the rest of your life. To ensure that you are fully compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, it is crucial that you identify all potentially liable parties and file claims with their insurance companies.
Who Are the Potential Liable Parties in a Rollover Truck Accident?
An experienced truck accident attorney can help determine all the reasons for your rollover accident and identify the liable parties. These can include the following:
- Truck driver. If the truck driver engaged in negligent driving practices—such as speeding or talking on his cell phone—and this caused your injuries, he would be a liable party.
- Trucking company. In Virginia, the trucking company may be vicariously liable for the negligent actions of its trucker if he was within the course of his employment when he caused your accident. You may also have a negligent hiring claim against the company.
- Shipper. If the load was improperly loaded or unsecured and this caused the truck to roll over, you will need to file a claim with the insurance company for the shipper who loaded the goods.
- Maintenance company. Some trucking companies contract with a maintenance facility to perform routine inspections and repairs. If the brakes, tires, or other components were not maintained or repaired, you may have a claim against the maintenance facility.
- Manufacturer. If defects in the design or manufacture of the truck’s brakes, tires, or other parts caused your rollover, you may have a products liability claim against the manufacturer.
Determining the liable parties after a rollover truck accident is complex. Let our experienced truck accident attorneys take over the burden of determining the liable parties and negotiating your settlement so that you receive what you deserve. Get started by calling our office to schedule your free consultation today.
Who could be liable for compensating me in a crash caused by truck brake failure?
If a truck’s brakes fail, the injuries that can result are often catastrophic. Brake failure can cause the driver to lose the control necessary to maneuver the truck to safety. Unfortunately, brake failure truck wrecks are often caused by the negligence of the truck driver or another party. If this was the cause of your injuries, an experienced truck accident attorney can help hold the responsible parties liable for compensating you.
Possible Parties at Fault in Truck Crashes Caused by Brake Failure
Your lawyer will need to conduct a thorough investigation of your accident to determine its cause. This can include hiring an expert to inspect the truck, reviewing the trucker’s maintenance and inspection records, and interviewing witnesses. If truck brake failure led to your accident, these parties could be liable:
- Truck driver. The truck driver has a duty to conduct a pre-trip and post-trip inspection of the truck and vital parts—including the brakes—as well as during the trip. The driver is not allowed to drive the truck when he knows that the brakes are in need of maintenance or repair. If he violated the rules regarding required inspections or drove the truck when he knew there was a problem with the brakes, he is most likely a liable party.
- Trucking company. The trucking company could face responsibility for your wreck on a number of grounds. First, the company could be responsible for the negligent actions of the truck driver. You could also have a separate legal claim against the company for violating its own inspection and maintenance requirements. Through his investigation, your attorney may find that the trucking company deliberately depowered the front brakes to save on brake maintenance and replacement costs—another way to prove negligence caused your wreck.
- Maintenance company. If the trucking company had a contract with a maintenance facility to conduct routine inspections and to perform maintenance and repairs, this company may face liability if maintenance and repair issues with the brakes were the cause of your accident.
- Shipping company. If the truck’s load was not loaded properly, this could cause the brakes to wear down and malfunction, making the shipping company at least partially responsible for your losses.
- Manufacturer. If the brake parts were designed or manufactured defectively, you could have a products liability claim against the parts manufacturer. The trucking company could also face liability if it knew about the defective part or that the truck was subject to a recall but continued to keep the truck in operation.
Do you need assistance filing a claim for compensation following your truck accident? Let our experienced and compassionate legal team guide you through the process and negotiate your settlement so that you receive what you deserve. To get your questions answered and learn about the next steps you need to take, call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation.
How can an attorney determine liability in my truck accident?
The cargo trucking industry is comprised of many different products and services, and it’s possible that any of the companies involved may have contributed to the cause of a truck crash. Without cargo loaders, drivers, parts manufacturers, mechanics, and cargo companies, the industry wouldn’t exist. However, it’s important you understand the complicated nature of truck accident liability in the event you are involved in a truck crash.
Liability Can Become Complicated
Because so many entities make the trucking industry function, determining liability after a truck crash can be difficult. A serious accident may be caused by a combination of many mistakes, which could include:
- Poor maintenance. Trucks must be in good, working order to avoid an accident.
- Incorrect loading. Because a truck must be balanced, improper cargo-loading could cause an accident.
- Negligent driving. A driver (especially one who feels under pressure) may be more willing to speed or drive with less caution to meet deadlines.
- Negligent hiring practices. With safety in mind, a trucking company must thoroughly vet applicants before placing drivers on the road.
- Substandard parts manufacturing. It’s possible the accident was caused by a defective part, in which case the manufacturer would be responsible.
Evidence Needed to Show Liability
You are an integral part of your successful truck accident liability case. If you’re involved in an accident with a large truck, it’s important you gather as much information as you can, including,
- Photos and videos of each vehicle’s position after the crash and damages, as well as each vehicle’s interior.
- Notes about what you remember, including the event directly preceding the crash and any theories and evidence about its cause.
- Recordings of witness testimony from those who may have seen what happened.
You Need an Experienced Attorney
If you’ve recently been involved in a car crash, it’s important you collect any evidence you have and contact an attorney. If you’re ready to begin an evaluation of your case, you should contact the team at Tavss Fletcher today. To get started, start a live chat online with a representative.
What evidence do I need for my truck accident claim?
Determining liability in a truck crash can be difficult because many businesses and individuals are involved in getting a loaded truck on the road. However, evidence can help insurance agents, judges or juries, and attorneys fully understand the facts of the crash, which can help place liability. Ultimately, evidence helps you maximize your recovery after a crash with a truck, so it’s important to understand what evidence you’ll need.
At the Scene of the Crash, Do Your Part
Just as with a passenger vehicle crash, your actions right after an accident with a truck are important to recovering fully for your injuries and damages. You can protect your future claim by:
- Jotting down some notes while the memory is fresh in your mind.
- Taking photos and videos of the crash scene, making sure to include descriptions of what happened.
- Calling law enforcement so an objective third party can step in, record information, and give directions as needed.
- Talking to witnesses who may have unique information or had an important view of the crash.
An Attorney Can Help Collect Other Evidence
Other types of evidence may prove helpful for your case, but it’s smart to enlist the help of an attorney to gather these, which include:
- Evidence from the truck’s interior, such as the “black box” recording device, any photos or videos of the cabin, dash camera footage, and data from the truck’s computer.
- Evidence from the trucker and his employer, including hours of service logs, maintenance records, and driver history.
- Evidence from security footage, which could shed light on the driver’s actions directly before the crash or the root cause of the accident.
Let an Attorney Advocate for You
If you’ve recently been involved in a crash with a large truck and feel confused about your next steps, get into contact with an experienced attorney. Truck accident litigation can be complex and confusing, but the team at Tavss Fletcher can provide you with answers and personalized service. To speak with a member of our firm, call our toll-free number today.
What are no-zones and how can I avoid them?
A large truck is one that weighs 10,000 pounds or more, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), but can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. This creates a risk for smaller passenger vehicles. It’s important that Virginia drivers know what no-zones are, how to avoid them, and how a lawyer can help if an accident occurs.
Accidents Are More Likely in No-Zones
Because trucks are heavier and more difficult to maneuver than a traditional passenger vehicle, you must take extra caution when driving near them to prevent serious injuries. Specifically, you should avoid the no-zones, which are especially risky areas around a truck. These include:
- The sides. Semi-trucks are so large and long that they have blind spots on both sides. However, visibility is especially limited on the trucker’s right side.
- The rear. Truckers cannot see directly behind their trailers, but drivers who follow a truck closely also cannot see around the truck.
- The front. Large trucks need more time to make safe stops, and having a passenger vehicle right in front of them creates a significant risk.
You Can Avoid the No-Zones
To protect yourself and your passengers, make sure you know how to share the road with large trucks appropriately. The following are some quick tips to help you stay safe:
- If you can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see you. Whether you are traveling on the side or rear of the truck, it’s important you use the truck’s mirrors to keep the driver’s face within your view. If you can see the driver, you’re most likely in the driver’s sights.
- Don’t linger. When traveling in close proximity to a truck, make sure to exit the no-zones quickly. Do not linger in any of the no-zones for too long.
- Pass safely. When passing, make sure to pass on the left—where a truck’s blind spot is smaller. Additionally, when you pass in front of a truck, give the truck plenty of room. In your side-view mirror, you should be able to see the whole front end of the truck before you cross into its lane.
- Beware wide right turns. If you and a large truck are both about to make a right turn, keep in mind that trucks need more room than you. Keep your distance, and never try to squeeze through first while a truck is turning right.
If You’ve Been Injured, You Need Help
Accidents with large trucks can become complicated quickly, so if you’ve been injured, it’s important you enlist the help of an experienced attorney. The team at Tavss Fletcher can help you gather evidence, present a sound argument, and work toward a positive outcome in your case. To get started with us, call our toll-free phone number: 877-960-3441.
What should I do if I think the truck driver near me is falling asleep at the wheel?
If you’re driving along the freeway and see a truck swerving back and forth, stopping and starting, and just acting in a way that looks dangerous, there’s a good chance the driver may be falling asleep behind the wheel.
You likely know the dangers of a truck driver who is drowsy. In fact, actor Tracy Morgan recently suffered a traumatic brain injury and the loss of his close friend because a truck driver who was allegedly awake for 24 hours fell asleep behind the wheel.
What You Can Do About a Drowsy Truck Driver
Fortunately, you don’t have to allow a truck driver to possibly endanger your life and those around you. You can take the following actions to prevent serious injuries or even death:
- Get to a safe location. If possible, pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot to get away from the dangerous truck driver. Never put your life in danger to stop the driver. Make your safety your first priority.
- Call the police. You can report the unsafe driver to the police by calling either 911 or the non-emergency number for the police. You’ll need a description of the vehicle, the tag number, trucking company, and the location where the truck is traveling. The police may send an officer to look for the truck in question.
If a Truck Driver Has Caused You Injuries
Fortunately, you can fight back against a driver that has caused you injuries. An attorney from Tavss Fletcher will work hard to help you receive the compensation you need to cover medical bills, vehicle repairs, and loss of work. Contact us today to learn more.
What should I do if I think a truck near me is about to cause an accident?
You had just paid your toll on the Chesapeake Expressway and were getting back onto 168, when you noticed the truck ahead of you was moving strangely. It kept shaking and wobbling, and the driver had to keep braking for no apparent reason. Although you don’t normally mind driving behind trucks, this one gave you a funny feeling, and you weren’t quite sure what to do about it.
Should you try to pass him, or keep your distance? Could he be in trouble? What should you do?
Common Signs a Truck Is Out of Control
Truck accidents kill 3,500 people and cause over 6,000 serious injuries every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, although the majority of the accidents are caused by the trucker losing control, 98 percent of the injuries (fatal and non-fatal) are suffered by nearby motorists and pedestrians. This frightening statistic is enough to cause panic attacks every time you see a truck, let alone drive near one. However, with proper awareness and detection, you can help decrease your and your family’s odds of injury, by predicting—and being able to avoid—a collision before it even occurs.
When driving near a truck, stay alert for the following signs that the trucker may have lost control or that the truck itself is having mechanical problems. If you witness any of these signs, back off immediately!
- Swerving, shaking or veering. Trucks can be difficult to handle, and even a slight overcorrection can cause a trucker to lose control. Although slight movements aren’t definite signs of an impending accident, you should increase your distance to give the trucker room to maneuver.
- Excessive or abrupt braking. This could be a sign of driver distraction or fatigue; either way, it’s best to keep your distance.
- Tilting or shaking trailer. An unbalanced or unstable trailer could cause the entire truck to lose control, tip, or roll over.
- Wobbly or loose tires. Odd looking or poor tire rotation could be a sign of excessive wear and tear, possibly indicating a potential blowout in the near future.
- Open trailer, loose objects, or unsecured cargo. An open or poorly secured trailer could cause the shipment to fall into the roadway or directly on your car.
- Loud or slowly responsive brakes. Brake issues could be a sign of poor overall maintenance, which might mean the entire truck is an 18-wheeled death trap. It’s best just to steer away.
Getting Compensation for Your Injury
Although staying alert and identifying possible signs of distress can lower your odds of a tragic collision, accidents can still happen out of nowhere. This is why it is important to have someone who is committed to helping you and your family after an unforeseen truck accident. Our extensive truck accident knowledge and experience will help you get the compensation your family needs for treatment and damages.
Our clients are part of our family, and as such, we’re driven to make sure they get the justice they deserve. As part of our family, you too will witness our diligence and compassion for getting you the settlement your injuries require.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. Feel free to read our clients’ firsthand accounts of their own claim experiences, and see how we helped them get their rightful settlements. We can extend you the same helping hand. You can also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to see periodic updates, client responses, and updated claim information.