Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
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Should I hire an attorney in the state where my truck accident happened?
If you were injured in a truck accident while in Virginia on vacation, for business, or while visiting friends or family, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under Virginia law. You are much more likely to be fully compensated if you hire a lawyer to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company.
However, you need to decide whether to retain an attorney in your home state or Virginia. Here’s why it would be best to select an attorney in the state where your collision occurred.
Five Reasons to Select a Lawyer in Virginia
There is no law in Virginia that would prohibit a lawyer in your home state from filing your claim and negotiating your settlement. While it may feel more convenient to have your attorney nearby, it really is not the best option. Here are reasons you need an experienced truck accident lawyer who practices where your truck collision occurred:
- Investigation of your collision. A local attorney will be able to conduct a more thorough investigation into the cause of your truck crash and can visit the scene of the wreck if they believe this would be helpful.
- Experts. You may need to hire expert witnesses to help resolve complicated disputes with the insurance company. A local lawyer would have a network of qualified experts who could help you and who would be able to testify in court if this becomes necessary.
- Understanding of law and court rules. A local attorney will have a better understanding of Virginia negligence laws that apply to your case. They will also know the court rules and procedures that must be followed if you must file a lawsuit.
- License to practice law. An attorney must be licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia in order to file a lawsuit on your behalf. Even if you live in a nearby state and your lawyer is allowed to litigate cases here, they would not be as familiar with local court rules and procedures as an in-state attorney. In addition, they would not have the same relationship with court personnel and local lawyers representing the defendants that could make your case go more smoothly.
- Consistency of representation. It is always better to have the same attorney who filed your insurance claim represent you if you must take your case to court. They will start developing their litigation strategy while trying to negotiate a settlement and will be collecting the evidence you will need to win your case.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer in Norfolk Today
If you were hurt in a truck accident while visiting the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area, our knowledgeable truck accident legal team is here to fight for the compensation you deserve. We will make the process easier for you by handling much of the communications through video conferencing, telephone calls, correspondence, and emails so that you do not have to travel back to Virginia. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
Do I have a claim if I wasn’t wearing my seat belt?
If you were not wearing a seat belt in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver, your claim may be more complicated. However, you may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries from the insurance company. Here is how your failure to wear a seat belt could affect your case.
What Are the Penalties for Not Wearing a Seat Belt in Virginia?
In Virginia, drivers and passengers in the front seat who are 18 years or older are required to wear a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion. Passengers who are under 18 years old must comply with the state’s child restraint laws no matter where they are seated. Under Virginia Code §46.2-1094, individuals who violate this law face these consequences:
- They could have to pay a civil penalty of $25.
- A violation of the law does not constitute negligence.
- A violation of the seat belt law does not constitute mitigation of damages in any nature.
How Contributory Negligence Could Affect Your Claim
Although the insurance company cannot claim that your violation of Virginia’s seat belt law prevents you from receiving compensation, they may try to claim that your actions should be considered negligent under Virginia’s negligence laws. Our state follows a harsh contributory negligence rule that provides that you would be not be entitled to compensation if you were at all to blame for the crash—even one percent.
However, it is important to keep in mind that just because the insurance company tries to deny your claim because you were not wearing a seat belt does not make their reason valid. They would have to prove that your failure to wear a seat belt caused your collision and injuries. In many truck accidents, the lack of a seat belt has nothing to do with why the crash occurred and the victim’s injuries.
If you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of your truck collision, you need to consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer to learn how this could affect your claim for compensation. To find out about your options and how we can help you build a winning case, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free initial consultation today.
Will my truck accident case go to trial?
Most truck accident claims are settled before they go to a jury trial, but this is not always true.
If you were injured in a truck crash, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, you need to be prepared to fight hard to obtain what you deserve from the insurance company. This could include having your case decided at a jury trial.
Why You May Have to Take Your Case to Trial
Because of the serious damages caused by truck collisions, the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company may be more reluctant to offer a fair settlement of your claim. Here are three factors that could make it more likely that you would have to take your case to trial:
- Disputes about liability. If the insurance company disputes who was liable for causing the truck wreck, it is more likely that your case would go to trial. This is frequently an issue in truck accident cases in Virginia because our state follows a harsh contributory negligence rule that would prohibit you from obtaining any damages if you were at all at fault for causing the crash.
- Serious injuries. If you suffered long-term injuries, which is common in truck accidents, you would be entitled to more compensation for your future expensive medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The insurance company may fight harder and longer to not pay you the full value of your claim, which could force you to take your case to trial.
- Wrongful death. If a loved one died in a truck collision, you would need to file a wrongful death claim. Because of the substantial damages you may be entitled to, the insurance company may not be willing to pay you what you deserve. Unfortunately, wrongful death cases are more likely to go to trial because of the high value of these claims.
How to Decide Whether to Take Your Case to Trial
It can be difficult to decide whether to accept a settlement offer from the insurance company that you do not feel fully compensates you or to take your case to a jury trial. You need the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer to help you make this important decision and to fight with the insurance company for the damages you are entitled to under Virginia law. To learn how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation today.
What is the difference between a truck accident claim and lawsuit?
If you were injured in a truck collision caused by a negligent truck driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. There are two ways to obtain the damages you are entitled to under Virginia law: file a claim or file a lawsuit.
While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the processes of filing a claim and lawsuit are very different. As an accident victim, you want to understand how they differ, so you know what to expect in your case.
What Is a Truck Crash Claim?
The first step in pursuing your right to compensation will most likely be to file a claim with the trucking company’s and trucker’s insurance company. If you want to avoid being taken advantage of by the insurance adjuster and to obtain the maximum recovery in your settlement, you should retain an experienced truck accident lawyer to file it on your behalf.
Filing a claim with the insurance company is an out-of-court resolution of your case. After completing a thorough investigation into the cause of your truck accident and your injuries, your attorney would send a demand letter to the insurance company outlining their liability to pay you and the amount of damages you are seeking. The insurance adjuster would conduct their own investigation and make a counteroffer.
It could take several rounds of negotiations before the insurance company agrees to pay you a fair settlement. While not all truck collision claims are resolved in this way, many are settled without the need to go to court.
What Is a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
You may need to file a civil lawsuit against the trucking company, trucker, and any other liable parties if the insurance companies deny your claim or refuse to be reasonable in settlement negotiations. You would also need to file a civil complaint if the deadline to sue, referred to as the statute of limitations, will expire soon.
The process of litigating a claim is much different than filing a claim with the insurance company. Here are some of the steps in the process:
- Complaint. The first step is to file a civil lawsuit in court that states how the accident occurred, the liable parties’ negligence in causing it, and the damages you are seeking.
- Answer. After the defendants are served with your complaint, they would file an answer to it and any defenses they are raising as to why they have no liability to pay you.
- Discovery. The longest phase of a lawsuit is the discovery process. This is where the attorneys obtain information and documents from other parties that can help their case. They can do this through sending interrogatories, which are written questions to be answered, requests for production of documents, and depositions.
- Negotiations. When your lawyer believes it would be productive, they would engage in settlement negotiations. It is very likely that your case would be settled at some point before it is scheduled for trial.
- Trial. If you are unable to settle your lawsuit, your right to compensation would be decided by a jury at a trial.
Were you or a family member injured in a truck collision in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with our dedicated and knowledgeable truck accident attorneys to learn how we can assist you.
Are truck drivers required to take drug tests after a truck accident?
Truck accidents can be much deadlier when the truck driver is intoxicated due to illegal drug use. If you suspect that your truck crash was caused by a drugged trucker, you would need to prove that this is why your collision occurred in order to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Here is what you need to know about when truck drivers are required to take a drug test after a crash.
When Must a Truck Driver Must Take a Drug Test After a Truck Collision?
Trucking companies and truck drivers must follow regulations implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) designed to promote truck safety and prevent accidents. The FMCSA has detailed rules on when drug tests administered by the trucking company are required after a crash. A trucker must take a test in the following situations:
- Fatality. If someone was killed in the truck crash, a drug test is required whether or not the trucker was issued a citation.
- Injury. A truck driver must take a drug test if they received a traffic ticket and someone was injured in the wreck and received immediate medical treatment somewhere other than the crash scene.
- Disabling damage. If a motor vehicle was damaged enough that it had to be towed away, a trucker would be required to take a drug test if the police ticketed them for a traffic law violation.
When a police officer at the scene suspected that the trucker was intoxicated due to drug or alcohol use, they could administer field sobriety, breathalyzer, and other tests. If the trucker failed these tests, the police could detain them and require them to take a drug test at the police station.
When Else Is a Truck Driver Required to Undergo Drug Testing?
The FMCA also mandates other times when an employer must require a trucker to take a drug test. They include:
- Pre-employment. A trucker must test negative for drugs before being hired by a trucking company to operate a truck.
- Random. Truckers must undergo random drug tests administered by the trucking company throughout the year.
- Reasonable suspicion. If the trucking company suspects that a trucker is under the influence of drugs, they must order the truck driver to undergo an immediate drug test.
- Return-to-duty. A trucker who tested positive for drugs must successfully complete the return-to-duty process with an authorized substance abuse professional and test negative for drug use before returning to work. The trucker must also undergo at least six additional drug tests within a 12-month period and test negative.
If you were injured in a truck accident, our experienced truck accident lawyers in Norfolk can help you determine whether drug use or other negligent actions of the trucker and trucking company caused your crash. We will fight hard so that you receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries. To learn more about how we can help, fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free case evaluation.
What should I do if the insurance company offers me a quick settlement of my claim?
If a truck driver caused your injuries in a truck accident, you will often receive a quick offer to settle your claim from their insurance company. You may consider taking it because you need the money to replace your lost income while you are off work recovering from your injuries and to pay your expensive medical bills.
However, accepting the first offer from the insurance company would not be in your best interests if you want to receive all the compensation you deserve under Virginia law. Here are three reasons why you should say no to the insurance adjuster’s offer.
#1: The Offer Is Too Low
The insurance company knows that you probably need the money right away and is trying to take advantage of this fact to entice you to settle your claim quickly. However, their first offer will most likely be for far less than you deserve. They are offering it to you because they know that they face liability to pay you and will save money if you accept their first offer.
#2: Your Settlement Will Be Final
Another reason not to accept the first amount offered by the insurance company is that your settlement will be final once you complete it. The insurance adjuster would require you to sign a Release of All Claims form where you would agree that the settlement would be a complete resolution of your claim before sending you your check.
This means that if you later discovered that you needed more medical treatments or had to be off work for longer than you thought, that you would not receive any additional compensation for these losses. You would not be able to reopen your claim or file a new one.
#3: It’s Too Early to Know How Seriously You Were Injured
You should not accept any settlement from the insurance company until you reach your maximum medical improvement. This is one of the following stages in your recovery:
- You fully recovered from your injuries.
- You recovered as much as you can from your injuries, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis on the medical treatments you will need in the future. They will also be able to advise you on how your injuries will impact your ability to return to your current or another job.
It could take you months or longer to reach this stage of your medical care, especially if you suffered more than one injury. However, it is crucial not to settle your claim before then so that all of your future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering are included in your settlement.
In addition, you should never accept any offer from the insurance company without first consulting with an experienced truck accident lawyer. They will be able to accurately value your claim and will fight the insurance company to ensure that you receive the maximum recovery.
Do you need help negotiating your settlement with the trucking company’s and trucker’s insurance company? Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free initial consultation to learn about your options and how we can assist you.
What can I do to help my attorney win my case?
If you were injured in a truck crash caused by a negligent truck driver, you need to retain an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. This will dramatically increase the likelihood that you will receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
While you are hiring an attorney to help you, you should not forget that you are a team working on the common goal of settling your claim. You can and should take steps to make your lawyer's job easier and help them build a winning case. Here are five important ways that you can help them.
Respond to Your Attorney's Requests Quickly
Just like you want your lawyer to contact you quickly if you have a question or want an update on your case's status, you need to respond right away if they call or email you. They may have an important question that they need answered or need you to collect additional documents in order to move forward in resolving your claim with the insurance company.
Follow Up on Medical Treatment
One of the most important ways that you can build a strong case against the trucker and trucking company is to seek prompt medical care after your crash and follow your doctor's advice on your medical treatments for your injuries. You should also attend all of your appointments, so there are no gaps in your medical care.
If you fail to do this, you could make it harder for your attorney to settle your claim for its full value. You would be giving the insurance company ammunition to deny your claim or argue that you should receive less than you are asking for in your settlement. They could make these arguments:
- Another incident caused your injuries.
- Your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
- You made your injuries worse by not following your doctor's orders and not getting all the medical care you need.
Cooperate With the Discovery Process
Your attorney may need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company does not offer you a fair settlement or the deadline to sue, referred to as the statute of limitations, will expire soon. You will need to cooperate with them during the discovery phase of your case. You may have to answer written interrogatories, produce documents, and attend a deposition where the insurance company's lawyer asks you questions about the truck accident and your injuries.
Stay Off Social Media
Ideally, you should stay off Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites while the claim is being resolved. If you do continue to post on these sites, avoid discussing your truck collision or your injuries. You should also be careful not to post pictures of you being at locations, such as on a hiking vacation, or doing activities that you should not be able to do because of your injuries.
Follow Your Lawyer's Advice
Another crucial way that you can help your attorney is to follow their advice and be patient while they work to resolve your case. They have your best interests at heart and know what you need to receive the maximum recovery from the insurance company.
If you must file a claim with the insurance company after a truck crash, our knowledgeable and compassionate truck accident lawyers are here to help. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
What types of compensation can I recover if a loved one died in a truck accident?
It is never easy to lose a family member. However, the grief can be even more intense when their death was caused by a preventable truck accident.
Fortunately, you may be able to file a wrongful death action to hold the negligent trucking company and trucker responsible for compensating you for your injuries. While money will not bring back the joy of having your loved one with you, it can help compensate you for your losses and help you move on with your life.
Compensation You Can Recover in a Wrongful Death Action
A wrongful death action is a type of claim that can be brought by a victim’s heirs when their loved one was killed in a truck accident caused by the trucker’s negligence. Only certain family members are allowed to file a wrongful death claim in Virginia. This includes the individual’s spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings.
The compensation awarded is slightly different than what a victim can recover if they had survived the truck accident. The damages are to compensate family members and the victim’s estate. Types of compensation that can be recovered include:
- Medical expenses. The cost of the deceased’s medical care for the injuries they suffered in the truck collision before their death can be recovered in a wrongful death claim.
- Funeral costs. Reasonable funeral and burial expenses should be included in the settlement.
- Pain and suffering. Family members are entitled to be compensated for the pain, suffering, and grief they suffered due to the loss of their loved one.
- Loss of income. Surviving family members who relied on the victim’s financial support are entitled to lost wages and benefits, which include the income and benefits the deceased would have earned if they had lived.
- Loss of care. Another type of compensation awarded in wrongful death actions is damages for the loss of the care, comfort, advice, and guidance of the victim.
- Punitive damages. While punitive damages are not awarded in all truck accident cases, this type of compensation can be recovered if the trucker’s or trucking company’s actions were especially reckless. They are awarded to punish them for their actions rather than to compensate the family of the victim.
Were you or a family member injured in a truck accident that was not their fault? Our compassionate and skilled truck accident lawyers are here to take over all the steps in filing and settling your claim for the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your grief and going on in life without your loved one. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation.
How long will it take me to get my check after I settle my truck accident claim?
You will most likely feel a huge sense of relief when you finally settle your truck accident claim after months or longer of arguing with the trucker’s and trucking company’s insurance company. Understandably, you want to receive your compensation from them as soon as possible.
However, there are a few more steps that must be completed before you are paid. It can take four to eight weeks to finish this process.
What Happens After You Agree to a Settlement?
It can help to understand what needs to get done before your attorney can call you to pick up your check or have it mailed to you. That way, you can be sure that things are moving as quickly as possible and avoid any delays. Here is what must happen:
- Sign release. You will need to sign a Release of All Claims form where you agree to accept the settlement amount and that this is a full and final settlement of your claim. It will be prepared by the insurance company or their lawyer. It could take longer for this document to be completed if your attorney finds objectionable clauses that need to be revised to protect your interests.
- Check sent. Once the insurance company receives your signed release, they will process your check and mail it to your attorney. Depending on the company’s procedures for writing this check, it could take two to three weeks to complete this step.
- Check deposited and bills paid. Your lawyer will deposit your check in a client trust account. Once the check clears, your lawyer will pay any debts owed, such as a medical lien placed on your proceeds by your health care provider.
- Attorney fees are deducted. After any bills are paid, your attorney will deduct any costs paid on your behalf, such as court filing fees, expert witness fees, and attorney fees from the remaining settlement proceeds.
- Your payment. After all of these steps are taken, your check will be issued. Congratulations! Your truck accident case is really finished, and you can move on with your life.
Do you need help negotiating your settlement after a truck accident in the Norfolk or Virginia Beach area? Call our office to schedule a free case evaluation with our experienced truck accident lawyers to get your questions answered and learn about your options.
Will the trucking company try to destroy evidence after my truck accident?
If you are injured in a truck accident, the trucking company could have the evidence you need to prove their negligence in causing your crash. Unfortunately, they could try to destroy documents you will need—and that they are required to keep under federal regulations—in an effort to weaken your case against them. However, you can take steps to stop them from doing this—if you act quickly.
Laws Prohibiting Trucking Companies From Getting Rid of Evidence
Both the truck driver and trucking company must follow federal regulations enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSA) designed to promote truck safely and prevent truck accidents. Under these regulations, trucking companies must retain documents for a certain length of time before destroying them. For example, trucking companies are prohibited from destroying truck driver log books, trip receipts and other records for six months. Other records, like the truck driver personnel records and truck maintenance records, must be maintained for much longer.
Although it is against the law to get rid of documents, the trucking company may do this anyway to prevent you from proving their liability to compensate you for your injuries. Another strategy they may employ is to drag out the settlement negotiations beyond the six months they are required to keep records so that they can legally dispose of them.
How to Stop the Trucking Company From Destroying Records You Need
Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent the trucking company from destroying vital evidence. Your first step should be to retain an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after your truck collision. They can send the trucking company a spoliation letter to stop their illegal actions. Here is why sending this letter right away is so important:
- The spoliation letter puts the trucking company and trucker on notice that you have a claim for compensation against them. FMCSA regulations prohibit them from destroying evidence that could affect your case once they receive this letter.
- Your attorney will demand that the trucking company not destroy and turn over specific documents that could help you when filing your claim.
- If the trucking company gets rid of evidence after receiving your attorney’s letter, they could face harsh consequences. Once you file a lawsuit against them, the judge could rule that there is a presumption that the destroyed documents are helpful to your case.
Are you afraid that the trucking company will destroy evidence you need to prove their liability for your truck accident? Do you need help fighting with their insurance company so that you receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.
How can a truck accident attorney help me?
If you were hurt in a truck accident caused by a negligent trucker, you should not try to handle your claim on your own to save on paying attorney fees. The value of your case could be higher due to the seriousness of the injuries you have suffered, and settling your claim with the insurance company will be more complicated. Here are five ways an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you.
#1 Gather the Evidence You Need
If you want to have a strong case against the trucker and trucking company, you need evidence that proves their fault in causing your truck collision and the seriousness of your injuries. Your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your crash and will collect the evidence you need to win your case. Types of evidence that can be helpful include:
- Photos and videos of the accident
- Truck’s black box, dashcam, and other electronic data
- Trucker’s employment and medical certification documents
- Trucker’s logbook
- Truck maintenance records
- Your medical records, bills, and an expert medical opinion
- Witness statements
- Paystubs and other wage loss documentation
- Expert witness reports from an accident reconstructionist, economic, and other types of experts
#2 Identify Liable Parties
In a truck accident case, the trucker is often not the only party responsible for causing a truck wreck. The trucking company, shipper, and truck repair facility are a few of the negligent parties who could be liable to compensate you for your injuries. Your lawyer will identify all potentially negligent parties and file claims with their insurance companies.
#3 Manage Your Medical Expenses
If the insurance company denies payment for necessary medical treatments, your attorney can fight with them to ensure that they pay your medical bills. In addition, your lawyer can work with your medical providers to arrange for payment for your care out of your settlement proceeds.
#4 Negotiate Your Settlement
A lawyer who handles truck accident cases will be able to accurately value your claim and can negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. They will also know the common tactics the insurance adjuster may use to try to deny your claim or pay you less than you are owed and will have strategies to defeat the adjuster’s arguments.
#5 File Your Lawsuit
While your case will most likely be settled without the need for a jury trial, you will have to file a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to be reasonable, or the statute of limitations, which is the deadline you have to sue, will expire soon. You need an attorney licensed in Virginia to file your complaint and litigate your case.
Were you injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver in Norfolk? Fill out our convenient online form on this page to schedule your free case evaluation today.
How can I prove that the truck driver was fatigued when he caused my truck accident?
Truck driver fatigue is a common cause of truck accidents in Virginia. Drowsy driving impairs a trucker’s driving abilities in similar ways as if they were intoxicated. To reduce the dangers of deadly collisions caused by drowsy driving, the federal government has enacted strict hours of service regulations on how long a trucker can drive without a break. Unfortunately, many drivers—with the encouragement of the trucking company they work for—violate these rules and continue driving when they know it is unsafe.
How to Prove the Trucker Was Too Sleepy to Drive
If you suspect that the truck driver was too tired to drive, you will need to prove that this was the cause of your truck accident. Drowsy driving is complicated to prove, and you will need the help of a skilled truck accident lawyer who can quickly send the trucking company a spoliation letter demanding the records you need to establish this. Here are some of the documents that your attorney will need to obtain and analyze.
Newer trucks are equipped with systems that record how long the truck was in motion, which can show how long the trucker was driving. An attorney can obtain these records not only for the day of the accident but also for the days leading up to the crash, which can show the trucker’s hours of sleep and rest.
Under federal regulations, truck drivers are required to maintain a logbook with a record of their driving hours and breaks while they are on the road. The logbook is an essential piece of evidence to obtain when trying to prove that the trucker violated federal hours of service regulations.
However, some truck drivers and trucking companies falsify the logbook or change it after an accident. It is crucial to compare information in the trucker’s logbook with other documents to get a true picture of how long the trucker drove.
Your lawyer can review the trucker’s receipts to track their route and when they were at certain destinations. This can help show that it was impossible for a truck driver to have been resting or sleeping when they claim. Receipts that can be helpful include:
- Gas receipts
- Toll receipts
- Bills of lading
- Meal and convenience store receipts
Were you or a family member hurt in a truck accident in Norfolk? You must retain an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible so that they can obtain the documents you need from the trucking company before they alter or destroy them. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation to get started.
Do all truckers need a commercial license to drive a truck in Virginia?
Yes, most truck drivers must have a commercial license to drive a truck in Virginia. They must meet certain requirements under state and federal laws and take a driving test in order to obtain this license. The type of license a trucker needs to have will depend on the type of truck being driven.
When a Truck Driver Must Have a Commercial License in Virginia
There are four classifications of commercial licenses in Virginia. Each classification allows a trucker to drive a certain weight or type of truck. Here are the current classifications of these licenses:
- Class A. A Class A license is needed when trucks are used to tow great weight. The weight of the combined vehicles must have a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of more than 26,000 pounds, and the GCWR of the vehicle being towed must be more than 10,000 pounds.
- Class B. This license is for single and combination vehicles where the single vehicle weighs more than 26,000 pounds, and the one being towed weighs less than 10,000 pounds.
- Class C. This type of license is required for vehicles that transport 16 or more people, including the driver, and to transport hazardous materials that must have a warning sign, called a placard, under federal regulations.
- Class D. Regular operators of vehicles transporting passengers must have this classification of commercial license.
Each classification allows a trucker to drive a truck in the classifications below it. For example, a truck driver with a Class A classification can also drive vehicles in Class B through D categories. Someone with a Class D license could not drive a truck requiring a Class A through C license.
While most truck drivers are required to have a license, not all are. Drivers of lighter weight trucks, small delivery trucks, and rental trucks may not need a commercial license to drive them.
Why the Trucker’s Commercial License Is Important to Your Truck Accident Claim
If you were injured in a truck accident, you need to find out if the trucker had a proper license. Why is this important? If he did not have a commercial license or an incorrect license one for the truck he was driving, this could be evidence that his lack of training and experience caused or contributed to your crash. In addition, you could have a separate negligent hiring claim against the trucking company that employs him.
Figuring out if the trucker had the correct commercial license and training is too complicated to do on your own. You should retain an experienced truck accident lawyer who understands the complicated laws and issues in these cases to determine this for you. Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free case evaluation to learn about your legal rights to compensation for your injuries and how we can help you obtain the settlement you deserve.
How do I know if the insurance company is offering me a fair settlement?
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by a truck driver, both the driver and the trucking company he works for may be responsible for compensating you for your injuries under Virginia law. The insurance carrier for the trucking company may contact you soon after the collision as part of their investigation of your claim and may even make a settlement offer. Here is how to know if they are offering you a settlement that fully compensates you for your injuries.
Why You Should Not Accept the First Offer
If the insurance company makes a quick settlement offer, you should most likely not accept it. They are probably trying to settle your claim quickly for less than you deserve in an effort to save money.
In addition, you cannot know the true amount you are owed right after the truck accident. You need to wait until you reach your maximum medical recovery to settle your claim. This is the stage in your medical treatment where you have fully recovered or recovered as much as you will and know what your future medical expenses and wage losses will be. Why is this important? You must know the amount of all your future losses so that they are included in your settlement.
How to Determine the Value of Your Claim
You should never accept a settlement without the assistance of an experienced truck accident lawyer. He will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your collision and the seriousness of your injuries. Factors that he will use to determine how much your claim is worth include:
- Compensation. You are entitled to receive your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and out-of-pocket expenses in your settlement. Once you reach your maximum medical recovery, your attorney will be able to accurately value your claim.
- Liability. If the trucker’s and trucking company’s negligence in causing your accident is clear cut, this will increase the value of your claim and the amount that should be paid to you in your settlement.
- Your negligence. Virginia follows a harsh contributory negligence law that bars you from receiving any compensation if you were at all at fault in causing your crash. If there are legitimate disputes about your partial fault, this could weaken your claim and you may have to accept less money from the insurance company.
- Seriousness of your injuries. If you suffered more serious injuries, this will increase the cost of your medical treatment and the amount of time you will have to be off work—and the amount of damages you should receive.
Were you or a family member injured in a truck accident in Norfolk? Our dedicated legal team can help you value your claim and ensure that you receive the maximum recovery you deserve from the insurance company. Fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free case evaluation today.
After my truck accident, should I sue the trucking company or truck driver?
If you were hurt in a truck accident, it can be confusing to know who you should sue for compensation for your injuries. Should you sue the truck driver who caused your collision or the trucking company who employed him? In most cases, you should file your lawsuit against both.
Why You Should Pursue Claims Against the Trucker and Trucking Company
You should always pursue claims for compensation against any parties who are potentially liable to compensate you. Depending on the cause of your collision, the trucker, trucking company, shipping company, and others could all be partially at fault. Here are two reasons why it is important to sue the trucker, trucking company, and any other liable parties:
- Insurance. The trucking company will have more insurance coverage than the truck driver to compensate you for your injuries. If you only file a lawsuit against the truck driver, you may not be able to recover all the compensation that you are owed—even if you win your case. His insurance company would only be responsible for paying you up to the policy limits.
- Partial fault. In Virginia, negligent parties are only responsible for paying you their percentage of fault in causing your truck accident. To ensure that you receive all that you deserve, you have to sue all potentially liable parties and negotiate settlements with all the parties that you can prove were negligent.
Two Ways to Hold the Trucking Company Responsible for Compensating You
You may be able to sue the trucking company based on the legal theory of vicarious liability and based on their own negligent actions that contributed to your crash. In Virginia, employers—including trucking companies—are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees if the worker was acting within the scope of his employment. If the trucker was driving on the clock when he caused your accident, the company he worked for would also face liability under this legal theory.
You may also have a separate claim that the trucking company’s own negligence contributed to your collision. Here are some common claims that you may be able to raise:
- The trucking company was negligent in hiring an unqualified truck driver.
- The trucking company violated its duties under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations to inspect and maintain the truck.
- The trucking company instructed or encouraged the truck driver to violate the FMCSA hours of service rules that limit the number of hours he can drive without a break.
You do not need to determine whether you can sue the trucker and trucking company on your own. Our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to investigate the cause of your crash and pursue claims against all possible parties so that you receive all that you are entitled to in your settlement. Fill out the online form on this page to schedule your free consultation today.
How soon should I hire an attorney after my truck accident?
If you are injured in a truck accident, you may not see the need to rush to retain an experienced truck accident lawyer right after your truck crash to help you file your claim for compensation. However, even though you have two years from the date of your collision to file your lawsuit for your injuries, you should not delay hiring an attorney. If you do, you could weaken your case against the negligent trucker and trucking company.
Three Reasons Why You Need to Retain a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
It can be overwhelming to cope with your injuries and how to pay your bills while you are off work recovering after your truck crash. An attorney can help by taking over the burden of filing your claim so you can focus on healing from your injuries. Here are other reasons why it is crucial to have a lawyer advocating for you right away.
Reason #1: Preserving Evidence
The causes of a truck accident can be more complicated than in a car accident and may involve violations of federal regulations governing the trucking industry, such as maintenance requirements and hours of service rules regarding how long truckers can drive without a break. If you hire a lawyer immediately, he can conduct a more thorough investigation into the cause of your crash and collect the evidence you need to prove the trucker’s and trucking company’s negligence. He can also quickly send the trucking company a spoliation letter advising them of your claim and not to destroy documents that may be helpful to your case.
Reason #2: Avoiding Mistakes
If you do not have an attorney, you may make mistakes that weaken your case when you talk to the insurance adjuster and file your claim. For example, you could agree to give a recorded statement or say something that could be misinterpreted as an admission of fault.
Reason #3: Negotiating Your Settlement
An attorney who has settled and litigated many truck accident cases will be able to accurately value your claim and negotiate your settlement so that you receive the maximum amount you are entitled to. He will understand the strategies that the insurance company may use to try to deny or reduce your claim and will have persuasive arguments and evidence to defeat them.
You do not need to go it alone when filing your claim with the insurance company following a truck crash. Take advantage of our offer of a free consultation to learn about your options and how we can assist you. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your appointment with our skilled truck accident legal team.
Is a truck accident settlement or judgment taxable?
If you settled your truck accident claim or won your case at a jury trial, you may be worried that you will have to pay federal income taxes on the amount you received. Whether you will owe any taxes will depend on the type of damages you receive.
Understanding the Taxable and Non-Taxable Portions of Your Settlement or Judgment
Settlements and judgments are treated the same when determining whether the proceeds you receive are taxable. Under IRS rules, the damages you received for physical injuries and sicknesses are not taxed. Here are the types of compensation you may receive and whether the proceeds are taxable:
- Medical expenses. The amount you receive to reimburse you for your medical expenses for hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor visits, medications, and other necessary medical treatments are not taxable.
- Wage loss. The portion of your settlement that is to reimburse you for the wages you lost while you were off work recovering from your injuries may be taxed. You could also owe income taxes on future wage losses, and lost earning capacity in the future if you cannot return to work.
- Pain and suffering. If you received damages for the physical pain and injuries you endured in a truck accident, this amount would not be considered income. However, if the amount you received is for emotional distress not related to physical pain and injuries, it could be taxed.
- Property damage. The amounts you receive for car repairs, other property damage, and car rental fees are to reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses and are not taxable.
- Interest. If a portion of your settlement or judgment is interest on the amount you received, you would owe taxes on this amount.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages are not commonly awarded in truck accident cases. However, if you received this type of compensation, it would be taxable income.
We Are Here to Fight for the Compensation You Deserve
Were you or a family member injured in a truck accident? You can trust our skilled truck accident lawyers to collect the evidence you need to prove the trucker’s and trucking company’s liability and to fight with their insurance companies so that you receive the compensation you deserve. To learn more about your options and how we have helped other truck collision victims successfully resolve their cases, fill out the online form on this page to schedule a free case evaluation today.
What happens if I was partially at fault in causing my truck accident?
If you were partly to blame for your truck collision, it can have very negative consequences on the value of your claim for compensation for your injuries. This is because Virginia, unlike most other states, follows the contributory negligence doctrine.
How Contributory Negligence Could Affect Your Truck Crash Claim
Virginia follows a very harsh rule when the victim is partially at fault in causing a truck collision. Under the contributory negligence law, a person who is at all negligent in causing an accident is barred from receiving any compensation for your injuries. This is true whether he was 1, 50, or 99 percent to blame.
Don’t Trust the Insurance Company If They Claim You Were at Fault
Not surprisingly, insurance companies love to raise a victim’s partial fault as a reason to deny his claim. However, just because the adjuster uses this insurance tactic does not make it a valid one.
How Can You Protect Your Rights After a Truck Accident in Norfolk?
You should take steps to protect your right to compensation even if you think you may have been partially to blame for your truck crash. Here are important ways to do that:
- Don’t admit fault. You should not make any statements admitting or implying that you were to blame. It is best not to talk to the insurance company at all on your own.
- Collect evidence. Collect evidence at the accident scene that can help you prove that you were an innocent victim—which could very well be true. Take pictures of the damage to the vehicles, crash scene, weather conditions, and anything else that might help show how your crash occurred. You also want to get the contact information for any witnesses who can corroborate the trucker’s fault in your wreck.
- Don’t give a recorded statement. Do not agree to give a recorded statement, which is a recorded question and answer session with the insurance adjuster. You may unintentionally say something that you did not intend that the insurance company can use against you.
- Contact an attorney. Retain an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. He can help you prove you were not at fault, handle all communications with the insurance company, and negotiate your settlement so that you receive what you deserve.
Do you have questions about your options after a truck crash? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation to get answers and the quality representation that you need.
Why could a trucker’s log book be important in proving negligence in causing a truck accident?
Truck drivers are required to follow detailed regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) designed to promote truck safety and prevent crashes. A violation of one of these rules may have caused or contributed to your collision. The trucker’s log book can provide you with the evidence you need to prove the trucker’s negligence.
How the Truck Driver’s Log Book Can Help You Win Your Truck Accident Case
Under FMCSA rules, truck drivers are required to keep a written log book while on their trips. The information in the log book can help you prove that the trucker violated the federal hours of service regulations regarding the number of hours they can work without taking a break and their duties to inspect their truck. Here are types of helpful information contained in the log book:
- Hours worked. The trucker is required to list the hours he worked and took a break during his trip. Under federal regulations, he is only allowed to drive a certain number of hours without taking a break during a 14-hour period and a total number of hours during the past seven days. The log book can show whether the trucker violated these rules and was too fatigued to safely drive when he caused your wreck.
- Miles covered. The log book will contain the total miles traveled in a 24-hour period. This information can be checked against when the log book shows the trucker drove and took breaks. In some cases, the miles covered can show that the trucker really drove longer than he claimed in his log book and, in fact, violated the hours of service rules.
- Off time duty. The trucker must report when he was off duty and had no trucker responsibilities, which can also be useful in establishing whether he took sufficient rest breaks before your crash.
- Inspection reports. The truck driver must inspect his truck daily while on the road. He is required to note these inspections and any needed repairs or truck malfunctions in the log book. This information may show that he drove his truck when it was not safe to do so.
You need the assistance of an experienced truck accident lawyer to obtain the trucker’s log book before it is altered or destroyed by the trucker or trucking company. Your attorney will also have the skill to evaluate the information in the log book and other documents to determine whether the information is accurate. To learn how we will obtain the trucker’s log book and other evidence you need to win your case, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
How can I prove that the truck driver who caused my truck accident was speeding?
Speeding is one of the most common causes of truck collisions and can result in victims suffering catastrophic injuries or death. If you believe that the truck driver who caused your crash was speeding, you cannot assume that the insurance company for the trucker and trucking company will agree with you. You will have to prove this in order to receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Types of Evidence You Can Use to Establish That the Trucker Was Speeding
You need evidence to prove your case. Here are types of evidence that can help you show that the trucker’s speeding caused your injuries:
- Police report. If the police officer who investigated your crash determined the trucker was speeding, he would include this conclusion in the police report. He may also have ticketed the trucker for speeding, which can be compelling evidence that you are right.
- Black box. The truck’s black box may contain data regarding the truck’s speed at the time of your wreck. You need the assistance of an experienced truck accident lawyer to obtain this data from the trucking company before it is destroyed.
- Witnesses. Witnesses to your crash can corroborate that the truck driver was speeding. If this person is an eyewitness you do not know and who has no stake in your claim, his testimony may be especially compelling.
- Accident reconstruction expert. You may need to hire an accident reconstruction expert who can create a reenactment of how your collision occurred to prove that the trucker’s excessive speed caused it.
- Logbook. Truck drivers are required to keep detailed logbooks on their trips of driving time, rest breaks, and other information under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules. Your attorney may be able to use the logbook to help establish that the trucker must have been exceeding the speed limit.
The skilled truck accident lawyers at Tavss Fletcher will conduct a thorough investigation of the cause of your truck accident and collect the evidence you need to prove the trucker’s and trucking company’s negligence. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free confidential consultation today.