Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
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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.
Can the insurance company for the trucking company spy on me if I file a claim for compensation following a truck accident?
When you must file a claim for compensation for your injuries in a truck accident, you expect the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company to treat you fairly, settle your claim promptly, and pay you what you deserve in your settlement. Unfortunately, some insurance companies will do the opposite and try to deny or reduce your claim. One of the tactics they may employ to fight your claim is to spy on you.
Reasons Insurance Companies Engage in Surveillance
The insurance company may engage in surveillance on their own or could hire a private investigator to do this for them. Reasons that they may have you watched include:
- They want to verify the seriousness of your injuries.
- They want to catch you doing an activity that you should not be able to do given your injuries.
- They want to find statements that you have made that are inconsistent with what you told them about the accident. They are also looking for statements you made admitting fault in causing the accident or that show that your injuries are less serious than you claim.
Types of Surveillance Used by Insurance Companies
The insurance company could engage in surveillance at any time while your claim is being resolved. Times when it may be more likely is right before your deposition or jury trial or when you go to doctor appointments. However, you should always be prepared for the company to spy on you.
There are a number of ways that the insurance company may surveil you. Here are some common ways:
- Videotape and photographs. The insurance company can hire a private investigator to follow you around in public places and photograph or videotape you. The investigator may use a surveillance team and different vehicles to try to hide the fact that they are spying on you.
- Social media sites. The insurance adjuster could conduct a search of your social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, at various times while your claim is being resolved. He may be looking for photographs, your location, and information you share with friends and family to use against you when deciding your claim.
- Internet. The insurance company may do a general Internet search to find articles about you, your blog or website, and comments that you make on other individual’s blogs or websites that weakens your claim.
- Background check. The insurance adjuster, their attorney, or their private investigator may conduct a thorough background check to try to find damaging information about you. This can include where you live, your vehicles, property you own, your criminal record, and driving record and offenses.
What Should You Do If You Suspect That the Insurance Company Is Spying on You?
If you believe that the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company is surveilling you, you should watch what you say, what you do, and where you go. You should also not post anything about your accident or your injuries to any social media sites while your claim is pending. Be careful about sharing anything about yourself that could be misconstrued.
If you have retained an experienced truck accident attorney, you should discuss your concerns with him and obtain advice on what you can do to protect yourself. If you have not hired a lawyer, you should do so immediately. To learn how we can help you, call our Norfolk office today to take advantage of our free, no-obligation consultation.
How soon after my truck accident should I see a doctor?
You should be examined by a physician soon after your truck collision. You need to do this even if you believe that you sustained no or minor injuries. There are three very important reasons why this is so important.
Reason #1: You Protect Your Health
If you suffered obvious injuries, you hopefully know to seek immediate medical care. However, you may not realize that you suffered injuries for days or longer after your accident.
Adrenaline can mask the symptoms of injuries. In addition, the symptoms of some injuries, such as spinal injuries, internal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries, can take days, weeks, or longer to develop. You protect your health and avoid a possible medical emergency by being examined by a doctor right away.
Reason #2: You Document Your Injuries
When you are examined by your doctor or in the emergency room, medical records will be created. You can use them to document that you were injured in your truck accident. In addition, if you seek prompt medical care, it can be easier for you to prove the connection between your crash and your injuries.
Reason #3: You Avoid Disputes With the Insurance Company
One of the biggest mistakes that truck accident victims make is to delay seeking medical care. The insurance company for the trucker and trucking company may use this fact to deny or reduce your claim. Here are two common arguments the insurance adjuster could make:
- Your injuries were caused by another incident and not the truck accident.
- Your injuries are really not that serious or you would have been treated by a doctor sooner.
How Soon Is Soon Enough to Seek Medical Care?
If you did not suffer apparent injuries that require immediate care, you should be seen by a physician within a reasonable amount of time after your crash. Insurance companies often consider 72 hours to be reasonable. Avoid jeopardizing your health or your claim for compensation by seeing a doctor no later than 72 hours after your collision if at all possible.
Pursing a claim for compensation following a truck accident is complicated. Our experienced truck accident attorneys will aggressively fight for the compensation that you deserve from the negligent trucker and trucking company. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal rights.
When can a shipper and broker be liable in a truck accident?
If you were injured in a truck collision, there may be additional parties responsible for compensating you in addition to the negligent truck driver and trucking company. Pursuing claims against all negligent parties increases the likelihood that you will receive the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. Two important parties that you do not want to overlook are the shipper and broker.
When Could a Broker Be Liable to Compensate You?
A broker is a middle man that works with the commercial trucking company and the shipper to arrange for the transportation of the goods. Brokers have a duty to review the safety record of the trucking company and truckers they are contracting with. If they failed to do so in your case, you may have a negligent hiring claim against them.
When Can a Shipper Be Found Negligent?
Like a broker, the shipper has a duty to screen the trucking company and truck drivers they contract with to transport their goods. However, they are often looking for the least expensive way to ship their products so they may select cheaper commercial fleets who cut corners on safety or overlook safety violations in an effort to save money. This may be one way the shipper was negligent in causing your truck accident.
In addition, the shipper may have been directly involved in the loading process. Ways that their negligence may have caused your accident include:
- Providing improper instructions to the carrier or the truck driver on how to secure or load the goods
- Improperly loading the goods
- Failing to properly secure the load
If you were injured in a truck crash that was caused by a negligent truck driver, our experienced truck accident attorneys can thoroughly investigate its cause and identify all liable parties. To find out more about how we can help and your right to compensation for your injuries, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free case evaluation today.
Should I sign a medical authorization in my truck accident case?
When you file a claim for compensation following a truck accident, the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company will request your medical records when evaluating your claim. The adjuster may ask you to sign a medical authorization for release of information to obtain these records. However, this request is anything but innocent and signing this document could significantly hurt your claim.
Three Reasons You Should Not Sign an Insurance Company’s Medical Release
A medical authorization form gives the insurance company permission to obtain and review your medical records. The problem with the medical release form that insurance companies use is that they are blanket authorizations that often give them access to ALL of your medical records when they truly only need those that pertain to your injuries from your accident. Here’s how allowing them this unlimited access can hurt your case:
- Provides ammunition. By giving the insurance company all your medical records, you give them ammunition to try to deny or reduce your claim. For example, the insurance company may use records regarding pre-existing injuries to the same body part to argue that your current injuries were caused by your prior ones and not the truck accident.
- Invades your privacy. A blanket medical release gives the insurance adjuster access to sensitive, private information about you that has no bearing on your claim. You are not required to allow the insurance adjuster to invade your privacy in order to receive the compensation that you deserve.
- Gives incomplete information. If the insurance adjuster has you sign a release soon after your accident, the medical records that he obtains will be incomplete. You are just beginning your medical treatment for your injuries and do not yet know how serious they are, the treatments you will need, and whether you will make a full recovery. It is better to wait until you have fully recovered or recovered as much as you will to provide necessary medical records and settle your case to ensure that you receive what you deserve.
How to Handle the Insurance Company’s Request for a Medical Release
Ideally, you will have already retained an experienced truck accident attorney. If not, you should immediately hire a lawyer. He can contact the insurance company on your behalf and provide them with the medical records they need without you signing this form. To get the legal assistance you need in filing a claim for compensation after your truck accident, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free case evaluation.
I was seriously injured in a truck accident. Should I allow the truck driver’s insurance company to take my recorded statement?
Soon after your truck accident, the insurance adjuster for the negligent trucker and trucking company may contact you and ask you to give a recorded statement. He may claim that he needs it to process your claim. However, this is not true, and it is never a good idea to agree to give one.
What Is a Recorded Statement?
A recorded statement is a question and answer session conducted by the insurance adjuster that is tape recorded. It may be done over the telephone or in person. The recording is later transcribed into a document that can be used by the insurance company in resolving your claim or in a court hearing if you have to file a lawsuit.
Why Does the Insurance Company Want You to Give a Recorded Statement?
The basic reason that the insurance adjuster may want to take your recorded statement is to find information that he can use to deny or reduce your claim. Even if you are careful and have nothing to hide, you could say something that hurts your case and the amount that you receive in your settlement. Here are some of the ways a recorded statement can be damaging:
- Inconsistent statements. The insurance adjuster will compare what you tell him to statements you made to the police, your doctor, and others and look for inconsistencies. If he finds any, he can use this information to claim that you are not being truthful or that you are not a believable witness.
- Confusing questions. The insurance adjuster is skilled at conducting recorded statements and may ask you confusing questions designed to elicit answers that he can use against you. No matter how careful you are, you may say something that you did not mean.
- Too much information. You may be tempted to offer additional information than the question asks, especially when you know that you did nothing to cause your crash. You could inadvertently give the insurance company additional information, such as about a preexisting injury, that can lead to disputes about your right to compensation.
Are You Required to Give a Recorded Statement?
No. You do not have to agree to give a recorded statement in order to settle your claim with the insurance company. While they have a right to investigate your claim, this does not include forcing you to give a recorded statement.
What Should You Do If the Insurance Company Asks You to Give a Recorded Statement?
If you are asked to give a recorded statement, you should retain an experienced truck accident attorney immediately and let him take over communications with the insurance company and to negotiate your settlement. You should never agree to any insurance company requests or to accept a settlement offer without first consulting with a lawyer.At Tavss Fletcher, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options. To schedule yours, call our office or fill out our convenient online form.
How long will it take to settle my truck accident claim?
If you are like most truck accident victims, you want to know how long it will take to settle your truck accident claim so that you can get on with your life. Unfortunately, even an experienced truck accident attorney cannot give you a precise answer to your question. However, some factors affect this time period and understanding them can give you a sense of how long this process may take.
Your Medical Treatment Could Be Lengthy
If your injuries are severe, you may need months or longer of medical treatment. You do not want to settle your claim before you reach your maximum medical improvement. This is the stage where you have fully recovered from your injuries or recovered as much as you will, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis. It is important to wait for this to occur so that you ask for and receive all your future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in your settlement.
Investigating a Truck Accident Can Take Time
More parties could face liability in a truck accident than in a car accident. Your lawyer will have to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the crash and the at-fault parties. One of his first steps will be to send the trucking company a spoliation letter advising them of your claim and the documents he needs from them. Unfortunately, they may not provide it without a fight or litigation. While doing this can take time, it will make your claim stronger and enable you to obtain the compensation that you deserve in your settlement.
The Value of Your Claim May Be High
If you suffered long-term injuries—common in truck accidents—the value of your claim will be higher. The insurance company for the trucking company, trucker, and other negligent parties will conduct a more extensive investigation of their own and may fight harder and longer to deny or reduce your claim.
Negotiations May Be Complex
The process of negotiating a claim can be lengthy. Your attorney will start the process by sending a demand letter outlining your right to compensation and requesting what you are entitled to. Then there will be back and forth negotiations with the insurance adjuster, which can involve resolving disputes, and hearing additional offers and counteroffers. If the insurance company will not be reasonable, your lawyer will file a lawsuit and litigate your case, which will take even more time but will protect your interests in the long run.
Do you have questions about your truck accident claim in Norfolk? Fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free consultation to get your questions answered and learn how our experienced truck accident lawyers can help you.
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.