Difference Between a Truck Accident and Car Accident Claim in VA
Because a tractor-trailer is so much larger than a passenger car, a truck accident is more likely than an auto accident to cause severe or fatal injuries. But the differences don’t stop there. Truck accidents may have more potentially liable parties and be more complicated to settle. Trucking companies and their insurers will act aggressively to try to avoid paying accident claims.
Our dedicated Virginia truck accident attorneys at Lichtenstein Law Group, PLC, have fought – and won – many cases against trucking companies throughout Virginia. You will be at a disadvantage if you try to deal with an insurance company on your own. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving an 18-wheeler or another large truck, contact our skilled truck accident trial lawyers for a free review of your case.
4 Reasons Truck Accident Cases Can Be Complex
Here are a few of the ways a truck accident case differs from a car accident:
Severity of truck accident injuries. If you are dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophic truck accident, you already know the injuries from these accidents can be severe because of the difference in size and weight of semi-trucks and cars.
It is not unusual for a truck accident to cause injuries that require extensive medical treatment, including surgery, rehab and lengthy hospitalizations, or lead to disabilities that require lifelong care.
Because of the seriousness of injuries typically suffered in truck accidents, the insurance claims that follow are often very expensive.
Our law firm often assists clients facing long recoveries from:
- Head and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Back and spinal cord injury, including paralysis
- Internal organ damage
- Crushed and disfigured or amputated limbs
- Severely broken bones
- Deep lacerations.
Profit-driven defendants. Commercial trucks are very expensive. Whether the truck in the accident that injured you was part of a motor carrier fleet or owned by an independent trucker, it represents a substantial investment. The defendant in a truck accident claim has already suffered a loss due to damage to the truck, no matter how slight, and lost money from the time it is out of service.
The truck owner will seek to avoid additional losses through a high insurance payout and a subsequent increase in insurance premiums. A trucking company will have lawyers on call who have an obligation to protect their client from high claim payouts. An independent trucker may decide he or she is better off disappearing than facing a claim. Either makes it harder for the injured to recover what they are due.
The upside is that many commercial truck drivers and trucking companies are required to carry higher amounts of liability insurance than passenger car owners. That means more money may be available to settle your claim than in a typical auto accident.
Multiple parties involved. In addition to the trucker and the trucking company, there are often others involved in putting a fully loaded transfer truck on the road. The truck cab may have been pulling one or more trailers owned by separate entities. The cargo may have been owned and/or loaded by a third party. The truck may be maintained by another contracted company.
Most truck accidents are caused by driver error. This makes the trucker liable for a crash, and the trucker’s employer responsible, too. But other parties may be responsible for a truck accident as well. A sudden cargo shift may have caused the trucker to lose control of the big rig just before the crash. This may make the company that loaded the cargo partly responsible for what happened. Or maybe the truck’s brakes failed, and that caused the crash that left you injured. In such a case, another party may be responsible for negligent maintenance of the truck or the brake manufacturer may be legally liable.
The various parties potentially responsible for a truck accident will invariably point the finger at each other rather than accept liability. For example, it’s not unusual for a trucking company to claim, true or not, that its drivers are independent contractors and that, therefore, the driver and not the trucking company is liable for the accident. Figuring out how an accident happened, and which party or parties should be held liable requires a thorough investigation by an experienced truck accident attorney.
A truck accident case may require claims against multiple parties.
Trucking is a regulated industry. Truck drivers, motor carriers and all other parties in the trucking industry operate according to numerous rules and regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Highway Administration, as well as the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (VDOT). Safety regulations that carry the weight of law cover everything from the hours a truck driver may spend behind the wheel and how long he or she must rest between driving shifts, to required inspections of the truck and its various components, how cargo must be secured for transport, and much more.
In many truck accidents that we investigate, we find that someone has violated a federal or state regulation. When we can identify such a violation or multiple violations, we document the violation to support our client’s claim for compensation.
Contact Our Virginia Truck Accident Lawyers Today
Navigating the complexities of a catastrophic truck accident case requires a deep understanding of the industry and the resources to conduct a detailed investigation. A thorough investigation into a truck accident may yield critical evidence. But much of it may require technical knowledge to recognize and properly apply to the case at hand. Our truck accident attorneys also consult with medical professionals to understand the extent of our clients’ injuries and prognosis for recovery.
Pursuing a complex truck accident claim to its proper resolution requires the dedication of resources and hands-on effort to hold multiple parties accountable.
If you or a loved one is coping with catastrophic injuries suffered in a truck accident in Virginia, contact Lichtenstein Law Group PLC now to schedule a free consultation. Let us review your case and tell you how we can fight for you.
John E. Lichtenstein is a founding member of Lichtenstein Law Group, PLC, with more than three decades of experience as a trial lawyer. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, John has successfully resolved hundreds of cases on behalf of his clients, including some of the largest jury verdicts and settlements in Virginia history. He has also served his profession, including serving as President of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association in 2015-2016 and as Chair of the Virginia State Bar Criminal Law Section in 2007-2008.