Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

A Virginia truck accident lawyer helps victims of trucking accidents pursue compensation from those responsible for their injuries. Often, these types of accidents are fatal, leading surviving family members to bring a wrongful death claim in order to protect their family’s financial future.

If you or a loved one is a victim of an accident involving a tractor-trailer or other large truck, get effective legal representation from a qualified Virginia truck accident attorney. To learn about the causes of truck accidents in NoVa click here:

Truck Accident Factors

Commercial trucking accidents can result from driver distraction, driver fatigue, improperly secured load, excessive speed, careless or reckless driving, and driver intoxication. If truckers do not practice safe driving, or if companies institute policies that jeopardize roadway safety, they may be held legally responsible for any damages that occur as a result of their negligence or carelessness.

Virginia attorneys have also provided answers to frequently asked questions about truck accidents that provide general information about these types of accidents and the corresponding injury claim processes. However, every case is different, and a Virginia truck accident lawyer is best suited to evaluate someone’s unique situation.

Types of Trucking Accidents in Virginia

Generally speaking, the type of truck accident a person can be involved in is determined by the particular type of driver error or mechanical issue that caused the accident. For example, truck accidents can be caused by driver fatigue, improper training, or even impairment due to controlled substances. On the other hand, there are also jackknife accidents, squeeze play accidents, rollover accidents, tire blowout accidents, and more.

NoVa truck accident attorneys have also provided answers to frequently asked questions about truck accidents that provide general information about these types of accidents and the injury claim processes that follow. Pages are also available on the following specific types of truck accidents:

One of the most commonly cited grounds for civil litigation following Virginia truck accidents is a violation of either a federal or state-level trucking law. A number of different regulations apply specifically to truck drivers and trucking companies that operate in the state of Virginia,  and failing to adhere to any one of them could confer civil liability onto a trucker or their employer if it directly results in a crash. A qualified Virginia truck accident attorney could go into all regulations that might apply to a particular truck accident case in greater detail during a private consultation.

Most federal trucking laws—many of which are codified in Title 49, Parts 350-399 of the Code of Federal Regulations—address things like recordkeeping requirements, mandates for establishing operating authority in different states, and other procedural matters that generally do not play into civil truck accident claims. However, there are some federal regulations that may bear significance to a civil claim, as their violation often dramatically increases the chances of an accident occurring.

For example, according to 23 Code of Federal Regulations §658.17, it is a violation of federal law for any kind of vehicle to have a gross weight greater than 80,000 pounds, for any individual axle to bear a gross weight of more than 20,000 pounds, or for tandem axles to bear more than 34,000 pounds of gross weight. Overloaded trucks are much harder for even well-trained operators to start, stop, and steer, and a shifting or imbalanced load during transit could spell disaster if it causes a trucker to lose control of their vehicle.

Additionally, 49 CFR §395 establishes numerous restrictions on how long commercial truckers can spend on the road in a given span of time. Under current federal law, truckers cannot drive for more than 11 total hours or remain on duty for more than 14 hours after a period of 10 off-duty hours, with minor exceptions granted under adverse driving conditions, and they must take a break of at least 30 minutes when or before they drive for eight consecutive hours. Furthermore, truckers cannot drive for more than 60 total hours within a seven-day period or 70 total hours within an eight-day period, and they can only restart such a period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off.

Finally, and often most importantly, commercial truck drivers are subject to significantly harsher standards with regard to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Trucking companies have a legal obligation to perform drug and alcohol screenings as well as background checks prior to employing any driver, and they must continue to perform random screenings without notice during any driver’s period of employment.

How Does Virginia Regulate Commercial Trucking?

The Virginia Department of Public Safety has directly adopted several parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations without making any changes to the rules set out under federal law. For example, Virginia has adopted 49 CFR §§395 and 396 — respectively regarding maximum hours of service for truck drivers and inspection/maintenance requirements — in their entirety, with only one small exception related to intrastate transportation of farming supplies. However, there are also several federal regulations that the State has adopted with slight alterations, as well as a few rules that are unique to commercial drivers in Virginia.

Truck Size

The same truck weight limits set by federal law are also established under state law in Code of Virginia §§46.2-1122-1138.2, along with a few more specific regulations for trucks with different numbers of axles. Additionally, Code of Virginia §46.2-1105 sets a maximum width limit of 102 inches—or eight and a half feet—for all vehicles traveling on interstate and designated highways, Code of Virginia §46.2-1110 sets a maximum height limits of 13.5 feet, and Code of Virginia §46.2-1112 establishes the following limits with regard to vehicle length:

  • 40 feet for an individual motor vehicle—in other words, a truck cab without a trailer
  • 48 feet for an individual loaded trailer under most circumstances
  • 53 feet for an individual loaded trailer, provided that there is 41 feet or less of distance between the semitrailer’s kingpin and either the rearmost axle or the midpoint of the rear tandem axles
  • 5 feet for each individual loaded trailer in a twin-trailer configuration

Slightly different width, height, and length limitations apply to trucks transporting automobiles, boats, and manufactured homes, as well as trucks operating on non-interstate and non-designated highways. Various civil penalties and processing fees may be assessed against trucking companies that violate these regulations—in addition, of course, to potential civil liability in the event of an accident.

Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs)

Anyone who intends to commercially operate a tractor-trailer, truck and trailer combination, or any other vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds must first obtain a Class A commercial driver’s license. Any violation of a state-level traffic law—for example, speeding, running a red light, or driving while intoxicated—may result in a CDL suspension for anywhere from a week to several months, or permanent revocation after repeated or especially serious violations.

For the most part, Virginia has adopted 49 CFR §391 in its entirety with regard to minimum qualifications to acquire a CDL, with a couple exceptions. Notably, the federal minimum age to hold an interstate CDL is 21, whereas the minimum age to hold an intrastate CDL in Virginia is 18.

Speed Limits

With the exception of designated highways with commercial speed limits of 65 miles per hour, the maximum speed limit for commercial trucks on Virginia interstate highways, limited access highways, and non-limited access highways with four or more lanes is 55 miles per hour. Non-limited access highways with less than four lanes have effective speed limits of 45 miles per hour for commercial truck drivers.

Furthermore, truck drivers cannot exceed 35 miles per hour on highways designated as rural rustic roads, or 25 miles per hour in school, business, or residential zones. Any truck accident that occurs while a truck driver was violating any of these speed limits could serve as solid grounds for a personal injury claim.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Like most other states, Virginia law establishes harsher DUI standards for commercial truck drivers than it does for other types of drivers. While the normal standard for impaired driving in Virginia is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, commercial truck drivers may be charged with DUI if they operate a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 or higher, or if they test positive for drugs while driving such a vehicle or refuse to submit to a blood test. In addition to a maximum $2,500 fine and one-year jail sentence, even a first offense will result in a minimum one-year suspension of a convicted trucker’s CDL under federal law.

What is the Impact of Contributory Negligence on Trucking Accident Claims in Virginia?

Assuming a civil plaintiff can prove that a truck driver, trucking company, or other party is liable for their injuries, they may be able to seek compensation through a comprehensive settlement demand or civil claim for various damages, including but not limited to:

  • Medical expenses
  • Past and future wage loss
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life stemming from a permanent disability or disfigurement

However, Virginia truck accident claims are subject to a particularly harsh legal roadblock that could completely prevent any civil recovery whatsoever if not accounted for.

Virginia is one of only five states and territories that still adheres to a pure contributory negligence system, under which any percentage of fault attributed to a plaintiff completely disqualifies them from civil recovery. In other words, even if a negligent truck driver or trucking company is 99 percent at fault for a truck crash in Virginia, a finding of one percent liability for the plaintiff filing suit would likely mean the end of any hopes of civil recovery. Accordingly, it is especially crucial to work with a skilled lawyer when litigating truck accident claims in Virginia, as contesting allegations of contributory fault will be an essential component of virtually every case.

What if a Truck Wreck Causes a Wrongful Death?

If a truck accident that results from another party’s negligence causes a non-negligent individual’s premature death, Code of Virginia §8.01-50 defines the incident as a “wrongful death” and designates it as valid cause for civil litigation. However, wrongful death truck accident claims work a little different than other types of civil cases—primarily out of necessity, since the party who would normally have grounds to file suit lost their life as a result of the incident.

Per the same statute noted above, only the personal representative of a deceased accident victim’s estate can bring forward a wrongful death lawsuit on that decedent’s behalf. This representative is typically someone named as either estate executor or administrator in the decedent’s will, but a civil court may alternatively appoint someone to fill this role if the decedent did not name such a party in their will or did not have a will to begin with.

Under Code of Virginia §8.01-52, plaintiffs in wrongful death claims are eligible to seek restitution for economic damages like medical expenses for care provided prior to the decedent’s death, funeral and burial/cremation expenses, and loss of income and/or financial support from the decedent, as well as non-economic damages like loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and mental anguish for surviving family members. Punitive damages may also be available in situations involving wanton negligence or willfully malicious actions by the defendant.

What is the Filing Deadline for NoVa Truck Accident Claims?

Per Code of Virginia §8.01-243(A), the filing deadline for truck accident cases in Virginia is two years after either the date the accident occurred or the date on which the prospective plaintiff discovered—or reasonably should have become aware—of their injuries. This deadline is extended to five years for claims regarding damage to property under Code of Virginia §8.01-243(B), and Code of Virginia §8.01-244 sets a similar two-year deadline following a decedent’s date of death for action to be taken on a truck accident claim.

With relatively few exceptions, anyone who fails to get their case started within the applicable statutory filing deadline will be time-barred from recovering compensation, regardless of who was at fault for their injuries or how severe those injuries were. Ensuring compliance with this deadline is yet another of many reasons why working with a seasoned Virginia trucking accident lawyer is often critical to achieving a successful case outcome.

Benefits of Working with a Lawyer

Large trucks account for a number of deadly collisions. The size of these vehicles accompanied by the weight of their freight can cause tremendous, devastating impact. Injuries sustained in a trucking accident are often severe, if not fatal, and can include head injury, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis, disfigurement, and loss of limb. Crash victims may be subject to years of medical care and rehabilitation for physical injuries and emotional trauma.

An attorney can help you hold accountable those whose actions contributed to someone’s accident and injuries. Through successful litigation, you may be able to receive financial compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation, and therapy, lost wages, lost or reduced earning potential, pain and suffering, and more. A Virginia truck accident lawyer has the knowledge and experience to uncover those who may be held liable and with the foresight to fight for the compensation you need now and in the future.

Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney Today

The personal injury law practice group is staffed by a team of experienced accident attorneys who are ready to help you bring your case against the trucking company responsible for your injuries or loss. Experienced attorneys have the knowledge and resources to combat insurance companies and commercial trucking companies who may be holding back on the compensation you need and deserve.

When you retain a Virginia truck accident lawyer, you can count on your truck accident lawyers to aggressively fight for your much needed financial compensation.