Liability in Virginia Truck Accident Cases

Establishing liability for a passenger vehicle accident and a truck accident can be different because of federal regulation of the trucking industry. Due to the number of trucks using American highways and the danger of those trucks, the federal government maintains a list of strict regulations controlling everything from how long drivers can drive without rest to how much trucking companies can load into each trailer. These regulations are numerous and complicated, but contacting a Virginia truck accident lawyer who is familiar with these them can be the difference between mounting a successful or an unsuccessful injury case.

Trucking Liability

Federal regulations add another layer of responsibility to trucking companies. For example, just like in a standard car crash, how attentive the driver was and how well they were following traffic laws influences liability, but how well the brakes were maintained and how often they were inspected by the company also comes into play. Basically, in a standard car crash, there is usually one source of negligence: the driver. In a truck accident, however, there are numerous possible sources of negligence.

Federal Regulations Liability

In Virginia truck accident cases, any time the driver or company does not follow the federal trucking regulations, they may be found liable for negligence. There are too many examples to review in one web page, but your truck accident lawyer can parse these regulations and use them to establish liability in your case. The following are some of the most frequently violated federal regulations:

Driving Time

Driver fatigue is a major cause of accidents, so the number of hours drivers can work is heavily regulated. A driver can only work:

  • 14 hour shifts with at least ten hours off in between each shift
  • No more than 8 hours straight without a rest break
  • No more than 11 hours of driving during any one shift
  • No more than 60 hours over the course of 7 consecutive days

Failure to follow these regulations creates dangerous driving conditions for those around the truck.

Extreme or hazardous conditions

Drivers are required to drive more slowly under hazardous conditions. If it is truly dangerous to drive, they are expected to find a place to stop and wait for conditions to improve. In general, hazardous conditions are defined by anything that causes reduced visibility or traction, but a specific list of possible hazards include:

  • Ice
  • Sleet
  • Fog
  • Mist
  • Rain
  • Dust
  • Smoke

Under federal guidelines, drivers are supposed to slow down or even stop driving under these conditions. If they do not, and you are injured as a result, it is important that you contact a Virginia truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Truck Inspection and Maintenance

The trucking company and its employees are responsible for performing periodic maintenance on their trucks and for keeping a record of that maintenance. This section of regulations is a perfect example of why you should hire a lawyer to help you navigate your case, but some of the specific regulations include:

  • A company must ensure the vehicle passes inspection at least once a year
  • Drivers must fill out an inspection report (pdf) before they start driving
  • Inspectors must have at least one year experience in maintenance or inspection of motor vehicles

Call Today To Discuss Your Claim

No matter the circumstances of your injury, the experience of a Virginia truck accident lawyer can be key in holding accountable those who were responsible for a trucking crash. Consultations are free, so do not hesitate to call.