Causes of Trucking Accidents in Virginia
Accidents involving commercial trucks and 18-wheelers occur with alarming frequency on Virginia roads and interstates. The results can be devastating to the people injured in commercial truck accidents. A wide range of contributing factors can cause these accidents.
If you have been injured in a commercial truck crash in Charlottesville, you need to speak with a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer about your rights and the next steps you should take to pursue a recovery.
Our Charlottesville truck accident attorneys at Kendall Law Firm have a track record of successfully recovering compensation for the victims of semi-truck crashes. That includes $2.375 million for a fourth-grader who suffered a closed head injury after his school bus was struck by a truck, $1.5 million for a young woman whose husband was killed in a head-on collision with a commercial truck, and $600,000 for a man who required surgery to repair multiple bone fractures.
Past results are not predictive of the outcome of future cases. But our results and our firm’s positive client reviews on Google, and A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau demonstrate the effort we put into seeking a positive outcome for each client we represent. Our team is headed by firm founder Attorney David Kendall, who has extensive experience handling injury cases. He is a native of Virginia and served our nation as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Marine Corps before entering private law practice
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Virginia, contact Kendall Law Firm for a free initial case review. We will discuss the details of the accident and explain your legal options for seeking financial compensation from those responsible for the injuries you have suffered. We have offices in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Staunton, and Woodstock to serve you no matter where you reside in the Commonwealth.
Leading Causes of Trucking Accidents
The most common causes of trucking accidents include:
A significant number of truck accidents result from human error committed by truck drivers. Common examples of errors committed by truck drivers include:
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Reckless driving
- Tailgating other vehicles
- Improper lane changes
- Distracted driving, including using a cell phone, adjusting the radio or navigation system, eating, drinking, or daydreaming
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Careless driving or violating traffic laws or rules, such as turning without signaling or failing to check blind spots
- Getting lost and going the wrong way on one-way streets
Truck driver errors may be caused by carelessness, rushing to meet a delivery deadline, or fatigue and lack of focus from too many hours behind the wheel. Truck driver errors also may be the product of the driver’s inexperience operating a commercial truck or even a certain type of commercial truck, such as a double-trailer truck, tanker truck, or dump truck.
Passenger Car Driver Errors
Of course, not all truck accidents are caused solely by truck drivers. Sometimes drivers of other vehicles bear some responsibility for a collision involving a commercial truck.
Common errors by passenger vehicle drivers that can lead to truck accidents include:
- Cutting off a truck – Trucks have much longer stopping distances than passenger vehicles. If a passenger vehicle in front cuts off a truck or slows down without warning, a truck may be unable to avoid a crash. A rear-end collision may occur because the truck driver cannot slow the large truck in time to avoid hitting another vehicle.
- Performing unsafe or illegal maneuvers on the road – Drivers of large commercial trucks have to plan ahead. Trucks cannot maneuver as easily as lighter-weight passenger vehicles. Consequently, truck drivers need to be able to predict the actions of drivers around them. That may be impossible when other drivers act in unsafe or illegal ways. If another driver makes an illegal maneuver, a truck driver may be unable to react in time to avoid a collision.
- Driving in a truck’s blind spot – Semi-trucks have large blind spots that can extend nearly the full length of the truck, into adjacent lanes, and several dozen feet in front of and behind the truck. Passenger vehicle drivers may not realize the size of a truck’s blind spots. Truck drivers do have a responsibility for keeping track of the vehicle around them and being sure adjacent lanes are clear before changing lanes. When a passenger vehicle lingers in a truck driver’s blind spot for too long, the trucker may lose track of the passenger vehicle and make a maneuver that leads to a collision.
Other common passenger vehicle driver errors include distracted driving/texting-while-driving and driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs or some dangerous drugs.
Loading or Cargo Error
Some truck accidents are caused by cargo loading errors. A truck’s cargo should be loaded in such a way as to maintain the truck’s balance. The weight should be properly distributed in the trailer or cargo area, with heavier items loaded towards the bottom. When heavier items are loaded on top or to one side of the cargo area, the risk of the driver losing control of the truck increases. Truck drivers may also have issues with properly controlling a vehicle if the truck is loaded beyond its hauling capacity. Overloading a truck may result in a breakdown due to mechanical failures of tires, brakes, or suspension.
Freight companies and truck drivers should ensure that their cargo is properly secured to prevent it from shifting while the truck is being driven. A sudden weight shift caused by cargo moving around the cargo hold or trailer may cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle.
Finally, some truck accidents may be caused by incidents involving hazardous cargo. For example, improperly loading flammable material may result in a fire or explosion.
Trucking companies may commit errors that result in a truck accident. Common examples of trucking company negligence include:
- Failing to conduct proper background checks on drivers. Examples include failure to ensure that drivers are properly licensed and certified to drive certain trucks or haul certain types of cargo. Failing to take drivers off the road who have unsafe driving records or a drunk driving conviction.
- Failing to train drivers to operate new types of commercial trucks.
- Failing to adequately supervise drivers, including reviewing their driver logs and conducting random alcohol and drug screens.
- Retaining drivers with a demonstrated inability to operate a commercial truck safely.
- Encouraging drivers to engage in unsafe or illegal behaviors, such as exceeding hours-of-service limits.
- Imposing unreasonable delivery schedules upon drivers can induce drivers to speed, exceed their hours-of-service limits, or rely on stimulant drugs to stay on the road for longer than they should to meet tight delivery schedules.
Trucks are complex pieces of machinery. When trucking companies defer the scheduled maintenance on an 18-wheeler, they may be leaving an unsafe vehicle on the road and be at fault in a truck accident.
Truck Maintenance Regulations
State and federal regulations require trucking companies to perform certain maintenance duties for the vehicles under their control. This includes regularly inspecting trucks and performing all necessary maintenance.
Many trucks flagged by inspectors and pulled out of service have maintenance issues. For example, tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks rely on air brake systems to stop safely. If a trucking company fails to perform routine adjustments to the air brakes, the company’s neglected maintenance can have serious consequences.
Truck drivers are also required to inspect their vehicles prior to getting on the road, and to report any maintenance issues they notice on their vehicle. They should not drive the vehicle if any of those issues would make the truck unsafe on the road. Trucking companies are required to keep copies of inspection reports.
When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to conduct required vehicle inspections, mechanical issues may be missed and go uncorrected, potentially leading to a mechanical failure.
Failure to adhere to truck maintenance regulations may result in truck drivers and trucking companies not noticing defective parts on their vehicles, such as the tires, brakes, steering assembly, or powertrain assembly. When neglect causes a serious truck accident, the trucking company or truck driver should be held accountable for the harm they cause.
Contact Our Charlottesville Truck Accident Attorneys
If you have been seriously injured in a Charlottesville truck accident, turn to Kendall Law Firm for help pursuing accountability and full compensation from those responsible for your injuries. We are ready to discuss your case with you in detail and help you make an informed decision about your future. We offer a free case review at absolutely no cost.
Call us at (866) 590-9773 on contact us online today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about how our Charlottesville truck accident attorneys can fight for your rights after you’ve been hurt in a truck accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company.