Truck Accident Attorney in Newport News
Truck Accident Attorneys in Newport News
From offices in Newport News, the law firm of Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C. has handled truck accident claims throughout the Tidewater region for over 30 years. Truck accident victims turn to us when they need knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury lawyers. We understand how difficult an injury can be. We’re prepared to fight to protect your legal interests in the complex aftermath of a truck accident.
It’s our goal to make sure that our clients get what they need: compassion, service, and compensation for their injuries. Contact Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C. today by phone or online to schedule a free consultation. We assist clients in Newport News and throughout the Tidewater region and beyond.
Newport News Truck Accident Attorney: Claim Investigations
Trucks can easily cause very serious injuries and even death. A medium or large truck is significantly heavier than a passenger car. When the two vehicles collide, injury almost always occurs – and the car’s occupants typically fare much worse.
Even in a low-speed accident, 18-wheelers, dump trucks, construction vehicles, and many other types of trucks can destroy a smaller car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in one recent year, over 4,000 people were killed in truck crashes, and an estimated 116,000 people were injured.
Truck drivers require special training and licensing to do their jobs. Trucks are powerful pieces of equipment traveling at highway speeds. Braking, steering, and crash avoidance require alertness and constant diligence. Trucks can also haul dangerous loads of cargo, including construction equipment, dangerous chemicals, and heavy materials like stone or cement. A truck on its own can be dangerous, but when it’s combined with a heavy load, it’s all too easy for a driver to make a mistake and leave others injured.
When we investigate a truck accident, we pull together everything that a claim needs. In a truck accident claim investigation we’ll look at many types of evidence, including the following:
- Electronic Data Recorders – Trucks these days almost always have an electronic data recorder (EDR). Similar to a “black box” on an airplane, an EDR gathers many kinds of data from the truck during its operation. They’re an important tool for finding out just what happened in an accident. An EDR can record diagnostic and error codes, information on the speed and location of the vehicle, throttle information, changes in an engine’s RPM, braking data, and nearly any other type of data a truck produces. An EDR may also generate an event report if the truck accelerates or brakes outside of normal usage parameters. Using this information, an EDR can generate important data about a truck accident. Experts will need to access the EDR and evaluate the information it has gathered. When we’re investigating a truck accident, we’ll work quickly to secure and evaluate the data your claim needs.
- Maintenance Records – Inadequate truck maintenance can lead to fatal results. Tires can blow out, leading to crashes. Brakes can fail when needed the most. Lights can burn out, reducing visibility to other vehicles on the road. Commercial truck drivers and companies are required to maintain their vehicles in accordance with state and federal laws. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have rules and regulations that describe how and when a truck should be maintained. They also have strict rules on the records that drivers and carriers need to keep about their maintenance. These records can tell investigators whether drivers and carriers maintained their trucks and kept them in safe, working order. If an accident happens, investigators can compare the results of the accident to the maintenance records. Discrepancies can show that the truck may not have been in proper working order at the time of the accident.
- Cell Phone Records – Everyone knows that a cell phone can pull a driver’s focus off the road. Truck drivers know this better than most. However, even with all the training and education in the world, some drivers think they can use their phone and operate heavy equipment at the same time. It’s just not true. Distracted driving can lead to injuries and death. In a truck accident, we’ll look at the cell phone records of the driver to understand whether they were distracted during the accident. Phone call logs, text message times, and a slew of other data from the phone can help establish whether the driver was distracted. A lawyer may need to subpoena a company for the records. When we get the information, we can provide careful review and analysis.
- Driver Logs – Driver fatigue causes accidents. Drivers and commercial carriers must keep activity logs to show compliance with federal rules about rest and breaks. Commercial truckers often work unusual hours, and now more often because of the trucker shortage. Sometimes they need to carry a load early in the morning. Other times, they’re expected to make a tight deadline and drive for longer than they should. These hours can drain a driver’s focus. Driver logs help detail how many hours a driver has worked and how many hours the driver has rested. These logs help investigators determine the driver’s mental state at the time of the accident. Rules and regulations carefully limit the number of hours that truckers can be on the road. This is done for public safety and the well-being of drivers. Drivers must keep accurate and honest records of their work time. However, some do not. Drivers may work extra hours and fail to record them. Drivers who work extra hours may be impaired, and this can lead to a greater chance of an accident. Investigators may find discrepancies between the records and statements by drivers and carriers. In any accident, investigators need to know the mental state of the driver and whether there has been unethical or illegal behavior.
- Expert Analysis – Accidents tell stories, and a claim may need an expert to understand the story being told. Modern technology is giving investigators more and more tools to find out what led to an accident. EDRs can provide technical data and important information on an accident. Driver logs can tell investigators about the driver and whether they were fit to drive. However, EDRs can be damaged, and other records can be falsified. In a truck accident, experts can provide analysis that helps to recreate the accident. Skid marks can tell an expert about when brakes engaged and how hard they were applied, as well as the speed of the truck. The location and impact of vehicles may show whether the truck driver attempted to avoid a collision or was distracted and never swerved. Often, investigators will combine expert analysis with EDR data and other records to create the clearest picture possible.
Newport News Truck Accident Liability
Truck accident claims are often more complex than crashes involving only personal vehicles. Often the stakes are higher, too, with more severe injuries and more insurance coverage on the line.
When a truck accident happens, it may not be just the driver at fault. The following is a rundown of possibly liable parties:
- The Truck Driver – The driver was handling the truck at the time of the accident. The investigation starts with them. Reasons that a driver could cause an accident include fatigue, distraction, drugs and alcohol, risky driving practices, and many others. It’s not enough to know that a driver is responsible for a crash. You need to know why. Our lawyers will work to determine why the driver made errors and how that may affect your compensation.
- Trucking Companies – Like any company, a trucking company may be liable for the actions of their employees in certain circumstances. If a driver was employed by a shipping company and acting within the scope of their duties, the company might be liable for an accident. Companies have legal obligations when they hire, train and monitor drivers. They’re also obligated to have appropriate safety policies and truck maintenance in place. If they fail to follow their legal duties, they may be liable.
- Cargo Owners and Cargo Loaders – Truckers have huge demands placed upon them, and sometimes it’s not their fault that an accident happens. They rely on others in the trucking process to do their jobs correctly as well. Loading cargo on a large truck can be tricky. Poor procedures and execution can lead to unsecured or unstable loads that pose a danger to everyone on the road when they unexpectedly Even if cargo is loaded correctly, the cargo container itself can be dangerous. Truckers often haul dangerous chemicals that can be flammable or corrosive. They rely upon container manufacturers and loaders to handle dangerous cargo with appropriate care when they’re attached to a truck.
- Truck and Parts Manufacturers – Trucks are heavy, industrial machines subjected to high stresses every day. Truckers and companies rely on manufacturers to live up to their promises of quality and reliability. Sometimes equipment fails, and so do those promises. A truck driver and a company can do everything correctly, but that may not matter if a key part gives way under stress. Brakes can fail, couplings can break, and safety equipment can fail to deploy. In a truck accident claim, it’s important to look beyond the driver and see who may truly be at fault.
Compensation for Injuries in a Newport News Truck Accident
A truck accident can lead to serious injuries. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident in a car, motorcycle, bicycle, or as a pedestrian, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries or for other consequences of the accident.
- Medical Bills – A truck accident can leave victims seriously injured. Traumatic brain injuries, internal injuries, disfigurement, and permanent disability are among the many possibilities. Some of these injuries may heal quickly. Others may require a lifetime of treatment. A truck accident claim can include compensation for medical bills at the time of the accident and compensation for future rehabilitation and treatment.
- Lost Income – A truck accident can put you out of work. You may be out for a week to recover, or you may be unable to work for the rest of your life. Victims of truck accidents may recover the wages they lose at the time of the accident and in the future.
- Property Damage and Rental Reimbursement – When a truck collides with a passenger car, a victim’s vehicle can be severely damaged or even totaled. Our lawyers will work with insurers and your claim to pursue the compensation and transportation you need. If you need to rent a vehicle while your car is being repaired or replaced, you may be able to get compensation for it.
- Pain and Suffering – A truck accident can cause emotional pain for years after the incident. Truck accidents are often traumatic events that can cause irreparable harm to you and your family. This pain and suffering can cause anxiety, depression, and host of other problems.
- Punitive Damages – In rare cases, when a responsible party’s behavior or negligence is particularly bad, a judge may order punitive damages. Punitive damages are additional damages designed to punish the responsible parties and deter others from acting that way.
How Long Do You Have to File a Truck Accident Claim in Newport News?
In Newport News, Virginia, there are strict rules on how much time you have to file a claim for damages. These are called “statutes of limitations”:
- Personal Injury: You have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim with a Newport News personal injury attorney.
- Property Damage: You have five years from the date of the accident to file a claim for property damages.
- Wrongful Death: If a loved one died in a truck accident, or later as a result of their injuries, a wrongful death claim be filed within two years of the death.
Some narrow exceptions may extend the time to file. If you wait too long to file a claim, you may lose your opportunity to recover compensation. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, don’t wait to get help. Contact Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C. today.
Our Truck Accident Lawyers in Newport News will Fight For You
Truck accidents are often tragic. Lives can be lost or changed forever. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it’s important to get the legal help you need now. We’ve dealt with many types of truck accidents. We know how to fight for your rights and the compensation you need.
Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C. has represented truck accident victims throughout the Newport News area. We pride ourselves on the knowledge and experience we’ve built while fighting for our clients. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, we’ll advocate for you.
You can reach us by filling out a contact form on our website or by calling us today. We’re ready to provide you with a free claim review and advice about your best options for pursuing compensation.