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Northern Virginia Truck Accident FAQ

How dangerous are truck accidents?
Motor vehicle accidents are among the leading causes of injury and death throughout the country, and anyone who is involved in a traffic collision is in serious danger. Truck accidents, however, are significantly more dangerous than other types of collisions. According to the most recent statistics from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, truck accidents account for only 3.6 percent of all traffic accidents statewide in 2011. This type of accident constituted 5 percent of injury crashes and 12 percent of traffic deaths in that same year. Someone who has the misfortune of being involved in a collision with an 18-wheeler is far more likely to be injured or killed than in any other type of accident.

How do I claim compensation for injuries suffered in a truck accident?
If the truck driver is at fault for causing your accident, you most likely have grounds to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim with the goal of recovering monetary damages. In most cases, this involves going up against the truck company and its insurance carrier. It is often possible to settle such cases out of court by negotiating an agreement for payment of the claim, but when this is not an option it is necessary to go to a full jury trial. You can take the first step by contacting a Northern Virginia personal injury attorney from Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. for a free case evaluation.

How is a truck accident claim different from a normal personal injury case?
Due to the dangers of driving a semi-truck, the driver and the trucking company are required to carry more insurance coverage than normal drivers. In some cases, another party may carry insurance on the load in the trailer. The truckers are also required to complete special training and to receive specialized licensing before they can get on the road. Furthermore, truck accidents often involve many vehicles, and it may be necessary to file claims against multiple insurance policies. These are only a few of the issues which are unique to trucking accident claims.

What are hours of service regulations?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted a set of rules that place rigid restrictions on the number of hours that a truck driver can stay behind the wheel at one time. These rules are known as the hours of service (HOS) regulations. Any truck driver whose vehicle weighs 10,001 pounds or more or carries hazardous materials is required to abide by the HOS regulations, and violations can result in penalties including steep fines and even time in federal prison.

How does the trucking industry regulate trucker fatigue?
Drivers who are subject to the HOS regulations are required to keep records to demonstrate their compliance. Unfortunately, all that is required is to maintain traditional paper log books. Increasing numbers of trucking companies, however, are making the shift to using electronic log books. An electronic onboard recorder works by automatically keeping track of the number of hours that the driver stays on the road and how long he or she stops to rest, thereby making it easier to compel truckers to follow the rules. The FMCSA has additionally proposed a new trucking regulation that would make electronic recorders mandatory.

How does a jackknife accident happen?
Jackknife accidents are perhaps the most violent and disastrous type of trucking accident, and they happen for a very simple reason. In most cases, the accident can be attributed to the fact that the trucker has hit the brake too hard. This sudden braking causes the trailer to swing around toward the front, pivoting on the hitch and sweeping other vehicles in its path. In some cases, a smaller automobile may be pinned between the trailer and the cab. Following vehicles may collide with the trailer as it sits across the road acting as a barrier to oncoming traffic. In such cases when the trucker is to blame, the accident victims have a right to pursue legal action for financial compensation.

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