Skip to content

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in Virginia

A semi-truck rolled over on the side of the highway with traffic cones set up besides the truck accident scene.

After a Semi-Truck Accident, Understanding the Causes of Tractor-Trailer Crashes Is Your First Step Toward Justice

Trucking accidents are often the most devastating and catastrophic of accidents on the road, and unfortunately, they are strikingly commonplace in Virginia. In 2019 alone, there were more than 4,922 crashes involving commercial vehicles in Virginia; of those accidents, 2,035 resulted in injuries. These troubling statistics raise the question: What are the common causes of truck accidents, and who is liable?

If you have questions about your semi accident or truck crash, our experienced truck accident attorneys in Richmond can help you determine if you have a case and, if so, how to seek justice and compensation. You can also understand the common causes and truck accident law in Virginia below.

Top Four Common Causes Of Trucking Accidents

Understanding the most common causes of truck crashes could help you avoid them in the future. If you’ve been involved in a semi-truck accident, it could help you understand who is liable and whether or not you might have a case against them.

The four most common causes of trucking accidents are:

    • Driver Fatigue

    • Defective Brakes

    • Overloaded Cargo

    • Driver Distraction

The reason for large truck accidents often answers the question of who pays for damages after an accident. If the truck driver, the company he works for, or anyone else involved is responsible for the accident and its injuries, they can be held accountable for the damages.

How Truck Driver Fatigue Causes Truck Accidents

According to one study by the National Transportation Safety Board, driver fatigue was a probable cause in 31 percent of commercial motor vehicle accidents.

In this day and age of rapid transport of goods and tight shipment deadlines, it is not uncommon for tractor-trailer drivers to work long hours on the highway. Trucking is a high-stress job, with trucking companies often setting unrealistic expectations around quotas and miles logged. Drivers are incentivized to spend as much time on the road as possible to earn bonuses.

Truck drivers are usually scheduled for 14-hour shifts, with 11 of those hours spent behind the wheel, and they’re on the road for weeks at a time. The result is that truck drivers are often extremely exhausted, especially at the beginning and end of shifts.

truck accident due to driver fatigue

How To Prove Negligence In A Truck Accident

When a trucking accident results in injury or death to innocent drivers of motor vehicles, it is incumbent on the lawyer of the victim to determine if the driver has violated the federal law governing maximum driving time.

The discovery checklist in large truck crashes should include a request for the time records and logs from the driver and the motor carrier and deposition questions about the driver’s activities in the time period from two weeks before the accident through the time of the accident. Such discovery will reveal that the driver indeed violated the maximum driving time limits in many instances.

If you or a loved one were in an accident with a commercial vehicle and truck driver fatigue is found to be a cause, that driver and his trucking company may be held accountable for the damages their negligence incurred. Our Virginia truck accident attorneys can help you determine if fatigue was a factor in your accident and if so, we can help you secure justice for your accident.

How Defective Brakes Cause Truck Accidents

According to one study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, almost 30 percent of crashes involving large trucks included brake-related problems, like brake failure or brakes that were out of alignment.

A large semi-truck or big rig weighs, on average, 80,000 pounds and is 80 feet long. When these tractor-trailers are moving at high speeds or even low speeds, it requires an advanced, well-maintained braking system to bring them to a stop, and even then, it can take the space of two football fields to do so.

Without a routine schedule of proper maintenance, tractor trailer brakes can fail without warning, which is why brake failure is one of the most common causes of trucking accidents.

An out-of-control truck can travel miles before its momentum slows to a stop, slamming into smaller passenger vehicles along the way and endangering the lives of countless motorists.

Determining Fault For Trucking Accidents Caused By Defective Breaks

If the brakes of the commercial vehicle were not maintained and inspected as mandated by federal law, then the party responsible for those inspections should be held accountable for the damages that resulted from the accident, both physical and emotional.

Proving that defective or poor maintenance of brakes was to blame in your accident can ensure and protect your interests and future, but doing so requires the help of experienced Virginia truck accident lawyers like those at Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci. The lawyer handling a tractor-trailer accident case in which defective brakes are suspected can obtain an immediate forensic inspection of the braking system.

truck accident due to overloaded cargo

How Overloaded Cargo Causes Truck Accidents

For a tractor-trailer to be safely operated, a long safety checklist must be met before each trip. Obvious safety procedures include checking tire pressure and the braking system, but one of the most important factors to consider—and one that truck drivers and trucking companies sometimes overlook—is how the vehicle is loaded.

Problems Resulting From An Overloaded Truck

When a commercial truck is overloaded or its load is improperly distributed, it can cause several serious problems and truck accidents while the vehicle is in transit. Some common consequences of an overloaded commercial vehicle include:

Trailer tipping over: The control and steering of a commercial truck is largely dependent on how the trailer behind the tractor is loaded. Carefully balancing the weight of cargo in the trailer allows for the safe operation of the entire vehicle. On the other hand, overloading the trailer will cause the trucker to have trouble steering their truck, but it will also increase the chances of the whole trailer tipping over, such as during a tight turn or strong winds.

Loose cargo in the road: An overloaded tractor-trailer may cause the cargo to become loose in transit or possibly knock open the trailer’s doors. This may result in random objects of freight spilling onto the highway behind the commercial truck. This debris can lead directly to accidents if other drivers collide with it. Or drivers on the road may need to swerve to avoid a collision with debris, causing even more accidents.

Extended braking distance: As noted above, large commercial vehicles require a considerable distance to come to a complete stop. However, the braking distance increases unpredictably when a tractor-trailer is overloaded due to the added weight. The result is a heightened chance of crashing into other vehicles in front of the tractor-trailer, especially in emergency braking situations.

large, truck, accident

Overloaded trucks also put even more pressure on the braking system, which could result in brake failure. Truckers should be able to correctly estimate braking distances to prevent rear-end collisions with any vehicles in front of them.

How Distracted Driving Can Cause a Truck Crash

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of truck collisions in Virginia. Distracted driving includes anything inside or outside a truck cab that takes the driver’s attention away from the task of driving, such as texting, eating, or talking on the phone. If a truck driver is distracted while driving, they are more likely to make mistakes that could lead to an accident.

How to Prove Negligence in a Distracted Driving Accident

If you have been involved in a trucking accident caused by a distracted driver, it is important to know how to prove negligence. To do this, you will need to gather evidence that shows that the other driver was not paying attention to the road. This can include eyewitness testimony, video footage from dash cameras or security cameras, and even text messages or phone records that show the other driver was using their phone at the time of the accident.

How Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci Can Help You

While the cause of your truck accident is important in determining the outcome of your case, at Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci, our truck accident attorneys recognize that this is far from the most important thing to you. What is most important is helping you receive the compensation and justice you deserve to build a brighter future after your accident.

Our Richmond truck accident attorneys offer our clients experienced and compassionate legal counsel. We examine the evidence surrounding your truck accident to pinpoint a cause and, therefore, liability to secure a maximum recovery on your behalf.

What Happens If a Loved One Was Killed in a Truck Accident?

When a truck collides with a passenger vehicle, it is not uncommon for the victim to suffer serious injuries. Unfortunately, in many cases, those injuries may result in death. In Virginia, family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one was killed in a truck accident.

Filing a wrongful death suit is similar to filing an injury lawsuit. The family member has to prove that the truck driver or company acted negligently in a way that led to the death of their loved one.

When you hire a lawyer with Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci, we will be able to help you investigate the accident and file a claim for compensation. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, and more.

truck accident scene on the highway

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer Today

Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci is renowned throughout Virginia for being a personal injury law firm that will not back down from any challenge. We accept only a few cases at a time so that we can offer our undivided attention to every case. This careful and intentional process of casework has been instrumental in our history of successful case results, including more than 150 verdicts and settlements amounting to $1 million or more, more than any other law office in Virginia, as reported by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. If you were hurt in a truck crash caused by an overloaded trailer, driver fatigue, defective brakes, or any other negligence on the part of the driver, his company, or the truck itself, let our award-winning team of attorneys know about it during an initial case review. We will let you know how we can help. Contact us today to get started.

What Our Clients Say:

"During an extremely emotional time you were understanding, caring, professional, and communicated clearly every step of the way."
Craig and Cassye M.
"Their trial experience is very impressive. They were willing to listen to us and asked probing questions for case preparation."
Deborah and David C.
"I always felt confident that my case was in the right hands."
Samantha P.
a woman writes on a paper tablet sitting alone at a large conference table

Contact Us Today to get your free evaluation

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.