For the best shot at recovering the compensation you deserve after a serious accident, you need to be armed with the right information. While it may not seem relevant at first, it's important to work with an attorney who can discover what specific type of truck was involved in the collision. That particular detail may have a big impact on how you pursue financial recovery through an insurance settlement or personal injury lawsuit.

Commercial Truck Designation in Virginia

Commercial trucks on any given Virginia highway are known by a wide range of names like semis, tractor-trailers, big-rigs, 18-wheelers, dump trucks, auto haulers, and so on. Depending on the type of vehicle used to haul loads, a truck driver may require a special commercial license and even have to undergo periodic testing for drug or Semi-Truck Going Down the Road | Virginia Truck Accident Lawyeralcohol abuse.

Certain types of commercial truck drivers are also required to check off a significant list of safety procedures, both before and during the journey. Those procedures can include steps like inspecting tires and checking for engine problems that could result in a wreck. Unfortunately, not all drivers take those responsibilities as seriously as others. Failing to take those critical safety steps puts everyone on the road in danger and may make the driver liable for your damages if you were hurt in a wreck.

While cargo trucks come in many different shapes and sizes and can carry a wide range of materials, a vehicle is legally considered a "commercial" truck under any of these specific circumstances:

  • Any vehicle that is transporting cargo covered by the federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. These vehicles typically have a placard indicating some sort of dangerous material is currently onboard.
  • Carries a total of 16 or more people (including the driver in that number).
  • Gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds, without the added weight of towing unit.
  • Gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds with a towing unit that is at least 10,000 pounds.

Why You Need to Know What Kind of Truck Hit You

Knowing whether the vehicle is designated as a commercial truck or not is a crucial first step for your attorney to thoroughly investigate the root cause of the collision. The specific at-fault party who is liable for your damages isn't always the person you first suspect and can vary depending on the information found during that investigation.

While the wreck might have occurred because of drowsy driving after a logbook violation, some crashes involving commercial trucks may not have been caused by the driver at all. For instance, there are situations when commercial trucking companies use a third-party loading crew that didn't even distribute the weight, allowing unbalanced cargo to shift and topple the trailer during a trip.

In other cases, fault may potentially lie with the trucking company itself for improper hiring, training, and disciplinary practices, or if needed repairs reported by the driver were never actually fixed. After the type of vehicle is determined and the at-fault party is properly identified, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you pursue compensation for:

  • Damage to your vehicle caused by the wreck
  • Lost income during your recovery and lost future earning potential in cases where your injury prevents you from working
  • Medical bills for hospital services, prescription medications, surgeries, and physical therapy
  • Non-economic damages covering the accident's emotional and mental impact on your life

Talk to an Attorney Who Understands Commercial Truck Lawsuits

If a commercial truck crash seriously hurt you or someone close to you, you need to speak with an attorney. The sooner you talk to a legal professional, the better chance you have at avoiding problems with Virginia's statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits.


Kevin W. Mottley
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Richmond, VA trial lawyer dedicated to handling brain injuries, car accidents and other serious injury claims