Truck and Tractor Trailer Accidents


Rules of the Road for Truckers

Large trucks and tractor trailers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). The FMCSR requires truckers to obey specific safety regulations designed to prevent accidents and to protect you from serious personal injury.

The Fredericksburg Tractor Trailer Accident

Derrick is a long haul tractor trailer driver. His trucking company demanded that a delivery be made on time despite heavy traffic conditions. As a result, Derrick drove for 20 consecutive hours, falling asleep at the wheel, causing a fatal Fredericksburg tractor trailer accident.

Trucking companies that put profits ahead of safety often violate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, causing tractor trailer accidents with devastating results. The most common violations we have seen are “hours of service” violations (FMSCR 395) and “driver fatigue" violations (FMSCR 392.3).

A fatigued driver, like Derrick, is an unsafe driver. Driving a tractor trailer with one’s eyes closed is just as bad as driving drunk. A truck driver “asleep at the wheel” is a danger to everyone lawfully using highways.

Violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations -- the truckers’ rules of the road - are a frequent cause of truck and tractor trailer accidents resulting in serious personal injuries and wrongful death. These violations include:

  • driving at excessive speeds that kill
  • driving with an unsecured load
  • driving in unsafe weather conditions
  • driving too closely to your car
  • driving with defective brakes and equipment
  • making an unsafe lane change
  • failing to properly inspect the vehicle
  • distracted driving -- cell phone or texting
  • asleep at the wheel

Devastating Personal Injuries and Death

Truck accidents, like the Fredericksburg truck and tractor trailer accident, are not fender benders. They routinely cause devastating accidents due to their large size and fast highway speeds, resulting in:

  • death
  • traumatic brain injury
  • fractures
  • spinal injuries

Punitive Damages Against Tractor Trailer Drivers

The Virginia Supreme Court held that a tractor trailer driver, who knowingly violated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, acted with conscious disregard for other motorists’ safety. The Court held that a tractor trailer driver was liable for punitive damages payable to a motorist who was injured when the motorist struck the rear of the stalled tractor trailer on a dark night in the travel lane of I-95 in Prince William County, Virginia.

In Alfonso v. Robinson , 257 Va. 540, 514 S.E.2d 615 (1999), the tractor trailer driver failed to place flares or reflective triangles behind his stalled truck to warn drivers that the tractor trailer was stalled in a travel lane. A key fact in the decision was the truck driver’s knowledge from training classes and his awareness of federal regulations requiring him to place flares or reflective triangles to protect other drivers from injury. Failure to do so showed the truck driver’s conscious disregard for the safety of other motorists allowing the jury to award punitive damages against him.

Punitive damages set an example, punish the wrongdoer, and deter others from similar, future unsafe conduct. To learn more about punitive damages, click “punitive damage cases” and “punitive damages against drunk drivers.


Alexandria and Fredericksburg tractor trailer accident lawyer Gerald Schwartz has 30 years experience representing people hurt in truck and tractor-trailer accidents on I-95, I-81, I-495 in Alexandria, and all over Virginia. Gerald Schwartz is one of the “Top 100 Trial lawyers” in Virginia. In addition, he was seminar chairman of the two-day Virginia Trial Lawyers Association’s “Tractor Trailer Accident Retreat,” teaching other tractor-trailer lawyers how to better handle tractor trailer accident cases.


If you were seriously injured or a loved one has been killed in a truck or tractor trailer accident, call Gerald Schwartz at 1-800-423-0055 to learn you rights.