North Carolina Truck Accident Attorney
Truck drivers and trucking companies have a responsibility to do everything they can to prevent collisions on North Carolina roads. When they fail to do so, the results can be catastrophic.
The massive size of a tractor-trailer compared to a passenger car means that the impact of a truck accident is often violent. The size difference also tends to be protective for truck drivers, leaving the occupants of the other smaller vehicles to suffer the worst of the injuries.
Truck accident victims often face long recovery periods, extended medical treatment and an uncertain prognosis. Mounting medical bills combined with missed wages can result in additional stress and financial hardships.
You’re not alone. Stewart Law Offices can help.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a North Carolina truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages. An experienced truck accident attorney can evaluate your claim and fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.
At Stewart Law Offices, we know what’s at stake. We know what it takes to go up against big insurance companies that try to downplay your injuries. We provide aggressive representation for our clients and fight for the compensation that you are owed.
Don’t wait to pursue the justice you deserve. Contact our North Carolina accident attorneys today to schedule a free consultation.
North Carolina Truck Accident Statistics
North Carolina ranks among the worst states in the country for deadly traffic accidents. The most recent data from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles shows that there were 14,531 truck accidents statewide in 2017. Of that number, 199 of those crashes were fatal and 3,084 resulted in injuries.
Nationwide, truck accident statistics are similarly disturbing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 4,761 truck accident deaths and 148,000 injuries during 2017. Both figures represent a steady increase from previous years.
Given these staggering statistics, it’s vital for all drivers to be cautious when sharing the road with commercial trucks — and to seek legal help immediately if they are involved in a crash.
Common Causes of North Carolina Truck Accidents
A trucker’s job and livelihood depend on his or her driving record, so most do everything they can to stay safe on the road. But some truck drivers face pressures that the average commuter does not. Employers may offer incentives for them to make early deliveries. Alternatively, they may penalize drivers for delivering late freight.
These unfair demands should not change the way they drive, but the sad reality is that truck drivers sometimes give in. When their poor choices cause an accident, they can — and should — be held accountable for their negligence. So should their employers.
Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Mechanical failures
- Aggressive driving
- Poor maintenance
- Improperly loaded or loose cargo
- Undertrained or unlicensed drivers
- Following too closely
- Failure to merge properly
- Failure to yield
Injuries Caused by Trucking Accidents in North Carolina
Crashes involving commercial trucks are more likely to be deadly than regular crashes. They can also cause particularly devastating injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries/paralysis
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Neck injuries
- Facial injuries
These catastrophic injuries typically mean that victims may face years of ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation, and permanent disability. Victims may need to pay for modifications to their homes to accommodate medical equipment like wheelchairs. The lifetime costs of truck accident injuries can easily reach into the millions.
Because the stakes are so high, working with a knowledgeable accident injury lawyer at Stewart Law Offices can help protect your rights to compensation.
Truck Accident Liability in North Carolina
Truck accidents are complicated because numerous different parties might be held liable at the same time. These include:
- Truck drivers
- Truck companies
- The truck or trailer’s owner(s)
- The cargo owner
- The truck manufacturer
- Parts manufacturers
- Government entities
- Other drivers (e.g., a multi-vehicle wreck)
Commercial truck operations are governed by both state and federal laws. These regulations are stricter than the rules for other drivers because trucks are simply more dangerous if operated negligently.
For example, trucking companies must comply with weight and load restrictions, submit to vehicle inspections, and carry mandatory minimum insurance to cover injuries and damages.
Additionally, truck drivers in North Carolina must:
- Be at least 18 if only driving in-state or 21 if driving out of state
- Have a commercial driver’s license with specific endorsements according to the class of vehicle
- Adhere to minimum rest requirements
- Work no more than a certain number of hours in a row
- Get biannual medical exams
- Submit to drug and alcohol testing
- Be charged with a DWI if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.04 or greater
Failure to follow these rules or others set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) could result in a lawsuit against the trucker if an accident occurs.
The truck driver’s employer could also be held liable in certain circumstances, including:
If the truck driver was partially at fault for the crash and was doing his/her job or “on the clock” at the time of the accident
If the employee was unfit to drive and the employer knew about it (e.g., if they were inadequately trained, lacked the appropriate license, or were on medication that could impair their driving)
If the company was negligent in their hiring or retention practices
If the employer failed to perform required background checks
Determining fault will be critical in order to recover compensation in your truck accident claim. These complex cases can be challenging and require a focused investigation. Our seasoned attorneys will work to identify who should be held liable and will demand compensation from all negligent parties.
How To Prove Fault In N.C. Truck Accident Cases
In order to receive compensation after a truck accident, you must be able to prove that someone else’s negligence resulted in your injuries.
If you’re not too injured, you can readily collect some important information while you’re at the accident scene. Examples include:
- Photos of the accident (including vehicle damage, skid marks, road signs or other pertinent evidence)
- The truck driver’s name, employer and insurance information
- Eyewitness contact information
Other important pieces of evidence will likely not be accessible to you. However, our experienced truck accident attorneys will also be able to obtain and preserve data from sources such as the truck’s computer, maintenance logs or driving logs. These may strengthen your liability argument by providing details about the crash, such as:
- How long the driver had been on the road and whether they exceeded federal hours-of-service regulations
- The truck’s speed at the time of the crash
- The truck’s route
- Maintenance issues
- Correspondence between the trucker and their employer
The attorneys at Stewart Law Offices will meticulously piece the evidence together to try to craft a legal claim that stands strong when challenged by insurance companies and outside attorneys.
What To Do After A N.C. Truck Accident
Truck accidents can be terrifying. You might feel helpless and overwhelmed in the aftermath of the wreck, but there are some important steps that you can take to protect your legal rights.
- Call 911. Since the accident might be severe, first responders will be needed to handle injuries and assess property damages. Police will make an official report of the accident that will be vital evidence if you file a claim or lawsuit.
- Get to a safe area. If possible, move your car to a safe area and turn on your hazard lights. This will help other cars see you and reduce the chance that you will be hit while dealing with the original crash.
- Document the scene. Take pictures of any damage to your car, the truck or other vehicles. Also take pictures of road markings, weather conditions, road hazards and traffic signs or signals. Write down witness accounts of the crash and get their names and contact information. Get as many details from the truck driver as possible, including his/her name, contact information, insurance information, and license number, as well as the name of the driver’s employer, the name of the truck owner, and if different, the name of the owner of the trailer. Ask the police for a copy of the official accident report.
- Watch your words: Don’t admit fault or tell other people on the scene your version of what happened, and don’t sign anything at the scene unless you’re required by the police. Trucking companies might quickly dispatch their insurance agents and lawyers to the scene to try to avoid paying damages and protect their reputation. They might try to get you to say something they can use against you or trick you into accepting a low settlement offer.
- Get medical attention: If you didn’t get medical attention at the scene of the crash, visit a doctor as soon as possible to have them evaluate and treat your injuries. Not all injuries are obvious, and a medical professional can detect these injuries before they get worse. Medical records are also a critical piece of evidence if you file an insurance claim or lawsuit. Without these official records, you might not be able to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
- Report the accident: Most insurance policies require that you tell them about any accident within a reasonable amount of time to claim benefits.
- Contact Stewart Law Offices: Truck accidents are complicated because of their severity and the number of different parties that might be liable. It’s difficult and frustrating to sort through all these details on your own, especially while you’re trying to recover from the trauma of the crash. An experienced truck accident attorney can help ease this burden by sorting through the mess on your behalf and fighting for your rights.
North Carolina Truck Accident Settlements
Considering how severe truck accidents can be, settlements and trial verdicts have the potential to be substantial. These awards provide compensation that can be critical to helping you recover from the crash. In North Carolina, you may be compensated for:
- Past, current and future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma, such as the loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost companionship
- Punitive damages
- Wrongful death compensation
The best way to know what types of damages you may be entitled to is by contacting a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
N.C. Truck Accident Lawsuit Process
The first step in a truck accident case is to file a claim against the at-fault party(s). If they refuse to agree to a reasonable settlement, then you may need to file a lawsuit to get fair compensation. Because truck accident lawsuits are so complicated, people usually hire an accomplished attorney to handle these cases.
At Stewart Law Offices, we’ll take care of all aspects of the lawsuit process for you. We’ll file the suit with the court, negotiate a trial date, gather all necessary evidence to properly fight for you and help ensure that all required forms are submitted on time. Our goal is to make the legal process as successful and stress-free as possible for you.
When To Call A North Carolina Truck Accident Attorney
If you’ve been struck by a semi-trailer, you should call a truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash. Truck companies move quickly to protect themselves after an accident. You’ll want a lawyer on the case immediately to prevent valuable evidence from being lost or destroyed.
Have You Or Someone You Love Been Injured? Contact Us Today
At Stewart Law Offices,our lawyers are dedicated to helping you get on the road to recovery. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in the Carolinas, we’ll stand by your side and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Arrange a free consultation today by calling (866) 465-7851 or filling out an online contact form.