Tractor-trailers are commercial-class vehicles. They are subject to strict state and federal regulations, as are the drivers who operate them.
Trucking companies and the truckers they employ are often under intense pressure to get deliveries to their destinations on time. Matters become complicated when drivers have been overworked. Federal law strictly limits the number of hours a driver can work without a break in a given period. These rules are often broken, leading to tragic crashes caused by driver fatigue.
Issues with drivers are the main factor in most tractor-trailer accidents. However, the actual condition of the commercial truck is an even larger issue in some cases. Most tractor-trailer crashes are extremely complicated and the consequences are particularly severe – especially for the occupants of a smaller motor vehicle involved in the crash.
Did you suffer serious injuries or was your loved one killed in a tractor-trailer accident in the Rock Hill area? Do not think that you are on your own in trying to recover compensation for your injuries.
Stewart Law Offices, LLC has an office in Rock Hill, South Carolina. We’re here to help those in our community who have been hurt in tractor-trailer accidents get the justice they are owed. Call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable member of our team.
Types and Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents in Rock Hill, South Carolina
Some of the most frequent kinds of tractor-trailer crashes include:
- Intersection accidents
- Blocking accidents
- Rollover accidents
- Wide-turning accidents
- Head-on collisions
- T-bone collisions
- Rear-end collisions
- Override accidents
- Underride accidents
- Overloaded vehicles
- Jackknife accidents
The type of collision may indicate certain causes, but the actual cause of a tractor-trailer accident can sometimes be difficult to determine. Even cases in which a driver clearly appeared to be at fault can have other contributing causes.
Some of the causes that play a role in truck accident claims include
- Inadequate driver training
- Inclement weather
- Inclement weather
- Unsecured loads
- Overloaded trailers
- Defective parts
- Failure to maintain vehicle
- Brake failure
- Driver fatigue
Some cases may involve multiple causes. In such cases, multiple parties could be liable. One party may attempt to dodge liability by assigning more blame to another negligent party. An attorney can work to ensure that all are held accountable.
Truck Crash Statistics
The Traffic Collision Fact Book from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported that there were 76 fatalities resulting from collisions involving truck tractors and 30 involving other trucks in one recent year. According to the Fact Book, truck tractors were involved in 1,179 injury collisions and 3,874 property damage only (PDO) collisions, while other trucks were involved in 541 injury collisions and 1,894 PDO collisions.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Data Loss Institute (IIHS HDLI), 3,986 people were killed in large truck crashes nationwide in a single recent year, including 2,642 passenger vehicle occupants, 660 large tuck occupants, and 637 motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. IIHS HDLI reported that 1,277 deaths occurred on interstates and freeways, 2,373 occurred on other major roads, 281 occurred on minor roads, and 55 were unknown.
Differences Between Passenger Vehicle Accidents and Tractor-Trailer Accidents
People should never assume that a commercial truck accident is the same as any other accident. These crashes often involve unique elements, and some of these factors directly impact your possible recovery.
For example, multiple parties could be liable for your injuries in crash involving a tractor-trailer or other heavy truck. You may have claims against more than one party.
While truck drivers are often at fault for tractor-trailer crashes, they typically do not have the insurance coverage and personal wealth or assets that give them the ability to pay a tractor-trailer crash judgment.
Fortunately, several other parties involved with a commercial truck could bear liability in some case. Other possible defendants could include:
- Trucking company that employed the driver
- Maintenance company
- Shipping agency
- Cargo loading company
- Governmental entity
- Truck part manufacturer
- Another motorist
- Truck owner
The biggest difference between tractor-trailer accidents and traditional car crashes is simply the nature of the injuries that victims suffer. In most cases, commercial truck accidents result in injuries that leave victims permanently affected. This means that the potential damages are higher. When high-limit commercial insurance policies are in play, the stakes can also be much higher. You can count on insurance companies and defendants to hotly contest claims with so much money on the line.
Steps to Take After a Tractor-Trailer Accident in Rock Hill
The first thing that you should do after a commercial truck crash is get medical attention. Always visit a hospital, urgent care center or other medical provider for a thorough examination, even if you do not think at first that you were hurt. People who experience symptoms later often regret not acting sooner.
Make sure that you contact authorities. A police report will be valuable later, and the officer may also issue a citation to a negligent truck driver that could also be helpful to your case.
Use your cell phone or an actual camera to take pictures of the crash scene. Try to get pictures of the vehicles and people involved, as well as any other circumstances that you think contributed to or were important to the accident.
When there are witnesses to your accident, try to see if they will provide their names and phone numbers. These eyewitnesses may be able to offer a very valuable independent perspective.
Some trucking companies or their insurers will send representatives to the scenes of accidents to speak with victims and conduct an immediate investigation. These agents may ask you to sign paperwork, but you should refuse to sign anything until you can have it reviewed by an attorney.
Do not wait to contact a lawyer. You will want to commence an investigation as soon as possible, and you will also want an attorney to handle any phone calls you receive from insurance companies.
Building a Case for Compensation for Losses in a Rock Hill Truck Crash
Stewart Law Offices, LLC is prepared to conduct that independent investigation as soon as you contact us. We will not wait to get started on your case, and we will act quickly to collect all of the evidence relating to your case so we can help you purse all of the compensation you are entitled to. Certain records, such as hours of service and driver logs, can be very important to your case.
If a tractor-trailer accident results in a lawsuit, the victim will have to prove the four elements of a negligence claim by a preponderance of the evidence:
- Duty of Care — The defendant had a duty to a victim to behave in a safe and lawful manner.
- Breach of Duty — The defendant breached that duty of care by not behaving in a safe and lawful manner.
- Causation — The defendant’s breach of duty caused the victim’s injuries.
- Damages — The victim’s injuries resulted in damages.
When a case goes to trial and the victim is successful, the victim could be awarded compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are usually a combination of economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are tangible costs that can be more easily calculated, while noneconomic damages are more subjective. Common kinds of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Property damage
Noneconomic damages often include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
In a rare number of cases, punitive damages (also referred to as exemplary damages) can also be awarded. Punitive damages are usually limited to cases in which the court wants to punish a defendant for especially egregious misconduct.
How Our Law Firm Can Help After a Tractor-Trailer Accident
Stewart Law Offices, LLC is prepared to work closely with you throughout our handling of your case. You will always have your phone calls answered and you will get answers to all of your questions.
If you sustained severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a tractor-trailer crash in Rock Hill or a surrounding area of South Carolina, you need to get legal help as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to understand all of the unique intricacies of your case and work to help you seek the most desirable resolution possible.
Stewart Law Offices, LLC has been helping clients all over South Carolina for more than 20 years. You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call us or contact us online to set up a free consultation.