Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer Near You
Accidents involving tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles can be devastating, especially when they collide with smaller passenger vehicles. The truck accident attorneys of Stewart Law Offices help people who were hurt due to the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company in South Carolina and North Carolina.
When your health, finances, and livelihood are at stake, get the legal help you need to pursue compensation for your losses.
Tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks are significantly larger and heavier than standard passenger vehicles. Fully loaded trucks can weigh 80,000 or more if it is an oversize load. In contrast, the average passenger vehicle weighs about 4,000 pounds.
This dramatic difference in weight often means that occupants of the smaller vehicle are at risk of severe and possibly fatal injuries if a collision occurs with a large commercial vehicle. That’s why it is critical for truck drivers to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly at all times, and trucking companies should make sure to recruit, hire, and train drivers who take this responsibility seriously.
If you are hurt in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other heavy truck, you do not have to suffer alone. An experienced truck accident attorney can work to hold the parties responsible for your accident accountable and can help you seek the compensation you need to pay your medical bills, replace your lost wages, and cover other losses.
Don’t wait to get the help you need. Contact Stewart Law Offices by phone or online to schedule a free consultation today.
How a Lawyer Can Help After a Trucking Accident
It is a good idea to seek legal representation immediately if you have been hurt in a truck crash. Our attorney can conduct a thorough investigation right away to ensure that vital evidence is not lost or destroyed. Keep in mind that the insurance companies for the trucking companies will conduct their own investigations and will likely have adjusters and lawyers at the scene as soon as possible. They will be looking for ways to deny that the driver and trucking company were responsible for the crash and dodge liability for any injuries or deaths that resulted.
An experienced truck accident attorney knows what to look for following a crash and can collect evidence at the scene, as well as records from the trucking company and other essential information. They can consult with medical professionals and other witnesses to work toward building a convincing case on your behalf.
Ultimately, your choice of legal team matters greatly when it comes to a trucking accident case. There is so much on the line and the opposition will be working so hard to minimize your claim. Choose an attorney with the training, experience, and resources to pursue compensation on your behalf.
Why Are Semi Truck Accidents Different?
When people are hurt in accidents with a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle, they often mistakenly believe that the process of getting compensation will be the same as any other car accident. This is usually not the case. Truck accident claims are often quite different from passenger vehicle accident claims.
The following are some reasons why truck accident claims are different:
- Higher risk of severe injury – Occupants could suffer serious injuries if they are involved in an accident with a truck that is tens of thousands of pounds heavier than their vehicle. The risk of head, neck, and spine injuries, as well as broken bones and other serious harm, is significantly increased in collisions involving commercial trucks.
- Increased risk of death – Figures from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) show that 3,000 to 5,000 people die in commercial vehicle accidents each year. The sheer size and weight of these vehicles put occupants of smaller vehicles in danger of suffering catastrophic injuries.
- Significant property damage – It should surprise no one that the amount of damage a truck can cause is much greater than the damage caused by passenger vehicles. Passenger cars are frequently totaled in crashes with large trucks.
- Different regulations – Trucking companies are required to register with the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration. The trucking companies and their drivers are required to comply with more regulations than non-commercial drivers. This means that trucks must undergo routine maintenance and scheduled inspections. Drivers must have specialized training and licenses and must keep logbooks of their driving activity to show they’ve met hours of service and other rules. All of these regulations provide an opportunity for recovery if the driver or trucking company failed to follow the requirements in any way.
- Larger insurance policies – Trucking companies are required to carry large commercial insurance policies to provide adequate coverage in the event of a collision. These policies can be up to 50 times larger than the average personal insurance policy, primarily due to the amount of damage a semi-truck can inflict. Because these policies could be worth millions of dollars, the trucking company and insurance provider will do everything they can to avoid liability for an accident.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Truck Collision?
When individuals are injured or killed in a commercial truck accident, the driver and several other parties could be held responsible for the crash. The truck driver could be legally responsible for a crash if they were negligent or careless behind the wheel.
The trucking company could also be responsible for the accident if they were negligent in hiring, training, or monitoring the driver. Trucking companies are generally liable for the negligence of their employees. Some companies may argue that a driver was an independent contractor, not an employee. However, the evidence may prove otherwise. The trucking company will likely have a larger insurance policy to pay for injuries and damage that result from their employee’s actions.
Other parties that could share responsibility for the crash include:
- The company that owned the cargo being shipped
- The company responsible for maintenance and repairs to the carrier’s fleet of vehicles
- The manufacturer of defective truck equipment or parts
- Government agencies responsible for road maintenance or design
Because multiple parties could share liability for your injuries or the death of your loved one, it is critical to have an experienced truck accident attorney evaluate your case right away and discuss your legal options.
Evidence in Tractor Trailer Accident Claims
Proving fault after a truck accident can be challenging. It is vital to hire an attorney who can collect the evidence necessary to build a persuasive case on your behalf. Evidence that could help bolster your truck accident case includes:
- Damage to your vehicle – The visible signs of damage to your vehicle is often some of the most compelling evidence in any truck accident case.
- Driving logs – Truck drivers are required to keep a logbook of hours driven. It is a criminal offense to falsify a logbook and doing so could result in federal penalties, including six months in jail. The driver’s log could prove to be a vital piece of evidence in some cases, especially when driver fatigue is in question.
- Inspection reports – Commercial vehicles must be inspected to make sure that they are in safe operable condition. The trucking company could be considered negligent if the vehicle misses an inspection.
- Maintenance logs– Vehicles must undergo routine maintenance before making trips. If proper maintenance is not performed, the truck could be unfit for the road, and the company could be liable for accidents that occur.
- Cargo logs – The weight of the cargo and how it was loaded could be vital evidence in your case. Overweight trailers can cause serious problems with steering and braking and could be the cause of your crash.
- Electronic monitoring data – Data from the vehicle’s “black box” could show that the driver was speeding, failed to brake, or driving over the number of legally permitted driving hours. This information is automatically recorded and getting access to that information is valuable in many cases.
- Substance abuse test results – Trucking companies may have records of drug and alcohol tests administered to their drivers. If a driver was inebriated or had a history of failed tests, that evidence could be a factor in your claim.
- Other employer records – Records including background checks, hiring, training and discipline, and company policies could be crucial pieces of evidence for your injury claim.
Compensation for Losses in a Truck Wreck
Truck accident victims typically require emergency medical attention and may require long-term medical treatment. Medical bills can quickly pile up. If the victim is unable to return to work for a long period of time, the financial burden can become unbearable.
The law allows injured people to seek fair compensation from the party responsible for the crash. You could be owed compensation for:
- Medical expenses (both past and future)
- Lost wages (including past and future earnings)
- Repair or replacement of damaged property
- Rehabilitation and medical devices
- Non-economic damages like pain and suffering, disfigurement, emotional distress, and others
In both South Carolina and North Carolina, victims in injury accidents could be eligible to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. It is important to note that punitive damages (which are only awarded in cases involving gross negligence) in North Carolina are capped at either $250,000 or three times the amount of actual damages (whichever is greater).
How Long Do You Have to File a Truck Accident Claim?
The statute of limitations to file a truck accident claim varies from state-to-state. South Carolina Code of Laws 15-3-530 requires accident victims to file an injury claim within three years of the date of the accident. Any claims filed after that time will not be heard by the court unless a very narrow exception applies.
North Carolina also has a three-year statute of limitations for injury claims, as outlined by North Carolina General Statutes section 1-52.
Because truck accident claims require so much investigation, collection and preservation of evidence, and evaluation of the different parties’ actions, it is crucial that you hire an attorney as soon as possible to get started on your case. Your attorney can conduct a thorough investigation, negotiate with the insurance companies, and if a fair settlement is not offered, file a lawsuit within the state’s required time limit.
Common Causes of Truck Wrecks
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Speeding or reckless driving
- Distracted driving
- Driver error
- Drowsy driving
- Unbalanced loads
- Mechanical failure or parts defects
- Inadequate maintenance or lack of inspections
- Blind spots/ No-zone accidents
- Underride accidents
- Jackknife accidents
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Stewart Law Offices, LLC represents people across South Carolina and North Carolina who suffered catastrophic injuries in truck accidents. We know what you are going through and are here to help you seek compensation to pay your bills, support your family, and move on with your life.
Don’t let the reckless or negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company ruin your life. We’re ready to stand up for your rights.
Our consultations are always free. Call us, fill out a contact form, or chat with us live to schedule a case evaluation today.