Car and Semi-Truck Accident Claims in South Carolina
According to state records, South Carolina experienced 84 fatal semi-truck accidents and more than 1,100 large truck injury crashes in a recent year. In these types of crashes, the occupants of the smaller vehicles often pay the greatest price, suffering from severe injuries and other personal and financial losses.
Semi-trucks are massive vehicles that can impart a great deal of force on others during a collision. Unlike a passenger car, which is a single piece of machinery, a semi-truck consists of a tractor, or heavy-duty towing engine, and a long semi-trailer, usually filled with cargo.
The semi-truck’s configuration is ideal for transporting freight, but makes the vehicle prone to devastating accidents. Braking too hard or turning too sharply, for example, can cause the tractor-trailer to jackknife or roll, crushing any vehicles in their wake. That’s why truck drivers must have specialized training and operate their rigs with great care.
If you’ve been hurt in a tractor-trailer accident in South Carolina, you can improve your chances of obtaining full and fair compensation with the help of the experienced truck accident attorneys at Stewart Law Offices. Our firm has been providing high-quality legal representation to South Carolinians for more than 30 years, helping them recover millions of dollars in compensation for their injuries.
We have the knowledge, compassion, and resources to assist in the most complex semi-truck accident cases. To learn more, call us today or visit our contact page for a free consultation.
What Happens After a Car vs. Truck Accident?
The period after a truck accident can be filled with confusion and stress. The most important priority is getting medical treatment for your injuries. Because truck accidents often result in serious injuries, this may mean being immediately transported to the hospital.
If you’re able, taking the following steps after a truck accident can protect your legal rights if you need to file an injury claim in the future:
- Contact law enforcement: A police accident report is an important piece of evidence that many insurance companies require to process an injury claim.
- Gather information: Make sure to get the contact and insurance information from every driver involved in the accident. If there were any witnesses, get their names and phone numbers, too.
- Collect evidence: Photos and video of the accident scene can be powerful pieces of evidence in a semi-truck accident claim. Medical records, bills, pay stubs, and witness statements can demonstrate what happened and the severity of your injuries.
- See your doctor: Always get examined by a doctor after a truck accident. Some very serious injuries may not show up right away.
- Contact a S.C. truck accident lawyer: Because truck accidents tend to cause long-term injuries, truck drivers and trucking companies are required to carry higher policy limits on their liability insurance than other drivers. Your truck accident injury claim may be worth more than you realize. A lawyer can tell you what a reasonable offer is in light of your injuries and other losses and help you negotiate for a fair settlement.
Most truck accident cases are settled out of court. If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair deal, your lawyer may advise you to file a lawsuit to get the at-fault party to pay up. Sometimes, though, the threat of a lawsuit may be enough to break a deadlocked negotiation. A truck accident attorney can help you prepare your case for trial should it become necessary.
Why Is It Important to Contact a Lawyer Immediately?
Why Are Truck Accidents So Different From Car Accidents?
A typical truck accident tends to cause more intense injuries than a typical car crash. This is largely due to the additional size and weight of semi-trucks compared to cars.
A passenger sedan weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. SUVs weigh around 5,000 to 6,000 pounds. By contrast, a semi-truck with a full trailer may weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. The additional weight, combined with the fact that trucks naturally sit higher off the road than cars, means that they hit with much more force when accidents occur. More force means greater injuries and a higher chance of someone in the car dying in the crash.
Another way in which truck accidents differ from car accidents is in their complexity. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be dealing with multiple insurance companies for the truck driver, their employer, and other liable parties. This means negotiating multiple settlements at the same time, which can get complicated in a hurry. Trucking companies also have considerable financial resources and are more willing to fight a claim than an individual might be.
There may also be multiple parties responsible for causing your accident. Let’s say you were hit by a truck driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel. The driver will certainly bear a large portion of responsibility for what happened, but their employer is also responsible for making sure that the driver followed federal guidelines governing rest breaks.
Furthermore, if a mechanical defect played a role in the accident — if the truck’s brakes didn’t function properly, for example — then you may also have a claim against the truck’s manufacturer and its insurance company.
To get the maximum compensation you deserve after a truck accident, you need to make sure all potentially liable parties are held accountable. Doing this by yourself can quickly become overwhelming, but hiring an experienced truck accident attorney will make the process much easier.
Determining Fault in a Semi-Truck Accident Case
In an accident involving two passenger cars, fault will typically rest on one or both vehicle drivers. But because multiple parties may be involved in a semi-truck accident, fault may be more difficult to determine. A meticulous investigation will need to be conducted to determine the various parties that might share liability in your accident. Your attorney may hire an accident reconstruction specialist to recreate the accident scene to identify what happened and who is to blame.
South Carolina uses a comparative negligence standard when it comes to liability in car and truck accident cases. This means that any compensation awarded in an insurance claim or lawsuit is divided according to the percentage of fault for each responsible party. The catch is that only those who bear less than 51 percent of the fault for the accident can receive any compensation.
Example: A judge finds that you bear 10 percent of the fault for causing the truck accident that injured you. Because you are found partially to blame, any compensation you are awarded will be reduced by 10 percent. If you had sought $100,000 in compensation, that amount would be reduced by 10 percent, or $10,000. You would then walk away with $90,000 in compensation.
Common Injuries After a Semi-Truck Accident
Unfortunately, the injuries stemming from truck accidents tend to be severe. Common injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Facial and other head injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries, such as damage to internal organs or muscle tissues
- Neck injuries, including whiplash
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Full or partial paralysis
- Deep cuts and bruises
How Stewart Law Offices Can Help You Win Your Truck Accident Case
For more than three decades, Stewart Law Offices has provided dedicated and compassionate representation to accident victims in South Carolina. If you or a loved one has been hurt, our truck accident lawyers are committed to helping you find the justice you deserve. We’ll fight relentlessly to help you secure the compensation you need to rebuild your life again.
Worried about whether you can hire a lawyer? Don’t be. Our law firm takes cases on a contingency-fee basis. You’ll pay no upfront expenses, and we only get paid if we win your case.
No matter how difficult or complex your truck accident case may be, the team at Stewart Law Offices is here to help you through it. Get a free case review today by calling our office or visiting our contact page.