Truck Accident Investigation in South Carolina
All motor vehicle accidents require investigation. While each case varies in complexity, truck accidents are among the most difficult to unravel. The injuries are usually more serious, the insurance policies involved are usually much larger, federal regulations come into play, and multiple parties may be liable.
Given all of these factors, it’s crucial to ensure that a truck accident investigation is meticulous and thorough. It takes substantial evidence to support a truck accident claim and recover full and fair compensation. If you’ve been injured in a commercial vehicle crash in South Carolina, a knowledgeable truck accident attorney will know what evidence is needed to prove your case.
The best way to move forward during this difficult time is by hiring a skilled attorney with experience handling S.C. truck accident claims. Stewart Law Offices can help. For more than 30 years, our team of accomplished injury lawyers have fought for justice for accident victims throughout the Carolinas.
To learn more about how we can help your South Carolina truck accident case, call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in South Carolina
Like any accidents, collisions involving large commercial trucks can be caused by one or more of a variety of contributing factors. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents in South Carolina include:
- Driving under the influence: Truck drivers operating under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or even certain prescription or over-the-counter drugs can become drowsy, erratic, or even hostile behind the wheel.
- Distracted driving: When truck drivers are texting, talking on the phone, eating or drinking, or even adjusting work-related instruments such as GPS devices, they may become too distracted to drive safely.
- Aggressive driving and speeding: Truck drivers who follow behind other vehicles too closely, swerve aggressively from lane to lane, or exceed posted speed limits may be held liable for resulting traffic collisions.
- Fatigued driving: If truck drivers violate hours-of-service regulations or stay behind the wheel longer than they should in order to meet unreasonable delivery quotas, they may fall asleep and collide with another vehicle.
- Driver inexperience: New truck drivers may not have the practice or training needed to recognize situations where they need to slow down for turns, increase their following distance, or stop sooner than usual to prevent crashes.
- Truck company negligence: Motor carriers may cause accidents if they impose unrealistic scheduling or delivery demands on drivers or are negligent in their hiring, training, or fleet maintenance responsibilities.
- Inadequate truck inspections or repairs: If truck drivers, owners, or mechanics are negligent in the inspection, maintenance, or repair of commercial vehicles, resulting in component failure can sometimes lead to accidents.
- Improper cargo loading: When trucks are overloaded or improperly loaded with cargo, shifts in a truck’s center of balance can cause a drive to lose control of the rig.
Many times, there is more than one contributing factor that leads to a wreck. A proper investigation will uncover exactly what happened so that every negligent party is held accountable for their part in the accident.
What Goes Into a Truck Accident Investigation?
When truck accident investigations are conducted by police officers, insurance adjusters, and attorneys, they typically involve the following components:
- Collection of evidence: Investigators utilize evidence, such as photos or videos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any injuries that occurred.
- Examination of truck driver records: Truck drivers’ cell phone records, GPS data, driving safety records, and personnel files can all be useful evidence.
- Examination of trucking company records: Investigators may also look at trucking companies’ safety records, compliance history, and hiring practices.
- Witness identification and interviews: Other drivers who were involved in the accident and any eyewitnesses at the scene may provide statements and other information that can be helpful in building a case.
- Location and analysis of recorded truck data: Many commercial trucks are equipped with “black boxes” and other electronic logging devices that record data such as speed, acceleration, braking, and steering control.
- Consultation with experts: Accident reconstruction specialists, medical professionals, and forensic toxicologists can all provide information that may help in investigating truck accidents.
- Examination of truck condition: Examining trucks soon after an accident can help identify mechanical defects and other equipment failures that may have contributed to the crash.
Why Is It Important to Contact a Lawyer Immediately?
What Evidence Should Be Collected?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding a particular South Carolina truck accident, investigators may gather the following types of evidence to determine semi-trailer truck liability:
- Official police accident reports
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Photos of vehicle damage and injuries
- Medical records of injured parties
- Statements from other vehicle occupants
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Testimony from expert witnesses
- Post-crash toxicology test results
- Truck driver hours-of-service logbooks
- Truck driver cell phone records
- Truck driver GPS records
- Truck driver qualifications, work history, and driving records
- Truck inspection and maintenance reports
- “Black box” and electronic logging device data
- Trucking company dispatch instructions
- Trucking company safety and compliance records
- Weigh station and loading dock reports
- Cargo loading manifests and history
Why Police Reports Are Not Always Enough
Police reports often contain many pieces of information that can be useful in a truck accident case, such as witness information, accident diagrams, legal violations or citations, and official opinions regarding the cause of the wreck. However, accident reports do not always paint a complete picture of what happened during a truck accident and rarely provide enough evidence to present a compelling case for compensation in subsequent injury claims.
For one thing, police reports are considered a form of hearsay since officers rarely observe the accidents they describe in their write-ups, so they are generally not admissible evidence in personal injury cases. Accident reports include police officers’ opinions regarding what may have happened in a traffic collision, which may be flawed because not all police officers have the qualifications needed to properly investigate and analyze truck accident scenes.
For another, crash victims do not have the ability to choose the police officers who investigate their accidents, and a police accident report is only as reliable as the officer who composes it. This means that even minor inconsistencies can be enough to discredit an entire report if insurance adjusters or defense attorneys demonstrate that a police officer was mistaken or that their information is unreliable. The bottom line is that any time you file a truck accident claim, it’s always a good idea to have as much supporting evidence from as many different sources as possible.
How Experts Assist in a Truck Wreck Investigation
When investigators look into the causes and effects associated with a truck accident case, they may consult with one or more of the following types of experts to gather supporting evidence:
- Accident reconstruction specialists: If it’s unclear how an accident was caused or who might have been at fault, accident reconstruction experts may use police reports, accident scene investigations, vehicle inspections, photographs, and witness statements to recreate the conditions that were likely present when the accident occurred.
- Medical professionals: Attorneys often hire medical experts for their professional opinions regarding the severity of a crash victim’s injuries and what kind of short-or long-term treatment they may need.
- Mental health experts: Social workers, psychologists, and other mental health professionals are often tapped to explain mental conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, that affect accident victims after a crash.
- Occupational experts: If you were injured so severely that you are unable to return to work, an occupational expert may be consulted to provide information about the types of work you could be able to perform in the future, if any.
- Economic experts: When the effects of a truck accident are expected to last a long time, like in instances that require long-term medical care or permanent inability to return to work, economic experts can help calculate potential future losses that should be covered by a personal injury claim.
Why Should a Lawyer Investigate a Commercial Truck Accident?
Truck crash cases tend to be complicated and time-consuming, so if you are seeking compensation in a personal injury claim, it’s a good idea to retain the services of a skilled attorney who has professional experience investigating and analyzing truck accidents.
- Conduct interviews with everyone involved in the wreck, such as vehicle occupants, eyewitnesses, law enforcement officers, first responders, the truck driver, and trucking company officials
- Inspect and photograph the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries that you sustained
- Review information from accident reports, inspection reports, ambulance trip reports, and 911 calls
- Demand access to any available data from a truck’s black box or electronic logging devices
- Issue spoliation letters to ensure that valuable, short-lived evidence is preserved pending a potential lawsuit
- Hire other expert witnesses for assistance, if needed
- Manage all talks and negotiations with the insurance company(s) for you
In short, a lawyer can do all the heavy legal lifting so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries and getting back to daily life again.
How Can Stewart Law Offices Help Me?
Investigating 18-wheeler accidents and navigating injury claim settlements can be confusing and overwhelming. Finding the right truck accident lawyer for your case can make all the difference.
Put your trust in Stewart Law Offices. With more than three decades of experience handling personal injury claims for truck accident victims in South Carolina, you can rest assured that our lawyers will work to obtain maximum compensation for you.
We know the investigative strategies that will best support your claim and will fight relentlessly to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Let’s get started now. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.