Semi-Trailer Truck Accident Liability in South Carolina
Identifying who is liable — or at fault — for a truck accident is essential before you can file a claim for compensation in South Carolina. If you have been seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle, an experienced truck accident attorney can help you determine who is to blame and ensure that you seek compensation from all possible sources.
Truck accidents often involve serious injuries and substantial property damage, which means victims will need more compensation than those hurt in a typical car crash. In addition, tractor-trailer accidents are much more complex. Multiple parties could share responsibility for the collision, which increases the likelihood that insurance companies will challenge or deny these high-stakes claims.
With aggressive attorneys and powerful insurance providers on their side, trucking companies will often do everything they can to deny, delay, or underpay an injury claim, which makes having strong evidence of liability even more critical.
At Stewart Law Offices, we have more than 30 years of experience protecting the rights of truck accident victims. We know the tactics that insurers use to discredit injured South Carolinians and deny their rightful claims to compensation. We also know what it takes to refute those claims and obtain successful results for our clients.
Call or contact us now for a free case review with a proven South Carolina truck accident lawyer.
Who Is Liable: The Company or the Truck Driver?
In the average car accident, the drivers of the vehicles involved are usually the only parties who can be held accountable for the resulting injuries and damage. Truck accidents are different. Truckers operate in a commercial capacity, which means that drivers and any other parties who interfere with the way truck drivers do their jobs could bear responsibility for an accident.
Truck drivers may be largely liable for accidents if they violate traffic laws, drive while intoxicated, commit driving errors, or engage in other reckless behavior behind the wheel. For example, truck drivers are often considered liable for accidents if they are speeding, lane weaving, following other vehicles too closely, or driving while distracted.
Truck companies can be held liable in truck accident cases if they hold drivers to unrealistic standards or cut corners when it comes to safety. In some instances, truck companies have unreasonable expectations regarding the amount of time truckers spend behind the wheel. This puts pressure on drivers to ignore federal hours-of-service regulations or engage in risky speeding behaviors to meet impossible quotas.
Trucking companies may also delay essential inspection, maintenance, or repair work to reduce costs, placing truck drivers and everyone around them at risk when they hit the road with damaged or faulty equipment. Trucking companies may also share liability when they fail to properly train their drivers, fail to do proper background checks, or fail to conduct random controlled substances tests.
Truck mechanics or truck owners who are negligent in their truck inspection and repair duties could be held liable if their failure to perform standard procedures causes a rig to break down.
Manufacturers of defective truck equipment could bear responsibility, too, as well as negligent cargo loading teams who engage in improper loading techniques that may destabilize trucks on the road.
Other drivers could also be held liable in a truck accident if they were behaving recklessly at the time of the crash.
Because a combination of factors may lead up to a truck accident, it’s wise to have an attorney investigate the case to make sure that everyone is held accountable for their part in the wreck.
Why Is It Important to Contact a Lawyer Immediately?
Proving Fault in a Truck Accident
Personal injury lawyers work to collect and evaluate evidence needed to prove liability in truck accident claims, such as:
- Accident reports and toxicology test results
- Statements from drivers and witnesses
- Testimony from accident reconstruction professionals, doctors, financial planners, and vocational rehabilitation specialists
- Photographs or video footage of the accident scene
- Medical records and photos of your injuries
- Truck driver hours-of-service logbooks
- Truck driver qualifications
- Truck operators’ driving, safety, medical, and inspection histories
- Data from truck black boxes, electronic logging devices, and in-cab cameras
- Truck driver cell phone and GPS records
- Truck company compliance and safety histories
- Truck company dispatch instructions
- Truck inspection, maintenance, and repair histories
- Bills of lading and cargo loading records
Once the evidence from the accident is analyzed, a lawyer will be able to determine who should be held liable and file a claim against every defendant in the case.
What If the Accident Was Caused by a Malfunction?
Even when truckers are driving safely, truck accidents can occur due to the malfunction of one or more truck components. For example, a sudden brake failure or tire blowout can cause a driver to lose control and collide with neighboring vehicles. There are several parties who may be responsible for a malfunction, including:
- Truck drivers: Truck drivers have a responsibility to inspect and maintain their vehicles on a regular basis to keep themselves and others safe, especially since commercial trucks undergo much more wear and tear than most vehicles. If truck drivers fail to regularly check elements such as truck tires, brakes, or oil levels, they may be liable for accidents that result from malfunctioning components.
- Truck owners: If trucks are not owned by their operators, truck owners also bear some responsibility when it comes to the inspection, maintenance, and repair of worn or faulty truck components.
- Mechanics and repair companies: Truck mechanics who are negligent in their inspection or repair duties may be liable for truck accidents if they knew or should have known about defective or rundown components that led to a truck accident.
- Truck component manufacturers: If truck components are manufactured poorly and do not meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturers of those defective components may be held liable.
What If There are Multiple Cars Involved in the Accident?
Some truck accidents involve multiple vehicles, which can further complicate the question of liability. The more vehicles that are involved in a truck accident, the more difficult it may be to determine and assign fault.
When there are multiple drivers in a truck accident case that could be liable, subsequent insurance claims can be very difficult to settle. There will likely be more insurance providers in the mix, and they’ll dispute how to portion out the blame so they can pay the least amount possible.
For this reason, it’s important to hire a seasoned truck accident attorney with experience in navigating multiple-vehicle accidents. A knowledgeable lawyer will meticulously gather and review crucial evidence to pinpoint fault. He or she will also know how to negotiate skillfully with the various insurance companies involved to protect your interests.
Some truck accident cases involving multiple defendants end up going to court for resolution. At Stewart Law Offices, we prepare each case as if it’s going to trial. That way, we can pivot quickly and file a truck accident lawsuit if settlement negotiations break down.
How to Get Compensation for Injuries in a Truck Accident
If you were involved in a South Carolina truck crash, it’s important for you to understand and protect your right to obtain compensation for your accident-related losses. Some of the most worthwhile actions you can take to strengthen your claim for compensation include:
- Seek immediate medical attention: Even if you believe you are uninjured or your injuries are relatively minor, seeing a doctor establishes an official record of your injuries and your effort to minimize the accident’s effects on your life.
- Follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan: This gives yourself the best chance at physical recovery and demonstrates to the insurance company(s) that you are taking your health seriously.
- Keep a pain journal: Record the daily effects of your truck accident injuries, such as any chronic pain you feel and any limitations you experience as a result.
- Document the accident scene: Statements from other vehicle occupants or witnesses, photographs, video, and anything else you remember about the crash can support your claim for maximum compensation.
- Keep financial records: Put receipts for medical appointments, repair invoices, pay stubs, and any other money you paid for accident-related expenses in a folder. This information will help your lawyer put a fair value on your claim.
- Report the truck accident to your insurance company: Keep your statements brief and do not agree to a recorded statement until you have spoken to an attorney. Do not apologize or admit fault for the accident, as any words you say can be used against you.
- Contact an experienced truck accident attorney: A lawyer can manage negotiations with the insurance company for you and work to secure full and fair compensation on your behalf.
How Stewart Law Offices Can Help You Win Your Truck Accident Case
Commercial motor vehicle accidents can leave victims with severe injuries, lost quality of life, and overwhelming financial difficulties. If you were hurt in a South Carolina truck accident, an experienced lawyer can build a persuasive case for compensation that is backed by strong evidence. That’s where the truck accident attorneys at Stewart Law Offices come in.
Our lawyers will provide a detailed analysis of your case, identify and preserve critical evidence to support your claim, and develop a powerful legal strategy to fight for the maximum compensation possible.
Our legal team has recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for deserving clients just like you. Contact us today for a free consultation.