Car Carrier Truck loaded with cars on the road

Commercial tractor-trailers used as car carriers or car transporters are a unique danger on highways. Their weight and unwieldy nature can lead to serious accidents. Because automobile manufacturers have a significant presence in South Carolina, car carriers are a common sight on the state’s highways and interstates. Car carrier accidents cause serious and fatal injuries.

Call Joye Law Firm if you or someone you know has been injured in a collision involving a car carrier in South Carolina. Our firm offers a free consultation with a South Carolina truck accident attorney who can review your injuries and help you understand whether a lawsuit is in order to demand compensation.

Fill out our online contact form or phone 888-324-3100 today.

What Is a Car Carrier?

Car carriers are large truck-and-trailer combos that transport passenger cars, vans, and pickup trucks from manufacturers to dealerships and between dealerships. They may be configured as flatbed single-level carriers or as multilevel carriers with open and/or enclosed options.

Multilevel carriers are considered the most efficient vehicle haulers and are most often used by for-hire vehicle transport companies. Vehicles are typically transported on open 9- or 10-car carriers, which are 18-wheelers equipped with dual metal treads that allow vehicles to be driven on and off the trailers using integrated ramps. An open-air design accommodates oversized vehicles.

Car carriers with enclosed boxed trailers are typically used to transport high-value and/or classic cars. This allows these vehicles to be shipped without drawing attention to them, while also protecting them from the weather and road debris. Enclosed car carriers use hydraulics to lift vehicles to the point where they can be driven into the trailer.

The actual number of cars a carrier can transport depends on how large the cars are and whether carrying more would exceed the carrier’s maximum allowed weight.

South Carolina has a substantial automotive industry with nearly 500 automotive-related companies and suppliers in the state. The industry employs more than 72,000 South Carolinians. Worldwide brands such as BMW, Volvo Cars, and Mercedes-Benz Vans make vehicles in South Carolina and ship them throughout the United States and overseas. Auto dealerships across South Carolina are also served by transporters hired by manufacturers and distributors.

Causes of Car Carrier Truck Accidents

Car haulers get into crashes for the same reasons that other large trucks do. Because of their weight, car carriers require longer distances to stop than passenger vehicles. This makes these big trucks susceptible to crashes, particularly rear-end accidents, if a truck driver is speeding, driving too fast for conditions, or not paying adequate attention to surrounding traffic or other road conditions.

Multilevel carriers are top-heavy when loaded with vehicles. Their higher center of gravity can cause them to sway or tilt in sharp turns or hard braking, or even to roll over. Shifting weight from vehicles on the carrier can add to conditions that make a driver lose control of a vehicle hauler.

In addition to a fatigued or inexperienced truck driver causing a crash, other common causes of car carrier accidents include:

  • Overpass Strikes. The design of some older highway bridges in South Carolina does not provide enough clearance for a loaded car hauler and its cargo. A truck can hit an overpass and become wedged underneath the overpass. A truck that hits an underpass and stops suddenly may cause cars behind it to get into rear-end collisions. The truck’s collision with the bridge may also cause damage to the bridge itself.
  • Unsecured Cargo. Automobiles, pickups, and vans loaded on carriers must be secured at both the front and rear to prevent movement. An improperly secured vehicle may move or fall onto the highway if the truck hits a pothole, suddenly brakes, or turns sharply. The sudden shifting weight can cause an accident.
  • Fires. Vehicles transported by car carriers are filled with gasoline. In a collision, this fuel can ignite into an explosion. This is why vehicles being transported by car carriers meet the definition of a hazardous material under federal rules governing commercial trucks and are required to carry $1 million of public liability insurance coverage because of the significant harm a crash can cause.

Because of a vehicle carrier’s size and power, motorists in passenger cars are at a higher risk of being severely injured or killed in car carrier accidents than in other types of motor vehicle accidents.

Who May be Liable in an Accident Involving a Car Hauler?Car Carrier truck in the road

The truck driver who was at the wheel of a car carrier in an accident is likely to be considered legally responsible for a crash that resulted from his or her negligence. The company that employed the driver and/or owned the truck may also be held responsible, too.

An employer may be held responsible either for the actions of its employee or because of the company’s own negligence, such as having hired an inexperienced driver or someone with an unsafe driving record. A trucking company may also be financially liable if it is shown that a mechanical failure on the truck contributed to the accident and the company should have known the vehicle did not belong on the road.

Other potential defendants may include:

  • The company that owned the vehicles being transported
  • A vendor responsible for loading and securing vehicles on the carrier
  • A third-party service vendor responsible for maintaining the car carrier
  • Government agencies responsible for road design and maintenance.

It is not unusual for a truck accident case to lead to multiple claims on behalf of those injured.

A legal claim may seek to recover compensation for the injured individual:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income due to injuries
  • Property damage to their vehicle
  • Pain and suffering, and more.

Contact Our S.C. Truck Accident Attorneys

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries in an accident caused by a car carrier in South Carolina, consult an experienced S.C. truck accident lawyer to discuss your legal rights. An attorney at Joye Law Firm will review the details of the accident and help you understand whether you have a right to pursue compensation for your medical bills and other losses.

Call Joye Law Firm at 888-324-3100 or fill out our free online case evaluation form today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation about how we can help you.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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