If you or somebody you love was involved in a tractor trailer accident, it’s natural to have questions about who was at fault, how you can hold another party responsible, what types of compensation are available and other matters.
This page answers some common questions about truck accidents in South Carolina. The injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm would be glad to answer your specific questions during a free consultation.
Call Joye Law Firm now or fill out our online contact form to get started with a free claim review.
Seek medical attention for yourself before attempting to do anything else. If you’re not badly hurt, documenting the accident scene through photographs can prove extremely valuable to the investigation. Eyewitness accounts (or at least contact information) from accident onlookers can also serve as powerful evidence.
What you should not do is admit fault to anybody at the scene. Limit what you say to statements of facts to the responding law enforcement officer. Avoid speaking altogether to insurance adjusters and attorneys representing the trucking company and other potential defendants. Consider securing legal representation of your own, or at least speaking to a lawyer about your case.
The sheer size of 18-wheelers – which can be as long as 53 feet and weigh up to 80,000 pounds – is certainly intimidating. Their size makes them more likely to cause serious injuries when involved in a crash. Consider, for example, the fact that large trucks only account for 4 percent of all registered vehicles, yet they account for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Or, that when large trucks collide with other vehicles, it is the occupants of those vehicles – not the truck drivers – who are killed or injured 73 percent of the time.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation responsible for preventing commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. It does this by setting and enforcing safety regulations, including those for truck drivers and trucking companies. You may have heard of the FMCSA’s hours of service regulations, which attempt to reduce fatigued driving by limiting the number of hours that truck drivers may spend behind the wheel without a break. The FMCSA also regulates many other aspects of commercial vehicle operations, including drug and alcohol testing, training requirements, and vehicle inspection and maintenance.
Truck accidents typically cause more serious injuries and fatalities than passenger vehicle accidents. This means the stakes tend to be higher for truck accident victims compared to the victims of car accidents.
It is more subtle legal aspects, however, that truly place truck accidents in a category of their own. For instance, while car accident liability seldom extends beyond the drivers involved, a truck accident may involve liability on the part of the driver in addition to many other parties.
Then there are the numerous federal regulations that the trucking industry must comply with. Car accidents, on the other hand, rarely entail federal regulations.
Even the ways these cases are investigated differ. A trucker, for example, is required to fill out daily logs detailing when they drive, take breaks and sleep, and they are allowed a lower blood alcohol content than other drivers.
Such differences make it very difficult for a truck accident victim to go through the legal process without help from a lawyer who has experience with the legal complexities of truck accidents.
Not only the truck driver, but also the trucking company, the company that owns or leases the trailer, shippers, truck manufacturers, repair shops, government bodies (responsible for road maintenance), and other entities may be held liable for truck accidents in certain circumstances. It is possible to make a claim against more than one party, and in fact, multiple defendants are typically named in a truck accident lawsuit.
Distracted driving – in particular distractions caused by electronic devices – has become such a prevalent cause of traffic crashes that it is being called an “epidemic”. Research indicates that truck drivers are not immune from these types of distractions. According to one major study, text messages on cellphones posed a greater safety threat than any other type of truck driver distraction. Another study found that truck driver distraction and inattention was a factor in nearly a fifth of crashes.
In 2012, the FMCSA passed new regulations forbidding the use of any hand-held cell phone by a commercial truck driver.
South Carolina truck accident statistics are on par with national statistics in terms of injuries and fatalities. Large truck crashes kill approximately 85 people each year (around 10 percent of all fatal S.C. traffic crashes) and injure another 1,500 (around 3 percent of all injurious S.C. traffic crashes) in the Palmetto State. Over a recent five-year period, there were 21,026 large truck crashes in South Carolina. These crashes killed 406 people and injured 7,749.
In most South Carolina cases, you have three years from the date you were injured to file a lawsuit. Practically speaking, however, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to initiate legal proceedings. The longer you wait, the better the chance that evidence supporting your claim –such as driver logs, for example – will disappear. It is in your best interest to take prompt legal action.
Such a claim – known as a wrongful death claim – may be filed by an immediate family member such as a parent, spouse or child within three years of the date of the accident, in most cases. Medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of financial support and loss of companionship are among the damages available through a South Carolina wrongful death action.
Because the stakes in truck accident cases are high, you need a lawyer who has not only handled these types of cases before, but handled them successfully. Joye Law Firm can’t guarantee success, but we have a strong track record of obtaining results for clients who were injured in truck accidents, including million and multi-million dollar settlements. Results such as these have led to one of our attorneys being invited to join the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (APITLA).
Just Call Joye Law Firm for a Free Truck Accident Case Review
You have nothing to lose – but possibly much to gain – by discussing what happened with an experienced South Carolina truck accident attorney. Schedule your free consultation by calling Joye Law Firm or filling out our online contact form.
- U.S. Department of Transportation:
- Traffic Safety Facts—Large Trucks—2012 Data
- Large Truck Crash Causation Survey—Summary Tables
- Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operations
- South Carolina Department of Transportation: Traffic Collision Fact Book