tractor trailer on highway in Charleston, SC

Few who are involved in serious truck accidents live to tell the tale. Even in less severe crashes where a person survives, they will still likely face serious and permanent injuries, like traumatic brain injuries that affect cognition and spinal cord injuries that impair mobility.

Most truck accidents are completely preventable. They are almost exclusively  caused by the negligence of one or more parties involved, and potentially include the driver of the truck, the trucking company, and/or the manufacturer of the tractor-trailer. If you believe negligence played a role in your truck accident case, our Charleston injury attorneys want to speak with you. A Joye Law Firm truck accident lawyer will fight for what is rightfully yours if you were injured due to trucking negligence.

Charleston is a bustling port city with a constant stream of commercial vehicles traveling up and down our Interstates and highways. It is not unusual to see convoys of 18-wheelers traveling on I-26, I-526, or on major thoroughfares like the Savannah Highway (US 17) and Rivers Avenue (US 52/78) at all hours of the day. This heavy commercial traffic combined with local and tourist traffic creates a potentially deadly situation for everyone on our local roads.

Types of Big-Rig Accidents

  • Underride Truck Accidents: In this type of accident, a passenger vehicle literally rides under the back trailer of a large truck, resulting in the front of the car (and sometimes, the entirety of the vehicle) being completely crushed and destroyed. These accidents clearly pose a huge risk to drivers and passengers, and often result in catastrophic injuries, which may very likely be fatal.
  • Override Truck Accidents: Similar to an underride truck accident, an override truck crash occurs when a big truck drives over the rear of the passenger vehicle in front of the truck. Both types of accidents may result in significant damage to the roof of the vehicle, as well as the passengers inside.
  • Jackknife Truck Accidents: A jackknife accident is named as such because the position of the truck and its trailer ends up resembling a jackknife; as the cab of the truck moves in one direction, the trailer of the truck swings around the side at a 90-degree angle to the cab. This type of accident might occur if a truck takes a turn too fast or attempts to brake suddenly when traveling at a high speed.
  • Squeeze Play Accidents: A squeeze play accident is an accident where a vehicle is “squeezed” between a large truck and another object, such as the curb. In most cases, this happens when a large truck needs to make a right-hand turn. Because large trucks need more room to turn, a truck may move into the left lane despite the fact that it is making a right-hand turn. Losing patience or misunderstanding a truck driver’s intentions, a vehicle may try to pass the truck, or turn in front of it, on the right-hand side. As the truck begins to make its right turn, the car can become wedged between the truck and the curb.
  • Speeding: Exceeding the posted speed limit and driving too fast for road and weather conditions are common causes of semi-truck accidents in Charleston and across South Carolina. Truck drivers who speed have less time to react to avoid a crash. The faster they are going, the more distance they need to stop.
  • Driver Fatigue: Truck drivers may experience extreme fatigue and lose alertness if they spend too many hours behind the wheel without adequate rest. Federal hours-of-service regulations limit the number of hours truckers can drive without a break. However, truck drivers may use poor judgment or could be pushed by their trucking company to disobey the rules.
  • Improper Lane Changes: Truck drivers may attempt to change lanes and collide with a motorist driving alongside in a truck blind spot. Truck drivers must check carefully for other vehicles before changing lanes.
  • Inadequate Driver Training: Commercial truck drivers must have the training and experience to handle large tractor-trailers safely. Drivers who drive tank trucks must have additional training beyond that of other 18-wheeler drivers. If a truck driver does not have adequate training, that can contribute to a serious accident, such as a jackknife accident or rollover accident.
  • Mechanical Failures or Defects: Trucks must be adequately maintained to operate safely, according to guidelines by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If a truck’s air brakes are out of adjustment or a truck tire blows out, it may be due to a manufacturing defect or a lack of adequate maintenance. Trucking companies are required to keep service records for a certain amount of time, and these records can provide evidence in a truck accident case.

Of course, these are not the only types of accidents that large trucks can be involved in – these are just a few accident types that are specific to large trucks. Large trucks, just like passenger vehicles, may also be involved in rollover crashes, rear-end collisions, head-on crashes, and sideswipe accidents, as well.

What Are the Common Injuries Victims Suffer in Tractor-Trailer Accidents?

Truck accidents can result in severe and often catastrophic injuries due to the size and weight of the vehicles involved. Common injuries include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): Impact or sudden jolts can cause brain injuries, leading to long-term cognitive, physical, and emotional impairments.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis: Damage to the spinal cord can result in partial or complete paralysis, significantly altering life quality.
  • Broken or Fractured Bones: The force of truck collisions can easily break bones, sometimes requiring surgery and long-term rehabilitation.
  • Internal Injuries: The impact can cause life-threatening internal bleeding or damage to organs.
  • Lacerations and Burns: Shattered glass, metal debris, or fires from the accident can lead to serious cuts or burns, potentially leading to disfigurement or requiring extensive treatment.
  • Whiplash and Soft Tissue Injuries: Even at lower speeds, a sudden impact can cause neck or back injuries, often resulting in prolonged pain and mobility issues.
  • Amputations or Loss of Limbs: In severe cases, limbs may be crushed or severely injured, sometimes necessitating surgical amputation.

These injuries not only cause immediate harm, but can also lead to long-term physical, emotional, and financial challenges for the victims and their families. It’s important for victims and their loved ones to thoroughly document all injuries and how they affect day-to-day life and the ability to work.

How Much Compensation Can I Receive If Involved in a Trucking Accident in Charleston?

Trucking companies and truck drivers that move freight into and out of South Carolina are required to carry higher amounts of liability insurance than owners of passenger cars. This, in part, is because of the havoc large trucks can cause. The amounts are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and range from $300,000 for non-hazardous freight moved in trucks weighing under 10,001 lbs to up to $5,000.000 for specific hazardous materials.

Trucking companies may also carry excess or umbrella insurance policies that can be used to compensate victims in the event of a catastrophic injury or death.

A loaded semi-truck may weigh 20 to 30 times as much as an automobile. When a semi-truck and an automobile collide, the occupants of the smaller vehicle typically sustain the brunt of the impact and injuries, and insurance requirements take that into account.

After a trucking accident caused by a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, an accident victim may file a truck accident claim and seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses including doctor bills and hospital bills
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Prescription medications and medical devices
  • Repair or replacement of your damaged vehicle
  • Permanent disability and disfiguring scars
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost earnings from missed work

The amount of compensation available will depend on the specific details of the accident including:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The percentage of fault assigned to the semi-truck and others involved
  • The insurance policies available to provide compensation

If multiple parties are potentially liable, then compensation may be sought from two or more insurance policies. That can increase the amount of compensation available to accident victims.

When our attorneys take on a truck accident case, we evaluate all the parties who may have liability and find the applicable insurance policies that may provide compensation. Our abilities and experience handling truck accident cases make the Joye Law Firm particularly skilled at assessing liability and uncovering insurance coverage.

How Can an 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney in Charleston, SC Help Me?

Our Charleston semi-truck injury attorneys perform several services as part of our representation of people injured in truck accidents. Our attorneys will:

  • Analyze the truck accident, using accident reconstruction experts in some cases, and identify all the at-fault parties
  • Be sure you are receiving proper medical attention
  • Be responsive when you have questions
  • Assist you in getting referrals to medical specialists if needed
  • Calculate your present and future medical bills and other expenses
  • Identify all the insurance policies that may cover the truck accident
  • Hire experts to analyze the extent your injuries will have on your future including your ability to work
  • Send a demand letter to the insurance company requesting full compensation
  • Negotiate aggressively with the insurer for a settlement
  • File an injury lawsuit if needed
  • Seek justice in civil court if a settlement cannot be reached
  • Stand beside you every step of the way

Our attorneys at Joye Law Firm are committed to helping people who have been seriously injured by a negligent truck driver or trucking company. With five offices across the state, we take cases anywhere in South Carolina. The attorneys at our North Charleston office primarily handle cases in Charleston, Allendale, Colleton, Bamberg, Dorchester, Beaufort, Hampton, Berkeley, Jasper, Calhoun, and Orangeburg counties.

Why Is Liability in Tractor Trailer Accidents So Complicated?

Liability in a truck accident is often much more complex than determining liability in a collision involving two standard passenger cars. This is because, in addition to the two drivers, there is also an employer involved, a shipper, and multiple manufacturers, too.

A thorough investigation will be necessary to pinpoint exactly who was to blame, and may include these parties:

  • Truck Driver: Truck drivers sometimes act negligently when operating their vehicles. Rather than exercising the proper level of care that a situation demands, a truck driver may speed, drink while driving, drive over the hours of service limit, drive while distracted, or perform another type of careless behavior.
  • Driver of the Passenger Car: Truck accidents are not always the fault of the truck driver. Often, the driver of the passenger car involved or the driver of another passenger car may be to blame.
  • Trucking Company: A trucking company may be held liable for the actions of the truck driver if the truck driver is an employer, per the theory of vicarious liability. A trucking company may also be held liable if it contributed to the accident through its act of negligence, such as failing to regularly inspect or maintain its truck, to properly train drivers, or to pressure drivers to work more hours than federal law allows.
  • Cargo Loader: Improperly loaded cargo can shift during travel. This weight distribution can be extremely dangerous, and can lead to a rollover accident as well as other accident types. If the cargo was improperly loaded, and this caused the accident, the loader may be liable.
  • Truck or Truck Part Manufacturer: Trucks, just like cars, are sometimes manufactured with defects or defective parts. If a truck collision occurred because of a defective part, such as a tire blowout, the manufacturer of the part may be held liable.

Understanding the Complexity of Semi-Truck Accident Cases in South Carolina

Trucking regulations are intricate and multifaceted, and they can influence truck accident cases in various ways:

  • Multiple Governing Bodies: The trucking industry is regulated by both federal and state authorities, each with its own set of rules. For instance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets nationwide standards, while South Carolina has additional requirements.
  • Comprehensive Regulations: Trucking industry regulations cover many things, including driver qualifications, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, cargo loading, and insurance requirements. Understanding which rules apply and how they interact can be complex.
  • Proof of Violations: Demonstrating that a regulation was violated and how that violation contributed to the accident can significantly impact liability and compensation. It requires a thorough understanding of the regulations and often the expertise of industry professionals.
  • Record-Keeping Requirements: Trucking companies are required to keep detailed records about driver activities, vehicle maintenance, and cargo. These records can be pivotal in a case, but obtaining and interpreting them can be challenging.
  • Varying Standards for Different Truck Types: Different types of trucks (e.g., tankers, flatbeds) are subject to specific regulations based on their potential risks. Understanding the nuances of these standards is crucial for a case.
  • Impact on Liability: Non-compliance with regulations can shift or expand liability. For instance, if a trucking company was negligent in its maintenance duties, it could be held liable in addition to the driver.
  • Changes and Updates: Trucking regulations are subject to change, and staying informed about current laws is crucial for legal professionals handling these cases.

Because there are so many complex rules, it’s important to have an experienced Charleston truck accident lawyer on your side right away after a crash involving a semi-truck. Knowledge and experience are must-haves in these types of cases, especially with so many regulations and requirements in play. You don’t want a first-timer facing off with a multi-national corporation that is deadest on delaying, denying or defending your claim.  You need a law firm with experience, resources, and a track record of successful handling truck accident claims.

Steps to Take After a Tractor-Trailer Accident in Charleston

If you are in a semi-truck accident in Charleston county, including North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, West Ashley, or other surrounding areas, you are likely suffering from serious injuries – get medical care for these injuries immediately.

If you are able to, keep a thorough record of all treatment you receive, the pain you experience, and the healing process. If you are not able to do this, ask a loved one to write down their version of the experience for you.

You should make sure that the truck accident is reported to the police. Ask for a copy of the police report, as well as the names of any eyewitnesses who spoke to the police at the scene.

Call your insurance company and begin the process of filing a claim as soon as possible. If you delay, you may forfeit your right to compensation.

As soon as you can, contact our North Charleston truck accident lawyers at Joye Law Firm. We will gather evidence and conduct an investigation to determine liability and prove negligence. Then, we will fight for a fair settlement amount that addresses the full extent of your losses.

Results We’ve Achieved for South Carolina Truck Accident Victims

Not every law firm is set up to successfully handle a truck accident claim. These cases are exponentially more complicated than standard automobile accidents, and one wrong move could cost millions in compensation.

At Joye Law Firm, we understand the impact accidents with commercial vehicles can have on victims and their loved ones, and we know what is takes to hold the at-fault parties to account. We’ve helped many people whose lives were forever changed by truck accidents. In addition to receiving testimonials and reviews from clients we’ve helped, we’ve also created case studies that show how we’ve been able to assist truck accident victims over the years.

For example, a North Charleston woman was severely injured by a reckless tow truck driver who ran a red light. Despite clear evidence of fault, including dashcam footage, the driver and employer initially denied responsibility.

’Joye Law Firm Attorney, John Aylor, pursued the case, and his experience helped him highlight the company’s negligent hiring practices. After depositions and increasing legal pressure, the trucking company’s insurer agreed to settle the case for the full available insurance policy. The case shows the importance of solid legal representation and accountability in ensuring justice for victims of such negligence.

We’ve also created additional case studies for truck accident cases we handled, including winning a $1 million settlement for a Goose Creek man who was injured due to a negligent semi-truck driver and securing a $4.3 million settlement for a driver who was struck by an 18-wheeler’s oversized load.

We Are Ready to Meet with You Today

Our law firm has built a national reputation for our work on truck accident cases, Our attorneys are often sought after to instruct other lawyers on how to successfully handle these claims, and serve in various leadership roles in national and regional legal organizations, including those dedicated to interstate trucking accidents. While we pride ourselves on being a worthy adversary in the courtroom, with the legal skills and resources necessary to hold at-fault parties to account, we also – and most importantly – have the emotionally intelligence needed to navigate you and your family though this difficult time.

The truck accident lawyers at Joye Law Firm have represented hundreds of victims of commercial vehicle collisions since opening our doors in 1968, and we are ready to put our experience to work for you. A consultation with a caring and knowledgeable member of our team is completely free, and if we take on your case, you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case. Our attorney fees are in-line with industry standards, and we pride ourselves on being transparent about all aspects of your case. Contact one of the experienced truck accident lawyers in Charleston at Joye Law Firm to learn about how we can help you after a truck accident.

Joye Law Firm North Charleston Office Location

5861 Rivers Ave
North Charleston, SC 29406
(843) 508-9015