South Carolina’s Experienced Truck Accident Lawyers
According to the Truck Driving Institute,” Truck drivers drive an estimated 140 billion miles every year, and a single semi drives 45,000 miles a year on average.” Large commercial vehicles are responsible for transporting large amounts of consumer goods across the country. While trucks are a vital resource for our economy, they also present numerous risks for other motorists on the roads. Due to their extensive size and weight, truck accidents are some of the most devastating collisions on the roads, often causing severe injuries and damage.
If you or a loved one sustained injuries as a consequence of a negligent semi-truck driver, compensation may be available for your injuries and any property damage. At Harris & Graves, we understand how tragic a trucking accident can be for an individual and their family. Our truck accident lawyers can help you through the complex process of filing a claim against the responsible party and/or parties involved.
What Is a Commercial Vehicle?
Commercial vehicles are purpose-built for use in transporting goods or passengers in a professional sense. A common misconception is that commercial vehicles are only semi-trucks, however, commercial vehicles can also include:
- Large freight trucks
- Box trucks
- Some taxis
If you’re involved in an accident with any of these vehicles, you’ve been involved in a commercial vehicle accident. While many commercial vehicles make it to their destinations without incident, some are involved in accidents that result in serious injuries or even death.
Commercial vehicle accidents can be some of the most dangerous types of crashes due to the sheer size and speed of the vehicles involved. Many of these accidents involve multiple vehicles, extensive property damage, and serious injury to drivers, passengers, and/or pedestrians.
What’s more, 18-wheelers often carry hazardous, flammable materials or other possibly dangerous cargo, which increases the chances of damage and injury even further. Collisions between these vehicles and smaller cars on the roads tend to have a high fatality rate. An experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer will know how to proceed when an accident occurs.
Frequent Causes of Large Commercial Vehicle Wrecks
Accidents can occur for numerous reasons, however, these are the most common causes of large vehicle wrecks:
- Driver fatigue
- Unsecured cargo
- Poor truck maintenance
- Defective parts
- Usage of drugs and alcohol
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
Tips to Implement After a Truck Accident
Though the accident may not be your fault, the manner in which you proceed after the collision can either damage or protect your legal rights. Many times, drivers who were involved in an 18-wheeler accident are uncertain about what to do and make poor decisions that end up negatively impacting their compensation. For this reason, our team of truck accident lawyers has shared five tips you can implement to preserve your legal rights after a collision:
1. Contact Emergency Responders
Injuries are common in most large commercial vehicle accidents. It’s imperative to contact emergency responders immediately after the wreck and wait until help arrives. Some people decide to leave the scene of the wreck, known as a hit and run. You can face criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident. Once the police arrive, they will evaluate the scene and write a report stating the details and facts of the incident.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Injuries after an 18-wheeler accident happen more frequently in comparison to regular size motor vehicle accidents. If you fail to seek medical attention, it can damage the amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive.
3. Collect Relevant Evidence
Evidence is a crucial part of any claim and will be necessary to help you obtain the compensation you are rightfully owed. When collecting evidence make sure to take photographs of the scene of the accident and your injuries, if possible. It’s also important to save any medical bills and copies of expenses related to the accident.
4. Ask for Contact Information
When you have the opportunity, ask for the contact information of the party and/or parties involved, such as:
- Driver’s name
- Name, phone number, and address of the trucking company
- License plate number
- Insurance information
5. Call an Experienced and Knowledgeable Attorney
Large commercial truck accident cases involve details that should be reviewed by an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who knows the laws surrounding this type of case. If you have a claim, we will complete an in-depth investigation and help you hold the responsible party and/or parties liable.
Implementing these tips can potentially protect your legal rights and increase your chances of obtaining the compensation you’re rightfully owed.
The Complexities of Truck Accident Cases
Truck accident cases are often complex and difficult to pursue. Unlike in wrecks where two private vehicles are involved, there are several different parties that may share responsibility in commercial vehicle accidents. While the truck driver is responsible in many cases, accidents can also be the direct result of a faulty part, in which case the manufacturer could be held responsible. Similarly, if the cargo was improperly secured, the loading company might be at fault.
In many cases, the trucking company, or the owner of the truck, holds responsibility. This is where truck accidents become problematic. Insurance companies don’t want to pay huge sums, so they will be hesitant to accept responsibility. In commercial vehicle accidents, it can be a fight just to nail down who is really at fault for the accident.
How Negligence Is Determined in Tractor-Trailer Accidents
If you decide to file a claim to seek compensation for your injuries and property damage, proving negligence is much more difficult than people realize. In many cases, both the insurance companies and trucking company will do everything they can to avoid paying any compensation. Additionally, they tend to blame the injured victim for the wreck, even if it was not their fault. This makes this type of case challenging to file without strong legal representation.
In order to determine fault, it must be proven that the injuries the victim suffered were directly caused by the negligence of a particular party. Some of the parties that may be held legally responsible include:
- The owner – Drivers who own their truck may be held responsible for a collision. For example, the owner may have failed to complete regular maintenance checks. Ignoring maintenance can cause a tire to blow or another malfunction that may result in an accident.
- The truck company – Trucking companies often have deadlines that drivers must meet. This can cause truckers to disobey regulations, which can create dangerous risks for other motorists on the roadways.
- The manufacturing company of the truck – Sometimes manufacturing companies may be at fault for designing a defective part that led to an accident.
- The company renting or leasing the commercial vehicle – Renting and leasing companies could be held liable in an accident for poor maintenance or other issues.
- The company who requested the shipment – In some cases, the business that requested the shipment could be legally responsible after an accident.
Trucking and insurance companies, as well as commercial businesses and contractors, have a stake in ensuring the safe operation of a truck during its daily transit. If they fail to comply with the regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it can lead to serious and life-threatening injuries.
Statute of Limitations Laws in South Carolina
Every state has set laws that injured victims must follow should they decide to file a lawsuit.
The FMCSA doesn’t require companies to keep trucking records after six months. If you don’t file your case promptly, you could lose important evidence you’ll need to obtain compensation.
In South Carolina, injured victims have three years to file a lawsuit for damages. If you fail to meet this set deadline, you may miss your opportunity of receiving compensation. Many individuals are unaware of the statute of limitations. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to contact an attorney after your collision to ensure you take the necessary legal steps in the appropriate amount of time.
Have Your Case Reviewed
Harris & Graves is an experienced South Carolina personal injury law firm with offices in Greenville, Columbia, Spartanburg, Rock Hill, and Florence. Our law firm has been serving South Carolina since 1977 and handles cases including auto accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and workers’ compensation.
We understand how difficult it can be to file a claim after a large commercial vehicle accident. If you suffered injuries as a result of a trucking accident that was not your fault, we highly recommend that you consult an attorney. Our team of truck accident lawyers can assist you with the legal process and ensure you are not taken advantage of by the insurance companies. Furthermore, we will gather the required documents to help support your claim.
Our experienced attorneys will cut through any attempts by the insurance company to deflect blame or avoid payments. We will fight on your behalf to help you receive compensation for lost wages, loss of future earnings, medical bills, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, property damage, and more.
If you experienced the wrongful death of a loved one, compensation may also be available for your loss. In order to determine your legal options, our team will need to evaluate the various components of your case.