Truck accidents can be brutal and dangerous. They injure and kill many across the country while even causing property damage due to the heavy goods and materials they carry. Sustaining injuries due to a collision with an 18-wheeler or any other truck may entitle you to compensation from those who are liable. When proving negligence in any truck accident case in South Carolina, you need to know the causes and rights you have to make your case a valid one.
How These Accidents Happen
Considering the weight and size of bigger trucks such as tractor-trailers, accidents involving these big-rig vehicles are often devastating. Such vehicles, understandably, cannot stop or turn with the same speed as most other vehicles on the road. Tractor trailer drivers don’t have ideal visibility. Load shifting in turns leads to truck instability, which can cause whoever operates it to lose control, and the truck could hit anything in sight. If the truck has hazardous or flammable freight on it, the results can be at least frightening, at worst fatal.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that crashes involving commercial trucks cause an over 105,000 injuries and close to 5,000 fatalities per year. These accidents happen due to negligence from the truck driver, drivers of other vehicles who contributed in some way or unseen road hazards.
What Is Negligence?
Adjudicated under South Carolina law, negligence is defined in legal circles as behaving in a way that a more prudent person in a similar scenario would not do. In South Carolina, there is a comparative negligence standard which reduces how much damages you can claim by how much fault you have. Determining the degree of fault is up to a judge or jury and determining negligence is best suited for an attorney who specializes in trucking accidents to ascertain.
There is a 51 Percent Rule, which prevents you as a plaintiff from claiming damages if you are found to be more at fault during a truck accident case. Having legal help in these cases is critical towards knowing if you’re eligible to collect these damages or not.
Determining who is at fault whenever an accident involving a commercial truck or tractor-trailer takes place can be complicated. An extensive investigation into the matter at hand must be made before dishing out any blame or liability.
A thorough investigation of the accident scene must happen first and foremost. Subsequent reviewing of the truck company’s employee records takes place, exploring what background checks are performed on the driver by said company. The truck driver needs to have a valid commercial driver’s license to show he or she has legal leeway to operate the vehicle. Furthermore, every commercial driver must have a log book on hand that fulfills transportation regulations. That logbook could reveal violations resulting in the driver being responsible for causing the accident to begin with. In examining the logbook, you could also discover that the company is working its drivers too hard, which could lead to exhaustion and cause them to lack focus on the road.
Asking the driver’s employer for a medical certificate is also pertinent as that will reveal whether the commercial driver has any pre-existing medical condition. That medical record should also include all drug and alcohol screenings to see if there’s any history of impaired driving. Other reasons for negligence include possible issues with truck maintenance, improper vehicle loading by the cargo company, or outdated documentation. Finding the cause makes proving negligence a more seamless task and can show whether the driver or the employer should be held accountable in your truck accident case. Filing a product liability claim against the manufacturer is a logical step should there be a defect with the truck. Hence, the truck maker can be branded as negligent.
Proving negligence is essentially a three-step process. Your attorney must first show that the defendant owed you a duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care to avoid injury. Second, your attorney must show that the driver or his superiors breached that duty to provide reasonable care. Then, it must be shown that the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care is the reason the truck accident took place. Fulfilling those three steps can help you recoup damages for your physical and emotional suffering.
If your lawyer has successfully proven negligence by the driver, employer, manufacturer or even the cargo company during your truck accident case, you can get damages. You’re eligible to receive damages if it’s been proven that the accident in question has caused a financial loss.
There are many basic expenses you may be eligible to collect if you’re suffering severe injuries due to a truck accident. These expenses include medical care, which means both hospital and home care. There are also expenses for therapeutic treatments and the equipment used that you can receive damages for. Other basic expenses available include pain and suffering, disfigurement, any loss of companionship or consortium as well as loss of present or future earnings. You can also get financial relief for property damage or if you are experiencing emotional distress during the aftermath. Punitive damages can also be awarded to you or any other accident victim if it is found that the driver or trucking company’s behavior has been despicable. Allocating such damages depends on how malicious or intentional such behavior by the accused in the case is. Determining how much compensation you get also depends on the defendant’s financial size.
If your truck accident case is settled out of court like most personal injury cases, your trucking accident attorney will negotiate with the insurance carrier regarding damage amounts. Having someone beside you who is familiar with these procedures can help you make the most of a very difficult situation.
The Clardy Law Firm can help you prove negligence and seek the financial aid you need following a truck accident. Get the legal case help you deserve right away!