Why Are Truck Accident Claims So Complicated?
Trucking accidents and the personal injury claims that follow them are far more complex than passenger car accident cases. There are four factors we must keep in mind:
- Accident Damage and Injuries: A full-size commercial truck weighs 10,000 pounds or more when empty and up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded. The impact of such weight in a crash can cause much worse damage to people and property than a 2,000-pound car will. The complexity of a tractor-trailer or similar large truck also means there is far more physical evidence to analyze in a truck crash.
- Motor Carrier Backing: Although the truck driver is likely to have primary responsibility for a wreck, such as due to fatigued or distracted driving, the trucking company that employs the trucker has legal responsibility, as well. However, larger motor carriers have legal teams and investigators dedicated to protecting the company from the legal and financial consequences of accidents.
- Multiple Potentially Liable Parties: There are several parties behind the operations required to put long-haul transfer trucks and other commercial trucks on the road in South Carolina. Any of them may share responsibility for a crash. For example, a third-party loader may be responsible for a cargo shift that began a crash sequence. Having multiple parties involved increases the complexity of sorting out responsibility for a crash, as well as the finger-pointing among insurers and legal teams.
- Federal Regulations: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates every aspect of the U.S. commercial trucking industry with voluminous rules and requirements for drivers, trucks, cargo, and more. The FMCSA also requires a variety of reports, records, and other documentation to show adherence to regulations. Failure to meet federal requirements is negligence.
Our respected Lancaster truck accident law firm has the knowledge, experience, and resources to thoroughly investigate your crash and pursue as many claims for you as the evidence supports. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case.
Evidence in a Truck Accident Claim
In addition to documents the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires, access to the truck itself may be crucial to your claim. Commercial trucks are equipped with “black box” devices that record various data about the truck’s operations just before a crash.
Information downloaded from a crashed truck’s event data recorder (EDR) may tell us about:
- Vehicle speed
- Engine speed (RPMs)
- Throttle (gas pedal) position
- Brake status
- Clutch status
- Cruise-control use
- Steering angle
- Forward collision warnings
- Lane departure warnings
- Sudden acceleration or deceleration
- Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) warnings about truck systems outside of normal values
- GPS-based positional data
This just scratches the surface of the evidence that may be available to help us show which parties in a trucking accident should be held accountable to you. In some cases, we consult accident reconstruction specialists who use advanced techniques based on principles of physics and engineering to determine how and why a truck crashed. In addition to producing detailed reports, these professionals can provide expert witness testimony.
However, some evidence degrades over time, and it is easy for documents and other materials to become “lost” or mistakenly destroyed. A motor carrier may be anxious to junk or sell off a wrecked truck or its parts, and move on.
The sooner we start a truck accident investigation, the better. Please do not hesitate to contact our Lancaster truck accident lawyer if you have questions about a potential claim. Schedule a free consultation with David Blackwell Law now.
Dangers of Tractor Trailers on the Highways
It is important to understand the dangers that large trucks pose on the highways of South Carolina. They weigh far more than passenger vehicles and take longer to stop. In a collision involving a tractor trailer and an automobile, the size and weight of the large truck mean that the occupants of the smaller vehicle usually absorb the brunt of the impact. Most people injured in multi-vehicle crashes involving large trucks are drivers and passengers of other vehicles.
The physical dimensions of tractor trailers and buses mean that they have wide blind spots on all sides that can make other vehicle invisible to truck drivers. Automobile drivers need to remain aware of this and stay out of trucks’ blind spots.
Intersections are another danger area. Large trucks cannot make sharp turns. Trucks need extra turning room to make a turn at an intersection because of their length. A crash may result if a vehicle tries to pass a truck on the right while it is turning.
Tank trucks — also known as cargo tankers — transport liquid cargo including flammable fuels or other hazardous liquids. Tank trucks have a higher center of gravity, which makes them less stable and more prone to overturning. If a tank truck driver takes a curve too fast or hits the brakes suddenly, a partial load in a tank truck may shift suddenly and cause the vehicle to rollover. Many tanker truck rollovers in South Carolina involve driver errors such as driving too fast for road or weather conditions. If a tanker truck is involved in a crash, it may cause a spill and a fire or explosion. A spill can present a fire risk and cause environmental contamination.
Trucking companies and commercial truck drivers that transport freight in interstate commerce are required to carry higher amounts of liability insurance than passenger car owners because of the damage a large truck can cause in a crash. Companies that haul hazardous substances are required to have even higher amounts of liability insurance.
The higher insurance levels mean both the extent of injuries and the recoveries may be greater in accidents involving 18 wheelers. Trucking companies and their insurers will have lawyers looking out for their interests after a crash caused by a tractor trailer. The rules and regulations governing tractor trailer trucks are complex. You will need an experienced South Carolina semi-truck accident lawyer fighting on your behalf for fair compensation that recognizes the seriousness of your injuries. Attorney David Blackwell is an experienced South Carolina tractor trailer accident lawyer and is available to answer your questions and discuss your accident.
Safe Driving Around Tractor Trailers
When sharing the road with 18 wheelers or other large trucks, it Is important to avoid dangerous situations that may lead to a truck accident.
When Passing — If you need to pass, move into the left, passing lane and accelerate smoothly past the truck. Do not pass a truck in the right lane, because the truck driver may not expect you to be there.
Do not cut right in front of a truck after passing a big rig. If traffic slowed down suddenly, the truck may be unable to avoid hitting you.
Give truck drivers plenty of room to merge in front of you from on-ramps.
Longer to Stop — Trucks take much longer distances to stop. For example, a truck travelling 65 miles per hour may take the length of two football fields to come to a stop. The truck driver may not see you if you are in a blind spot on the truck’s front passenger side.
Following Too Closely — A truck driver who is tailgating may cause a rear-end collision if the vehicle in front has to brake unexpectedly. If a tractor trailer is following too closely, let the truck pass you.
You should not follow too closely behind a truck either. The area immediately behind a truck is a blind spot so the truck driver cannot see you. If the truck stops unexpectedly, your car may slide underneath the back of the truck trailer, which sits higher off the ground.
Down Hill — Trucks gain speed going downhill. If an automobile driver cuts sharply in front of a truck on a descent, the truck driver may be unable to slow down in time to avoid hitting the vehicle in front.
Blind Spots — Tractor trailers have wide blind spots on all sides. That makes it hard for truck drivers to see what is around them. Stay out of a truck’s blind spots. If you cannot see the truck driver in the truck’s side view mirror, assume that the truck driver cannot see you either.
Do not drive beside a semi-truck for any longer than needed to pass the truck. Never linger in a truck’s blind spot. If a truck driver cannot see you and tries to move into the lane where you are, it can cause a serious accident.
What to Do if You Have Been in a Crash Involving a Tractor Trailer
If you have been involved in a wreck with a semi-truck, there are certain steps that you should take:
- Report the truck accident to police and get an accident report;
- Check the condition of others involved and request an ambulance if anyone needs emergency treatment;
- Exchange driver license and insurance information with the truck driver;
- Avoid discussing with the truck driver details of the accident or who was at fault;
- Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident;
- Take photos of the accident scene including damage to your vehicle and your injuries, if you are able;
- Visit the doctor and get a medical evaluation after the collision if you did not require emergency medical assistance;
- Inform the doctor that you have you been in a truck accident;
- Do not give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster;
- Contact an experienced semi-truck accident lawyer to review the accident details and offer guidance about whether you have a valid claim. The state and federal regulations that apply to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies can be complex. You should not try to represent yourself in dealings with the trucking company’s insurer.
At David Blackwell Law, our legal team knows how to protect your rights and pursue full compensation for your injuries. We regularly work with clients in Lancaster, Indian Land, Heath Springs, Kershaw and throughout South Carolina. We will aggressively pursue full compensation for you. If the insurance company refuses to offer fair compensation for your injuries, we will be prepared to file a lawsuit and ask a court to order the payment you need. We do not back down when dealing with trucking companies or their insurance companies.
Compensation for Your Truck Accident Losses
Our investigation of your truck accident may yield evidence that supports multiple claims. In each, we will demand compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses, including for hospitalization and treatment, follow-up appointments, medication, rehabilitative therapy, etc.
- Property damage, including money to repair or replace your car, as well as compensation for a vehicle’s diminished resale value
- Lost income, including a reduction in future earning capacity as a result of crash injuries
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
The truck accident injury lawyers at David Blackwell Law will aggressively pursue your truck accident case and fight powerful insurance companies for the compensation you deserve. We will develop a solid case that allows us to negotiate from a position of strength as we demand maximum compensation for what you have been put through and may face in the future.
When an insurance company refuses to offer a full and fair truck accident settlement, we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit and ask the courts to order the payment you deserve.