Hit by a truck driver? Here’s what you need to know.
Trucking accidents can cause serious injuries. And determining who was to blame can make a big impact on your potential compensation. Here’s some useful information for anyone who may have been hurt in a truck accident – for more, we highly recommend you consult a South Carolina truck accident lawyer.
Experienced South Carolina Truck Accident Lawyers
What’s the difference between an accident with a commercial hauler versus just another car? No matter what you call them – big rigs, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, or semis – size is the first thing most people think of. There’s much more. Truck accidents often have more “players” – not just a driver and an insurer like a car accident. Truck accidents can involve the driver, the trucking company, and possibly multiple insurers.
Additionally, truck drivers and trucking companies are highly regulated, and there are numerous devices in trucks that gather data. A truck driver is also held to a higher standard and, because truck accidents tend to be more severe, must carry more insurance.
Being hit by a commercial driver or trucker is frightening, and because an 18-wheeler with a trailer is about 20 times the mass of a normal car, the result is often serious injury – or worse. If you’re injured in a South Carolina truck accident, knowledge is your friend, and our truck accident lawyers are ready to help! Here’s what you should know.
What to Know if You're Involved in a South Carolina Truck Accident
- How Is Commercial Trucking Regulated in South Carolina?
- Commercial Trucking Statistics and How Safe Are They, Really?
- What Causes Truck Crashes?
- What Makes Trucking Accidents Different for Those Who Are Injured?
- There Is Probably More Than One Insurance Company Involved in a Trucking Accident
- Should I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
- Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin
How Is Commercial Trucking Regulated in South Carolina?
In addition to federal oversight over interstate trucking operations, South Carolina law additionally has detailed regulations applying to intrastate trucking operations, meaning transportation within the State of South Carolina. Many mandatory permitting procedures must be followed, including obtaining a Certificate of Compliance and Unified Carrier Registration. The SCDMV also publishes standards for insurance coverages for all intrastate commercial trucks (except passenger carriers), also called motor carriers.
Commercial Vehicle Certificate Classes in South Carolina
E-L: This is the low cargo value class for things like dump trucks, and they do not require cargo insurance.
E-LC: This certificate is for those who haul valuable property and, importantly for those injured in a truck accident, requires cargo insurance.
For operators that require E-LC coverage, $5,000 is the insurance limit for loss or damage to property carried on any one vehicle.[ Back to Top ]
Commercial Trucking Statistics and How Safe Are They, Really?
Semi truck accidents are often deadly. In 2016, there were 3,864 fatalities involving trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds in the U.S. In 2018, 11% of all motor vehicle fatal accidents involved a large truck, which would include things like a tractor trailer, semi truck, dump truck, and the like. And 21% of crashes involving at least one truck – 107,000 of them – involved injury.
The more you dig into the statistics, the more apparent the danger these trucks pose on the road, and the more clear that truck accident cases are likely to involve severe injuries.
Counterintuitively, less than half of fatal truck crashes occur on interstates or freeways – 52% happen on secondary roads. And 61% of fatal truck accidents happen in rural areas, not densely populated ones. Weekdays were the deadliest, accounting for 84% of fatal truck crashes.
The Trucking Industry Has Issues – Research Proves It
Despite their heavy regulation and the amount of safety data gathered, statistics show that there are dangerous truck drivers on the road. In 2016, when federal and state inspectors pulled commercial motor vehicles (such as buses and trucks) off the road for roadside inspections, they found that 4.92% of truck drivers and 19.96% of the vehicles had sufficient violations to require ordering the drivers or vehicles out of service according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
That means about one in every twenty truck drivers and one in every five large trucks shouldn’t have been on the road. As truck accident attorneys, we work hard to investigate South Carolina truck accidents for our clients with great care.[ Back to Top ]
What Causes Truck Crashes?
By and large, truckers are just like any other drivers and have similar failings. The difference is that they’re responsible for a massive vehicle, and accidents involving large trucks have a much more deadly effect on the drivers around them, and they are driving on behalf of a trucking company that is looking at the bottom line, not the road ahead.
(A Few) Truck Accident Causes
- Distracted driving, such as texting and cell phone use
- Driver fatigue from driving too many hours or not taking required breaks
- Cargo violations, such as overloaded trailers than can cause brake failures or tipping
- Equipment malfunctions and neglected maintenance, including tires, brakes, or lights that fail
- Truck driver error, by misjudging speed, corners, or failing to check for other vehicles
- Drunk driving, or driving under the influence of drugs, including prescription medications (rare)
To add to the danger, large trucks are everywhere. According to Business Insider, there are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. as of 2016, covering some 432 billion miles annually. Drivers can also put in too many hours behind the wheel, but the regulations and tracking of hours of service are complicated. Truck driving is statistically the most dangerous occupation in the U.S., with 28.3 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And they’re sharing the road with you.
Truck accident cases are not as common as those involving just passenger cars, but when you consider the data above, it’s clear that you should consult a truck accident attorney if you’re hurt in a truck crash. You want an attorney with knowledge of laws and regulations surrounding large commercial vehicles.
What Makes Trucking Accidents Different for Those Who Are Injured?
For truck accident victims, the path to potential compensation for your injuries is a bit different because interstate commercial carriers are subject to more rules and oversight, and there may be more information available than you know. These can provide evidence that strengthen your truck accident claim:
- Driving logs must be kept by commercial truck drivers, as they are limited in the number of hours they can drive within a certain span of time. If they’ve exceeded that limit, they could be suffering from fatigue.
- Cargo logs are required, and help ensure the vehicle is not overloaded. An overloaded trailer can suffer brake failure, leading to a truck crash. Overloaded trailers are also more prone to tipping under certain conditions.
- Inspection reports and maintenance logs should be available to determine the condition of the rig that collided with you, and may shed light on possible failures or deferred maintenance or repairs. This information could be important in your truck accident case.
- Trucking company and truck driver records, such as drug test results, citations, and other information may point to a pattern of behavior. They can also include things like background checks, level of experience with a given rig, training, professional certifications, and so on.
- Black box data from the vehicle’s onboard data recorder will have vital information about a truck crash that simply may not be available in typical car accidents. Most people do not realize that these devices exist and are recording data at the time a collision happens, including vehicle speed. This data can be invaluable in building your truck accident case.
This will seem like a lot to remember, but you don’t have to. An experienced truck accident lawyer will know what to look for, and how to try and get it. Even something as obvious as the damage to your vehicle may give an experienced attorney a clue as to what to look for to strengthen your case. An attorney will also know the regulations that are in play, and there are many.
Regulation Complications in Truck Accident Claims
Trucking is regulated by both the federal and state government in different ways. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal regulatory body. The South Carolina Department of Transportation and the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles also have rules that must be followed. If rules were broken, that could strengthen your truck accident claims. The bottom line is that an experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer will have a better chance at building a strong truck accident case for you than you likely would on your own.[ Back to Top ]
There Is Probably More Than One Insurance Company Involved in a Trucking Accident
Another distinct feature of tractor trailer accidents is that there may be several insurers involved. In a typical passenger vehicle wreck, there might be two – the companies insuring either driver. An accident involving a commercial vehicle may have policies from different insurers to cover the company, the driver, the cab (or semi), the trailer, and even the cargo.
THE BAD NEWS: The more insurers who are involved, the more they can try to pass the buck – and the responsibility for paying compensation – off to each other. It also means that, after a truck accident injury, multiple insurance companies may call you. Rather, their adjusters will call you. This brings up an important tip:
Do not speak with insurance adjusters representing the trucking company or driver that caused the collision, or allow them to record a statement. After seeking medical care, speak to an attorney as soon as possible to gather information and prepare you to deal with the insurance companies. You do not have to cooperate with a liability insurance carrier.
Anything you say, they may dissect and use against you later to diminish the value of your truck accident claim or, in the worst case, cause you to lose it altogether. It is vitally important that you know what to expect from these adjusters and how to respond to any question they ask in a way that won’t hurt you down the road. You do have to cooperate with your own insurance company, so if your insurer asks for a statement, you’ll likely have to give it to them if you want coverage.
After seeking the medical care you need, the easy answer is to speak to an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible to help you gather information and deal with the insurance company (or companies).
THE GOOD NEWS: More insurance policies mean it is more likely that you will be able to recover some compensation for your truck accident injuries and the damage to your property. In South Carolina, there is the possibility that your own insurance can compensate for any damages if the insurance on a truck was insufficient or exhausted due to multiple claims from the same collision. You can seek compensation for things like:
- Medical bills, including future medical expenses if you suffer a disabling or permanent injury
- Lost wages due to your injury, including the loss of earning potential in the future
- Loss of companionship, including time with your family or the ability to enjoy time with them
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering, including mental anguish and things like PTSD
- Wrongful death compensation if you lost a loved one to truck accident injuries
An experienced truck accident attorney will help you identify what coverages may be available. Our law firm handles every aspect of truck accidents, and we’ll go to battle against the trucking company, the insurance companies, and even the driver for our clients. Our truck accident lawyers are ready to help you.[ Back to Top ]
Should I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
With the information offered above, there’s obviously a strong case for truck accident victims to hire an attorney. The sticking point, for most truck accident victims, is the cost. People sometimes believe that they can’t afford experienced truck accident lawyers, and a favored tactic of some insurance adjusters is to suggest that an attorney will take such an inordinate amount of your compensation that you would be better off without one.
In our experience, that’s not true, and aside from the amount of compensation, an attorney can help you try to ensure all avenues of recovery are examined, and all other parts of the claims process are proper.
A Truck Accident Attorney Looks Out for You
Adjusters work for the insurance company, not for you. One of their jobs is to reduce the insurance companies’ costs in truck accident cases to the lowest possible amount. It’s not personal to them. It’s just how insurance companies make money. That’s why personal injury lawyers exist – we fight for you.
At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we work on a contingency fee arrangement.2 That is another way of saying that, in our case, a South Carolina truck accident attorney’s fee is based on a percentage of the gross recovery. A case may have fees and costs associated with it, but there is no hourly or flat fee charged by the firm and no retainer. If you do not recover monetary compensation from your commercial truck accident claim, there is no attorney’s fee.
Remember that the process of investigating a truck accident and building a case is not easy. Evidence may have to be gathered quickly. Experts might be needed to reconstruct the accident, inspect the accident scene, and obtain and protect critical information. In addition, it is frequently necessary to access records for in-state companies through the South Carolina Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Secretary of State’s Office of the trucking company’s home state. It may also be advisable to examine safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the company that owns the truck. And if the case goes to trial, there may be police officers to speak with and witnesses to interview.[ Back to Top ]
Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin
Give the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin a call at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. We’ll listen to you, analyze your situation, and evaluate your claim. You can also chat with us live, right now, or contact us online if that’s easier. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, time is not on your side, and neither is the trucking company or its insurers! Consult with a South Carolina truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.