Truck accidents are among the most devastating collision cases. Victims often face substantial physical, financial, and emotional repercussions. South Carolina tort law makes the party responsible for the truck accident liable for the resulting damages. If you suffered injuries or lost someone you love from a truck collision, a Charleston truck accident lawyer at Rikard & Protopapas can help you recover your losses.
How Our Charleston Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You
Our truck accident attorneys take on the responsibilities of protecting your rights, proving your claim, and negotiating for a fast and fair settlement on your behalf.
Duties of an experienced truck accident attorney include the following:
- Investigating the accident to find evidence of negligence
- Identifying your losses to ensure you receive an adequate settlement
- Handling all conversations and negotiations with the insurance companies
- Completing and filing all required paperwork for your claim or lawsuit
- Advising you through the legal process
When you retain us, our attorneys’ hard work will be your comfort during a challenging time. We understand the burdens you and your family face and the urgency to recover your losses. Hiring a legal representative can better your chances of receiving fast and complete compensation.
Types of Truck Accident Cases We Handle
Truck accidents occur in many forms:
- Rear-end collisions are common. These accidents often occur because the truck driver followed too closely. The immense weight of a truck can cause catastrophic damage to a motorist’s spine or their passenger’s.
- Rollover accidents are often the result of poorly loaded cargo or driver errors, such as a truck speeding around curves.
- Blind-spot collisions occur because trucks have significant areas where they can’t see, and make poor choices when changing lanes.
- Jackknife crashes happen when the truck trailer skids to one side, placing the truck in an “L-shaped” formation. This causes the driver to lose control and can result in a multi-vehicle accident.
A critical component of your attorney’s job is to carefully consider the type and cause of a truck accident to determine liability and assess what damages directly resulted from the crash.
Liability in Truck Accident Cases
The question of liability is typically more complex in truck accident cases. For this reason alone, most victims need the services of an experienced Charleston personal injury lawyer. Consider the potentially negligent parties and their roles in a truck accident case.
Truck driver liability
Truck drivers are the most apparent party to blame when an accident occurs because they are on the scene. If their negligent or intentional actions caused the accident, their insurance would likely be responsible for damages. For example, violating traffic laws or operating the truck outside the scope of the job would constitute liability.
Independent drivers are contracted employees working for the company but with self-employed status. These drivers carry more personal responsibility than direct employees of a trucking company.
Trucking company liability
A trucking company owes a duty of care to other drivers when it allows its trucks and employees out on the roads. It is responsible for ensuring all drivers undergo a vetting process to rule out applicants with a history of violating traffic rules or industry standards. The company must also ensure its drivers have adequate training and well-maintained trucks before allowing its drivers to get behind the wheel.
Failure to inspect and maintain its fleet of trucks would make the company liable for any accident resulting from malfunctions. Additionally, incentivizing truck drivers to exceed hours-of-service limitations for financial gain could make the company responsible when fatigued driving or violations of industry standards lead to accidents.
Under certain circumstances, a third party could be liable for damages. Examples include:
- An outsourced mechanic handles the inspections and maintenance for the trucking company, making them liable for malfunctions that cause accidents and injuries.
- The truck or parts manufacturer is liable for damages when a defective part or system, such as a failed braking system or malfunctioning tire, causes an accident.
- The cargo loader is responsible for compliance with weight and security standards that keep the cargo from creating undue stress on the trailer and ensure nothing shifts in transit.
Our truck accident lawyers know where to look for evidence of liability and will gather the documentation needed to argue for your side.
Recoverable Damages From a Truck Accident Case
Each truck accident case has unique circumstances. However, there are common compensatory damages among all personal injury claims. You may be eligible for economic and non-economic damages if you sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligence.
Economic damages, or specific losses, address how the accident and resulting injury impact your financial health. Common examples include:
- Expenses for necessary medical treatment, including emergency care, current medical bills, and prolonged ongoing treatment
- Loss of income, including wages from lost work opportunities and loss of earning capacity due to disability
- Cost of preparing or replacing any property damaged during the accident
- Cost of replacement services, such as child care, transportation to medical visits, and in-home care
Part of your attorney’s duties is to collect documentation, such as medical bills, pay stubs, and applicable estimates and receipts, to prove your right to recover these losses.
Non-economic damages address how the accident and resulting injuries impact your psychological health. Common types of non-economic losses include:
- The pain and suffering caused by physical injury and medical treatment
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of consortium if your injuries damage your intimate relationship with your spouse
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Loss of the ability to enjoy life
Proving non-economic damages is more complex than proving specific losses. Our experienced Charleston truck accident lawyers will interview close acquaintances and gather testimonies from relevant experts to prove these losses. They will also help you understand the appropriate monetary value of these damages.
Wrongful death damages
Given the potential for severe injuries in a truck accident, the possibility of fatality is also high. If you lost a loved one, you may have the right to claim damages on their behalf. You could recover losses specific to wrongful death claims:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of current and future income and benefits, such as health care and retirement contributions, that the deceased provided for your household
- Loss of love, companionship, nurturing, guidance, and society your loved one provided
- Cost of medical expenses the deceased incurred before death
- The pain and suffering the surviving family experiences
In South Carolina, only the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. However, any damages they recover will go to the surviving family members.
South Carolina law allows personal injury victims to collect punitive damages in cases involving gross negligence or malicious intention. These damages do not compensate for any loss. Instead, the court may order the defendant to pay punitive damages as punishment for their actions.
If you have questions regarding eligibility for these damages, a lawyer from our firm can assist you.
Federal and South Carolina Truck Driver Requirements
Federal and state laws govern truck industry safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration specifically regulates truck drivers’ hours of service, limiting how many consecutive hours they can drive and how many hours they must rest.
For example, property-carrying commercial drivers can operate a truck for a maximum of 11 hours and only after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They must also take a 30-minute break after driving for eight hours.
The FMCSA also regulates truck cargo weight and security. For example, the maximum weight limit for most commercial trucks is 80,000 pounds, including the vehicle’s weight. The party responsible for loading the cargo must secure it according to FMCSA standards. Failure to comply commonly results in increased wear and tear on the truck and possible rollover accidents when cargo shifts during transit.
South Carolina law restricts who can drive a commercial truck. Anyone seeking a commercial driving license must be at least 18 to drive within the state and 21 to drive outside the state. They must also pass all the required knowledge tests for a CDL and complete a road test.
As your attorneys, we will investigate all relevant parties in the truck accident and look for evidence of federal and state regulation violations. Proof of these violations often helps build a claim for negligence.
Schedule a Consultation With a Charleston Truck Accident Lawyer
If you suffered injuries or your loved one was killed in a truck accident, you deserve dedicated lawyers to fight for your right to compensation. There is no time too soon to call.
At Rikard & Protopapas, we understand the devastation a truck accident can cause and that fast action is the only way to mitigate the financial consequences. Contact us to request a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Charleston and get the answers you need today.