Injured in a Tractor Trailer accident in South Carolina? You have rights which must be preserved. Call an experienced Charleston truck accident attorney who knows that trucking accidents present special issues that make these cases much different and more complicated than typical personal injury cases arising from automobile accidents.
Common Truck Accident Causes
As the trucking industry continues to grow, trucking accidents are increasingly common. When sharing the road with these heavyweights, you are at a clear disadvantage: in trucking accidents, individuals in the passenger vehicles account for 98% of deaths. Because trucking companies usually have experienced legal teams and are experienced in negotiating settlements with victims, they will often offer less than you deserve, and leave you with high medical bills and lost wages that are not appropriately covered in the settlement, making it important that you have a Charleston truck accident lawyer on your side.
There are many laws and regulations which govern traffic and safety requirements for truckers. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) is the government’s branch charged with both writing safety regulations and tracking highway safety data. NHTSA, which can be found on the web at www.nhtsa.gov, has a wealth of information on highway traffic safety standards, crash worthiness of vehicles, recalls, defects and more.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)is another governmental agency which specifically focuses on safety in the trucking industry through regulations and enforcement. The FMCSA began as a part of the United States Department of Transportation, www.dot.gov, a cabinet level organization. The FMCSA, which can be found at www.fmcsa.dot.gov, offers many helpful resources, including safety regulations and safety courses, among many others.
Our State Transport Police, which is under the South Carolina Department of Public safety, investigates all major trucking accidents in South Carolina. Information about the Transport Police can be had at http://www.scdps.gov/scstp . Although they are highly trained at investigating accidents, it is important to get your lawyer involved early on so that our highly trained expert engineers can begin their reconstruction of the wreck. Officers on the scene from the Transport Police are not required to have degrees in engineering.
Because there is no formula to determine the real cost of an accident, an experienced Charleston truck accident lawyer can help you determine what you are entitled to, and represent your rights against the big trucking corporations.
Our firm is here to support you in any cases involving tractor trailer accidents. Please contact us for additional information on this area.
The Charleston truck accident attorneys at Howell and Christmas, LLC will meet with you at no charge for your initial consultation and there is no obligation to use our services.
Be Prepared – Because accidents happen to even the best of drivers, everyone should be prepared to do the right things immediately afterward. Many legal troubles arising from accidents could be avoided if the persons involved knew what they should do.
Call a Law Enforcement Officer – Notify the local police department of the accident if it occurs in the city. If the accident occurs outside city limits, notify the County Sheriff’s office or the South Carolina Highway Patrol. Even in minor accidents where there are no serious injuries or property damage, notify the authorities immediately. An officer’s official report may assist you later if a claim for liability is filed.
What Should I Do at the Scene? – In South Carolina, drivers involved in an auto accident where a person is injured or property is damaged must stop their vehicles at the scene of the accident or as close as possible without obstructing traffic.
If someone is seriously injured, make arrangements for a doctor to come to the scene or call an ambulance. It is best not to move an injured person. Good intentions on your part may result in further injury to the victim.
Take all possible precautions to prevent further accidents and ensure the safety of those involved. Station someone to warn any approaching vehicles and, if at night, use flares and reflectors. Use a flashlight if no flares or reflectors are available.
Obtain Names of Witnesses – Get the names and addresses of all witnesses. After writing down the names and addresses of any witnesses, try to get statements of what happened. If they will, have witnesses write down this information at the scene. The investigating officer will also obtain this information. Always have a pencil and pad in your car.
Take Notes on the Accident – Make your own written notes on all significant circumstances concerning the accident.
Remain at the Scene – Unless injuries make it necessary for you to leave the scene of the accident, remain there until you have completed all of the following procedures:
– Call the police or highway patrol
– Assist the injured
– Move your vehicle to the side if obstructing traffic
– Identify the other driver(s)
– Get names, addresses, and statements of witnesses
– Make notes
– Make a diagram of the accident
Commenting on the Accident – South Carolina law requires the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident to give his or her name, address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving and to show his or her driver’s license. Every law enforcement officer who investigates an auto accident must file a written report. You are obligated by law to assist any officer in this investigation by answering questions and discussing the circumstances. Be aware that any statement can be held against you. You should not admit or sign anything even if you think you are in the wrong. You may learn later that you are not at fault or that the other driver was equally at fault.
File Reports – South Carolina requires drivers or owners of cars involved in accidents to report the accident within fifteen (15) days to the South Carolina Department of Transportation. The investigating officer will give you a form (FR-10) to fill out to prove that you have the proper liability insurance.
Notify Your Insurance Company – Report the accident to your insurance company. Failure to make a prompt and correct report may affect your rights. If you were injured, notify the company issuing the applicable insurance (accident insurance, hospitalization, etc.) After the accident you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company; however, you have no duty to give statements or sign any forms given to you by any of the other drivers’ insurance companies.
Remember, any statement may be used as an admission of fault. Be cautious in dealing with persons offering to adjust your case or trying to hurry you into a settlement. Once a release is signed, it is very difficult to reopen a case. If the other party or the opposing insurance company offers a settlement or asks you to sign a release, you may wish to consult a lawyer. You can lose valuable rights by signing a release.
Pay Nothing – Do not make or promise to make immediate payment of any kind of the other party. Any such payment would be at your own risk. The other driver cannot force you to make any payment without legal proceedings, nor can the other driver hold your car without legal action. Keep records of all expenses associated with the accident, including doctor bills, time lost from work and any other expenses. Save copies of all bills.
Consulting With An Attorney
Have questions about a truck accident in South Carolina? Our Charleston truck accident lawyers can help. The initial consultation is absolutely free. If we take your case, the contingency attorneys fees are calculated before client expenses. The client is responsible for expenses. Let one of South Carolina tractor trailer accident lawyers give you straight answers to all your legal questions.