Wrecks between tractor-trailer rigs and passenger cars and trucks can be devastating to life and limb because of the weight and size differences. Those who are involved in this type of accident should promptly meet with a South Carolina truck accident lawyer in a free, no obligation consultation.
Your attorney can evaluate the accident, explain the legal process and applicable law, and determine if a civil lawsuit is justified to recover damages.
Personal injury lawyers in South Carolina may work without taking a fee during the case, which is called contingency. Attorney fees are paid from a portion of the monetary award but if no award is achieved the attorney does not take a fee.
Big-Rig Accident Types
Federal regulations limit the size and weight of tractor-trailers to 18 wheels, 53 feet in length, and 80,000 pounds in weight.
These vehicles cannot stop or turn very well by comparison to other vehicles sharing South Carolina’s roads and their drivers sometimes do not have a good visibility. “No zone” is a blind spot preventing the operator from seeing in front, to the sides, and in back of the rig. A rig turning can pinch a car between it and the curb, called a squeeze play. Rigs turning at highway speeds can unexpectedly change lanes, called “off track.”
Loads shifting in turns can make the trailer unstable causing the operator to lose control, and improper maintenance can also be a factor. Further factors of an accident can be explained by a South Carolina truck accident lawyer.
Law Regarding Truck Accidents
Big-rig accidents are adjudicated under South Carolina’s negligence law. The legal definition of negligence is behaving in a manner that a prudent person in the same circumstance would not do. Negligence can also be an omission.
South Carolina uses the comparative negligence standard, which reduces the amount of damages a party can claim by the amount of fault they have. A judge or jury determines the degree of fault.
The “51 Percent Rule” forbids a plaintiff who has any fraction more than 50 percent of the fault from claiming any losses. To determine the degree of negligence, a person must contact a truck accident attorney in South Carolina as soon as possible.
Negligence has elements that must be proven to prevail:
- Duty of care: Reasonable people have a legal obligation not to cause harm or property damage to another person or an entity
- Breach: An act that violated duty of care
- Causation: But for the breach the accident would not have happened
- Proximate cause: A particular, foreseeable event occurred
- Damages: A financial loss resulted
In serious collisions with tractor-trailer rigs, those injured may have these basic expenses available:
- Medical care, including hospitalization and home care
- Therapeutic treatments, including equipment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Loss of present and future earnings
- Property damages
- Punitive, allowed if the negligent act was egregious
Contacting an Attorney
In serious collisions with tractor-trailer rigs, a South Carolina truck accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, which may include the testimony of an accident reconstruction specialist to bolster the case and refute the defense’s theory.
In addition to physical evidence, the truck accident lawyer in South Carolina also gathers the records of all related expenses to document the damages claimed and the trucking company’s maintenance records. Testimonial evidence is “discovered” by interviewing under penalty of perjury everyone involved.
In preparing for trial, the truck accident lawyer will anticipate the trucking company’s defenses and be ready to counter them. At trial, the attorney will cross-examine defense witnesses and argue for the total amount of damages claimed.
If the case is settled out of court, as many personal injury cases are, the attorney will aggressively negotiate with the insurance carrier, which will act in its own best interest and attempt to limit the damages.