Each year in South Carolina, an average of 100 people are killed, close to 200 are seriously injured, and over 2,000 suffer minor injuries in crashes with commercial motor vehicles. South Carolina roads see nearly 4,000 collisions between non-commercial vehicles and semi-trucks each year. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, the commercial vehicle is at fault in about 40 percent of these crashes.
While it is logical—and often appropriate—to blame the semi-truck driver in a crash involving his vehicle, he might not be the only party who is accountable for the actions leading to the crash. If you were seriously injured or a loved one was killed in a crash with a commercial truck in South Carolina, it’s important that you work with an experienced truck crash lawyer to identify all of the liable parties to recover the full value of your losses.
Potentially Liable Parties in a Commercial Truck Crash
It takes more than a single driver to get a semi-truck loaded and on the road, and each link in the chain has a responsibility to ensure the safe delivery of goods from point A to point B. Negligence at any step could lead to a crash, which means that multiple parties could be held liable if you are injured in a collision that was not your fault. Potential defendants in a commercial truck crash include the following:
- The truck’s manufacturer. If a faulty part or defective mechanical system caused the driver to lose control and crash, then the manufacturer of the truck, trailer, or a specific part could be liable.
- The trucking company. The trucking company is often at least partially liable when their vehicles are involved in a crash because they are responsible for maintaining the fleet, making schedules, hiring and training drivers, and loading cargo. As the supervisor of the entire operation, they have a duty to ensure that safety standards are met throughout the process.
- The truck’s owner. If the truck is not owned by a large trucking company or by the driver, the owner could be held liable if a mechanical problem or lack of maintenance caused the crash.
- A third-party maintenance crew. If safety inspections, tune-ups, and repairs are outsourced to a separate company, they can be held liable if their negligence contributed to the crash.
- An outside loading company. Likewise, if cargo loading is trusted to a third party, and the cause of the crash is a spilled load or cargo that shifted and threw the truck off-balance, then they can be sued for compensation.
- The driver. It’s rare that a driver is not at least partially responsible for the crash because even if he is overworked or driving a poorly maintained or improperly loaded truck, he is ultimately responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle. It is his job to inspect the vehicle and the load, adhere to federal hours of service laws, and avoid distractions while driving.
- A municipality or construction company. Occasionally, crashes are caused by poorly marked construction zones, hazardous road conditions, potholes, or dangerous road design. In these situations, the party responsible for the road could be held liable.
Clearly, determining what factors contributed to the cause of the crash requires an investigation by a knowledgeable person who is on the victim’s side. That is the job of a personal injury law firm.
Pracht Injury Lawyers Know About Truck Crashes
Crashes with commercial vehicles—particularly with semi-trucks—are more complex than collisions between two passenger cars. For one, the injuries can be catastrophic due to the size and weight of the semi-truck compared to the car, pickup, or motorcycle. For another, commercial trucking companies have teams of lawyers protecting their million-dollar insurance policies.
When you hire an experienced truck accident attorney to represent you, we will:
- Investigate the crash. Even though there might be police reports and trucking company statements already on the record, we will conduct our own investigation of the crash site and the vehicles involved to determine who is at fault.
- Demand relevant evidence. It is vital that evidence, including the truck driver’s electronic log book and the truck’s black box data recorder, is preserved as evidence in the claim for damages. We will file the legal paperwork to ensure that this evidence is not destroyed.
- Identify all parties in the chain of events. An inspection of the semi-truck and trailer, maintenance records, hiring practices, driving history, hours of service log book, the crash site, and more will help us determine who could be held liable for the crash.
- Help you get medical care. Truck accident claims can take a long time to resolve, and you need medical treatment in the meantime. Our office will help you figure out how to access and pay for the care you need while you are waiting for the liable party to pay up.
- Take on their lawyers. Trucking companies don’t want victims to hire their own lawyers for good reason—they want to control the outcome. They might contact you right after the crash with what seems like a generous settlement offer in order to prevent you from hiring a lawyer to fight for what you truly deserve. Don’t be fooled. Schedule your free consultation with us to find out what we can do for you.
Truck drivers and their employers carry multi-million-dollar liability policies. You might not be entitled to the full value of their insurance coverage, but you won’t know unless you have an advocate on your side determining the actual value of your claim.