Generally, semi-trucks are less likely to be involved in crashes than passenger cars. But, trucking accidents can result in much more serious injuries and damage. If you’ve been hit by a commercial truck in South Carolina, you likely have burning questions. The following truck accident FAQs and answers can help. For more answers and insight, speak with the experienced professionals at Pracht Injury Lawyers.
Common Questions Following a Truck Accident
What Should I Do After an Accident With a Truck?
The steps to take after an accident with a commercial truck are similar to a regular car accident. If possible after a crash involving a semi-truck, we recommend that you do all of the following:
- Call the police. They will complete an accident report.
- Get the name and contact information of the officer on the scene. Your lawyer will likely want to follow up with them.
- Seek medical attention. Call an ambulance if you are hurt. Even if you don’t think you are hurt, see your doctor afterward.
- Record details of the crash scene. Take pictures and videos. Note the time of the day, weather, and other factors.
- Get the contact information of any witnesses.
- Document your injuries and record any time off work. Take pictures of visible injuries.
- Hire a truck accident attorney to advise you on your legal rights.
It is important to limit your contact with the other party. Do not admit fault. Do not speak with the other insurance company. Rather, speak with your personal injury lawyer first. They can represent you in speaking with other parties.
What Can I Recover If I’m Hurt in a Truck Accident?
An insurance settlement may be able to cover some costs, but it is often the bare minimum. You may be eligible to receive payment to recover other damages, such as:
- The cost to repair or replace your car
- Medical bills for treatment of current injuries
- Expected future medical costs for rehabilitation
- Current and anticipated lost wages due to inability to work
- Pain, suffering, stress, and anxiety
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of financial support
- Punitive damages
Serious injuries following a truck accident can have long-lasting effects. They may cause years of pain and reduced mobility. You may be unable to continue working at your current job. Injuries may reduce your quality of life. These are all factors to discuss with your South Carolina attorney.
How Are Truck Accidents Different From Car Accidents?
While car crashes have a lot in common with truck accidents, they also differ in several important ways. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, keep these key differences in mind.
- Commercial trucks are required to have higher insurance coverage than passenger cars. This may impact the potential size of the settlement payment.
- Truck accidents are governed by federal and state law.
- More than one party may be liable in a semi-truck accident.
- Truck accidents tend to be more severe. They may cause more serious injury.
- Juries are generally less familiar with commercial truck operation than regular cars.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) investigates truck accidents. The trucking company may also do its own investigation. Police and insurance will investigate too. These investigations may not come to the same conclusion.
- The trucking company keeps service logs and other records. These records may be evidence.
What Is Comparative Negligence in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, comparative negligence laws describe fault and liability. The amount of fault is assigned as a percentage. For example, if you are found to be ten percent at fault, you may only pursue 90 percent of the damages. As long as you are less than 50 percent at fault, you can pursue damages. Working with a skilled attorney can help to move this percentage in your favor. This can make a big difference in the settlement amount.
Do Truck Drivers Have to Follow Special Rules?
Yes. Commercial truck drivers and trucking companies are governed by a federal agency. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees the trucking industry. It enforces rules like training requirements and routine inspection intervals. It also defines how long a truck driver can be on the road before taking a break. The truck driver or trucking company may have violated one or more of these rules. This can definitely be a factor in your personal injury case.
How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Case?
The statute of limitations in South Carolina is typically three years. This means you must file a lawsuit within three years of the truck accident. If you wait more than three years, you may no longer be able to sue the truck driver or trucking company. There are exceptions to this three-year rule. It’s best to discuss your case with a South Carolina attorney as early as you can.
Can I Sue the Truck Driver Who Caused the Accident?
Possibly. Unlike most crashes with a passenger vehicle, a semi-truck accident may involve other parties. If the truck driver is at fault for causing the accident, you may be able to pursue damages. The specifics of the case can impact how to proceed. It can be different if the driver is an independent contractor or if they are an employee, for example. The truck driver may be the only other party at the scene, but they may not be wholly responsible for the accident.
Who Else Should I Sue After the Accident?
The safety of the commercial truck is not only the responsibility of the truck driver. If you are involved in a truck accident, there may be several defendants named in your lawsuit. Beyond the driver, other potential defendants in a commercial semi-truck accident may include:
- The trucking company
- The truck’s owner (if it is not the driver or the trucking company)
- The manufacturer of the truck or its parts
- Other companies, like third-party cargo loaders
- Inspection, maintenance, and repair staff
- Other employees involved in the truck’s use
- Local government or construction company
Anyone involved in the maintenance, use, and operation of the commercial truck is potentially liable. They may have contributed to the crash. A truck accident attorney can help determine who is responsible and who you should sue.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Settlement Payment?
Every case is different. Investigations can take a lot of time. Specifics like medical treatment and negotiations can vary. Having multiple parties involved, like the trucking company and FMCSA, can further delay the process. It is often in the best interest of the opposing insurance company to settle the claim quickly. Some cases may settle in six months. Others can take much longer.