18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys Charleston County, South Carolina
This country depends on our 18 wheeler semi-trucks. You can be assured that every item you purchase in your store has at one time or another been transported by a semi-truck. This is good news for every one of us as we can find what we need in almost every part of the country.
The bad news is cars, vans, trucks and SUV’s that share the road with these large semis are driving down the road with deadly giants. Sadly, injuries and death occur every 16 minutes when a personal vehicle is involved in a collision with a semi-truck. These accidents tend to be multi-vehicle, meaning they have more injuries and result in more deaths.
Semi-Truck drivers can engage in the same kinds of careless and dangerous behavior in which any other driver may engage from time to time, including the following:
- Distracted driving
- Following too closely
- Driving while fatigued
- Failure to yield
Unfortunately, when truck drivers violate the law or are careless, they put us all at risk simply due to the size and weight of the vehicles that they are driving.
How Does the Trucking Industry Handle Accidents?
Companies and individuals who work within the trucking industry are well-aware of the fact that they could potentially be held liable for significant losses after an accident. As a result, they are generally prepared to take steps to deny or minimize the amount they pay out on any claim where a defense to payment may be available. For this reason, it is critical for victims to take steps to protect their rights.
What is unusual about an 18- Wheeler accident is that often the trucking company will send an insurance representative to the scene of the accident. These agents are working hard to make sure it appears that the accident was not the fault of their driver. Some of these companies will even go so far as to attempt communication with the other parties.
It critically important to understand that you should never accept money or sign paperwork after your accident until after you have spoken to an attorney. Determining the value of a truck accident case is a complicated matter, and insurance companies (or at-fault parties themselves) often try and take advantage of people who do not have attorneys by offering them a settlement offer far below the actual value of their case. When you accept a settlement offer, you give up any right to bring a claim regarding the incident in the future, so accepting one without talking to a lawyer could result in your losing out on a significant amount of compensation.
What Should You Do if You are involved in an 18-Wheeler Crash?
If you are like most other people, you have not spent a lot of time thinking about the appropriate steps to take after involvement in an accident with a commercial truck. This is completely understandable, as no one plans to be in an accident and thinking about catastrophic events is not how most people like to spend their time.
It is important to keep in mind that the things that you do or say after an 18-wheeler accident can have a direct impact on your ability to recover compensation. Here are some of the steps that you should take to protect your legal rights after an accident with an 18-wheeler”
- Gather Information – If you are physically able, gather information about the way in which you crash happened. Make note of things like the names of the other drivers involved, any business names or logos that appear on the truck, the weather conditions, and any road hazards that you think may have contributed to your accident.
- See a Physician – You should always see a doctor after any accident, regardless if you think your injuries are serious enough to need medical attention. Doing so will create a record of your injuries that can be used to establish the fact that the accident caused your injuries as well as their severity.
- Talk to an Attorney – Do not talk to the insurance company until you have talked to Frank Hartman. The insurance company wants to write you a check and disappear. Once you take the check you cannot give it back, and more often than not, you deserved more.
18-Wheeler Accidents: The Statistics
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has determined that semi-trucks are involved in nearly seven percent of all fatal accidents that occur on South Carolina highways. Most of these fatalities aren’t semi drivers but the drivers and passengers in the other vehicle(s). Semis top out at 80,000 pounds, while the average car weighs in at around 4,000. This weight differential leaves little room for avoiding serious injury whenever accidents involving 18-wheelers and passenger vehicles occur.
Because of the extreme inherent dangers, South Carolina carefully legislates to help limit truck accidents, including strict licensing standards for all commercial drivers. Despite these state efforts and federal regulations that are in place to improve safety conditions, truck accidents continue to happen every day in South Carolina. Most of these accidents are preventable. Many are cause by rushed, careless, or negligent driving and/or rushed, careless, or negligent maintenance and regulatory standards on the part of the trucking company.
The Truck Driver, the Truck, and the Trucking Company
An alert, healthy, experienced, and engaged commercial driver is one of the best mechanisms for ensuring improved safety on the road. A well-maintained semi-truck that’s rigorously checked (as mandated by law) before, during, and after each haul is the second most vital component of safe trucking. A well-run trucking company that’s proactive in keeping their trucks running smoothly and safely is the third crucial element to improved 18-wheeler safety. There are further considerations for truck drivers, their semis, and trucking companies that go well beyond the average driver’s responsibility when it comes to sharing the road.
- The driver’s health is of considerable concern when it comes to over-the-road drivers. These drivers are entrusted with huge cargos that they maneuver down the roads at high speeds and for long hours – often with unreasonably tight deadlines that can adversely affect their livelihoods. It’s imperative that such drivers be in good health. Unfortunately, truck driver’s lifestyles simply aren’t conducive to optimal health. Commercial drivers do a lot of sitting while racing tight deadlines, which adds up to the very unhealthy combination of a sedentary lifestyle with high stress levels. Unhealthy drivers lead to increased risk-factors for accidents, including sleep apnea and cardiac events. Because semi drivers, of necessity, engage in unhealthy lifestyles, many must resort to taking prescription and over-the-counter medications that can negatively affect their driving. This can lead to a dangerous circle that further impedes optimal safety on the road.
Commercial trucks, like all motor vehicles, are made up of many moving parts that have the potential to malfunction and create dangerous conditions that can wreak havoc on the road. There are several truck parts that are most likely to be involved in a semi-truck accident:
- Tires are what connect us to the road, and they are therefore integral to safe driving; a defective tire can cause a driver to lose control of his or her commercial truck, which creates a significant safety hazard.
- Brakes are paramount to safe driving; the braking systems in 18-wheelers are exceptionally complicated and require thorough and ongoing maintenance.
- Coupling devices connect trailers to their cabs, and any malfunction can represent a devastating safety hazard; proper inspection and maintenance are essential to road safety.
Any of these maintenance concerns, left unchecked or improperly repaired, can lead to perilous driving conditions with potentially catastrophic results.
It’s the trucking company’s responsibility to implement a comprehensive and reasonable system that regulates the maintenance of its fleet. The responsibility for ensuring that commercial trucks are in roadworthy condition is shared by the trucking company, its drivers, and several other entities, who ultimately may be identified as sharing legal liability:
- The truck’s manufacturer;
- The manufacture of the truck’s parts; and
- The truck’s mechanics.
Trucking companies and their commercial drivers are responsible for regular maintenance and inspection of their rigs. Other actors, however, can still be implicated in truck accidents that are caused by mechanical failure.
There are several other factors that can be overlooked when investigating the dynamics of an 18-wheeler case:
- Center-of-gravity issues that can lead to rollovers and can exacerbate damage in a semi accidents are not uncommon. These center-of-gravity issues can be related to the truck’s manufacture itself or to the truck company’s loading system (where timesaving shortcuts may play a role);
- Blind spots, also known as no-zones, limit the driver’s view – especially when other vehicles are driving near the commercial truck – and are often closely associated with accidents. All trucks have blind spots, but some model designs have been proven to exacerbate the dangers.
- A truck’s design and its trailer height can be deadly for any small vehicle that rear-ends the commercial vehicle. Dangerously high trailer-height designs can increase the risk of under-ride fatalities.
Your 18-Wheeler Case
An 18-wheeler accident has so many moving-parts that it can be extremely difficult to ascertain exactly where the fault lies. There are so many considerations at play that many cases amount to a puzzle that must be carefully put together. If you’ve been injured in a semi accident, you know how high the stakes are and how devastating it can be. Such a claim is far too important to leave to chance or to tackle on your own. You should retain experienced legal counsel as soon as you can; then let your attorney carefully construct your case by finding and fitting together all the pieces that relate to your claim and to your rights. Your case matters.
18-wheeler accidents are complicated and nuanced, and they can be treacherous – trucking companies are in the business of staying on the road and not in the business of taking blame for accidents. If a negligent truck driver, trucking company, truck mechanic, or truck manufacturer (or a combination thereof) is at fault for your truck accident, an experienced Charleston, South Carolina legal firm with expertise in 18-wheeler accidents will endeavor to secure your rights. Call the Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. today; we care about your 18-wheeler accident, and we can help.
Contact Our Charleston Trucking Accident Lawyers Today
At Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C., we have experience working in the personal injury area. We can put our skill and experience to work for you in your trucking accident case. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation at 843-300-7600 or use our online form.