Accidents involving commercial trucks often cause significant property damage, severe injuries and even death. Accident victims may require extensive or life-long medical treatments and rehabilitation that leave them unable to work during their recovery or permanently disabled. In the meantime, medical bills pile up, and the stress can feel insurmountable.
That’s where we come in.
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we believe that if you’ve been injured in a truck accident because of another driver’s negligence, you deserve to be fully compensated for your injuries.
Our experienced Columbia truck accident attorneys are here to help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Being involved in a life changing event is when you realize that we are really not in control of our lives and how we choose to handle it is where we find our character. Thank God for my legal team, Jacob and Erica, and everyone else involved. Awesome in every way! Although the journey was more like a roller coaster I was always in good hands. I believe that God closes doors and He opens doors. I’m glad that I had a great legal team to help with the transition. Thank you !!
At a time when I had a lot of questions and unsure answers Mr. Born assured me every step, me and my family greatly appreciated his extra effort.
Was in a accident 2018 Mr. Jacob handle my case explained everything to me and in the end my result was very good and Mrs. Erica she was his assistant every time I called she was very helpful with everything I really appreciate y’all thank y’all so much.
What are the different types of commercial trucks?
A commercial truck is any type of truck used for business operations. They can include:
Flatbed trucks have open platforms to carry large cargo that does not need to be enclosed.
Box trucks are enclosed, medium-sized trucks that are usually used as moving vans or delivery trucks.
Tractor trailers (18-wheelers and semi-trucks) are large enclosed trucks that carry cargo generally for long-distance delivery.
Tanker trucks are used to carry liquids that are often toxic or flammable.
Garbage trucks and dump trucks are large trucks that are equipped to carry trash or other large debris for construction and other industrial purposes.
Tow trucks are specially equipped to load and carry disabled vehicles.
Cement mixers are trucks equipped with a large spinning cylindrical drum that spins a concrete mix while delivering it to a construction site.
A car carrier trailer truck is a heavy truck that pulls a large 2-deck trailer, allowing multiple cars to ship from the manufacturer to car dealers.
HAZMAT trucks are tankers or semi-trailers that are qualified to carry hazardous materials and must comply with federal and state transportation and safety regulations.
What are some common truck accidents?
Commercial trucks are a fundamental element of trade, supply chain, and industrial aspects of our economy. They are everywhere on our highways and streets at all hours. As such, they are commonly involved in vehicle accidents.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates all motor carriers operating in interstate commerce. They also set certain safety requirements for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that transport hazardous materials in intrastate commerce.
The FMCSA reports that, in 2019, there were almost 7 million Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers operating in the U.S. While heavy commercial trucks constitute less than 5% of all registered vehicles, more than 13% of fatal crashes in the U.S. involved at least 1 commercial truck.
The most common truck accidents include the following:
- Truck rollovers
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Jackknife accidents
- T-bone accidents
- Sideswipe accidents
- Wide turn accidents
What are the most common causes of truck accidents?
The most common cause of truck accidents is the unsafe or reckless practices of commercial drivers. Those unsafe practices include:
- Excessive speeds
- Disregarding traffic controls
- Driving while fatigued
- Distracted driving
- Drug use to stay awake
What are the most common truck accident injuries?
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most severe life-threatening truck accident injuries. They require immediate medical care to avoid long-term disability or death. Unfortunately, since they usually occur on an open highway, immediate access to emergency medical treatment is rare.
Other common trucking injuries include:
- Limb amputations, either as a direct result of the collision or later surgical procedures as required
- Spinal cord injuries
- Burn injuries, especially from collisions with hazardous material carriers
- Broken bones
What can I do to protect my legal rights after a truck accident?
If you or someone you love is involved in a truck accident in South Carolina, you should take the following steps to protect your health and legal rights:
- Your initial step should be to seek necessary medical attention.
- If you or your passenger can, gather all evidence available at the accident scene.
- File a crash report with the police with only the details of which you are certain.
- Keep a written record of your damages, including photos and a log of your symptoms and medical and other related costs.
- Contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options for compensation.
What damages can I collect after a truck accident?
You are entitled to collect compensatory damages and, in certain limited cases, punitive damages. Compensatory damages are divided between economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those that can be valued in recognized monetary terms (e.g., dollars). They include the following:
- Reimbursement for lost wages
- Compensation for diminished earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Funeral expenses
Non-economic damages are those that cannot be valued in recognized monetary terms. They may include:
- Diminished quality of life
- Lost consortium
- Lost companionship
- Emotional anguish
- Pain and suffering
Who can be held liable for a truck accident?
Most commercial drivers are employees or independent contractors working for shipping companies or truck owners. According to FMCSA Regulations, 49 C.F.R. §390.5, all truck drivers, regardless of their legal status as independent contractors, are considered employees of trucking companies.
If a driver is operating within the scope of their contractual duties, the following parties can be held liable for damages caused by the driver:
- The driver
- The employer
- The truck owner
- The shipper
In some cases, 3rd parties, such as manufacturers of defective truck equipment, can also be held liable.
In most truck accident cases, you will be dealing with a liability insurance company. The FMCSA requires minimum liability insurance coverage for commercial trucks. The required coverage is between $750,000 and $5,000,000, depending on the cargo being transported.
For truck accidents, lawsuits are governed by state tort law and rules. The plaintiff (accident victim) must prove by the preponderance of the evidence that the conduct of the defendant (e.g., the driver, trucking company, etc.) was the proximate cause of their injuries. That conduct can be negligent or willful.
If you sue, your proof must show that:
- The defendant (trucking company, driver, or another 3rd party) owed you a duty of care;
- The defendant failed to satisfy their duty of care;
- The defendant’s action or inaction was the proximate cause of your injuries; and
- You suffered damages as a result of their negligence.
How long do I have to file a South Carolina truck accident claim?
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for truck accident personal injury cases is 3 years from the date of the accident. If the case is a wrongful death action, the statute starts to run on the date of death.
Should I speak with the insurance company after a truck accident, and how should I handle their questions?
Be very careful when dealing with insurance companies—they are not your friends. Their sole interest is to protect their profit margin by resisting claims whenever they have legal grounds for doing so. They protect their financial interest by denying claims and negotiating the lowest possible settlements.
You should have little or no contact with an insurance company (other than your own) before engaging an experienced personal injury lawyer. This could even apply to your own insurance company since they can sometimes become an adversary.
After you consult with an attorney, they should have exclusive communication with insurance companies or their representatives, including claims adjusters and lawyers.
You should comply with the following to ensure your rights are protected:
- Do not say anything to an adjuster that suggests an admission of fault.
- Do not minimize your injuries or your symptoms.
- Do not discuss the details of your injuries with an adjuster. Instead, refer all adjuster questions concerning injuries to your lawyer.
- Do not give an adjuster an open release of your medical records.
- Do not give a recorded statement. You can give a written statement after your lawyer reviews it.
What types of evidence should I gather to support my South Carolina truck accident case?
If you can, considering your injuries, gather as much evidence as possible at the accident scene. Eventually, it will be helpful if you can produce the following evidence:
- Photos of the crash scene, especially all vehicles involved
- Copies of police reports
- Handwritten notes taken after the accident of the damage to the truck and other involved vehicles
- Data from the truck’s black box
- A copy of the trucker’s activity logs
- Statements from witnesses and trucking company personnel
- Trucking company records
Your lawyer will help you seek all relevant evidence during the discovery process when witnesses will be deposed, and the trucking company and other parties will be required to produce documents and data.
What is the process for negotiating a settlement in a truck accident case?
It’s likely that the defendant’s insurance company will make an early settlement offer. If you accept, they will avoid the risks and costs of litigation. They will count on you being in a vulnerable spot, eager to get it resolved. You should not entertain any settlement offer until your lawyer reviews it.
If your attorney advises you not to take the initial settlement offer, the process of negotiating your personal injury settlement will usually go as follows:
- Once you’re represented by counsel, the insurance company and its representatives are forbidden to communicate with you. Your lawyer will be contacted by either an adjuster or their lawyer. Typically, not much is accomplished at first.
- Both parties will evaluate their respective strengths and weaknesses. Then, serious settlement discussions will begin. Your lawyer will make a forthright presentation to you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
- After some back and forth, the insurance company will make what they claim is their final offer. Your lawyer will then discuss with you the risks and costs of trying your case before a court and jury. The results of a jury trial are difficult to predict. You will weigh the risk of a total loss against the defendant’s settlement offer.
- If you accept the offer, you will shortly receive your money, less your lawyer’s fee. Otherwise, you will proceed to trial.
What are the chances that my South Carolina truck accident case will go to trial?
Most personal injury cases are settled before they go to trial. The parties weigh their risk of loss if the case goes to trial as well as the costs of litigation. Your case can be settled before going to trial or after the trial begins. Often, the trial process will reveal to the parties a clearer picture of their risk of loss, prompting a settlement.
How can I maximize my truck accident compensation?
There are several steps you can take to increase the likelihood of a successful resolution of your claim and the amount of your compensation award:
- Gather, assemble and preserve your evidence.
- Get medical treatment from qualified medical professionals. You can use your regular health care professionals or experts recommended by your lawyer.
- With the help of your lawyer and healthcare professionals, you will assess the value of your claim.
- Be patient. A successful outcome takes time. Moreover, don’t show the opposing insurance company any impatience.
- Explain your rejection of offers to show your confidence in your position.
- With your lawyer, build your case methodically.
- Avoid discussing your case on social media. It can be held against you at trial.
- At trial, do your best to make a good impression on the judge and jury.
Get a free consultation with our Columbia truck accident attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured in a South Carolina truck accident due to another driver’s negligence, you deserve compassionate and effective legal representation. Our Columbia personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping you get the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we understand the emotional and financial toll that a truck accident can take on you and your family, which is why we fight relentlessly to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you get back on your feet.