Being involved in any serious vehicle accident is terrifying. While all collisions can be dangerous, truck crashes can be particularly devastating because of the sheer size and power of an 18-wheeler. The injuries and additional damages from a commercial truck accident are usually much more significant and may involve more parties than a standard car accident. They are also more likely to result in fatalities than other types of car crashes.
The aftermath of a tractor trailer accident also can be complicated due to the legal regulations governing truck drivers and owners. Determining fault in any motor vehicle accident is essential for the injured parties to receive compensation for property, personal, and emotional damages. Because the damages are so much greater in a truck accident, an insurance claim with the at-fault driver or commercial trucking company may not cover all the damages sustained. If the insurance claim doesn’t cover damages, a truck accident personal injury claim can be filed to cover medical costs, property damages, and other costs.
If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident, you need a qualified Charlotte truck accident lawyer. An attorney is your greatest chance at proving the at-fault party and getting the compensation that you deserve.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a trucking accident in Charlotte or the surrounding areas, an attorney can help you recover damages to cover medical bills and lost income. At the Tatum Law Firm, PLLC, we want to advocate for you. Experienced truck accident lawyer Brian Steed Tatum has years of experience dealing with complex truck collisions across North Carolina. Our team has more than 20 years of experience in litigation, and we can use that experience to achieve the greatest outcome for your case. We are always ready to fight for the rights of our clients and work diligently to help them seek the compensation that they deserve.
Every year, thousands of people are injured or killed in truck accidents. The NHTSA reports that, in 2013, 3,964 people died as a result of truck accidents in the United States, and 138 of these deaths occurred in North Carolina. Survivors of commercial truck accidents have to deal with significant recovery and medical costs.
Truck drivers perform a vital and necessary service. Most truck drivers are aware of their responsibility on the road and take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and other drivers safe. Drivers and companies are also subject to significant regulation. Trucking companies and truck drivers must follow federal hours of service rules to ensure that truck drivers have proper rest and sleep before getting behind the wheel. Under these regulations, commercial drivers can work for a maximum of 14 hours per day, of which they are only permitted to drive for a maximum of 11 hours.
Additionally, truck drivers must be off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours before the start of a shift. Truck drivers are also subject to regular and periodic drug and alcohol tests as a condition of employment.
These regulations are intended to keep everyone on the road safe. However, these regulations are often ignored, and dangerous accidents happen. Regulations may be ignored by commercial trucking companies, an employer, irresponsible truck drivers, or even the manufacturer of the truck. The responsible party needs to be held accountable for the damages caused.
Truck accidents can happen anywhere and may result in severe damage. They can be caused by several different parties, including truck drivers, car drivers, and third parties on the road. The most common causes of commercial trucking accidents include:
Determining the cause of the accident is essential to determining fault in a truck accident claim.
North Carolina is an at-fault car accident state. When multiple parties get into an accident, the insurance provider of the driver who was at fault covers the personal and property damages done to the parties who were not at fault.
In a truck accident, those involved have to determine if one party was at fault. This means that one party acted recklessly or negligently, and these actions caused the accident. This party may or may not be one of the drivers. An attorney can review the specifics of the truck accident to see who can be held liable.
A personal injury or insurance claim can be filed with the party who is at fault. Sometimes, there are multiple parties responsible. Depending on the unique situation of a commercial trucking accident, liable parties may include:
Accidents with trucks usually happen while the driver is on the job, which means that their employer may be liable if the truck driver was at fault. When the trucking company is involved, the insurance claim can be more complicated and challenging. In some cases, claims can be filed with the employer and the driver.
Dealing with multiple insurance companies can be hard, especially when you’re trying to recover from injuries. When you work with an attorney, they can negotiate with insurance providers on your behalf and help determine the responsible party.
North Carolina operates under a strict liability law called contributory negligence. This means that any party even partially responsible for the accident loses the ability to file for compensation.
When you file a claim against the at-fault party, they may try to prove that you were not exercising reasonable care and that this had a part in the accident. If the at-fault party can prove that you were partially responsible, you will not be able to get any compensation for your damages. Very few states have contributory negligence laws, and they make it very hard for victims to get financial coverage for damages. You need an experienced attorney to defend your rights and help you prove fault and lack of fault.
After a collision, the injured party has legal options to get compensation for damages. The victim can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party under the theory of negligence. Negligence occurs when an individual or entity fails to take proper care when doing something. The standard typically used for conduct in a negligence claim is “reasonable care.” This is defined as what a reasonably prudent person would do in similar circumstances. To win on a negligence claim, the victim must prove the following elements:
If a close relative of yours was killed by a negligent truck driver, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. This can help you cover funeral, burial, and any medical costs if your loved one died from their injuries after being treated. Wrongful death lawsuits are complex, so it is crucial to work with a skilled attorney who understands this area of the law.
A broad range of monetary damages may be available to compensate you for your injuries. These expenses include:
Medical costs in an accident may include:
To effectively seek these damages, however, you will need to file your negligence claim within the time limit provided by your state’s statute of limitations. These time limits can differ between personal injury actions based on an accident involving you and wrongful death actions based on a fatal crash involving a family member. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims like car and truck accidents is 3 years. This means that you have to file your claim within 3 years from the date the accident occurred, or you cannot receive coverage for your damages. Wrongful death cases, such as those that resulted from truck accidents, have a statute of limitations of 2 years from the date of death.
When you’ve been in a truck accident, it’s likely that you’re recovering from significant injuries. You need to take this time to rest and recuperate, and trying to file an insurance and personal injury claim can be exceptionally stressful. You will have to negotiate with insurance providers who don’t want to give you the compensation that you deserve. Additionally, you are likely losing income while you’re unable to work. If your injuries are severe, you may have a lower earning capacity in the future. You need to get these damages covered, and an attorney can handle your case for you.
Your attorney can gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and argue your case during settlement negotiations or court litigation. They can calculate your damages from the accident to ensure that you get the compensation you need. If the insurance companies won’t give you a fair settlement, your attorney can take your case to court. A personal injury attorney can work to maximize your compensation while you heal.
If you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck, you want to first get medical attention and report the accident. Under North Carolina law, a reportable accident is one that involves:
In these cases, the accident must be reported to law enforcement immediately. In a truck accident, there are likely significant damages that warrant reporting the accident.
After a truck accident, if you need urgent medical care, that is your priority. If you are able to, you should document what you can about the accident scene, including:
If representatives from the truck driver’s company approach you, it’s important not to talk to them. If you are contacted by insurance companies, don’t speak with them until you’ve talked with an attorney. You may end up accidentally admitting fault and giving up your right to pursue compensation. You might also end up accepting a settlement that is far less than the coverage that you deserve.
Your next step should be to get in contact with a truck accident attorney. They can help you decide your next steps based on the unique aspects of your case. Truck accidents can become very complex, and it’s essential to have legal representation.
When you’ve been through something as overwhelming and stressful as a truck accident, it can be difficult to know what to do next. An experienced and compassionate attorney can help guide you through the process. The Tatum Law Firm, PLLC, is committed to serving clients throughout North Carolina. We are well-versed in the state’s truck accident laws. From dealing with a devastating crash to a simple fender bender, we can help. Our dedicated truck crash attorney, Brian Steed Tatum, will carefully explore the facts of your case and diligently pursue your claim. Our team wants to get you the compensation that you deserve and help maximize the amount that you can receive. For further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to call us at 704-307-4350 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.