If you’ve ever been on the highway, then you know how much bigger commercial trucks are than passenger vehicles. It can be intimidating to drive in the shadow of a vehicle that weighs up to 80,000 pounds.
Any anxiety you have when you’re next to a truck is warranted. When reckless or negligent truck drivers crash into smaller cars, the injuries they inflict can be serious and even catastrophic. If you were hurt in a truck accident in Charlotte, contact DeMayo Law Offices at (704) 333-1000 immediately.
We help truck crash victims throughout North Carolina pursue the compensation they’re owed. You may need significant treatment, including ongoing therapy and time off work to recover after your crash. That puts financial strain on you and your family that you shouldn’t have to bear.
When someone else causes your injury, you have the right to demand fair compensation. Our Charlotte truck accident attorneys at DeMayo Law Offices can assist you in making sure the responsible party pays for their actions. Call (704) 333-1000 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
When you’re the victim of a truck accident, it can be complicated to seek compensation. That’s because there are potentially so many interests involved. The driver may have caused the crash, but other parties could share some blame. Your attorney must find out everyone who was at fault so they can seek compensation from the at-fault person, people, or business.
Truck crash liability could fall to any of the following parties:
The truck driver
The trucking company
The trailer’s owner
The cab’s owner
A third-party that provided maintenance or repairs
Whoever loaded and secured the cargo
If you want to hold any of the above parties accountable for your injuries, you and your attorney will need to prove these elements existed at the time of the crash:
Duty of care: A duty of care is the legal obligation one party has to another to avoid harm. Your claim will demonstrate that the responsible party owed you a duty of care. Trucking companies and their drivers owe the public safety on the road. If they fail in that duty, they could be financially responsible for any injuries they cause.
Breach of duty: If someone’s careless, negligent, or willful actions lead to a breach of duty, they could be held liable for the crash. For example, if the trucker was texting behind the wheel, that’s an action that puts others’ safety at risk. A court could determine that it was a breach of duty.
Causation: The injury you sustained must be a direct cause of the other party’s breach of duty. You can’t seek compensation for a preexisting condition or injury caused by another event. For example, you can ask for damages for a broken leg if it was broken before the crash.
Damages: In legal terms, damages are the physical, emotional, and financial injuries a victim suffers because of an accident. If you didn’t incur damages, you wouldn’t be able to pursue compensation.
Regulations for Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies
Those working in the trucking industry have to follow strict regulations. There are both state and federal laws meant to keep truckers and the public safe. If you’re a truck driver in North Carolina, you must adhere to the following service rules:
Never drive more than 12 consecutive hours after spending eight hours off duty.
Never work more than 70 hours in seven days or over 80 hours in eight days.
Take at least a 30-minute break after the first eight hours on duty.
Never drive over 16 hours after taking eight consecutive hours off.
If a trucker gets into an accident, they must report it to law enforcement right away. If the crash causes fatalities, they must report to the Public Service Commission within 24 hours of the crash. If there weren’t any fatalities, they have 15 days to report it. Truck drivers must report every accident, even minor ones, within 30 days to the Director of Public Safety.
Other federal and state trucking requirements truck drivers must meet include:
Divers must be at least 21 years old for interstate driving and 18 for driving within North Carolina.
They must speak, read, write, and understand English enough to communicate with others, read traffic signs, and write reports.
They must have the physical ability to operate a truck.
Drivers have to carry a valid commercial driver’s license at all times.
They must complete all required tests and certifications successfully.
Drivers and their employers must keep driver logs that track their hours on and off duty, truck maintenance, and document any issues.
They may not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Truckers and truck owners must maintain the truck and equipment at all times, report problems or damage immediately, and repair them expeditiously.
Truck employers have obligations too. They must make sure all their employees have the qualifications and experience necessary to operate a truck safely. If their driver doesn’t know how to operate their truck in all conditions, it puts the safety of everyone at risk. Responsible employers perform thorough evaluations of their drivers to make sure they’re qualified.
Why Truck Accidents Happen
Anyone who operates a truck needs a high level of training and ample experience. They need to be aware of their surroundings at all times to avoid hazards. If drivers become distracted or don’t follow traffic laws, they could cause devastating injuries.
The sheer size and weight of a commercial vehicle mean that collisions with small passenger cars are often catastrophic. Drivers sit in the cab and pull a trailer loaded with heavy cargo. Sometimes the cargo is consumer goods. Other times, they carry toxic chemicals that can cause severe burns to accident victims.
Trucking regulations exist to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers traveling on the country’s roadways. Unfortunately, not all drivers follow those regulations. When they don’t, they cause crashes. The most common causes of truck accidents include:
If a trucker failed to operate their vehicle safely and caused your accident, they must pay for the cost of the injuries you suffered.
The Charlotte truck accident attorneys from DeMayo Law Offices know all the laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry. We can review the details of your case and determine who may be liable. Our legal tactics are proven ways to hold liable parties responsible for their behavior. We’ll demand that they pay the money you’re rightly owed.
Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Large and commercial truck accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, but there is one overwhelming factor that many truck accidents have in common. That factor is driver error. A study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration finds that the majority of large truck accidents are associated with driver error, more specifically errors caused by distracted driving and drowsy driving.
The intense pressure placed on truck drivers to meet strict deadlines can mean that some drivers resort to going long stretches without adequate rest. Other drivers may resort to communicating through text or using electronic devices to stay entertained on long, lonely stretches of road. Both drowsy driving and distracted driving have been compared to driving while intoxicated as significantly dangerous behaviors that endanger public safety.
Some of the most common causes of serious truck accidents also include:
Driver fatigue/drowsy driving
Driving under the influence
Unsafe lane changes
Failing to let cars pass safely
Environmental factors such as weather conditions
Poorly or improperly loaded cargo
An untrained or improperly trained driver
Poor driving performance
Most Common Types of Truck Accidents
Trucks are much more difficult to operate and maneuver than regular automobiles. That is why it requires special training, certification, and driver license requirements for individuals to be considered qualified to handle these behemoth vehicles.
Due to their significant size, weight, and high center of gravity, trucks can be involved in very different types of serious accidents. Large, commercial vehicles are much more prone to rollovers, tire blowouts, and jackknife accidents than standard cars and trucks. The most common types of accidents that impact large trucks tend to include:
An accident where the truck turns inward on itself, and the cab and the trailer end up forming a 90-degree angle similar to a pocketknife blade being folded in.
Serious accidents where a truck tips onto its side and/or may continue to roll until finally coming to rest in any number of positions.
An exploding tire can cause the truck driver to lose maneuverability or control of the vehicle, posing a danger to any other nearby vehicles.
Accidents where a driver hits another vehicle while trying to navigate a wide turn.
A specific type of accident that occurs when a truck driver fails to check or account for vehicles in their blind spots.
Crashes that impact the rear of another car, typically caused by speeding, tailgating, or unsafe lane changes.
The way cargo is loaded onto a truck can impact its center of gravity, weight distribution, and maneuverability. Improperly loaded cargo can cause serious accidents and spills.
Types of Truck Accident Compensation
Trucking companies and commercial drivers are required to carry liability insurance with higher coverage than passenger vehicles. That’s because large trucks can cause more damage than smaller cars. If they cause life-threatening injuries that require long-term treatment, they need to pay for it.
Each case is unique, and the compensation victims receive depends on their circumstances. Generally, people injured in North Carolina truck crashes can seek compensation for the following damages:
Medical expenses, including rehab costs and future care
Loss of earning potential and past lost wages
Pain and suffering
Repair or replacement of the damaged vehicle
Physical impairment or disability
Some commercial vehicle accidents are fatal. When someone dies because the trucking company or their employee failed to follow federal or state regulations, an immediate family member or the representative of the victim’s estate can pursue a wrongful death claim. The survivor could receive compensation for their loved one’s funeral and burial costs, medical bills, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering.
Most Common Injuries Suffered in Truck Accidents
Passenger vehicles and their occupants rarely come away unscathed from a large truck accident. Even with the latest safety features, a 3,000-pound passenger vehicle is no match for an 80,000-pound fully loaded commercial truck.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 72 percent of all people killed in fatal truck accidents were the occupants of the other vehicles, not the occupant of the truck. In 2017, there were 4,761 people killed in crashes involved large or commercial trucks, and thousands of others were left with serious injuries. The injuries that can result from a large truck collision are catastrophic and can be life-altering. A victim may require specialized medical care and treatment for the rest of their life.
Some of the most common injuries associated with large truck collisions include:
Traumatic brain injury
Other head, neck, and spinal injuries
Burns, chemical and physical
Can I Sue the Truck Driver or Their Employer?
If a negligent or reckless trucker injured you, you can file a lawsuit against the driver or trucking company. But you may not have to. Many personal injury cases can be resolved outside of court in an insurance claim, followed by mediation.
If we need to, our Charlotte truck accident attorneys are prepared to prove negligence or recklessness caused your injury and submit evidence of it in court. Our Charlotte truck accident attorneys will document the facts of your crash to show that you deserve fair compensation from the at-fault party.
In North Carolina, there is a three-year statute of limitations to pursue civil action in injury cases. For wrongful deaths, the statute of limitations is two years. If you want to file an injury lawsuit, you have to do so within three years from the crash date. If the statute passes and you haven’t proceeded with legal action, you may lose your right to seek compensation for your damages.
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What Is the Cost of a Truck Accident Attorney?
Truck accidents are singularly devastating and traumatic events. The destruction that an 80,000-pound vehicle can cause is often catastrophic. That means significant damage to personal property and, many times, massive damage to the human body. The cost of medical care following a serious large truck accident can reach astronomical proportions, leaving families struggling to cope financially, while still reeling from the physical and psychological aftermath.
The trucking company, their team of lawyers, and their insurance adjusters know that victims may be in a vulnerable position. Serious injuries may mean that a victim will be temporarily out of work and have no way of handling the influx of bills without a steady paycheck. The insurer may offer a settlement in exchange for the victim’s signature. This essentially amounts to the victim signing away their legal rights for a check that may not be enough to cover all of their medical care.
At DeMayo Law Offices, we understand you may be feeling financial pressure after a serious accident. So much so that the cost of hiring a lawyer seems unattainable. This is exactly what trucking companies and their insurance companies are counting on. It means they can get away with paying you the bare minimum, while keeping their profits and reputation intact.
Hiring an attorney to help you recover compensation following a large truck accident is the single most important decision you can make. It can mean the difference between having your expenses covered, and just scraping by because a settlement wasn’t nearly enough.
We know you may be struggling, that’s why we work on cases on a contingency-fee basis. That means that we don’t get paid until you get paid. We don’t think that the cost of hiring a lawyer to protect your rights should be prohibitive. That’s why even the initial consultation is free, as well. Let the skilled team at DeMayo Law Offices review the circumstances of your accident and lay out your legal options. You have nothing to lose, and valuable compensation to gain.
Choose DeMayo Law Offices
With over 150 years of combined legal experience, our Charlotte truck accident attorneys have the knowledge and skills to pursue the maximum compensation available in your case. Truck drivers and trucking companies often cut corners to stay ahead of schedule and save money, which results in injuries to other motorists. You deserve compensation for the suffering you endured if it happened to you.
We believe in holding truck drivers and their employers responsible for their careless and negligent behavior. You shouldn’t pay for your own expenses when you were acting safely and responsibly behind the wheel. DeMayo Law Offices will work hard to help you recover from the financial consequences of your injury.
We know you’re under financial strain after your truck crash. We don’t want to add to your burden, which is why we take cases on contingency. That means we don’t get paid unless you get paid.
To schedule a free consultation and find out how we can assist you in your truck accident claim, call DeMayo Law Offices at (704) 333-1000 today.
Truck Accident FAQ’s
We’re ready to meet and answer any questions you have about your legal options following your truck accident. We’ve also provided answers to a few commonly asked questions that may be useful.
Every case is different, which means there is no hard and fast timetable for when a case will reasonably be resolved. Truck accident cases tend to be much more complicated than everyday car accidents. There is a great deal of investigation that needs to take place in order to firmly establish liability for the accident. If more than one party is responsible for the circumstances that caused the accident, that can also add to the time it will take to fully process a case.
How long it takes to resolve a case may also greatly depend on how willing or unwilling a trucking company, their insurers, and their lawyers are to cooperate. Some companies want to resolve the issue quickly and will negotiate to settle in a relatively timely manner. Others may want to fight or drag out the process in hopes that it will wear a victim down to the point that they will settle for significantly less than what their actual claim is worth.
An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and give you a general estimate of how long it may take to recover compensation. For victims looking to recover the maximum amount they may be due, patience can be key.
There are several ways that the dollar value of a truck accident case is determined. In most cases, a victim may be entitled to receive economic compensation and non-economic compensation. Economic compensation is the most straight-forward to calculate. These are measurable damages that are easily tabulated, such as medical expenses, lost income, and property damage.
Non-economic damages are much harder to calculate and can vary substantially, because they are subjective. Non-economic damages tend to include pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and physical impairment or disfigurement. Putting a price on emotional suffering is much more complicated than tallying up the total of a stack of medical bills.
A skilled attorney will be able to review the merits of an individual case, the special circumstances involved in the accident, and any mitigating factors in order to give a victim a general idea of what they may expect in the way of compensation following a truck accident.
The answer is, it depends. Not all trucks are owned by private or for-profit trucking outfits. Garbage trucks, government trucks, and military trucks all use the same roads that everyone else does. When it comes to holding government agencies accountable for the actions of their drivers, things can get tricky. Some government agencies have immunity from certain types of cases; others may be held accountable depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Filing any type of claim against the government is complicated and time-consuming. Government agencies have a wealth of legal resources that they may be able to turn to in order to protect or shield them from liability. The best way to protect your rights and figure out what your legal options are is to contact an experienced law firm immediately following the accident.
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