Commercial trucks are frequently involved in some of the most serious accidents that occur in North Carolina. The size difference between a truck and a passenger car is a major factor that contributes to the high rate of injuries and fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Concord Truck Accident Lawyer.
Truck accidents will often involve a few cars and tend to bring multiple insurance companies into a claim, making these cases very difficult to navigate. Harman Law has a team of Concord personal injury lawyers with decades of experience in helping victims pursue compensation for the damages and injuries caused by truck accidents.
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Truck Accident Statistics In North Carolina
Between the years 2010 and 2017, the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks increased by 41%, from 104 to 147. The number of lost lives also increased sharply, from 117 to 164 in the same period. In 2017 alone, semi-trucks / tractor trailers accounted for the largest number of truck crashes, totaling at 4,567.
Between 2011 and 2015, more than 137,000 people were involved in crashes involving large trucks in North Carolina. 57% of these were drivers or passengers in another type of vehicle, while 43% were in a truck. However, 82% of those seriously injured and 85% of those killed were in vehicles that weren’t large trucks.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
The actions you take following a truck accident can have a serious impact on not only your health, but also your legal rights. Below is a checklist of steps to do after you’ve been involved in a truck accident in Concord, NC, to help you avoid overlooking an important step.
Stay at the scene. Leaving too early could have you sued as a hit-and-run driver
- Get you and others out of harm’s way.
- Call the police and the paramedics.
- Get professional medical help, even if you seemingly don’t have any injuries.
- Take photos of the scene.
- Collect the contact information of the drivers, passengers, and witnesses at the scene.
- Mind what you say at the scene. Never apologize or admit guilt.
- Avoid talking to insurance adjusters without consulting with an attorney first.
What are the Laws Regarding Truck Accident Liability?
North Carolina has stricter requirements for commercial truck drivers and trucking companies. These requirements help to protect the safety of other motorists and make sure that negligent drivers pay for the damages and injuries they cause in case of an accident.
The North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program outlines important guidelines for commercial trucking companies. These include:
- A minimum mandatory insurance coverage between $50,000 and $750,000 to cover personal injury and property damage
- Compliance to load and weight restrictions
- Submission to vehicle inspections
- Commercial driver qualifications and rules
Commercial truck drivers are also subject to strict rules with regards to:
- Licensing – the driver needs a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and endorsement for the vehicle class
- Medical condition – undertaking biannual tests for medical conditions that may pose safety risks
- Age – The minimum age for getting a CDL is 18 years if operating within NC, or 21 years for interstate operations
- Impaired driving – a blood alcohol level of .04 or greater is enough grounds for a DWI charge
- Substance testing – Drivers agree to submit to alcohol and drug testing
- Work and rest hours – NC limits driving to 11 hours after 10 hours off duty
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
An experienced Concord car accident lawyer can guide you through the process of pursuing compensation for the damages and injuries sustained in a truck crash.
We will conduct a thorough investigation to discover all of the parties that are potentially at fault, and identify all insurance policies that may be available to provide compensation. This will help to increase the amount of compensation available to cater to your damages.
Our lawyers will also calculate the full extent of your damages from the truck accident, including your past and future medical expenses, any lost income or earning capacity, pain and suffering, and the cost of remodeling your car or house to make it accessible.
Once we reach a fair sum, we’ll submit it to the insurance company and negotiate on your behalf for a full settlement. We’ll discuss any offers we receive and give you our perspective on whether it’s reasonable depending on your injuries. In case we fail to reach an agreement, we are always ready to seek justice for you in court.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive?
Some of the compensation that you can recover after a truck accident include the following:
- Medical costs- These include the past and future medical expenses, including the costs of transport to and from the hospital, rehabilitation, therapy, any home or car remodeling, etc.
- Pain and suffering for the discomfort the accident caused
- Property damage – The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle
- Emotional distress – Emotional harm as a result of the accident with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, etc.
- Lost enjoyment of life – Some injuries could prevent you from doing what you love to do
- Punitive damages – Designed to exert extra punishment as a deterrent to the defendant and the public from engaging in such wrongful behavior
How Much is My Truck Accident Claim Worth?
No amount of compensation can dissipate the heartbreaks or undo the injuries. However, compensation can give you the financial resources necessary to get the best possible medical care and provide your family with the financial refuge when dealing with your lost income.
There’s no surefire way to establish the validity of your case other than consulting with experienced truck accident attorneys. Your attorney will help you calculate the value of your case, and take the first steps towards finding out who should pay for your damages. They will also offer you the guidance and advice needed to tackle the case.
Is There a Deadline for Filing an Accident Claim in NC?
The statute of limitations for North Carolina Truck accident claims is three years from the date of the accident, or from the date you became aware (or should have reasonably become aware) that there were enough grounds for filing a lawsuit.
Under no circumstances can you file a claim over 10 years from the date of the accident. This is applicable no matter when you discover you have grounds for a lawsuit.
How is Fault in a Truck Accident Determined?
North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, which makes the process of proving fault particularly important. As a pure contributory negligence state, doing one tiny thing wrong in the truck accident, such as not using a turn signal could be enough to bar you from getting compensation.
As such, to determine fault, you need to show that the other driver was at fault, and defend yourself against any claims that you contributed to the crash in any way.
Can a Lawyer Prove the Truck Driver was Negligent?
Yes. The elements of proving negligence for truck accidents are that the truck driver had a duty of care, they breached this duty, and the breach resulted in injury, and therefore the damages. To successfully recover damages in North Carolina, your lawyer needs to demonstrate how the other driver breached their duty of care, and that this breach caused the accident.
Fault is often demonstrated with evidence such as witness statements, police reports, photographs of the scene, and drivers’ statements. Keep in mind that traffic laws relevant to the accident will also be considered.
For instance, truck drivers are subject to extra regulations and must comply to certain requirements as outlined above. If the truck driver violated any of these regulations or requirements, it may help you prove that they were at fault for the accident.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driver error or negligence: This includes drunk driving, recklessness, failure to yield, etc.
- Driver fatigue: Some drivers ignore the legal limits of the time drivers may spend behind the wheel as outlined by the law for truck drivers
- Speeding: The most common reason is to meet unrealistic deadlines and other expectations
- Cargo loading imbalances: This could lead to rapid shifts in the cargo, causing the truck to lose control
- Inadequate training for drivers and poor hiring practices
- Truck defects and improper maintenance of the trucks
Who Can be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?
Depending on what caused the accident the following entities can be held liable for causing it:
- Truck driver: Particularly if he/she owns the truck, was driving while intoxicated or violated traffic rules
- The trucking company: Generally liable for things inadequate or poor training, pressuring drivers to work long hours or driver faster to beat deadlines
- Shipping/Loading companies: For overloaded, incorrectly loaded, or inadequately secured cargo
- Repair and maintenance companies: For failure to inspect, repair, or maintain the truck properly causing mechanical failure
- Truck Manufacturer: In case where truck defects lead to or contribute to a crash, the company the manufactures, sells or distributes the truck or its part can be held liable
- Government entities: For cases where unsafe road conditions contributed or caused the crash
Contact an Experienced Concord Truck Accident Lawyer Today!
For professional legal insight into the details surrounding your case, get in touch with a Concord truck accident attorney with Harman Law today, and schedule your free consultation. We are ready to meet with you at any of your most convenient location in North Carolina.
We are focused on our clients’ best interests, and that’s perhaps why we’ve consistently generated favorable results for them. Our Concord injury firm can protect your rights, help you build a strong case, and pursue the compensation you need and deserve on your behalf.
We also provide our clients with a contingency fee arrangement for all cases. This way, you can benefit from superior legal counsel regardless of your financial situation.