Commercial Truck Accidents FAQs

If I am partially at fault for the accident, can I still recover compensation?

Yes, in South Carolina, as long as you are not more than 50% at fault for the accident. Our system is called “comparative negligence,” and the jury will determine the amount of another party’s liability for the accident as well as your own. Each party’s portion of liability determines the percentage of the resulting damages he or she must pay, if any.

If I am injured in a truck accident, who can I sue?

The answer to this question depends heavily on the circumstances of your accident, but including the full realm of possibility, you may be able to sue the driver of the truck if he/she is negligent, the trucking company if they negligently hired the truck-driver or if the truck-driver was an employee of the company not an independent contractor, and the truck’s manufacturer, if there is a defect in the truck that caused the accident.

What is considered a “commercial truck”?

A commercial truck is a vehicle used in the course of business and/or for the transport of commercial goods. Examples are 18-wheelers, tractor trailers, tanker trucks, dump trucks, delivery vehicles, semi trucks, “big rigs” and other large freight trucks.

Are there limits on the amount of time that a commercial truck driver can spend on the road?

Yes. A driver of a truck is not allowed to drive more than 10 hours following 8 straight hours off duty or for any period after having been on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty. 49 C.F.R. §395 – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Are commercial truck drivers required to have a special drivers license?

Yes. Commercial truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) if they drive a vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds; transport themselves and 15 or more passengers; OR transport hazardous materials. The CDL requires that a driver possess knowledge and driving skills as evidenced by a test taken in a truck that is similar to the type of truck that he or she will be driving.

What can I recover if I have been injured in an accident with a truck?

Medical expenses, hospital bills, income lost because of missed work, pain and suffering, future medical or physical therapy expenses, and loss of earning capacity resulting from the accident. You may also be entitled to punitive (punishment) damages if the at-fault party was grossly negligent. (i.e. at-fault driver was D.U.I.)

What are the most common causes of accidents involving commercial trucks and automobiles?

While the possible causes of a trucking accident are too numerous to list, a few may include: inadequate training as to driving technique, improper deference to safety issues and defensive driving; driver fatigue; drug or alcohol use by the driver; speeding; mechanical failure; defective parts; and improper loading or overloading the truck.

What should I do if I have been in an accident with a commercial truck?

Almost every person involved in an accident with a commercial truck will benefit from consultation with a competent attorney. You can be sure that the driver, owner, and operator of the truck will be represented by legal counsel and your rights will be best protected if you are too. There are a few things you can do prior to this consultation, however. At the scene of the accident, the police officer should have given you a green form called an FR-10. You must take this form to your insurance agent within 15 days of the accident, or risk suspension of your driver’s license. The FR-10 is an insurance verification form that notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles that you had liability insurance on your vehicle at the time of the accident. This form also serves to alert your own insurance company that you have been in an accident. That way, if there is any question as to who was at fault; the company will have an insurance adjuster investigate the accident on your behalf. It is best not to give a recorded statement to any insurance adjuster without consulting with an attorney first. You should not rely on an insurance adjuster to protect your rights. Insurance adjusters often have competing duties and the adjuster often feels a greater obligation to the company for which he or she works than you – the policyholder. It is because of these competing duties that an attorney is the best resource from which to obtain advice regarding to what the law entitles you and what legal recourse you may have.

Why is a traffic accident involving a truck different from an accident involving just a car?

Obviously, the biggest difference is the size and weight of the vehicles, which typically is the biggest factor resulting in a more catastrophic accident than if the accident just involved cars. A large commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, compared to the average passenger automobile that only weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Due to this size disparity, and the basic laws of physics, any collision between a commercial truck and another vehicle is likely to result in serious, even fatal, injuries. Furthermore, because of their large bodies, many trucks are not as maneuverable as cars. For example, a tanker truck that is carrying liquid may be swayed by the sloshing of the liquid it carries causing it to slide or jack-knife. The distance it takes a truck to slow down or stop is also much longer than a car because the brakes systems of trucks and cars are completely different.