What Are Your Legal Rights in a South Carolina Truck Accident Claim?

June 15, 2024 – Paul Hammack

south carolina truck accident

Imagine you’re driving down a South Carolina road when suddenly, a massive commercial truck veers into your lane. In an instant, your life is forever changed. The sheer size and weight of these trucks make accidents involving them particularly devastating for you and other occupants of smaller vehicles. As a victim, you may suffer catastrophic injuries, extensive property damage, and emotional trauma that lingers long after the crash.

If you or a loved one has experienced the horror of a South Carolina truck accident, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. The physical, emotional, and financial toll can be immense, leaving you struggling to pick up the pieces. By understanding your legal rights and the steps you should take to protect them, you can begin to reclaim your life and hold those responsible for your suffering accountable.

Commercial Truck Accidents in South Carolina

South Carolina’s extensive network of highways and interstates is a vital artery for the transportation and logistics industry. However, this heavy flow of commercial trucks also contributes to a significant number of accidents each year. 

Current Trends and Statistics

When you look at the numbers from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, it’s clear that commercial truck accidents are a significant concern. In recent years, the data shows an alarming increase in these incidents indicating that these commercial motor vehicles were involved in 38% of total traffic collisions in the state. 

The Severity of Commercial Truck Accidents

Due to the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks, the damage and injuries resulting from these accidents can be catastrophic. When a commercial truck is involved in a collision, the impact is often much more severe than accidents involving smaller vehicles. This means higher risks of fatalities, serious injuries, and extensive property damage.

Key Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents

Several factors contribute to the high number of commercial truck accidents in South Carolina:

  • Driver Fatigue: Long hours on the road without adequate rest can leave truck drivers fatigued, impairing their reaction time and decision-making abilities.
  • Distracted Driving: Using mobile devices, eating, or other distractions while driving can easily lead to accidents.
  • Speeding and Reckless Driving: Pressures to meet tight delivery schedules can sometimes lead a driver to exceed speed limits or engage in reckless driving behaviors.
  • Poor Vehicle Maintenance: If the truck isn’t properly maintained, mechanical failures like brake or tire issues can result in accidents.
  • Adverse Weather Conditions: South Carolina’s weather, especially during hurricane season, can create hazardous driving conditions that contribute to accidents.

South Carolina’s Fault-Based System and Modified Comparative Negligence

South Carolina follows a fault-based system for auto accidents, which means that the party responsible for causing the accident is liable for the resulting damages. In truck accident cases, multiple parties may be held accountable, such as the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loader, or truck manufacturer.

For example, if a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel due to fatigue and causes an accident, the driver and possibly the trucking company (for not enforcing rest breaks) could be held liable. Similarly, if a mechanical failure due to poor maintenance leads to a crash, the trucking company or the maintenance provider might be responsible.

Additionally, South Carolina adheres to a modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, you can recover damages as long as your fault in the accident is less than 51%. However, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.

For instance, if you are found to be 20% at fault for an accident because you were speeding, and the total damages amount to $100,000, your compensation would be reduced by 20%, leaving you with $80,000. Conversely, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you would not be able to recover any damages.

Damages Recoverable in a South Carolina Truck Accident Claim

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident caused by another party’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for various damages, including:

  • Medical expenses, including past, present, and future costs related to the accident
  • Lost wages and future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Property damage
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium (for spouses)

In rare cases where the at-fault party’s actions were particularly egregious or reckless, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.

Immediate Steps to Protect Your Legal Rights After a South Carolina Truck Accident

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident in South Carolina, taking the right steps immediately can significantly impact your ability to secure compensation later. Here are crucial actions to take to protect your legal rights:

  • Prioritize Safety and Medical Attention: Ensure your safety and that of others involved. Call 911 if there are injuries.
  • Document the Scene: Take photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries. Collect contact information from witnesses.
  • Exchange Information: Get the contact and insurance details of the truck driver and any other involved parties. Note the truck’s company name and license plate number.
  • Report the Accident: File a police report and ensure you obtain a copy. This official documentation will be vital for your claim.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Even if injuries seem minor, get a medical evaluation. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent but can have long-term effects.
  • Notify Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurer about the accident but avoid making detailed statements or accepting fault.
  • Consult an Attorney: Contact a knowledgeable South Carolina truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can guide you on how to proceed, ensuring your actions support your legal claim.

By following these steps, you can help protect your legal rights and lay the groundwork for a successful claim against those responsible for the accident.

Dealing with Insurance Companies and Trucking Corporations

After a truck accident, you may be contacted by insurance adjusters and representatives from the trucking company offering a quick settlement. While it may be tempting to accept their offer to move forward, it’s crucial to remember that these entities prioritize their own interests.

Insurance companies and trucking corporations often aim to minimize the amount they pay out in claims. They might offer a settlement that seems fair but is actually far less than the amount necessary to fully compensate you for your losses and expenses. Before accepting any settlement, it’s vital to consult with knowledgeable South Carolina truck accident lawyers who can assess the true value of your claim and negotiate on your behalf to pursue the maximum compensation possible.

For example, an insurance adjuster might offer you a settlement covering your immediate medical expenses but not consider future costs, lost wages, or pain and suffering. Accepting this offer without legal advice could leave you without sufficient funds to cover ongoing or future expenses related to the accident.

By consulting with an experienced South Carolina truck accident attorney, you can ensure that all aspects of your damages are considered. A skilled lawyer can:

  • Evaluate Your Case: Assess the full extent of your injuries and damages, including future medical needs and lost earning potential.
  • Gather Evidence: Collect and preserve evidence to support your claim, such as accident reports, witness statements, and medical records.
  • Negotiate: Communicate with insurance companies and trucking corporations to negotiate a fair settlement that reflects the true value of your claim.
  • Represent You in Court: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney can represent you in court.

Remember, the initial offer from an insurance company is often just a starting point. With legal representation, you can have a better chance of receiving a settlement that fully addresses your needs and helps you move forward after the accident.

Statute of Limitations 

In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is generally three years from the date of the accident. If you fail to file within this time frame, you may be barred from seeking compensation for your damages. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, so it’s best to consult an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and file your claim within the appropriate time frame.

Turn to Hammack Law Firm for Justice After a South Carolina Truck Accident

If you or a loved one has been involved in a devastating truck accident in South Carolina, you may find yourself searching online for a “truck accident attorney near me” or an “injuries lawyer near me.” Look no further than Hammack Law Firm. Our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to guide you through this difficult time and help you pursue the justice and compensation you need to rebuild your life.

With our extensive understanding of South Carolina’s complex trucking regulations and our proven track record of success in handling truck accident cases, we are equipped to take on even the most challenging cases. Our team will thoroughly investigate your accident, gather evidence, and build a compelling case on your behalf, working tirelessly to hold negligent parties accountable and secure the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Don’t let the overwhelming aftermath of a truck accident define your future. Contact Hammack Law Firm today at (864) 326-3333 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate and skilled truck accident lawyers. We’ll listen to your story, answer your questions, and provide the personalized legal guidance you need to move forward with confidence. Let us be your advocate and ally on the road to recovery.

About Us – What Makes Us Different – And What It Means for You

Deep Industry Insight with 24 Years of Experience: At Hammack Law Firm, our approach to trucking law is shaped by an extensive, two-decade-long journey in this specialized field. Unlike many personal injury lawyers who may only dabble in trucking cases, our foundation is built on a profound understanding and specific focus on truck accident cases.

Insider Advantage: Paul Hammack is our lead attorney and his unique perspective comes from 15 years of experience working for trucking carriers and insurers. This insider knowledge equips us with a nuanced understanding of how the other side operates, giving our clients a distinct advantage.

In-Depth Knowledge of Federal Regulations: We’re not just familiar with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations – we know them inside and out. This expertise allows us to navigate complex legal landscapes, pinpoint liabilities, and effectively counter the tactics used by truck insurers to obscure facts and evade responsibility.

Hands-On Industry Experience: What truly sets us apart is our hands-on experience in the trucking industry. Attorney Paul Hammack has also personally operated various types of trucks, including dump trucks, semi-trucks, and flat-bed haulers. This practical experience offers an unmatched and invaluable perspective that enriches our legal strategies and client advocacy.

At Hammack Law Firm, our team is trained and experienced to win!

Copyright © 2024. Hammack Law Firm. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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Greenville, SC 29609
(864) 326-3333

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