How Is Fault Determined in a Truck Accident?

April 22, 2024 – Paul Hammack

South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers | Hammack Law Firm | Call 864-326-3333

How fault is determined in a truck accident includes several different parties investigating the crash and gathering evidence to prove what happened and who is responsible. This includes you or your attorney, the insurance company, and possibly the attorney representing the trucking company at trial if that becomes necessary.

If you work with a truck accident law firm on your case, it will conduct a thorough investigation into your collision. The goal is to prove negligence and fault, identify the liable parties, and document your injuries and damages to value your claim.

Investigating a Truck Collision

As a part of representing your best interests and seeking justice on your behalf, your truck accident lawyer should gather and analyze evidence to determine:

  • What caused the commercial vehicle accident
  • Which parties are at fault
  • If you shared in the responsibility in any way
  • How the at-fault parties acted negligently
  • Who may be vicariously liable under the state’s respondeat superior doctrine
  • The injuries and financial harm you suffered
  • The potential settlement value of your case

While your attorney will use their experience, resources, and knowledge of these accidents to develop your claim, they also consult with experts as necessary. They will use their network to connect with:

  • Accident reconstruction specialists
  • Trucking industry experts
  • Medical experts
  • Others who can benefit your case

Common Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents in South Carolina

Understanding the common ways truck drivers cause collisions on South Carolina’s roadways can help narrow down what happened and give an investigation direction. In many cases, the police report or what you can tell your legal team about what happened could help them determine where to start.

Some common types of truck accident cases a law firm may handle include:

  • Head-on
  • Rear-end
  • Underride and override
  • Side-impact or T-bone
  • Jackknife
  • Rollovers
  • Wide turns
  • Blindspot
  • Unsecured cargo and lost loads
  • Drunk driver
  • Drowsy driver and hours of service violations
  • Drugged driver
  • Distracted driver
  • Speeding

Evidence That Proves Fault in a Commercial Vehicle Accident

The evidence available will depend on the accident’s circumstances. Your legal team will know the most common types of proof to look for and how to use them to support your claim. This could include:

  • The police accident report
  • Physical evidence from the crash site
  • Witness statements
  • Photographs from the accident scene
  • Crash video footage
  • Accident reconstruction
  • Your medical records related to your injuries
  • A survey of the accident scene
  • Expert testimony

You or your lawyer will need to issue a spoliation letter to the trucking company as soon as possible to protect the evidence they have. This makes it their legal obligation to preserve the necessary proof so that your attorney can gain access to it during discovery if your case goes to trial. Examples of this evidence include:

  • Data from the truck’s computer
  • Rest logs
  • Dashcam video
  • Post-accident drug and alcohol test results
  • Employment records and driving records
  • Medical exam results for the driver

Who Is Liable for an Accident That a Negligent Truck Driver Causes?

Proving the truck driver acted negligently behind the wheel and caused a South Carolina crash is only one step in identifying the liable parties in a commercial vehicle accident. In most cases, the at-fault driver is not the only party you can hold accountable for your accident case.

The legal doctrine of respondeat superior applies in South Carolina, including in most truck accidents. Case law, including Sams v. Arthur (1926), supports this doctrine, and the South Carolina Supreme Court has reaffirmed it again and again. Under respondeat superior, the driver’s employer is also vicariously liable in most collision cases.

This occurs when:

  • The employee acts negligently; and
  • The employee is acting “in the course and scope” of their job at the time

This means when a truck driver runs a red light while hauling goods for their employer, the employer is also responsible for any injuries that crash victims suffer.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Handle my South Carolina Truck Accident Claim?

There is no law requiring you to hire a law firm to handle your truck accident claim, but it can help you navigate the process of recovering fair compensation in your case. Your attorney will know how to investigate the collision, determine fault, and prove liability.

They can protect your rights, develop a case on your behalf, and pursue a fair settlement for you. You generally have up to three years to negotiate an agreement before S.C. Ann. § 15-3-530 forces you to sue or lose the right to take the case to trial. Your lawyer will manage all aspects of this process for you.

Hammack Law Firm will Discuss Your Options with You Today for Free

Hammack Law Firm’s truck accident team will review your case for free during an initial consultation today. We will provide the compassionate support and strong representation you need, fighting for justice in your truck accident case.

Call (864) 326-3333(864) 326-3333 now to learn more.

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(864) 326-3333

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