Big Rig Accidents and Liability

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South Carolina has almost a thousand miles worth of interstate highway that passes through its territory. Quite a lot of traffic comes from all those roads, including large trucks. Big rigs, when driven well, are no more worthy of comments than any other vehicle on the road, but when they break down or encounter problems, they are more dangerous than any car could ever be. There are different ways to determine whether or not a big rig driver has been negligent. There are more benchmarks than there are for the driver of an ordinary car. It is important to know your rights before moving forward on any legal action.

Truck Accident Statistics & Causes

In 2014, there were a total of 2,285 crashes in South Carolina that involved large trucks, out of which came 1,489 injuries and fatalities. There are multiple reasons that big rigs crash; some can be laid on the driver’s shoulders, some on a third party’s, and some entirely on fate. It is important to differentiate which ones are which. Some of the most common reasons for truck accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, are:

  • Speeding or other failures to obey traffic laws
  • Driver inattention
  • Inclement weather and/or poorly maintained roads
  • Mechanical failure, such as with brakes or engine parts
  • Substance abuse, with either legal or illegal substances

The level of negligence that can be attributed to the truck driver will vary from case to case, but if you are in a position where you plan to bring suit against a trucking company or driver, understanding what you may allege is important.

Assigning Liability

If you believe a big rig driver is responsible (in full or in part) for injuries you suffered in an accident, you may be able to hold them liable, but you may also be able to be compensated by the trucking company, or even another third party. Most cases of this nature will be tried under the legal theory of negligence, which means that four points must be proven in order for the defendant to be found liable.

The first is that the defendant must owe a duty of care to the plaintiff – in other words, a responsibility to act with reasonable care toward the people around them. (Drivers owe a duty, generally as a matter of law, to the other drivers on the road.) The second is that the duty of care must have been breached. You must also be able to show that the defendant’s actions were the direct cause of the harm you suffered. The harm itself must be of a lasting nature – not necessarily permanent, but more severe than bruises or cuts that will heal in days or weeks.

South Carolina acknowledges the common-law doctrine of vicarious liability, which means that an employer is responsible for the torts of their employees if committed during the scope of employment. So, for example, if a trucker is found liable for your injuries, the trucking company may actually be the one who pays – they put their employees out on the road, so to speak, so they have a responsibility to cover for any mistakes they make.

A Truck Accident Attorney Can Help You

If you have been the victim of a truck accident, you need an attorney that knows how to handle difficult situations while still being compassionate and guiding you every step of the way. The North Charleston truck accident attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse have years of experience in these matters and are happy to put it to work for you. Call us today for a free initial consultation.