In big truck accidents, injuries are typically more serious and have longer-lasting effects on those involved. Common truck accident injuries include traumatic brain injuries, bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, and amputations. When the truck driver is the at-fault party in an accident, the driver, his or her employer, and the trucking company may be responsible for the costs associated with the accident. If negligence can be shown from the at-fault party, the victim can file a claim and be reimbursed for their damages.

These costs could include property damage to the vehicle, as well as any medical expenses, pain and suffering, and missed time from work.

What Can I Be Compensated for If I am in a Truck Accident?

If you are a victim in a semi-truck accident case, you may file a claim to recover your damages as well as possible punitive damages. Some examples of what you may be compensated for include the following:

  • Property damage to your vehicle
  • Medical treatment for your truck accident injuries
  • Lost wages from missing work
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, if diagnosed
  • Punitive damages if the driver's actions were particularly egregious

The biggest reason you may need a Myrtle Beach truck accident lawyer is to protect your rights and ensure you get fair benefits you need from the at-fault insurance company.

Ways a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help Victims Obtain Compensation

Obtaining compensation after suffering injuries in a crash can make all the difference for accident victims. Missed work, incoming medical bills, adjustments to home life, and replacing or repairing a vehicle all require serious financial considerations. Victims and their families are already dealing with the pain and stress of a serious injury, so worrying about how to address all these new challenges can be overwhelming. 

A truck accident injury claim can provide compensation to help accident victims and their families remain stable, but it is not always a simple matter to obtain it. Too often, victims settle their claims for much less than they deserve or simply give up altogether. An experienced legal team, however, can ensure that victims' rights are protected. To obtain a fair compensation award for an injury victim, a knowledgeable, effective attorney will do the following.

Obtain Evidence of Fault

Proving that the other driver is at fault for your accident may seem straightforward, but the insurance company and the at-fault driver himself will likely look for any opportunity to shift blame. In South Carolina, the level of fault does affect compensation. Injury victims are able to obtain compensation equivalent to the other driver's degree of fault. So, when victims are assigned even a small degree of responsibility, it can negatively impact compensation. For example, if a victim is awarded $100,000 but is deemed to be 10 percent responsible for the crash, he would only receive $90,000. The loss of that compensation can make a significant difference for victims and their families. An experienced attorney can investigate to find the evidence that will strengthen your claim.

Obtain Evidence of Injury

The main tenet of a personal injury claim is that the victim did, in fact, suffer damages. A knowledgeable lawyer knows what type of evidence of injury is necessary to put forward a comprehensive claim. An attorney can help victims retain important evidence and counsel them to avoid behaviors that could be used as evidence against them, including social media use or talking to an insurance adjuster.

Ensure Care Providers Are Aware of Claim.

It's important for care providers to be informed about a legal claim to make sure they properly document every visit, diagnosis, and treatment plan. When victims need compensation to move forward, they need the cooperation and understanding of their care team, who can provide crucial evidence through records and testimony.

Fully Value the Claim

Understanding exactly how much your claim is worth can be complex. Obviously, insurance companies will seek to reduce the amount of compensation awarded as much as possible. An attorney can be a knowledgeable advocate who will consider all the consequences of your injury and determine an amount that will adequately protect injury victims. This will take into account current medical and lost wages, future medical care, future lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Negotiate With the Insurance Company

Insurance companies are businesses that are out to save themselves as much money as possible. They will not immediately offer victims all the compensation to which they are entitled. An experienced attorney knows what is fair for his client, and he likely has experience working with these companies. 

Negotiate With Lien Holders

Even after a settlement has been awarded, there is still work to do. Third parties may seek to obtain a portion of your settlement, and an experienced lawyer can protect your compensation if a hospital or other care provider seeks reimbursement. An attorney can negotiate with both to reduce or eliminate the amount owed, retaining more of your settlement for your care and future.

Ease the Burden of Accident Victims

Seeing a claim through from beginning to end and obtaining the maximum amount of compensation possible can be a frustrating process. Accident victims and their families are already dealing with a significant amount of stress, and it's understandable when they want to settle for less than they deserve just to get the money sooner. Most victims have little experience with the process, and they are eager to get back to a normal life. An attorney can bear some of this burden by taking phone calls, tracking down paperwork, meeting deadlines, and providing confident guidance.

Compensation after a car accident provides vital medical care and the financial stability victims need to recover as fully as possible. When another person's negligence leaves you or someone you love with serious injuries, you should be able to obtain all the compensation you deserve. Our experienced attorneys can help Myrtle Beach victims achieve that goal. 

Questions to Ask Your South Carolina Truck Accident Lawyer

If you're involved in any vehicle crash caused by another driver's negligence, you're entitled to compensation from that driver for your damages. If the accident is minor, resulting in low medical expenses and a quick recovery, you might be able to seek compensation through the insurance claim process without the help of a lawyer.

An accident between a commercial truck and a passenger car, however, is different in significant ways from an accident between two cars. Not only does a truck-car crash generally result in catastrophic injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle, but there are also differences in the safety standards to which truckers are held, the number of defendants who might bear responsibility for your damages, and the types of evidence required to prove liability. The increased complexity of a truck accident claim will likely require the help of an attorney who can work to prove fault and either negotiate a fair settlement with the insurers or take your case to trial.

Most truck accident lawyers will offer you a free consultation* (see disclaimer below regarding fees and costs at Derrick Law Firm) at which they'll evaluate your case, explain your options, and decide whether to represent you. Knowing what questions to ask and what answers you're looking for can help you get competent legal representation from an experienced lawyer with whom you're comfortable. We recommend asking the following questions.

1. Did the Truck Driver Cause the Crash?

An experienced truck accident lawyer will know that speeding to meet delivery deadlines, distracted driving, drug or alcohol impairment, equipment failure, and fatigue or drowsiness from too many hours behind the wheel are common causes of commercial truck accidents.

2. What Damages Can I Recover?

While you can't expect any lawyer to guarantee the dollar amount of your settlement, an experienced attorney should seek the following damages in your truck accident case:

  • Past, present, and future health care bills resulting from your accident
  • Damage to your vehicle, as well as anything valuable damaged or destroyed in the wreck
  • Lost income for the time that you cannot work due to your injuries
  • Disability compensation in some cases
  • Physical pain and suffering due to your injuries
  • Psychological trauma resulting from the experience of the accident

3. Is the Truck Driver's Employer Also Liable?

Your attorney should explain to you that several different parties could share liability for your truck accident damages:

  • The trucker who caused your accident due to negligent or illegal driving
  • The trucking company that employs the driver
  • The truck owner or a leasing agency, in some cases
  • The truck manufacturer or a replacement parts manufacturer if equipment failure caused the crash
  • A mechanic or repair service responsible for maintaining the truck
  • Loading dock personnel if improper loading or shifting cargo played a role in your accident

It's your lawyer's job to identify potential defendants, determine their respective percentages of fault, and demand fair compensation from all liable parties.

4. How Will You Prove Liability for the Crash?

Experienced truck accident lawyers will work to establish liability on the part of one or more defendants, including truck drivers and trucking companies, by taking the following steps, if necessary and available:

  • Investigating your crash in detail with the help of an accident reconstructionist
  • Obtaining a copy of the police report to substantiate your claim and address any inaccuracies
  • Accessing data from the truck's black box recorder, electronic logging device (ELD), and other on-board systems to determine the trucker's hours of service (HOS)
  • Sending a spoliation letter to the trucking company to advise it not to erase or destroy data that could provide evidence in the case
  • Getting a subpoena for the trucker's safety record and proof of adequate training
  • Examining the truck and its maintenance records for any mechanical failures or defects
  • Interviewing witnesses to the accident
  • Deposing the truck driver

5. What Is Your Track Record With Truck Accident Cases?

Your Myrtle Beach truck accident lawyer should be able to substantiate the results of truck accident claims handled in the past, as well as the injuries suffered and the settlements or court judgments won. Common truck crash injuries include broken bones, internal organ damage, burns, lacerations, scarring, whiplash, brain bleeds, spinal cord damage, paralysis, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

6. Will We Have to Go to Court?

Many truck accident cases are settled out of court through the insurance claims process. Your attorney will gather evidence and consult with your doctors to estimate your long-term medical needs, put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering, and demand a fair award from the insurer(s). Those insurance companies, however, may try to delay, deny, or devalue your claim to save money for their shareholders.

You and your lawyer need the leverage that the option of a lawsuit gives you, so your attorney should be sure you observe the statute of limitations and be ready to file a suit before the deadline if the insurer does not offer a reasonable settlement. Even after a suit is filed, your case can still be settled out of court, but you never want to give up the option of suing until you've been fairly compensated. Once the statute runs, your leverage is gone, and you're at the mercy of the insurer, who may try to give you the lowest possible offer or try to deny your claim altogether.

7. How Much Do You Charge? When Do I Pay You?

Most truck crash attorneys accept on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no attorney fees upfront. If you reach a settlement or obtain an award, your lawyer will take an agreed-upon percentage of your settlement or award for attorney fees. In addition to attorney fees, there are other costs, such as filing fees, expert witness fees, and copying and mailing costs, involved in handling your case. You should clarify with your attorney whether you'll pay those fees as they arise or after your case has been resolved. 

8. With Whom Will I Communicate, How, and How Often?

Ideally, you'll communicate directly with your attorney by email or phone most of the time, not exclusively with a paralegal or a clerk. You should expect regular and consistent communication to keep you informed about the progress of your case.

9. What If I'm Partially Responsible?

If you're partially at fault in the accident, your lawyer should explain the modified comparative fault rule that South Carolina follows in personal injury cases. As long as you're no more than 50% liable for the crash, you may still collect damages awarded by the court, but your compensation will be reduced according to your percentage of fault. If you are found to be 51% or more responsible, you may not collect compensation for damages.

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.