Due to the online commerce explosion of the last few years, more products than ever before are being delivered by companies to people’s homes. The number of delivery trucks on the streets of South Carolina is on the increase and shows no sign of stopping. Unfortunately, with increased delivery truck traffic comes an increase in delivery truck accidents, as well.
If you’re involved in a wreck caused by a delivery truck, you have the right to file a claim for damages with the driver’s insurance company, just as you do after any vehicle accident. There are some differences, however, between car crashes and truck crashes when it comes to filing such claims. Understanding those differences can increase your chances of receiving fair compensation.
Causes of South Carolina Delivery Truck Accidents
Common reasons for delivery truck crashes in North Charleston include:
Delivery truck drivers often work long hours to deliver goods promptly for their employers. If they don’t sleep enough or don’t take regular breaks, their fatigue can reduce their alertness to traffic signals and other vehicles. In some cases, they might even fall asleep at the wheel.
Delivery truck drivers are held to an even higher standard of safety than the average motorist is. They must obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals in order to operate safely at all times. The pressure to meet delivery deadlines and financial bonuses for doing so, however, can cause delivery truck drivers to speed or drive recklessly, endangering other motorists on the road.
Poorly maintained vehicles.
Both delivery truck drivers and trucking companies are required to maintain their vehicles properly, making sure they’re in safe operating condition. All systems such as brakes, tires, and lights should be regularly checked and repaired by qualified personnel to ensure safe operation. Failure to meet these standards constitutes negligence on the part of both truck owners and truck operators.
Using a cell phone, eating, drinking, looking at a GPS device, listening to loud music, or adjusting a radio can distract a driver who might cause a crash due to a lack of attention to the road and nearby vehicles.
The use of drugs or alcohol can affect a delivery truck driver’s vision, slow reaction time, and impair judgment, increasing the chances of a serious accident.
South Carolina Delivery Truck Accidents and Injuries
One or more of the factors above can result in a variety of accidents between passenger vehicles and delivery trucks: head-on collisions, rear-end crashes, override-underride wrecks, and rollovers. In any of these scenarios, the much greater size and weight of the delivery truck, as compared to your car, means you’re likely to suffer severe injuries, such as spinal cord damage, broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), cuts, burns, scarring, and whiplash.
Such severe injuries lead to high medical expenses, significant lost income, and extreme pain and suffering, which in turn lead to expensive damages claims that the defendants’ insurers are likely to dispute or deny in order to save money for the insurance company. The insurer might also offer you a quick, low settlement that won’t even cover your medical expenses. Your lawyer can mount a thorough investigation to evaluate your claim and determine whether more than one defendant is responsible for your damages.
Multiple Defendants In A South Carolina Truck Accident Claim
In accidents between private passenger vehicles, the damaged party generally files a claim against the insurance company of the driver whose negligence caused the crash. If your car is hit by a commercial truck, however, there could be more than one party responsible for your damages, including:
If the operator who was driving the delivery truck when it hit you was driving negligently, then the driver is responsible.
The truck driver’s employer may also be held responsible for damage caused by its driver in the course of carrying out job duties.
Truck owner or leasing company.
Whether the truck is owned by a trucking company or by another party, the owner is responsible for keeping the truck in safe operating condition. If your wreck was fully or partially caused by a mechanical system failure (brakes, lights, steering, etc.), the owner bears responsibility.
Mechanic or repair service.
If your accident was fully or partially due to faulty repair, whoever serviced the truck before your wreck could be liable.
Vehicle or parts manufacturer.
If the cause of your crash can be traced to a defective truck part, the truck manufacturer or the manufacturer of the part might be at fault for your wreck.
If the delivery truck that hit you was improperly loaded, and the unstable load caused handling problems that resulted in the truck’s striking your vehicle, whoever loaded the truck bears some responsibility for your damages.
Filing claims against or suing multiple defendants gives you more than one source of potential compensation and increases your chances of receiving a fair award if the driver or trucking company does not have sufficient insurance coverage for all your damages.
On the other hand, filing claims or lawsuits against multiple defendants, each of whom might have a different insurer, can be a legally complex and difficult process.
Help Your Attorney to Help You
If you’re physically able to do so after a crash with a delivery truck in North Charleston, you can protect your damages claim by taking the following steps at the scene of the accident: Stay at the scene, call 911, and report the crash, so that law enforcement can come and make an accident report; take photos of the truck and your car, focusing on damage and license plates; exchange information with the truck driver, but don’t argue or discuss the accident; get contact information from any witnesses to the crash; note the presence of nearby security cameras; seek medical attention as soon as possible even if you don’t feel you’re seriously injured; inform your insurance company of the wreck; and consult a truck accident lawyer.
Have You Been Injured in a South Carolina Truck Accident Caused by a Delivery Truck?
If you or a loved one was injured in a commercial truck accident in South Carolina, you should speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Florence, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.