semi-truck driver using cell phone behind the wheel | SC Truck Accident LawyerIf 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 crash case 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.

What to Ask a Truck Accident Attorney

Most truck accident lawyers will offer you a free consultation* 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 crash lawyer will know that speeding to meet delivery deadlines, distracted driving, drug/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 crash case:

  • Past, present, and future healthcare 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 crash 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?

An experienced truck crash lawyer will work to establish liability on the part of one or more defendants 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 Crash Cases?

Your lawyer should be able to substantiate the results of truck crash cases 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?

Most 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, which 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 settlment or award for attorneys 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.

Have You Been Injured in a Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Truck Accident?

If you've been hurt in a truck accident, you should speak with an experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please 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 ConwayMyrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach, Florence, or North Charleston office locations.




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