Get Answers to These FAQs We Hear the Most
We know how many questions you must have right now about your personal injury or workers' comp case, so we compiled this list of the questions we hear the most. If you have a question that is not answered here, please call our Columbia law office to speak with Kenneth Berger.
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How can unsecured cargo cause a truck crash?
There are millions of commercial trucks, semis, and other cargo vehicles on the roads and highways in South Carolina, carrying millions of dollars of freight every day. These industrial-grade vehicles carrying goods to and from businesses and consumers are often just a part of the background of daily life on the road—right up until a large truck causes a tragic accident with a passenger car due to unsecured or improperly loaded cargo.
How Bad Cargo Loading Causes Accidents
There are two main ways in which a commercial truck can cause an accident due to the way the cargo is loaded or handled:
- Unsecured or poorly secured cargo. All cargo needs to be secured in the trailer or back of the vehicle such that it cannot move, shift, or fall out of the back. Straps, webbing, and other hardware should be used in the interior to make sure that no cargo can move or fall out. The rear doors should also be secured so that if something does shift and fall, it doesn’t come toppling out of the back and strike another vehicle or cause an obstacle on the road.
- Unbalanced cargo. Cargo must be loaded properly for balance, especially in large tractor-trailers or semi-trucks. If part of an 80,000-pound load shifts to the left or right, the entire vehicle can fall on its side and crush anything—or anyone—caught underneath.
Ultimately, the driver is usually the one responsible for ensuring the safety of his or her cargo and faces legal liability if it causes an accident. The person or people who loaded the cargo, the trucking company, and even the owner of the freight itself may also share in the responsibility if an accident happens.
Get Legal Help After an Accident
Truck accident claims are legally complex due to many state and federal rules and regulations regarding commercial vehicles, as well as the number of insurers and other parties that may be involved. Multiple insurance claims or lawsuits may be necessary for victims to receive complete financial recovery. An attorney who is familiar with the industry can help you pursue every party responsible for your injuries so that you can receive the full value of your claim, including compensation for your hospital bills, medications, physical therapy, and other long-term care needs, as well as vehicle repair or replacement and other expenses related to the crash.
If you have been hurt in an accident caused by unsecured truck cargo in South Carolina, the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger is here to help you and your family with the recovery process today. Contact us by phone, use our online contact form to send an email, or use the live chat box on this page right now to get started.
How do semi-truck tire problems cause car accidents?
Semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, tankers, and other large vehicles are designed to take heavy punishment from frequent use, but they require constant maintenance to stay in operating condition. An issue with even a single tire can pose a real danger both to the truck and to other cars on the road, so it’s important that the operator of the truck follows all the rules, regulations, and good practices that the transportation industry has in place in order to drive safely and prevent accidents.
How Commercial Truck Tires Fail
The tires of an 18-wheeler must be able to support up to 80,000 pounds or more of weight, be able to withstand the forces to move that weight, and still be able to bring the entire vehicle to a stop safely, too. When a tire capable of meeting these requirements fails, it often blows out at highway speed by either exploding or rupturing, shredding the tire and leaving pieces of rubber across the road. These tire fragments can strike nearby cars and cause them to lose control, or cause drivers to veer suddenly to avoid striking pieces of tread, causing an accident.
There are many causes of truck tire blowouts, and most of them are preventable. For example, blowouts may be caused by:
- Improper maintenance. Tires need to be inflated to the correct pressure, meet minimum tread depth standards, and have a similar amount of wear. If a truck driver or trucking company doesn’t inspect and replace worn tires regularly, the tire can fail under even a light load.
- Bad loading practices. Trailers and cargo must be balanced properly front to back and left to right and not go over the maximum safe load capacity of the tires.
- Defective products. Like many other products, sometimes defective materials are released onto the market. It’s up to the trucking company or driver to stay current with all safety notices and stop using any tire that is under a recall.
There are both state and federal laws that dictate how often maintenance inspections, including tires, must be performed on trucks. Failure to perform these inspections or to document them appropriately may expose the truck driver, the trucking company, or the cargo owner to liability for any damage to other vehicles on the road.
Get Legal Help After an Accident
If you have been in an accident caused by a commercial truck tire blowout, a personal injury attorney can help you seek financial compensation for your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, and other expenses related to the incident.
At the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger, we are here to help you after your accident in any way that we can. We work hard to represent innocent people who have been injured on the road in South Carolina, and we want to protect your rights in a court of law. Let us worry about the legal business of insurance negotiations and court cases for you so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more about how we can work for you, call us by phone today, or click the live chat box on this page. Our offices are conveniently located in Columbia and we are proud to serve communities in the Sumter, Florence, and Myrtle Beach areas, as well as the entire state of South Carolina.
How can bad semi-truck brakes cause an accident in South Carolina?
Those who operate semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, tankers, and other commercial vehicles have a responsibility to make sure that their vehicles are maintained appropriately for use on public roads. Maintaining an operating braking system is of particular importance for an 18-wheel vehicle that’s capable of pulling 40 tons of cargo at highway speeds. Brake failure on a fully loaded tractor-trailer can cause an accident in the blink of an eye, causing terrible damage to any vehicles in the truck’s path.
Semi-Truck Brake Failure
Braking systems on large trucks are complex and powerful systems that are designed to take repeated punishment under heavy strain, but they do require care and training to maintain and operate correctly. Reasons for the failure for large truck brake systems include:
- Lack of maintenance. Misaligned brake linings, sticky calipers, contamination by oil, leaky fluid lines, and other mechanical issues can build up fast and lead to a failure under load. Routine inspection and maintenance on a truck is a must, both for safety’s sake and by law.
- Improper maintenance. A technician or driver who isn’t trained to handle large truck brake systems should not be performing any installation or maintenance. Trained technicians may also be negligent in their duties by not taking the proper steps to fix a problem the right way.
- Bad driver training. The license to operate a commercial vehicle is supposed to include driver training that includes both road handling and regular maintenance inspections. A driver who negligently or recklessly operates a truck outside of professional standards or fails to inspect or report a brake problem may be held responsible if the brake system fails.
If a commercial truck brake failure causes an accident with your vehicle, it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney with experience handling truck accidents. The first step often involves sending a letter of spoliation to the trucking company to ensure that evidence isn’t lost or destroyed. The trucker’s mileage logs, vehicle maintenance records, and other documents that are important to your case are all controlled by the company, so obtaining this information quickly is very important.
Once the documents and other evidence have been gathered, your attorney can fully investigate your claim and present your legal options to move forward with your claim and seek compensation for your injuries and other accident-related expenses.
Seek Legal Help Now
If you have been injured in a serious accident caused by a commercial truck, you have our deepest sympathies. The attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger are here so that you and your family can get the help that you deserve. We proudly serve those from the Florence, Sumter, and Myrtle Beach areas, as well as the entire state of South Carolina, and we work hard to keep all of the roads and highways of our great state safe by holding negligent drivers responsible for their actions.
To learn more about how we can help you after your semi accident, reach out to us by phone today, use our online contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
What are punitive damages and how are they determined?
In any personal injury lawsuit in civil court, there are three types of potential damage awards available. Economic damages are compensation for the actual costs related to the accident and are relatively easy to quantify by adding up the costs of bills and other expenses. Non-economic damages are compensation for other losses, such as pain and suffering and other less-easily defined losses. Together, these are called compensatory damages.
The third type of damage award is for punitive damages. It is a topic that deserves discussion apart from the other types of damages due to the special circumstances required to be awarded this type of compensation, especially when it comes to punitive damages in a DUI case.
Punitive Damages in South Carolina
For punitive damages to be considered in a South Carolina court, they must be specifically requested in the initial complaint, and victims must provide “clear and convincing” evidence that reckless behavior was involved. Reckless behavior means that the responsible party acted with a willful disregard for the safety of others. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated is a prime example of reckless behavior for which punitive damages may be justified.
Punitive damages are so-named because they are intended to not only punish the perpetrator financially for their bad actions, but also to provide an example to society as a whole to discourage similar behavior in others in the future. Punitive damages are not intended as the primary means of compensation, though they are a financial award; instead, they are an additional amount that goes to the victim on top of any compensatory damages already awarded.
South Carolina caps punitive damage awards at either $500,000 or three times the total amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater. However, three notable exceptions to this cap occur when:
- There was an intent to cause harm.
- A conviction or guilty plea for a felony was involved.
- The person was “substantially impaired” by drug or alcohol use at the time of the incident.
With a claim for punitive damages included in a lawsuit, it is likely that the trial will be split into two parts. The first half will address claims for compensatory damages. If that case is successful, the second half will address claims for punitive damages, and the victim will have to provide stronger evidence to support his or her case for the additional award.
Get Legal Help
Making a case for punitive damages is a complex legal process, and a successful claim can be nearly impossible without the assistance of an attorney who is well-versed in this special area of civil case law. Seeking help from an experienced personal injury attorney can ensure that your legal rights are protected and help you maximize your potential compensation after an accident.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger are here to represent victims of DUI crashes and their families, providing legal support and service when you need it most. To speak with one of our experienced legal professionals about your accident situation, please call us by phone or click the live chat box on this page right now and arrange a free consultation today.
What damages can I recover after being hit by a drunk driver?
If you have been hurt in an accident caused by a drunk driver, a civil lawsuit is how you and your family start the financial recovery process. Though the driver may have been carried away in handcuffs, the criminal charges will only punish the person who caused the accident in the only way that the criminal justice system knows how: with jail time, fines and fees to the state, loss of driving privileges, and so on.
The criminal system will not, however, compensate you and your loved ones for the costs of the accident. A personal injury lawsuit in civil court is how you seek repayment, in the form of legal damages. Here are the types of damage awards frequently seen in DUI cases, and how you can get legal help today.
Economic damages are the fundamental costs of the accident that can be tallied up by looking at the real costs. This type of damage award may include repayment for:
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Emergency treatment, hospitalization, follow-up care, and other medical expenses
- Lost wages due to time away from work
- Loss of future earnings due to an inability to perform the same work
This type of damage award is not as easily quantified as economic damages, but it can be just as important to the financial recovery process. Economic damages may include:
- Pain caused by your injuries
- Mental suffering, anguish, or emotional distress
- Damage to your reputation
- Aggravation of old injuries
In some cases, the behavior of the defendant was so despicable that the court may decide to award punitive damages. This type of award is rare, and it is designed to not only punish the guilty party, but also to use the guilty party as an example to discourage other people from committing the same offense.
Get Legal Help After Your Accident
If you or your loved one have been seriously hurt by a drunk driver, you have our deepest sympathies. At the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger, we work hard to help our community by representing those who have been injured in accidents caused by negligence or recklessness, and we are here to help you and your family when you need legal support. Reach out to us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page to set up a free consultation with us and see how we can help your family begin the recovery process today.
How does a DUI accident case work?
After you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, it sets into motion a series of events that can change your life. It’s easy to get lost in the process and be unsure of what happens next or what you should do to protect yourself and your legal rights. Here’s a look at what happens immediately after a crash and the steps that you should take to ensure you’re protected.
What Happens After a DUI Crash
Immediately after a serious crash, your first priority is to health and safety. Make sure that you and your passengers are okay and contact 911 immediately to get authorities and any medical help needed on the scene as soon as possible. Avoid interacting with the other driver and let the police handle that situation, as there may be an arrest and criminal charges involved if alcohol or drug intoxication is the suspected cause of the wreck.
The police can help you get the insurance and contact information for the other driver and provide you with an FR-10 Insurance Verification form, which must be completed and returned to the DMV within 15 days of the accident. Make a copy for your records. Next, you’ll want to:
- Contact an attorney. Find an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible, because you will likely want legal representation. Your attorney can help you negotiate with the insurance company, press a lawsuit to get a fair settlement, or pursue a legal action against the driver if he or she didn’t have insurance.
- Contact your insurance company. You may need to speak to your insurance company if you’d like to begin a claim on your own policy, if the accident is covered. Your attorney can help you with this contact to make sure your rights are protected.
- Refer questions to your lawyer. The other driver’s insurance company is going to call you within a day or two of the crash. You do not need to speak to them without your legal representative at hand, so you can politely refer them to your attorney for any questions and end the call.
Remember, the other driver’s insurance company is not working on your behalf on this case. Insurance companies do not make money when they pay out claims, so they will attempt to minimize your settlement amount as much as possible, or even deny it outright—even if the accident wasn’t your fault. Your attorney can help you ensure that your legal right to compensation is protected.
Get Legal Help Today
If you have been hurt or someone you love has been killed by a drunk driver, you have our deepest sympathies. The attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger are here to help you and your family begin the process of healing and recovery by ensuring your rights are protected after a serious accident. Call us by phone, use our online contact form, or click the live chat box on this page to arrange a free consultation with an attorney you can trust today.
How long do I have to file a DUI accident lawsuit?
In the field of law, certain time limits dictate how long a legal action can be brought against someone. This is known as a “statute of limitations” and is a part of the legal system in every state, including South Carolina. The rules change from state to state, as the legislature in each state determines what the rules are.
A very few states, like South Carolina, have no statutes of limitation on criminal acts. But every state, including South Carolina, has a statute of limitations for civil claims, such as a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim.
Why Statutes of Limitation Matter
The statute of limitations is an important part of the justice system because it serves to protect the rights of the accused. As time passes, most forms of evidence degrade, so a time limit helps ensure that evidence is fresh, and the case can be tried with the most accurate facts that are available. The time limit also helps ensure that potential defendants aren’t faced with the threat of a lawsuit forever.
Time Limits for Personal Injury Suits
The amount of time that an injured person has to file a civil action varies depending on the type of claim. For a DUI accident personal injury lawsuit, typically the time limit to make a legal claim in South Carolina is three years from the date of the injury. Similarly, surviving family members of those who have been killed have three years from the date of death to make a wrongful death claim in court.
Statutes of limitations are complicated and there are exceptions, but once the time limit is over victims are almost never able to recover damages. Even if you’re not sure that you have a case, contacting a personal injury attorney sooner rather than later can ensure that your legal right to pursue compensation in a court of law is protected.
Get Legal Help After a DUI Accident
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a drunk driver, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth E. Berger are here for you. We believe in protecting the legal rights of those who have been harmed, and we want to help you and your family begin the recovery process today.
To talk about your situation with an experienced, caring legal professional, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page now to arrange a free consultation at our office. We can also make arrangements to visit you if mobility is a problem after your accident, so reach out to us today get started.
Is the outcome of my civil action against a drunk driver affected by a criminal case?
If you have been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the chances are good that you will want to file a civil lawsuit to recover damages. Although the driver was probably arrested and faces criminal DUI and other possible charges, a criminal conviction will not result in any financial recovery for victims. Criminal courts prosecute crimes and punish wrongdoing, while civil court exists as the legal means for victims to receive compensation for injuries. But how will a criminal case affect the outcome of your civil action against a drunk driver?
Civil Lawsuits Versus Criminal Cases
A common misunderstanding about the law is that there cannot be a criminal case and a civil case for the same accident case. This is not true. Criminal and civil courts are entirely separate branches of the law, so a criminal charge doesn’t prevent someone from facing a civil lawsuit. A criminal charge also isn’t necessary to file a civil lawsuit. A conviction is not required, either. You can also file suit against someone who has already been convicted, even if he is in jail already.
In fact, due to the separation of the legal and civil court systems, a criminal case is not likely to have much bearing on your civil case at all. While your attorney may be able to obtain a limited amount of helpful information from law enforcement officials on the criminal law side of things—such the results of a blood-alcohol test—the outcome of your civil case is ultimately independent of the criminal case.
Get Legal Help After an Accident
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger extends sympathies to you and your family. We are here to help those who have been harmed by negligence or wrongdoing, and we would like to help you start the recovery process today.
To speak to an experienced legal professional about your accident, please call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click our live chat box now. Our offices are conveniently located in Columbia, and we proudly serve clients from all over the state of South Carolina, including the Myrtle Beach, Sumter, and Florence areas.
What should I do if I see an intoxicated driver?
One of the most frightening experiences while driving is when you suspect that an intoxicated driver is sharing the road. The unpredictable behavior of someone who is impaired means nothing but danger for everyone on the road. Intoxicated drivers may weave or dart across the road erratically, miscalculate turns, fail to brake or use the brakes at inappropriate times, drift from lane to lane, and otherwise cause havoc for other drivers.
If you suspect that there is an intoxicated driver on the road, you may need to act to protect yourself and prevent an accident. Drive defensively by staying alert and cautious, and consider taking the following actions:
- Make sure your safety belt is on. You should always have your seat belt on— it is the law. You may want to double-check that both you and your passengers are secured, though, in case an accident does happen.
- Keep your distance. Slow down and keep back if you think a driver in front of you may be intoxicated—pull over if you can do so safely. Put as much distance between yourself and that driver as possible. Consider turning down a different street, or even taking the nearest exit as soon as possible if you are on the freeway.
- Call 911. Please remember that as a driver, your primary responsibility is to ensure the safe operation of your vehicle. While you should contact the authorities as soon as possible, wait until you are in a safe position before attempting to call or ask a passenger to make the call for you. Try to report as much information as you can, including the make, model, license plate—even a partial plate can help—and the location or direction that the driver was headed.
You should never attempt to pass a suspected intoxicated or drunk driver, because you do not know how they will react before, during, or after the pass. For the safety of yourself and everyone on the road, stay back and let the other driver move further away. You should also never attempt to interact, interfere, or apprehend a suspected intoxicated driver— that is what law enforcement is for. Stay away and call the authorities.
By remembering what to do when you see an intoxicated driver, you can do your part to keep yourself and our communities safe.
Get Legal Help After a DUI Injury
If a drunk driver has hit you, a personal injury attorney can help you seek compensation from the driver responsible for your injuries.
The Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger is here to help those whose lives have been shaken by a serious injury or death caused by a drunk driver, and we would like to help your family begin the recovery process. To speak with an experienced legal professional about your situation, please call us today, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.
How does alcohol affect a driver?
It seems that not enough drivers in South Carolina are making the responsible decision not to drink and drive. South Carolina consistently ranks amongst the worst states for drunk driving accidents, and over 300 people were killed in DUI crashes in our state alone in 2016. What is it that makes alcohol so dangerous when someone gets behind the wheel?
How Alcohol Affects Driving
Alcohol affects the body in many ways. Not only does it take a toll on health over time, the immediate effects make it dangerous to engage in any activity requiring skill, attention, and coordinated movement. Sensory perception is reduced, nerve-to-muscle transmission is impeded, and decision-making and higher brain functions all suffer, leading to effects such as:
- Altered judgement. Alcohol can make clear thinking, good decision-making, and planning ahead difficult, and can increase risk-taking behaviors—all critical skills for operating a vehicle.
- Lowered ability to concentrate. Driving a car involves a lot more concentration than many people realize, but when your ability to focus on the many tasks involved in driving goes away, such as steering the car, maintaining a safe speed, staying in your lane, and avoiding other cars, the risk of an accident increases greatly.
- Loss of coordination. Alcohol causes changes in the parts of the brain that control motor skills, too, which slows down reflexes and decreases the ability to safely steer or use the gas and brake pedals appropriately.
- Impaired vision. Alcohol relaxes the muscles that control the eyes, causing blurred vision and slower visual reaction time. Alcohol also decreases peripheral vision, meaning that drunk drivers have a difficult time seeing anything that isn’t directly in front of them, including other cars, pedestrians, and other hazards or obstacles in the road.
As these effects take hold in the body, the intoxicated driver may not sense dangerous situations, react appropriately to a hazard, or be able to control his or her vehicle. This can lead to a serious accident that not only hurts the drunk driver, but also leaves other innocent drivers and passengers seriously injured—or worse.
Get Legal Help Today
If you have been hurt by a drunk driver, the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger is here to help you seek the justice you deserve in a court of law. Not only do we serve clients in the Myrtle Beach, Florence, and Columbia areas, we are here for you no matter where you are in South Carolina. For a free consultation with a legal professional who cares about you and your family, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page now.