Tractor trailers and other heavy trucks are causing too many truck accidents in South Carolina. Many 18-wheelers weigh in at over 75,000 pounds, which is more than 20 times the weight of the average car. For this reason, accidents involving commercial vehicles can be devastating. Each year, thousands of lives are lost to truck wrecks. Because our society knows the dangers that come from these vehicles, federal and state governments require trucking companies to carry more insurance than is mandated for smaller vehicles.
Liability Insurance Coverage For 18 Wheelers
One of the initial steps we take in reviewing a truck accident case is assessing which companies and other entities bear legal responsibility for the at-fault truck driver’s negligence. We then seek to identify all potential insurance policies that could apply. The various sources of insurance coverage may include one or more of the following:
- If the trucker is working for a company at the time of the wreck, the company’s commercial insurance should apply (Minimum limits of $750,000.00 according to federal law);
- If the truck driver is an independent contractor, he may have personal insurance coverage that applies (Minimum limits of $750,000);
- If the trailer is carrying cargo, the trailer might be separately insured; and
- If the "broker company" had reason to know that the trucking company it was arranging to carry the freight had a history of safety violations or other wrecks, then its insurer could be on the hook.
There may also be umbrella, secondary, or other excess liability policies that can be reached in the event of a catastrophic injury or death. We are currently involved in a commercial case where the defendant initially claimed they only had $1,000,000.00 in coverage. We refused to accept this amount, and instead informed the company it would need to make a substantial payment beyond the insurance limits due to the severity of our 20 year-old client's injuries. Our refusal prompted the disclosure of a $10,000,000.00 umbrella policy they initially attempted to hide.
In South Carolina, a trucking company's insurance applies not only when the driver is negligent, but also when the company's own corporate negligence is a contributing factor to the accident. For instance, the business may not have properly trained, supervised, or drug tested the driver. The trucking company might also be requiring its employees to exceed the maximum hours of service while turning a blind eye to "log book" fraud. In other words, they may be consciously placing the public at risk in order to make more deliveries. In nearly every tractor-trailer accident our firm has handled, regulatory violations and a culture of profits over safety were the root cause of the collision. When that is proven, punitive damages may be recoverable.
What To Do if You Have Been Injured By a Tractor-Trailer
As we tell all of our clients: we want your focus to be on your health and recovery. An experienced truck accident lawyer with Berger Law will handle the legal and insurance matters. While you are working hard to get well, we are working hard to hold all negligent parties responsible for the harm they caused you.
Insurance companies will want to take recorded statements, get you to sign health authorizations, and likely settle your case for far less than they know it is worth. Please remember that you only have one chance to hold the driver and company that put you in harm's way accountable for what they have done. If you have ongoing symptoms or fears over future medical problems caused by the wreck, we strongly encourage you to at least have a free consultation with an accident attorney before entering any type of settlement.
My firm has helped a number of individuals and families impacted by 18-wheeler and other commercial vehicle accidents. These cases are not the same as an ordinary car wreck, and the lawyer who is handling your matter should have experience working on other trucking cases. For answers and guidance, call us today at 803-790-2800 (Columbia, SC) / 843-427-2800 (Myrtle Beach, SC), or start a live chat 24/7 with a real, live person to arrange a free and confidential consultation.