Determining who's at fault in trucking accidents can be complex. We take every detail of the crash into consideration, like whether the driver was distracted or fatigued, if the truck was properly maintained, or if the trucking company has safe business practices in place - to help determine why the crash happened and who all should be held responsible for the harm it caused. Figuring all this out can be overwhelming, especially if you are also juggling doctors appointments, trying to get back to work, and supporting your family.

Our team of South Carolina truck crash lawyers are here to remove the burden from you and your family, so you can focus on healing. Our legal team has years of experience investigating truck crashes to help identify all the responsible parties in a truck crash and holding them financially responsible for the harm they cause.

If you were injured in a truck crash in South Carolina, please know that you do not have to handle your legal case on your own. We are here to help you and your family. Contact us today for a free consultation by filling out the chat form below or calling (803) 790-2800 in Columbia, SC, or (843) 427-2800 in Myrtle Beach, SC.

What Is Negligence and Does It Impact Liability in a Truck Accident?

There may be negligence in a truck crash if any involved parties failed to fulfill their legal responsibilities, thereby contributing to the accident. This includes the truck driver, the company they work for, or anyone else connected to the crash. For instance, the truck driver may have been negligent if he operated the vehicle while fatigued, distracted, or in violation of traffic laws. Similarly, the trucking company may be considered negligent if it failed to properly train its drivers, enforce safety protocols, or maintain its fleet properly. It's important to check all these details to figure out who's responsible for the crash.

When we are able to identify what unsafe business practices led to the crash, we can better understand who all can be held legally and financially responsible.

How Regulatory Compliance Impacts Liability in South Carolina

If you've been involved in a truck accident in South Carolina, you might be wondering how regulatory compliance affects who's responsible for the crash. Under South Carolina law, trucking companies and drivers must follow strict regulations set by both the state and federal governments. These rules cover everything from how long a driver can be on the road to how often trucks need maintenance checks. If it's found that the truck driver or the company didn't follow these regulations and it contributed to the accident, they could be held liable for damages. For instance, if the driver was driving for too long without a break, violating hours of service regulations, or if the company didn't properly maintain the vehicle as required, these could be factors that determine their responsibility for the accident under South Carolina's legal framework.

Understanding regulatory compliance is crucial because it's not just about following rules—it's about safety. By ensuring compliance, trucking companies and drivers help protect everyone on the road. If you're involved in a truck accident, knowing about these regulations can be important in determining who might be at fault. If we find that the trucking company or driver caused the crash because they didn’t follow our state and federal safety regulations, they can and should  be held legally responsible for any injuries or damages resulting from the accident. 

When is the Trucking Company Responsible?

We rely on South Carolina law, to help us determine whether the trucking company can be held accountable for the actions of its employees, particularly the truck driver. Under SC law, employers can be held responsible for the negligent actions of their employees if those actions occurred within the scope of employment. This means that if a truck driver caused an accident while conducting work-related tasks, such as making deliveries or driving a company-owned vehicle, the trucking company may bear liability for any resulting damages.

Similarly, vicarious liability says that an employer may be held responsible for the actions of their employees, even if the employer did not directly contribute to the wrongdoing. In the context of trucking accidents, this means that the trucking company may be held liable for the negligent acts of its drivers, regardless of whether the company was directly involved in causing the accident. This legal framework aims to ensure that victims of truck accidents have the right to seek compensation from the party ultimately responsible for their injuries or losses. 

Can the Truck Itself Have Liability?

When assessing liability in a truck accident, it's important to consider the possibility of product liability, particularly regarding defective truck parts or equipment. In South Carolina, manufacturers or distributors can be held responsible for injuries or damages resulting from defects in their products, including those used in trucks. If it's found that a defective truck part or equipment contributed to the accident, the manufacturer or distributor could be liable for any resulting harm.

Product liability laws in South Carolina are designed to protect consumers from unsafe products and ensure that manufacturers and distributors are held accountable for any defects that cause harm. Whether it's a faulty brake system, defective tires, or malfunctioning electronics, any product defect that contributes to a truck accident may give rise to a product liability claim. If they are able to prove the truck’s defective parts caused the crash, people injured in truck accidents can pursue legal action  against the truck’s manufacturers or distributors to seek compensation for their injuries or losses. 

Examples of Product Liability Could Include:Examples of Product Liability

1. Defective brakes: If the brakes on a truck malfunctioned due to a manufacturing defect, causing the driver to lose control and crash.
2. Faulty tires: If a tire blowout occurs due to defects in the tire's design or manufacturing, leading to a loss of control and subsequent collision.
3. Malfunctioning electronic systems: If electronic systems such as the anti-lock braking system (ABS) or electronic stability control (ESC) fail due to defects, resulting in an accident.
4. Inadequate safety features: If safety features such as airbags or seat belts fail to deploy properly during a collision due to defects in their design or manufacturing.
5. Defective lighting equipment: If headlights, taillights, or turn signals fail to function properly due to defects, leading to reduced visibility and contributing to an accident.
6. Improperly designed cargo restraints: If cargo restraints fail to secure the load properly, causing the cargo to shift or spill onto the road and trigger a collision.

When Does Contractual Relationships Affect Liability in a South Carolina Truck Crash?

Examining contractual relationships among parties involved in trucking operations is crucial when determining liability in a truck accident. In South Carolina, these contractual agreements can significantly influence the amount of responsibility for the accident and subsequent damages. For example, if a trucking company contracts with an owner-operator to transport goods, the terms of their agreement may outline each party's duties and obligations regarding vehicle maintenance, driver qualifications, and adherence to safety regulations.

Similarly, contractual agreements with maintenance providers may stipulate the scope of services, standards of care, and liability provisions in the event of equipment failures or maintenance-related issues leading to accidents. These agreements can impact liability by defining who should ensure the truck operates safely and handles risks that could lead to accidents. Understanding these contracts helps identify key parties and clauses affecting liability. By investigating them, people involved in truck accidents can know their rights and take appropriate legal action. 

Insurance Coverage

Understanding insurance coverage is essential in the aftermath of a trucking accident in South Carolina. Trucking companies are required to carry specific types of insurance to cover potential liabilities resulting from accidents. Commercial liability insurance is a primary coverage that provides compensation for bodily injury and property damage caused by the trucking company or its drivers. Cargo insurance, on the other hand, covers the value of goods being transported in case of loss or damage during transit. Additionally, South Carolina law mandates minimum insurance requirements for trucks operating within the state, ensuring that adequate coverage is in place to compensate victims of accidents.

These insurance policies play a big role in determining liability and compensation for damages in trucking accidents. For instance, if a truck driver is found responsible for causing a collision, their employer's commercial liability insurance would typically cover the resulting medical expenses, property damage, and other losses suffered by the victims. Cargo insurance would come into play if the accident resulted in damage to or loss of the cargo being transported. 

Understanding the extent of insurance coverage available can help accident victims pursue compensation for their injuries and losses. Moreover, familiarity with South Carolina's minimum insurance requirements ensures that victims can hold trucking companies accountable for maintaining sufficient coverage to meet their legal obligations in the event of an accident.

The minimum insurance coverage for commercial motor vehicles in South Carolina generally follows the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirements. These requirements include:

Primary Liability Insurance: 

  • Commercial trucks weighing over ten thousand pounds and carrying non-hazardous substances, operating in interstate commerce, typically need to carry a minimum of $750,000 in primary liability insurance coverage.
  • Commercial trucks weighing over ten thousand pounds and carrying hazardous substances, operating in interstate commerce typically need to carry a minimum of $1,000,000 - $5,000,000 in primary liability insurance coverage; this is based on what criteria the substance meets and how it is being transported. 
  • Cargo Insurance: While not always mandated by state law, cargo insurance is often required for commercial carriers transporting goods. The coverage amount may vary depending on the nature and value of the cargo being transported.

Insurance Minimum

It's important to note that these are minimum requirements, and some trucking companies may carry higher levels of insurance coverage based on their specific needs or contractual agreements. Additionally, insurance requirements may differ for intrastate carriers operating only within South Carolina. Therefore, individuals involved in trucking accidents should consult with legal professionals to ensure they fully understand the insurance coverage applicable to their specific situation.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Our South Carolina Trucking Attorneys

Determining liability in a trucking accident can be stressful. With numerous aspects to consider, individuals often find themselves overwhelmed and uncertain about the next course of action. At the Law Offices of Kenneth Berger, we recognize the importance of providing a guiding hand that communicates effectively with you throughout the entire process. Our team of seasoned attorneys is dedicated to taking that stress off your shoulders. 

If you have been involved in a trucking accident and need help. Please reach out today by filling out the chat form below or calling (803) 790-2800 in Columbia, SC or (843) 427-2800 in Myrtle Beach, SC. 

Kenneth Berger
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Columbia and Myrtle Beach car accident and personal injury lawyer dedicated to securing justice for clients.