18 wheeler and other commercial vehicle collisions can result in significant injury or even worse. When these crashes happen, bills and other consequences usually follow. Injured people are also left asking questions and seeking guidance. As a Columbia, SC accident lawyer my responsibilities begin with listening. I take time to learn your concerns, and to get to know you as more than a client. I cannot tell your story or represent your interests if I know nothing more than the facts of the crash. To achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family, I want to get to know you like family. At the end of the day, I have the same goal for every truck accident victim: full justice for every loss you have experienced.
Proving the Commercial Vehicle Was At Fault
Before we can seek "damages," we must prove liability. In some instances, the 18 wheeler is clearly to blame. However, I have handled a number of cases where the truck driver blames the injured person or another vehicle for the wreck - no matter how obvious it is that he was at fault. Often times, the person the trucker hit has been taken to the hospital, so the only version of events the investigating officer receives is that of the commercial driver. The officer will then place an innocent party at fault on the accident report. Luckily, that accident report means nothing in a civil case, but it may lead the trucking company's insurance carrier to deny liability. So how do we prove the collision was in fact the trucker's fault if they try to deny it? Here are a few of the steps I take as an attorney:
- Pull data - including speed - off the "Black Box" during a full vehicle inspection
- Deploy well trained private investigators to find witnesses and facts missing from the police officer's report
- Work with an engineer, known as an "Accident Reconstructionist," to recreate the event through animation
- Extensively research the company and driver to determine their safety history
- Investigate the maintenance and repair history of the truck involved in the accident
When it comes to trucking accidents, our focus is on more than simply what happened. We also want to know why it was allowed to occur. We dig into all the factors that led the commercial driver to make the dangerous decisions he did on the day of the wreck. More often than not, the driver feels tremendous pressure from the company to make as many "runs" as fast as he can to maximize earnings. The problem is that safety gets sacrificed and innocent people get hurt. Through document requests, subpoenas, and depositions, we work to identify the root causes of the accident. These incidents are never simply an event. They are almost always the culmination of a series of unsafe choices by a company and its driver, ultimately inflicting harm on an innocent person.
What To Do After A Trucking Accident
Whether you were the person hurt in the collision, or a loved one of the injured party, this information should help. First, and most importantly, focus more on health than anything else. Lawyers can figure out the the insurance and legal issues, so instead of worrying about that, concentrate on getting the medical attention you need. It will benefit your short and long-term health.
Second, I would avoid giving an insurance adjuster any information about the wreck until you speak with an attorney. You have no obligation to speak with the trucking company's insurer. Furthermore, anything you tell them about the collision or your damages will most likely result in them trying to twist your words against you down the road.
Third, consider getting a free consultation from a lawyer with experience handling 18 wheeler and other commercial accidents in South Carolina. It might turn out that you can handle your case without legal assistance, but there is no harm in at least getting some free legal advice from an attorney who understands the issues specific to your case.
Protecting South Carolina Tractor-Trailer Victims Against Insurance Companies
Truck drivers and the businesses they work for are usually protected by insurance companies. The insurance carriers have defense lawyers prepared to argue that their drivers are not to blame for the collision, or that your damages do not justify paying much money. What they choose to ignore are the safety rule violations (i.e. inadequate driver training, lack of driver supervision, inadequate rest, improper vehicle inspections) that lead to crashes and cause harm.
Innocent people hurt by 18-wheelers should not then become the object of an insurance company's insults. While insurance companies spend countless dollars to pass laws and persuade the public that people who sue them are greedy, justice must prevail. Though an attorney may not ultimately be necessary, in my experience, trucking companies show far more regard for the people they harmed when you have an attorney on your side. It certainly helps level the playing field.
My firm is based in Columbia, which allows me to represent people involved in trucking collisions from Greenville to Charleston to Myrtle Beach, and throughout our state. I want injured people to focus on their recovery without the additional stress brought on by trying to handle their own insurance claim or legal action. As I often tell clients, let me worry about the law while you concentrate on getting well. I am familiar with truck driver's defenses and excuses, as well as their insurance carriers' gimmicks. For free copies of my books, or to schedule a free case evaluation, contact me today at (803) 790-2800 or by using the live chat feature on our website.