Filing a Lawsuit After a Car Accident with a Semi-Truck
Semi-truck accidents are some of the worst that happen on South Carolina’s roads.
Semi-trucks are very large and heavy, transporting goods around the state and to the rest of the nation.
Also called “big rigs’ or “tractor-trailers,” semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds—dwarfing the size of much smaller passenger vehicles.
If you’ve been in a car accident with a semi-truck, you probably want to know whether you can bring a lawsuit. The good news is that you can.
However, there are several things you must consider before you march off to court to file your lawsuit. If you have questions, contact a truck accident attorney to review your case.
Identifying Who to Sue
Accident victims might be able to sue one of several entities for the accident, such as:
- The truck driver. The driver could have been negligent or could have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. When a truck driver does not operate a rig with sufficient care, he becomes liable for the accident.
- The trucking company. Employers are automatically liable for the negligent acts of their employees committed in the scope and course of their employment. This rule is called “respondeat superior” or vicarious liability. Of course, a company might also have been negligent in its own right by, for example, not performing adequate background checks or not drug testing its employees.
- The truck manufacturer. A defective truck or part could have caused an accident. Brakes that fail, for example, might be to blame and can cause an even careful driver to crash. When a part is defective, you can usually sue the manufacturer of the part or the manufacturer of the truck.
- The loading company. A different company might have loaded the cargo in the trailer. When cargo is unbalanced, it can cause a truck to tip over or a driver to lose control.
Businesses and manufacturers have deeper pockets than individual truck drivers, so most of our clients benefit by adding them as defendants, if possible. You are more likely to receive full compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering when suing a large corporation which carries a hefty insurance policy.
A successful settlement or lawsuit depends on evidence. The evidence available will depend on the circumstances of your crash but might include:
- Interviews with witnesses who saw the accident and can testify as to what happened
- Analysis of damage to your vehicle and the accident scene
- Copies of the police report
- Information retrieved from the semi truck’s “black box,” such as how long the truck had been in motion before the accident
- Dashcam or surveillance video
When a person is injured, obtaining this evidence can be difficult. This is why a lawyer is a big help. We can take over evidence collection and allow our clients to focus on healing.
Settling a Claim
Reaching a settlement is always an option after a car accident with a semi-truck. With a settlement, you can avoid the expense and stress of a trial. You also typically receive compensation faster with a settlement than with a trial, since many trials take more than a year from start to finish.
To settle a claim, you should hire a truck accident lawyer who can gather evidence of fault and submit it to the insurance company. Our state’s largest insurers drive a hard bargain and do not usually offer a generous settlement right out of the gate. Instead, you need an attorney who can negotiate effectively.
Meeting Deadlines for Bringing a Lawsuit
South Carolina does not give victims injured by a car accident with a semi-truck an unlimited amount of time to bring a lawsuit in court. Instead, South Carolina Code of Laws § 15-3-530 gives injured victims 3 years to bring a lawsuit in court. The clock will begin from the date of the accident.
If you don’t meet this deadline, the defendant can ask a judge to dismiss your case. You won’t be able to re-file, and this means you will probably not receive any compensation.
Contact Us after a Car Accident with a Semi-Truck
Peace Law Firm has represented clients in many lawsuits and settlements involving truck accidents. Our experience is deep and wide. We understand the steps necessary to build a strong case, and we will rely on our experience to negotiate a favorable settlement. Talk to us today. We offer a free initial consultation to those who reach out to us.