Truck Accident Lawyers in South Carolina
Columbia, Lexington, Orangeburg, Sumter, Camden, Newberry, Aiken SC.
We depend on truckers for all the goods we buy, from our daily bread to the books we read at bedtime. Over 88 % of all goods shipped in this country travel by truck, traveling on average 178 miles from factory to warehouse, warehouse to warehouse, or warehouse to store. 178 miles when these truckers share the road with you and your family.
In general, truckers are the most experienced and safest drivers on the road. According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report, the driver of a passenger vehicle is more than three times more likely to be responsible for a crash than the driver of a large truck. Large trucks are involved in less than 4% of all motor vehicle crashes. However, driver error is responsible for one fourth of all truck accidents. And when a truck is involved in an accident, it is three times more likely to be fatal. And almost 80 % of those killed in crashes with a large truck were the people in the other vehicle. Over two thirds of the trucks involved in crashes are semi trucks.
To minimize the crashes involving large trucks, the FMCSA has established a comprehensive set of statutes governing the training and monitoring of commercial truck drivers on the roads, as well as the maintenance of the trucks. And the state of South Carolina has added additional rules to improve the level of safety. However, these rules cut into the profits of the trucking companies and their drivers, giving them incentive to break the rules, which may in part explain the fact that the number of fatalities suffered in trucking accidents each year has remained roughly constant for the last decade or more.
Trucking companies try many ways to skirt the rules and increase profits, including:
- Imposing unrealistic delivery schedules that may require drivers to speed or forge logbooks to drive for longer hours than legally permitted
- Overloading trucks, which can make starting, stopping, or steering them difficult
- Not checking drivers' backgrounds and
- Performing minimal maintenance on trucks
In addition, the state and Federal governments can be influenced by trucking company lobbyists. The FMCSA has constantly adjusted its rules to allow drivers to spend more time on the road with less time off. Even though appeals courts have ruled that the guidelines are unnecessarily dangerous, the FMCSA keeps re-instituting the same rules, allowing trucking companies to force dangerously tired truckers to stay on the road. And, despite the fact that the South Carolina code of laws requires that vehicles not be operated when overloaded, and the code allows officers finding overweight trucks to keep the truck from moving until it has been unloaded, this is rarely done. In 2006, over 11,000 citations were issued for overweight trucks in South Carolina, but only 243 were forced to offload, meaning that almost all of the overweight trucks were allowed back on the road with a small fine. This generates revenue for the state, and lets truckers keep their schedules, but puts you at risk.
Because of the various people in charge of loading, unloading, and maintaining a truck for hire, the liability situation could be very complex, much more than an auto accident. Any and all of the following parties may be liable:
- The Truck Driver
- The Truck Owner
- The Freight Owner
- The Trucking Company
- The Loading Company
- The Shipping Company
- The Manufacturer of the vehicle, brakes, tires, or other equipment
- The Persons or Entities Responsible for Maintaining the Road
South Carolina law follows a common law doctrine of joint and several liability, meaning that all parties are liable for the full amount of the award if any of the parties are unable to pay. In addition, the court's policy of comparative negligence means that you may be eligible for a settlement even if you are partly to blame for the accident.
Read more by checking out these pages:
- Truck Accident FAQs
- What to Do After a Truck Accident
- Questions about Truck Accidents
- Truck Accident Questions
- 18 Wheeler Accidents – What to do After a Truck Accident
When you are involved in a truck accident, you should not have to suffer because a trucking company was allowed to skirt the rules. Contact the experienced truck accident lawyers in SC at McWhirter, Bellinger, & Associates, P.A. for a free consultation.
With offices in Aiken, Camden, Columbia, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Sumter, South Carolina, our personal injury lawyers are ready to serve you. Call us today at 1-800-694-0994.
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