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Navigating the Legal Terrain: Car Accidents Involving Commercial Vehicles

car accidents with commercial vehicles

Car accidents involving commercial vehicles in South Carolina present a unique set of legal considerations encompassing state traffic laws, commercial regulations, and the specific nuances of the South Carolina legal system. When collisions occur with large trucks, buses, or other commercial vehicles, the aftermath is often complicated by factors such as liability, insurance coverage, and the application of state and federal regulations. In this article, we will delve into the legal landscape surrounding car accidents with commercial vehicles in South Carolina, shedding light on the intricacies and key factors that shape legal outcomes.

What are commercial vehicles?

A commercial vehicle is a type of motor vehicle used for transporting goods or paying passengers. Unlike private or personal vehicles, commercial vehicles are typically used for business purposes and may be subject to specific regulations and requirements. The classification of a vehicle as commercial is based on its use rather than its appearance or size. 

Here are some common examples of commercial vehicles:

  • Trucks: This category includes various types of trucks, such as delivery trucks, box trucks, tanker trucks, and semi-trucks (also known as tractor-trailers or articulated lorries). These vehicles are often used to transport goods over long distances.
  • Buses: Commercial buses are designed for transporting passengers and are commonly used for public transportation, charter services, or other commercial purposes.
  • Vans: While some vans are used for personal purposes, others are classified as commercial vehicles, especially if they are used for business-related activities like deliveries or transporting goods.
  • Taxis: Taxis, including traditional cabs and rideshare vehicles, are considered commercial vehicles because they provide a transportation service for a fee.
  • Commercial Vehicles for Hire: Vehicles used for hire, such as limousines and airport shuttles, fall into the commercial category because they offer transportation services for compensation.
  • Construction Vehicles: Vehicles used in construction and other industries, such as dump trucks, concrete mixers, and cranes, are considered commercial due to their specialized functions.
  • Trailers: Trailers towed by trucks or other vehicles for the purpose of transporting goods or equipment are also considered commercial, even if they are not self-propelled.

State Traffic Laws and Regulations

South Carolina, like every state, has its own set of traffic laws and regulations that govern the operation of vehicles on its roadways. Understanding these laws is crucial when it comes to assessing fault and liability in car accidents involving commercial vehicles. For instance, speed limits, right-of-way rules, and regulations regarding safe following distances all play a role in determining fault in a collision.

Commercial Vehicle Regulations in South Carolina

In addition to state traffic laws, commercial vehicles operating in South Carolina are subject to federal and state-specific regulations. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety, in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), oversees compliance with safety regulations for commercial vehicles. These regulations cover a wide range of aspects, including driver qualifications, vehicle maintenance, and hours of service.

When an accident involves a commercial vehicle, it’s essential to assess whether the driver and the commercial vehicle company adhered to these regulations. Violations could significantly impact liability and the legal consequences for those involved.

Determining Liability in South Carolina Commercial Vehicle Accidents

Establishing liability in car accidents involving commercial vehicles in South Carolina involves a comprehensive analysis of various factors:

Driver Negligence

Driver negligence is a common factor in commercial vehicle accidents. Whether it’s distracted driving, speeding, or fatigue, establishing negligence on the part of the commercial vehicle driver is crucial in determining liability. South Carolina law requires a careful examination of evidence, including witness statements, police reports, and data from the commercial vehicle’s onboard systems.

Company Liability

Commercial vehicle companies can be held liable for accidents in South Carolina under principles such as negligent hiring, inadequate training, or failure to properly maintain their vehicles. Additionally, the legal doctrine of vicarious liability may come into play, holding employers responsible for the actions of their employees while engaged in work-related activities.

Insurance Considerations

South Carolina law requires commercial vehicles to carry insurance coverage that meets or exceeds state-mandated minimums. However, the insurance landscape becomes more intricate in accidents involving commercial vehicles, especially when multiple parties are potentially liable. It’s crucial to identify all insurance policies that may cover the damages resulting from the accident, including those held by the commercial vehicle company, the driver, and potentially third-party entities involved in the operation or maintenance of the vehicle.

Victims of car accidents involving commercial vehicles in South Carolina have legal recourse to seek compensation for damages. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, potential damages may include medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Understanding the legal avenues available for seeking compensation is essential for individuals navigating the aftermath of such collisions.

Investigative Procedures and Expert Testimony

Thorough investigation is crucial in determining liability in commercial vehicle accidents. This may involve accident reconstruction specialists, forensic analysis of the vehicles involved, and expert testimony to establish the sequence of events leading to the collision. In South Carolina, presenting a strong case often requires a meticulous examination of the facts and the ability to leverage expert opinions in court.


Car accidents involving commercial vehicles in South Carolina demand a comprehensive understanding of state traffic laws, commercial regulations, and the specific legal principles that govern such incidents. Navigating the legal landscape requires a strategic approach that involves considering factors such as driver negligence, company liability, insurance coverage, and potential legal recourse for victims. By delving into these legal considerations, individuals and legal professionals can better navigate the complexities associated with car accidents involving commercial vehicles in the Palmetto State.

Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates today

Any type of motor vehicle accident can be extremely devastating for those involved, but accidents involving large commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers and buses can be especially traumatic. The South Carolina personal injury lawyers at McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates have been representing car accident victims for more than 40 years, and we have seen firsthand the catastrophic consequences that are often caused by commercial vehicle accidents. 

Our experienced attorneys believe that no one should have to suffer due to the negligence or recklessness of another driver, and that’s why our lawyers have dedicated their professional lives to helping victims of car accidents and other personal injury accidents. 

Although you are not required to hire an attorney to represent you in a South Carolina personal injury case, doing so can be highly beneficial. An experienced lawyer will be able to use their knowledge and experience to put a fair value on your case, taking into account expenses like medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement and scarring, permanent impairment, pain and suffering, and more. 

McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates offers free case evaluations to victims of commercial vehicle accidents in South Carolina. We would be happy to hear the details of your situation and advise you on your next steps – and there’s absolutely no obligation to hire us after speaking with us. 

If you’ve been injured in a commercial vehicle accident that wasn’t your fault, contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates today at 888-353-5513. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®