Truck accidents occur every day. However, when a truck accident happens to you, the severity of that accident may affect you both physically and emotionally.
You are entitled to recover compensation for your injuries and losses. Handling a truck accident claim in North Carolina gets complicated quickly.
What To Do After a Truck Accident
A Charlotte truck accident attorney understands that many people are confused and shaken following a truck accident.
Immediately following an accident, the most important thing to do is assess whether you need medical assistance.
Here is what to do after a truck accident:
1. Call 911 For Help
A semi-truck accident often results in severe injury and, in some cases, fatalities. North Carolina requires parties to report their accident to law enforcement.
Law enforcement assesses the scene of an accident. Therefore, unless in an unsafe location, leave your vehicle in the same position it was when the accident occurred.
Additionally, police ask questions of involved parties and witnesses used to create an accident report.
The accident report represents a crucial piece of evidence used in a lawsuit if you intend to file a claim.
2. Stay At The Crash Scene
While waiting for law enforcement or medical assistance, you must not leave the scene of an accident.
Leaving the scene of an accident in North Carolina is a crime. Therefore, it’s essential to remain at the scene until authorities arrive.
3. Gather Evidence
If you are able, gather as much evidence at the scene of the accident as possible.
A North Carolina truck accident lawyer knows that the scene immediately following a truck accident provides the most useful information.
Take photos of the damage to all vehicles and snapshots of the surrounding areas. Additionally, write down information and memories regarding the truck accident as soon as possible.
Memories fade, and details get foggy. The details regarding the accident are freshest immediately following the accident.
4. Exchange Information
Obtain the name, address, phone number, and insurance information from the truck driver involved in the accident.
Additionally, record the driver’s license and license plate information of the parties involved. Insurance information such as carrier, policy number, and the insured party is also helpful.
5. Don’t Make Statements
When speaking to parties at the scene of the accident, do not make statements regarding fault.
Even if you believe you know who was at fault for the accident, it’s best to answer these questions and assess your recollections after your adrenaline settles.
6. Contact a Lawyer
A Charlotte truck accident lawyer assists clients in their lawsuit for damages following a truck accident.
North Carolina truck accident lawyers know the best way to assess the evidence to build a strong case in your favor.
The stronger the case, the greater the likelihood for a favorable settlement or award of money damages.
Representing yourself in a car accident may result in smaller rewards or dismissal of your case on technicalities.
What Are The Common Types of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents occur more commonly than many think. There are many common types of truck accidents, including the following:
- Jackknife: Typically caused when a truck driver brakes suddenly, jackknifes occur when a semi-truck folds so the cab and the trailer form a 90-degree angle.
- Truck rollovers: When a truck driver loses control of their truck, the truck may roll on its side, often taking other vehicles with it until it stops.
- Tire blowout: A tire blowout can occur without warning, causing the truck to weave uncontrollably.
- Wide turn: When a truck driver fails to assess their surrounding adequately, a wide turn may result in trapping other vehicles or hitting pedestrians.
- Blind spots: The blind spots on large trucks are significant. Truck drivers must carefully evaluate their surroundings before changing lanes, making turns, or reversing.
- Lost load: When a truck loses its load off a trailer, it may substantially damage vehicles behind the truck.
- Rear end: If a truck must slam on its brakes, this may result in rear-ending another vehicle as the truck cannot stop quickly.
- T-bone and head-on collisions: A truck driver may crash into another vehicle head-on or side-swipe another vehicle due to a failure to stop. This may cause substantial damages and injuries.
Truck accidents may occur for other reasons, including inexperience, improper training, and improper loading.
A Charlotte truck accident attorney works to protect your rights after a truck accident and ensure you receive the best possible recovery for your losses and damages.
What Rules Must Truck Drivers Follow?
Federal and state laws dictate requirements truck drivers must adhere to when operating their vehicles. Multiple requirements exist, including the following:
- Mileage: Truck drivers must maintain an accurate and regularly maintained log of their mileage, including locations visited.
- Hour limitations: Truck drivers may only operate their trucks for a limited number of hours per day. Commonly referred to as the 11/14 rule, the rule provides that truck drivers may not drive more than 11 hours in a day without taking a 10 hour break. Additionally, drivers may not drive more than 14 hours in a 24-hour period.
- Maintenance: Truck drivers must maintain their vehicles pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Speed limits: Truck drivers must maintain certain speed limits. These limits vary from residential to highway commuting, and truck drivers must understand those varying requirements.
- Driving requirements: In North Carolina, truck drivers must possess a commercial driver license to operate a commercial vehicle like a large truck for hauling property and other goods. Depending on the type of materials transported, additional endorsements may be required.
Truck drivers must adhere to these rules to ensure safe transportation of their goods and the safety of other individuals on the road.
If a truck driver injures you in a truck accident, your Charlotte truck accident attorney reviews these points in determining whether the driver upheld their obligations as a commercial truck driver.
Proving Truck Driver Negligence
Your Charlotte truck accident attorney must prove the other driver’s negligence to recover in a truck accident. Additionally, you must verify that your negligence did not contribute to the accident.
Four elements exist to satisfy a negligence claim. These include the following:
- The driver had a duty of care to you and others on the road
- The driver breached that duty of care
- The breach resulted in the truck accident
- You suffered damages from the truck accident
All drivers have a duty of care to drive their vehicles and trucks responsibly when on the roadway. Upholding this duty of care requires simple actions such as obeying the road rules, paying attention to surroundings, and maintaining the condition of the vehicle.
Additionally, truck drivers must adhere to specific federal and state laws that apply specifically to large trucks.
North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. If your conduct contributed, even slightly, to your accident, contributory negligence laws would bar you from recovery.
For example, if you failed to use your blinker, were speeding, or followed too closely, your negligent conduct bars your recovery.
An experienced North Carolina truck accident lawyer understands the complexity of establishing a case for negligence in a truck accident while defending you against claims of contributory negligence.
Retaining representation with a qualified attorney improves your chances of recovering compensation for your injuries and damages.
Truck accidents can get complicated fast. It’s important to have a proper attorney who understands the truck collision laws in North Carolina. Speak with a highly-rated lawyer with over 30 years of experience at 980-291-4558.
Exceptions to Contributory Negligence
There are multiple exceptions to a claim of contributory negligence. If the other driver establishes your contributory negligence, you may raise these exceptions to effectively cancel the other driver’s attempt to bar your recovery.
1. Last Clear Chance Doctrine
The last clear chance doctrine provides that if it is proven that the negligent driver had the last clear chance to avoid the accident, they remain liable for the accident.
Liability remains despite proof of contributory negligence. Several elements are required to satisfy the last clear chance doctrine. These include:
- You were in danger but were unable to escape the danger
- The other driver knew about the danger
- The other driver had a reasonable opportunity to avoid the danger but did not
For example, let’s presume you ran a stop sign. While in the intersection, the other driver approaches and has plenty of time to stop to avoid an accident. However, the other driver is distracted by a phone call and crashes into you.
Although you were negligent when you ran the stop sign and the other driver was negligent for looking at their cell phone, you may still recover compensation.
2. Gross Negligence
The other driver’s conduct represents egregious or willful and wanton conduct, causing your injury and damages.
Defendant exhibits willful and wanton conduct when they consciously and intentionally disregard others’ safety by doing something they know is likely to cause harm. Drunk driving represents the most common example of gross negligence.
3. Diminished Capacity
An exception to contributory negligence exists if you suffer from cognitive impairment. The court considers your conduct and determines whether the behavior was reasonable for someone with that cognitive impairment.
If deemed reasonable, your contributory negligence does not bar your recovery.
What Compensation Can I Receive?
After a truck accident, your Charlotte truck accident attorney assists you in recovering compensation for your injuries and damages.
1. Economic Damages
Economic damages represent out-of-pocket expenses, including the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Property damage
- Other related expenses
Economic damages are easily quantifiable. Therefore it’s important to retain all receipts and records of expenses for recovery after your accident.
2. Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages represent subjective damages that are more difficult to quantify. These include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Based on the subjective nature of non-economic damages, the review of the evidence for these damages depends on the jury. In many situations, non-economic damages may exceed economic damages.
3. Punitive Damages
In certain situations, punitive damages may be recoverable after a truck accident. Punitive damages serve to punish the defendant for their willful and wanton conduct.
Typically, punitive damages far exceed damage awards for economic and non-economic damages as they also intend to deter future willful and wanton conduct.
Evidence for willful and wanton conduct must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.
Contact An Experienced Charlotte Truck Accident Attorney Today
If injured in a truck accident, seeking the legal counsel of an experienced, qualified Charlotte truck accident attorney may make a substantial difference in your compensation recovery.
With over 30 years of combined legal experience, the attorneys at Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, understand the complexity of truck accident claims in North Carolina.
We understand that following a truck accident, you may be suffering both physically and emotionally. We are here to help.
Contact the attorneys at Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, for a free consultation to discuss your truck accident details.