Raleigh Truck Accident Attorney
Truck Accident Accident Lawyers Serving Raleigh, NC
Tractor-trailers are vital to the economy in North Carolina and are the industry that fuels the US economy. These large vehicles transport billions of dollars’ worth of goods all over the country, driving millions of miles every day. While large trucks are vital for many businesses, they are also inherently more dangerous than other, smaller vehicles due to their size. When truck accidents occur, the resulting injuries and damages can be substantial.The attorneys at Riddle & Brantley, can help Raleigh drivers after a truck accident, which could result from driver error, a faulty vehicle, a defective part, negligent maintenance, or a third party. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in any type of truck accident, the right attorney can make a tremendous difference in your recovery.
Why Is It Important to Hire an Attorney After a Truck Accident?
Most truck accident claims will fall under the purview of personal injury law. While everyone has the right to represent his or her own interests in court, the reality is that the average person probably does not know the law well enough to successfully handle a personal injury lawsuit without legal counsel. Missing a required filing deadline, overlooking crucial evidence and avenues of compensation, or failing to interpret the law in such a way to strengthen the plaintiff’s position are all possible without an attorney. Instead of risking your chances of securing compensation by attempting to avoid the expense of hiring a lawyer, consider that you will have a much better chance of winning your case with professional legal representation.
Your attorney will help gather the evidence you will need to prove the extent of your losses in court. Traffic camera data, eyewitness statements, and police reports may also come into play to help prove the at-fault driver’s negligence. Your attorney can also manage correspondence with insurance companies and help with workers’ compensation claims in the event of job-related truck accidents.
Raleigh, NC, Trucking Statistics
Each year, more than $600 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in North Carolina; 86 percent is shipped by truck. In 2016, there were 5,642 tractor trailer truck crashes throughout North Carolina; 1,342 caused injuries and 65 were fatal. Wake County saw 388 tractor trailer crashes and another 314 single-unit-truck (trucks with 3 or more axles) crashes in the same year.Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina and county seat of Wake County, has an estimated population of more than 460,000. The Raleigh metro area has well over one million people. The larger Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill (Research Triangle Park) area has over two million people. The city is served by several major highways and interstates that are popular trucking routes, including:
- US – 70
- US 401
- US – 1
- US 64
Types of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents occur in many ways, and it’s important to know the causes and potential effects of each type of accident. Some of the most common types of truck accidents include:
- Single-vehicle crashes – In which a tractor-trailer veers off the road or collides with a surface instead of another vehicle. These accidents mostly occur due to driver error or vehicle defects.
- Multi-vehicle crashes. These involve multiple vehicles including the tractor-trailer. Since tractor-trailers are very long, a crashed tractor-trailer may cover several lanes of traffic or collide with multiple vehicles before coming to a halt.
- Jackknife accidents. The trailer portion of a tractor-trailer is separate from the cab where the driver sits, and a sudden turn or momentum shift could cause the cab to go one way and the trailer to go another. A jackknifing truck can form an “L” shape as it moves, covering several lanes of traffic.
- Rollover accidents. Tractor-trailers have higher centers of gravity than smaller passenger vehicles. When a large truck tips over from an unbalanced load, a turn at too high a speed, or strong winds, the trailer can roll over and crush other vehicles.
- Cargo-related accidents. Many tractor-trailers carry heavy cargo inside their trailers, and some trailers have special hauling attachments for certain types of cargo like lumber or smaller passenger cars. When a tractor-trailer’s load is unbalanced, a sharp turn can cause locks and straps to fail, potentially releasing cargo into the road or tipping the trailer on its side.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, fatal accidents involving a truck and a smaller passenger vehicles result in passenger vehicle occupant death in 97% of cases. Only 3% of truck accident fatalities are truck occupants. About 11% of all fatal vehicle accidents in 2016 involved large trucks.
Liability for Accidents
Accidents involving trucks happen for many reasons. Depending on how a truck accident occurs, one or more parties could absorb liability for the resulting damages. In most truck accident cases, a truck driver, the driver’s employer, the truck manufacturer, the company that hired the truck, or third-party drivers absorb liability, and it’s possible that a plaintiff may face multiple defendants in court. Sometimes the road construction crew is partially liable for an accident involving a truck.
Trucking companies must ensure their drivers have the experience and training necessary to operate these large, dangerous vehicles. They must also ensure the vehicles they use undergo proper inspections to ensure safe operation. This includes proper background checks on employees, thorough vehicle maintenance checks, and compliance with all applicable federal regulations concerning driver hours.
If a truck driver causes a tractor-trailer accident due to negligence, the driver will likely absorb liability for the accident. If the truck driver’s employer hired the driver on a contract basis as an independent driver, then the employer will likely deny any liability for accidents the independent contractor causes. If the truck driver is an employee of the trucking company, the employer may face vicarious liability for the actions of its employee.
Some truck accidents may result from the actions of a third party, such as an aggressive driver or a defective product manufacturer. Some claims may involve multiple parties sharing fault for a serious accident, and some plaintiffs may not be able to recover damages in North Carolina due to the state’s contributory negligence laws.
An employer’s liability for the actions of its employees is called “vicarious liability.” Although the employer may not have any direct involvement with an incident with one of its employees, the law may consider the employer partially liable for the resulting damages due to negligent hiring practices, negligent background checks, poor training, or failure to adhere to necessary regulations. If a driver’s behavior fell outside the scope of his or her job duties, or the truck driver engaged in illegal or intentionally dangerous behavior, and the employer followed all applicable laws and regulations in the hiring and employment of the driver, the driver would likely absorb liability for the resulting damages.
Product Liability Claims
Some truck accidents occur due to defective vehicles or faulty parts. Product manufacturers have a legal obligation to ensure their products perform as advertised and pose no threat to users through normal use. If a product defect causes a truck accident, injured victims can seek compensation for their damages by filing product liability claims against the manufacturers. The plaintiff will need to prove that the product in question malfunctioned or was defective, resulting in the plaintiff’s damages. The plaintiff does not necessarily need to prove the manufacturer was negligent, but the burden of proof may shift to the defendant in some product liability claims, compelling the manufacturer to prove it was not negligent in the design, production, or marketing of the product in question.
Damages in Truck Accident Lawsuits
Truck accidents often cause significant economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include:
- Property damage. This can include the costs of repairing or replacing vehicles damaged in the accident as well as the cost of destroyed cargo or personal belongings and any public and private property damaged in the accident. This may also apply to the cost of renting a car while the plaintiff’s car undergoes repairs or replacement.
- Medical expenses. Plaintiffs can claim any costs related to medical treatment as damages in a civil claim. This can include hospital expenses, emergency transportation fees for ambulance or airlift, prescription medication costs, and any other financial expenses related to medical care necessary after the truck accident. It’s important to note that a plaintiff may only claim the costs of medical expenses that directly result from the defendant’s negligence and not some other unrelated or preexisting cause.
- Lost income. Anyone injured in a truck accident may need to spend time out of work to recover. The plaintiff may claim the income lost during this recovery time in a personal injury claim. If a truck accident results in permanent disability that prevents work in the future, a plaintiff may seek damages for the future income he or she would have reasonably expected to earn.
- Permanent injuries and scarring. People are entitled to recover for all injuries that are permanent such as paralysis or loss of use of a body part.
Economic damages are straightforward, but it’s essential for plaintiffs in truck accident cases to save all their records related to their accidents. This should include hospital bills, invoices, receipts, and any correspondence related to your damages.
Non-economic damages are a bit more complex. Plaintiffs can claim compensation for their physical pain, emotional anguish, and mental distress resulting from a traumatic accident. Since it is difficult to quantify these damages in monetary amounts, a jury will consider testimony from relevant experts to determine an appropriate amount. Pain and suffering damages will be considerably larger for serious injuries, injuries resulting in permanent disabilities, and fatal injuries.
North Carolina Negligence Laws
If your truck accident claim falls under personal injury law, you’ll need to prove the defendant in your case was negligent. Under North Carolina’s contributory negligence law, a plaintiff cannot recover damages if he or she was even partially at fault for the incident in question. A potential plaintiff with a truck accident claim must not have had any fault in the accident to recover damages. Many truck accident cases can grow into complex legal battles with several parties, and plaintiffs need legal counsel they can trust to secure satisfactory results. Whether you expect to file a personal injury claim, a product liability claim, or any other type of legal action after a truck accident, hiring the right attorney for you can make a tremendous difference in the outcome.
Contact a Raleigh Truck Accident Lawyer
The Raleigh personal injury attorneys at Riddle & Brantley, have more than 160 years of combined experience handling civil claims, and we are confident in our ability to handle the toughest truck accident claims in North Carolina. If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries in a truck accident, contact our team to schedule a free case evaluation. We can help you determine who is to blame for your damages and what types of compensation you can seek.