North Carolina Wrongful Death Truck Accident Lawyer

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A view from the rear of a white semi truck carrying a heavy load on a highway.Trucks are over twenty times heavier than the average family sedan. They are more difficult to maneuver and take about twice as long to stop.

Accidents involving semi-trucks are more severe than car accidents and tend to be more brutal in terms of destruction because of the sheer size and force of the vehicles. The victims of trucking accidents are more likely to suffer significant injuries with long-lasting or permanent repercussions if they survive at all.

Why Do Victim’s Families Need a North Carolina Wrongful Death Truck Accident Attorney?

Trucking companies and their insurance companies want to protect themselves at all costs because payouts are typically much higher when a semi-truck is involved as opposed to car accidents. With more at stake, a strong case against whoever is liable is crucial.

The settlement process often takes longer because there are more people and companies involved, and investigations must be conducted. Experienced personal injury lawyers can keep the process moving and get you the compensation you need.

Legal representation ensures a fair settlement and keeps you from getting pushed around by large companies.

Other entities may be involved as well.

The Department of Transportation is usually notified of any accident involving a semi-truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may investigate the crash depending on the severity of the damage.

Truck accidents are more likely to involve multiple vehicles than car accidents. When a truck accident involves one or more fatalities, the victim’s family may be eligible to receive compensation for the loss of their loved one and any expenses they incurred from the accident.

People riding in passenger cars are always on the losing side of any collision with a commercial truck because of the size and weight of the truck, but the driver of the passenger car is usually the one responsible for causing the accident.

This is what the trucking company and insurance companies will try to prove.

How Common Are Fatalities in Truck Accidents?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports the following statistics from 2020:

  • 30% of passenger vehicle occupants died from head-on collisions with the front of a truck
  • 25% of passenger occupants were killed in side impact truck accidents
  • 23% of crash deaths involved the front of the passenger vehicle hitting the rear of the trailer
  • In 2018, jackknife trailers caused 4,862 fatal accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

What Is Contributory Negligence in North Carolina?

North Carolina has a law that prevents the victims of a motor vehicle collision from collecting any compensation if they contributed to the cause of the accident. This is a harsh law that only a handful of states still enforce, and North Carolina is one of them.

The victim only has to be found one percent at fault for their own injury or death to be denied compensation for their damages. Many other states have a comparative negligence law that decreases the dollar amount of compensation the victim is awarded by their percentage of shared fault for the accident.

Insurance companies and trucking companies often use the contributory negligence law as their defense so they do not have to pay.

An experienced wrongful death truck accident attorney is exactly what you need in this situation. A thorough investigation of the accident and all relevant factors can help prove that your loved one had no part in causing the accident that ultimately claimed their life.

Every situation is unique, and there are so many elements that go into the cause of an accident, which is why it is imperative that you contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible.

What Caused the Accident?

Trucking accidents are more complex than car accidents. Truck accidents usually happen because the vehicle is so large and cannot maneuver quickly enough to avoid colliding with smaller vehicles driving erratically.

Driver error causes most car accidents. The driver may have been speeding, was distracted, or used poor judgment.

Another possible cause of trucking accidents is equipment failure. Drivers perform pre-trip inspections every day before they begin driving, but these trucks are heavy and travel long distances every day.

Many problems can arise while driving, especially if checks are put off or incomplete.

Truck Accidents Mean Trucking Companies Are Involved

The main difference between car accidents and truck accidents is that when a commercial vehicle is involved, a trucking company is usually involved in the claims for damages.

Trucking companies have aggressive insurance companies with ruthless lawyers. These lawyers focus on minimizing the trucking company’s responsibility and paying out the smallest settlements possible.

A personal injury lawyer working on your behalf will help to level the playing field to get you the compensation you are entitled to receive.

Is The Truck Driver Liable For Damages?

The driver and the trucking company are both typically liable for compensation after an accident. Victims have legal rights and should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a medical examination.

The personal injury lawyers at Tatum & Atkinson: The Heavy Hitters will investigate your accident to determine fault. The truck driver is at fault if they:

  • Drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Text or use a handheld phone while driving
  • Overload their trailer with freight
  • Drive with unbalanced cargo or an uneven distribution of weight
  • Speed
  • Drive too closely to the car ahead of them
  • Fail to perform their pre-trip inspection
  • Disregard posted warnings for hills, curves, or intersections
  • Drive recklessly during adverse weather conditions
  • Fail to adhere to sleep requirements

Proving any of these actions will mean the driver is guilty of negligence, and they will be responsible for paying reparations to the victim or their family.

Who Else Is Liable In a Trucking Accident?

The trucking company that employs the truck driver is also customarily liable for paying damages. As is the shipper or retailer, depending on the career status of the driver.

Truck drivers can be subcontractors, full-time company drivers, or owner-operators. They might work under their own authority or be leased to another company, while many are employees.

The driver’s specific status and whether they own or lease the truck corresponds to the percentage of damages that the trucking company, shipper, or retailer will pay.

The road itself may also have been responsible for causing the accident. An improperly maintained roadway could shift liability onto the government.

Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Most trucking companies have a team of lawyers who will fight to prove that the driver was acting against company policy. Therefore, the trucking company should not be held liable for the actions of the driver.

A personal injury lawyer can still file other claims against the company, such as negligent supervision, enticing the driver to break the rules, or negligent hiring. The attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson have the experience you need, so you will not be manipulated by these large companies.

Are Truck Drivers Always Found To Be At Fault?

Accidents involving large trucks are usually the fault of the smaller passenger vehicles.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration regarding crashes involving a car and truck, car drivers are responsible for eighty-one percent. Truck drivers were only found to be accountable for twenty-seven percent of crashes.

Are Truck Operators Safe Drivers?

Truck drivers are professional drivers who are held to a high safety standard. They must complete specialized training and pass rigorous testing before they receive their commercial driver’s license.

They have to pass a medical examination every two years just to be able to drive. They need to record how many hours they spend driving and sleeping every day and night in an effort to avoid driver fatigue while operating their vehicle.

The trucks and trailers undergo a thorough inspection every day before they start driving. All equipment must pass a detailed examination by the Department of Transportation to remain roadworthy.

All these factors make truck drivers some of the safest drivers on the road.

Why Are Commercial Trucks So Dangerous?

The dangers of sharing the road with trucks do not usually come from the driver. Their large size and weight make these vehicles far more challenging to control.

They take much longer to stop, so they need more space in front of them at all times. Wet or icy road conditions increase the amount of stopping distance they require.

They also need more room to turn. Not all roadways were designed for large trucks, and truck drivers often have to use multiple lanes to avoid driving over curbs or other obstacles.

Commercial trucks have much larger blind spots than cars. They are unable to see the smaller cars driving right beside them.

Cars become invisible when they move too closely behind or even in front of these massive vehicles. Commercial driver’s license holders must be aware of the location of all other cars on the road to avoid a collision.

This makes driving a truck very difficult, but these drivers know how to stay safe. Problems arise when cars begin to travel erratically and make unpredictable lane changes, especially when they move into the driver’s blind spots.

What Are Other Factors That Can Cause a Fatal Trucking Accident?

There are many factors that can cause an accident with a commercial truck. Some examples include the following:

  • Third-party negligence. For example, another driver changing lanes recklessly
  • Improper truck maintenance
  • Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo
  • Defective truck parts, such as brakes or tires
  • Defective truck design or repair leading to improper tracking of the trailer, loss of control, rollovers, or jackknifing
  • Unrealistic driving schedules, deadlines, and quotas
  • Poor weather conditions or low visibility
  • Dangerous road design
  • Construction
  • Debris on the road from another vehicle or accident

Remember that this list is not exhaustive; there are countless ways in which a truck accident may occur. If your loved one was killed in a truck accident, contact a wrongful death lawyer right away to learn about your legal rights and options.

What Causes a Truck Rollover Accident?

Trucks are at risk of rolling over due to their tall height and high center of gravity. Rollovers can occur for many reasons or any combination of reasons, including the following:

  • Severe crosswinds
  • Turning too quickly
  • Collisions with other vehicles or objects, such as a high curb
  • Driving onto a soft shoulder
  • Improperly loaded or secured cargo

Regardless of how a truck accident occurs, victims who survive can suffer severe, life-altering injuries, including:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Paralysis
  • Internal organ damage
  • Disfigurement from burns and lacerations

Proving Liability

Like most personal injury claims, in order to recover compensation after a truck accident, you will typically need to prove that another party acted negligently and that this led to your injuries and damages. Doing this is not usually an easy task, as there may be multiple liable parties.

How Can I Avoid Semi-Truck Accidents?

  • The best way to avoid trucking accidents is to steer clear of the semi-trucks.
  • Allow them the space they need to maneuver around sharp turns.
  • Stay out of the driver’s blind spots, especially on the truck’s right side.
  • Be aware of upcoming exits that the truck may need to take. Truck drivers are typically far from home and do not know the local roadways. Be patient and give them space.
  • Avoid following too closely to prevent being hit by debris from the truck or the road.
  • Never cut in front of a truck, especially while stopping or slowing. Remember that heavy trucks cannot stop as quickly as you.
  • Give them extra space on steep hills. Heavy trucks have a difficult time climbing steep inclines and will decelerate quickly. Navigating steep declines is very dangerous. They need to start very slowly and minimize the use of their brakes to avoid burning the brake pads, which could cause them to lose their ability to slow down. Be aware of trucks coming up behind you while going downhill, and get out of their way. Never park on a runaway truck ramp.

Contact a North Carolina Wrongful Death Truck Accident Law Firm Today

If someone you love has been tragically killed in a truck accident in North Carolina that was caused by someone else, contact the Heavy Hitters at Tatum & Atkinson as soon as possible. We will represent your family to make sure that you get the best possible outcome from your wrongful death case.

Call (800) LAW-0804 today for a free consultation.