Charleston Truck Accident Lawyer
In collisions with large commercial trucks, occupants of passenger vehicles almost always suffer serious injuries. If you or a loved one have been injured in a Charleston truck accident, you need an attorney working for you as soon as possible. Trucking companies and their insurers have deep pockets and will begin an investigation into the accident almost immediately, building a case against you.
At Mickelsen Dalton, our Charleston truck accident lawyers can help preserve evidence, protect your rights and best interests, and fight to recover the compensation you need to move forward. We offer a free and confidential case evaluation, call today to speak with our personal injury lawyers in Charleston.
Truck Accident Case Results
Our team has successfully handled many trucking accident claims, including the following case results.
- $2M | Trucking Accident & Wrongful Death
- $1.65M | Highly-Contested Truck Accident
- $1M | Trucking Accident resulting in serious injury and death
How Does a Lawyer Help and How Much Do They Cost?
Most Charleston truck accident attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. Under this payment structure, an attorney agrees to represent you and receive payment only if they win or settle your case. This means that if no money is received, then the attorney does not get paid for their services.
The amount that the attorney receives is usually between 33-40%, depending on the terms of your agreement with the law firm.
It’s important to note that this percentage does not include any out-of-pocket costs associated with pursuing your case, such as filing fees, expert witness fees, etc. Those costs are usually in addition to the contingency fee and will be charged separately.
While this may sound like a lot, it’s usually worth it. Your truck accident attorney should be able to help you navigate all aspects of your case from filing insurance claims to representing you in court if necessary.
The law firm you work with will also collect evidence and build your case with the goal of getting maximum compensation for injuries or damages sustained during the accident. Furthermore, they will handle all negotiations with insurance companies so that you don’t have to worry about dealing with them directly during this difficult time.
What Should I Do After Getting into a Wreck in Charleston?
If you or a loved one are involved in an accident with a commercial truck, it is likely that the damage to your vehicle and the injuries incurred are severe. Receiving immediate emergency medical treatment is the most important thing to do. Once you or your loved one are receiving treatment, reach out to a Charleston truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to protect your best interests.
Statute of Limitations for Charleston Truck Accident Claims
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years from the date of the injury. This means that you have three years to file a lawsuit to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses related to your injury. If you don’t file your lawsuit within this three-year window, you risk losing your right to pursue compensation altogether.
It’s important to note that the three-year rule is a general guideline, and certain circumstances can affect the time frame within which you must file your claim.
“Except as to actions initiated under Section 15-3-545, all actions initiated under Section 15-3-530(5) must be commenced within three years after the person knew or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known that he had a cause of action.”
For example, in some cases, you might not be immediately aware of your injury or the potential harm caused. This could be due to delayed symptoms, misdiagnosis, or various other factors. South Carolina law recognizes this possibility and allows for an exception to the general three-year rule.
Under this exception, the clock may start ticking when you know, or reasonably should know, that you have suffered harm as a result of someone else’s negligence.
There are other exceptions that may lengthen or shorten the deadline, so it’s crucial to speak with a Charleston truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
What Happens If You Don’t File on Time?
Failing to file your personal injury lawsuit within the applicable time frame can have severe consequences. In most cases, the court will dismiss your claim, leaving you without the opportunity to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses. This is why it’s vital that you’re aware of the statute of limitations and promptly take action to protect your rights.
What Kind of Damages Are Available to Charleston Truck Accident Victims?
Damages from a trucking accident are often more life-altering than any car accident. The time spent recovering from your injuries and time away from work can quickly add up.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Economic damages are financial losses that you incur after an accident. Non-economic damages are the damages that are harder to place a monetary value on, like pain and suffering. Some of these economic and non-economic damages include:
- Medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Emotional stress
- Loss of companionship
Punitive damages refer to a form of monetary compensation awarded to the plaintiff by the court. Unlike compensatory damages that aim to make the plaintiff whole again, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter them and others from engaging in similar activities in the future.
In short, they serve as a financial penalty for causing intentional harm or exhibiting an egregious disregard for others’ safety and well-being.
“(D) Punitive damages may be awarded only if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that his harm was the result of the defendant’s wilful, wanton, or reckless conduct.
… the jury shall determine if a defendant is liable for punitive damages and, if determined to be liable, the amount of punitive damages. In determining the amount of punitive damages, the jury may consider all relevant evidence, including, but not limited to:
- (1) the defendant’s degree of culpability;
- (2) the severity of the harm caused by the defendant;
- (3) the extent to which the plaintiff’s own conduct contributed to the harm;
- (4) the duration of the conduct, the defendant’s awareness, and any concealment by the defendant;
- (5) the existence of similar past conduct;
- (6) the profitability of the conduct to the defendant;
- (7) the defendant’s ability to pay; (8) the likelihood the award will deter the defendant or others from like conduct…”
No two truck accidents are the same. Without reviewing the evidence, there is no way to know what your case may be worth. Mickelsen Dalton is a skilled truck accident law firm serving the Charleston, South Carolina area. We fight for every penny you deserve and won’t stop until you are fully compensated.
Negligence: Determining Fault in Truck Accident Cases
Negligence is an important part of determining fault in any truck accident case. It has four components:
- Duty: the other party owed you a duty of care
- Breach: the other party breached that duty
- Causation: that breach caused you harm
- Damages: you were injured as a result
Unfortunately, proving negligence falls on the victim. Mickelsen Dalton can help. Our law firm can help you find the evidence you may not otherwise have access to, such as traffic or security cameras, driver logs, maintenance records, vehicle black box data, and more. We take the burden of proof off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on healing.
Who Can Be Found Liable for a Truck Accident?
If you’ve been in an accident involving a truck in South Carolina, you may be wondering who can be held liable and how to go about filing a lawsuit. Here are some possible parties that could be legally responsible for the accident:
The Truck Driver
The most obvious suspect is usually the truck driver. To determine liability, it must first be proven that the driver was negligent in some way, meaning they failed to exercise reasonable care while operating their vehicle.
This can include distraction due to cell phone use or other forms of negligence such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, failing to follow traffic laws, or fatigue due to lack of rest. Evidence such as police reports, eyewitness statements, cell phone records, and toxicology tests can all help prove driver negligence.
Another Vehicle Driver
In some cases, another motorist may have contributed to the accident through their own negligence. Factors like reckless driving or failure to obey traffic laws can also play a role in some collisions with trucks. As with proving truck driver negligence, police reports and witness testimony are often used as evidence in these types of cases.
The Trucking Company
It is also possible that the company behind the truck or its drivers could bear responsibility for an accident if it is proven that insufficient background checks were conducted prior to hiring a driver or if maintenance records show that regular maintenance procedures were not followed on time or correctly performed.
Documents like employment records and maintenance logs will need to be examined by your Charleston truck accident lawyer to make this determination.
The Company Responsible For Loading the Truck
If it is determined that cargo was not securely fastened or overstuffed onto a truck, this could lead to an instability issue which could cause an accident. Trucking companies should follow all safety guidelines when loading trucks so that accidents like this do not occur.
The manufacturer of a truck can also be held liable in some cases. This is most likely to happen if there were defects with the design or manufacture of the vehicle which contributed to an accident.
What if You’re Partially at Fault For The Accident?
Under South Carolina law, any person who is found to be more than 50% at fault for their own personal injury accident may not recover any compensation from another party. This means that even if you have compelling evidence that another person was in large part responsible for your accident, you may still end being unable to recover compensation. This is known as modified comparative negligence.
Conversely, if you are found to be 50% or less at fault for your injury, you can still recover damages from the other parties involved, but your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your liability.
For example, if it is determined that you were 20% responsible for the accident and awarded $10,000 in damages, you would only be able to recover $8,000 (the remaining 80%). Your injury attorney will help you navigate this step and understand who was at fault.
Do Most Truck Accident Cases Settle Out of Court?
While some cases do go to trial, the majority of truck accident cases settle out of court. There are many advantages to settling a case out of court, and it’s important to understand why so many cases are resolved this way.
The Legal Process Can Be Lengthy and Costly
When a truck accident case is taken to court in South Carolina, it can take several months or years to reach a verdict. During this time, there are costs associated with having an experienced attorney and any experts who may need to be consulted throughout the process.
This could include expert witnesses who can help build your case for damages, which requires payment.
Insurance Companies Prefer Settlements Over Going To Court
Insurance companies typically prefer settlements over taking a case to trial because they know how costly it will be if they lose in court. They also do not want their insurance policies brought into question by having their claims practices scrutinized in open court proceedings.
Victims Can Often Negotiate A Fair Settlement
While insurance companies usually offer settlements before heading to court, that doesn’t mean you have to accept them without negotiation. You should always talk with an experienced Charleston accident lawyer about your situation before agreeing to any settlements. They can ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses from the insurance company involved in your case.
Common Trucking Accident Injuries
Being involved in a truck accident can be a traumatic experience and can result in serious injuries. While some people are lucky enough to walk away with only minor scrapes and bruises, many sustain life-altering injuries that require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation. The most common truck accident injuries include the following:
The impact of a crash between a truck and another vehicle is often significant enough to cause severe head trauma. This can range from minor concussions to life-threatening traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Head trauma is often seen as one of the most devastating truck accident injuries because it can have long-term effects on cognitive function, memory, sight, hearing, speech, mobility, and balance. Furthermore, victims may also suffer from depression or anxiety due to their injuries.
Broken bones are another common injury sustained in trucking accidents due to the sheer force of a crash between two vehicles that are moving at high speeds and the size of the truck. Broken bones typically involve fractures or dislocations of the arms or legs but can also affect the ribs or other parts of the body.
Spinal Cord Damage
Injuries to the spine are among the most serious types of truck accident injuries because they can lead to permanent paralysis if not treated properly. Victims may suffer from complete paralysis below the site of injury or partial paralysis due to damage done to the spinal cord.
Psychological trauma is another common injury sustained in truck accidents due to both physical and emotional distress caused by being involved in such a serious event. Victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety due to their traumatic experiences. This can have lasting effects on their mental health even after all other physical ailments have healed.
Due to the size and weight disparity between semi-trucks and passenger vehicles, it is not uncommon for people to lose their lives in semi-truck accidents. Semi-trucks are significantly larger and heavier than standard cars, making them more difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. A truck crash can be catastrophic, leading to devastating consequences for other drivers on the road. If you have lost a loved one in a truck accident, our Charleston wrongful death lawyers can help you file a wrongful death claim.
What Causes Most Truck Accidents in Charleston?
Just like car accidents, no two truck accidents are the same. However, some of the most common causes of South Carolina accidents include:
Driver Error and Negligence
One of the leading causes of truck accidents is driver negligence or error. This includes distracted driving, speeding, drowsy driving, reckless driving, or other careless behavior on the part of a truck driver. It’s normal for drivers to make mistakes from time to time, but reckless or careless behavior behind the wheel can put other motorists at risk.
Another major factor contributing to truck accidents is mechanical failure. The sheer size and weight of commercial trucks means they require more frequent maintenance than passenger vehicles do, but unfortunately, not all companies prioritize regular maintenance on their fleets as they should.
Mechanical failures that could have been caught during regular maintenance, such as faulty brakes or tires, can lead to catastrophic accidents when an 18-wheeler loses control on the highway.
Poorly Loaded Cargo
Cargo that is improperly loaded onto a semi-truck can lead to serious consequences as well. If cargo is not properly secured before leaving the loading dock, it can shift during transit and cause an imbalance in the weight distribution, which increases its chances of overturning during transit.
Driving Under The Influence
Intoxication while driving is one of the leading causes of all vehicle accidents nationwide, including those involving trucks. Drivers are legally obligated to abstain from alcohol and drugs before getting behind the wheel to ensure their safety and that of other drivers on the road.
Another common cause of truck accidents is faulty or defective equipment on the vehicle itself. In some cases, a manufacturer may have produced parts with defects that cause malfunctions during operation.
Your Trusted Charleston Truck Accident Lawyers Are Standing By
At Mickelsen Dalton, our personal injury attorneys are trial lawyers. It is our mission to fight for you. We have witnessed time and again the powerful taking advantage of the powerless. Our law firm has made a promise to protect our clients. When we take on your case, our team will look at every bit of evidence presented, leaving no corner unchecked and no stone unturned. We will fight for you, ensuring you get the compensation you are owed! Reach out to our South Carolina law firm today through our website and schedule a free consultation.
Truck Accident Claim FAQs:
Below are some answers to commonly asked questions about truck accident claims.
Should I Talk to the Trucking Company’s Insurance Adjuster Without an Attorney?
In short – no. It is generally not advisable to talk to the trucking company’s insurance adjuster without an attorney. The adjuster is working for the trucking company, and their goal is to minimize the amount of money that the trucking company has to pay. They may ask you questions that are designed to get you to say something that could hurt your case.
For example, the adjuster may ask you questions about your injuries, your medical treatment, or your financial losses. They may also ask you about the accident itself. If you are not careful, you could say something that could be used against you in court.
An attorney can protect your interests and help you avoid making any statements that could hurt your case. They can also negotiate with the adjuster on your behalf and get you the best possible settlement.
If you are contacted by the trucking company’s insurance adjuster, you should politely decline to speak with them without an attorney present. You can tell them that you are not comfortable speaking with them without an attorney and that you would like to have one present for any future conversations.
What Evidence is Important to Gather After a Truck Accident?
Here are some important pieces of evidence that may be used in your truck accident claim.
- Police report: The police report will document the facts of the accident, including the time, date, location, and circumstances of the accident. It will also include the names and contact information of the drivers involved, as well as any witnesses.
- Witness statements: If there were any witnesses to the accident, it is important to get their statements as soon as possible. Witness statements can provide valuable information about the accident, such as what they saw, heard, and smelled.
- Photographs and videos: If possible, take photographs and videos of the accident scene. This will help to document the damage to the vehicles involved and the surrounding area.
- Medical records: If you were injured in the accident, it is important to keep track of your medical records. This includes your medical bills, doctor’s reports, and any other documentation related to your treatment.
- Property damage: If your property was damaged in the accident, it is important to document the damage. This includes taking photographs of the damage and keeping track of any repair costs.
- Business records: If you were unable to work due to your injuries, it is important to keep track of your lost wages. This includes your pay stubs, tax records, and any other documentation related to your income.
It is also important to keep a copy of all of the evidence you gather. This will be important if you need to file a lawsuit later on.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Truck Accident Claim?
The length of your truck accident claim settlement will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of your injuries, the complexity of your case, and the willingness of the insurance company to settle.
In general, most truck accident claims settle within a few months to a year. However, there are some cases that can take longer, especially if the case is complex or if the insurance company is not willing to settle.
Here are some factors that can affect how long your truck accident claim takes to settle:
- The severity of your injuries: The more serious your injuries, the longer it may take to settle your claim. This is because the insurance company will need more time to assess the full extent of your injuries and to determine the cost of your medical care.
- The complexity of your case: If your case is complex, it may take longer to settle. This is because the insurance company will need more time to investigate the accident and to gather evidence.
- The willingness of the insurance company to settle: If the insurance company is not willing to settle, it may take longer to resolve your case. This is because you may need to file a lawsuit in order to get the compensation you deserve.
- Your legal representation: If you have an experienced accident attorney representing you, it may take less time to settle your claim. This is because your attorney will be able to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and get you the best possible settlement.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand your legal options and get you the compensation you deserve.
What is the Average Settlement Amount for a Truck Accident Claim?
There is no one answer to the question of what is the average settlement amount for a truck accident claim. The amount of money you can recover in a truck accident settlement will depend on the severity of your injuries, the cost of your medical care, and other factors.
For example, if you were injured in a serious truck accident that resulted in your death, you may be able to recover millions of dollars in damages. On the other hand, if you were injured in a minor truck accident that resulted in only a few minor injuries, you may only be able to recover a few thousand dollars in damages.
Contact A Skilled Charleston Truck Accident Lawyer Today For A Free Consultation
The best way to determine how much money you can recover in a truck accident settlement is to speak with our experienced Charleston truck accident attorneys. You can also scroll down to see some of Mickelsen Dalton’s case results from past truck accident cases.