Common Types of Truck Crashes in South Carolina
Experienced Truck Accident Injury Lawyers on Your Side
While there are many different types of truck accidents, one thing is certain: in a collision at highway speeds between a 70,000 pound tractor-trailer and a 4,000 thousand pound passenger vehicle or motorcycle the smaller vehicle always loses. We understand, too, that because South Carolina is crisscrossed by several Interstate highways, numerous state and county highways, and a network of local roads – most of which carry heavy truck traffic through major cities like Columbia – there is a fair likelihood of accidents between trucks and passenger vehicles. Our skilled auto accident attorneys are ready to answer the call when you need us.
What Kind of Semi-truck Accident Cases Do You Handle?
The South Carolina truck accident lawyers at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, have years of experience handling a wide range of accidents. Some of the most common types with which we deal include:
- Fatal truck accidents
- Jackknife truck accidents
- Underride and override collisions
- Wide turn truck accidents
- Defective truck brake accidents
- Highway truck accidents
What are the leading causes of fatal truck accidents in South Carolina?
In 2017, there were 5,292 truck crashes in South Carolina, leading to 62 deaths and 1,184 injuries. The leading cause of those fatalities was truck driver error. The leading causes of driver error include:
- Aggressive driving
- Reckless driving
- Driving while drunk
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving while impaired by illegal drugs or legal medications
- Distracted driving, such as texting while moving
- Driving without proper lighting
- Driving with worn brakes
- Driving with worn tires
- Failure to drive appropriately for weather and road conditions
What compensation is available after fatal truck accidents?
There are two forms of financial compensation for loss after a fatal trucking accident: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include the following:
- Payment or reimbursement of the deceased’s medical bills (if any)
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages, income and benefits from the deceased’s employment
Non-economic damages may also be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, although South Carolina law limits the total amount that families may collect. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering of the deceased prior to death
- Pain and suffering of relatives of the deceased
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of the marital relationship
Every case differs depending on the specific facts and details of the accident. For more information about financial compensation, please view our past settlements and verdicts.
What are some causes of jackknife truck accidents?
The jackknife accident is governed by the laws of physics. A fully loaded trailer carrying tens of thousands of pounds of cargo far outweighs its tractor. If its tires lose their adhesion because of sudden braking at highway speed the trailer continues its forward movement even though the cab is slowing down. The energy of the trailer’s forward motion is then transferred laterally, causing the trailer to slide out back-end first, to the right or left. The energy of a fully loaded trailer sliding into oncoming traffic is like a giant hammer delivering hundreds of thousands of foot pounds of energy to anything it strikes. The shifting balance may also cause both the tractor and trailer to spin and lose their cargo, or trigger a deadly underride collision.
What you should know about underride/override collisions
Federal regulations require rear impact guards fastened to the backs large trucks to stop cars and prevent them from sliding underneath, but the South Carolina truck accident lawyers at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, know these are not always effective. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put them to the test by crashing a 2010 Chevy Malibu into the back of parked trailers at 35 miles an hour. The rear guard that meets the U.S. standard gave way, and the car was crushed when it slid under the trailer. If there had been real occupants instead of crash dummies in the front seat, the IIHS said they would not have survived. This would point toward more accountability on the part of truck drivers for avoiding short stops.
When an underride or override collision occurs, survivors are likely to sustain serious and potentially life-long injuries. If you or a loved one is injured or killed in an underride or override truck accident you should seek qualified legal counsel at once. Being able to rely on the experience and skills of South Carolina truck accident attorneys when dealing with these kinds of accidents removes a major burden from the victims; it allows them to concentrate on the business of healing and rehabilitation. The lawyers at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, have access to specialists that enable us to effectively evaluate a case, determine which parties to file claims against, accurately value your case and support a victim’s claim in court.
How dangerous are wide-turns?
Driving an 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer safely requires specialized training and considerable experience. Semi-trucks and their tractors, often fifty to sixty feet long, have large blind spots, and are much more difficult to maneuver through city streets than smaller vehicles. When a large truck makes a tight right-hand turn, the driver swings the front of the truck to the left and drives part way across the intersection before turning the cab’s wheels right. While this maneuver allows the truck to clear obstacles on the right hand curbside, it also places traffic at the truck’s sides and in oncoming lanes at risk of an underride or head-on collision. As the tight right turn is being executed traffic stopped at the cross-street into which the truck is turning is at risk of an overrun collision.
What are some causes of brake failure in large trucks?
A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) identifies brake problems as accounting for 29% of large truck accidents, and ranks them first among the top ten causes. Truck owners and trucking companies are required by law to keep their vehicles’ brakes and other safety equipment in proper working condition.
Brake failure can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Inferior quality maintenance or repair work. Although the FMCSA has set the qualification standards for those who maintain brake systems, some carriers may try to circumvent the regulations as a cost-cutting measure.
- Improper loading.If the truck’s cargo is overweight, unbalanced or unsecured this may cause uneven wear on the braking system as well as increase the risk of vehicle turnover.
- Road or weather conditions. Snow and ice may accumulate beneath the trailer and hamper the movement of the articulated rods that operate its brakes.
- Driver error.A driver is responsible for inspecting the safety equipment of the truck before taking it out. This includes checking air lines and their connections. Tractor-trailer drivers should also understand that putting stress on the brakes by stopping short, or by riding the brakes on a downhill grade, increases the chance of brake failure. They should avoid following too closely, driving too fast, or engaging in any driving behavior that might require slamming on the brakes.
Brake failure may also be the result of design or manufacturing defects. In this case the vehicle’s or trailer’s manufacturer may be held liable.
Why are truck accidents on the highway so dangerous?
Truck accidents cause some of the most catastrophic injuries we have seen at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC. The destructive force that can be wielded by a fully-loaded seventy or eighty thousand pound 18-wheeler at highway speed (65 mph) is best described in the language of physics. The truck’s energy of movement (its kinetic energy) would be able to produce enough power to light your home – one kilowatt – for nearly an hour; that of a four thousand pound car traveling at the same speed would produce that single kilowatt for only about twelve minutes. Small wonder then, that when trucks and cars collide at highway speed 72 percent of the fatalities are among occupants of the cars.
How Do You Litigate a Truck Accident in South Carolina?
Survivors of jackknife accidents may suffer life-long injuries. If you are injured or a loved one has died in a truck accident you should seek qualified legal counsel at once. You can believe that the trucking company or its insurance carrier probably put its lawyers to work within hours of the accident, to attempt to place the blame elsewhere. You will need a tough, no-nonsense South Carolina truck accident lawyer capable of meeting their challenge and protecting your interests. The attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, work closely with experts and accident reconstruction specialists to determine the exact causes of and responsibility for an accident. We immediately give legal notice that the trucking carrier must preserve all evidence, including the truck itself, and subpoena the drivers’ logs and employment record, truck maintenance records, and other important evidence. In this way the trucking company is prevented from “losing” evidence. We may be able to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement, but if a satisfactory settlement can’t be reached our experienced litigators may have to prove responsibility damages in a court of law at trial.
Put your trust in the South Carolina law firm that puts people first
McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, are dedicated, driven and committed to delivering results. Your truck accident case matters to us. If you suffered an injury, or a loved one died because of a truck company or its driver’s negligence, let us help you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, today. Call 803-327-7800 and schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced South Carolina truck accident attorney, or fill out our contact form from any device. We proudly serve people throughout the state from offices in Columbia, Anderson, Rock Hill, Sumter, and Georgetown.