Accidents involving semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles can be devastating. The extreme force that a 40-ton vehicle unleashes on impact is enough to severely damage or injure whatever it hits. Though big-dollar trucking carriers and their insurers are often liable for these collisions, these companies will do whatever they can to protect their profits at the expense of the people they’ve injured. That’s why professional representation is essential as you demand the compensation you deserve after a truck accident that wasn’t your fault.

Schwaba Law Firm understands the complexities of truck accident cases. Andrew Schwaba is dedicated to pursuing fair compensation on behalf of injured North Carolinians. That dedication has paid off in the millions of dollars he’s recovered for clients, including a recent $750,000 settlement for a trucking collision mild traumatic brain injury claim, a $600,000 settlement for a mild traumatic brain injury in a truck accident, and a $225,000 settlement for a client who sustained severe bone fractures after being hit by a box truck.

If you or someone close to you was hurt in an 18-wheeler, semi-truck, big rig, or other commercial truck collision, contact Schwaba Law Firm today for a free consultation. A North Carolina truck accident lawyer can answer your questions and explain how they’ll pursue the money you deserve at no upfront cost to you.

What Is Considered a Truck in North Carolina?

North Carolina regulates trucks under the term “commercial motor vehicles,” which it defines as:

  • Class A Motor Vehicle, which is a combination vehicle with a towed unit that has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 10,0001 pounds.
  • Class B Motor Vehicle, which is either a single unit with a GVWR of at least 26,001 pounds or a combination vehicle involving a towing unit with a GVWR of at least 26,001 pounds and a towed unit weighing less than 10,0001 pounds.
  • Class C Motor Vehicle, which is designed to transport at least 16 occupants or carries hazardous materials and is required to carry a placard for such.

Why Truck Accidents Are More Complicated Than Other Motor Vehicle Crashes

Several factors unique to trucks and the trucking industry make accidents involving them significantly more complicated than other types of traffic collisions. They include the following:

  • More Potentially Liable Parties – Unlike most car accidents, where the driver or drivers at fault are typically the only liable parties, truck accidents often involve multiple potentially liable parties. These include truck drivers, trucking companies, truck owners, cargo loaders, and manufacturers. Each additional party adds another layer of complexity to any accident case.
  • Greater Damage and Injuries – Commercial trucks can cause more severe damage and injuries compared to passenger vehicles due to their size and weight. This increases the potential for more valuable claims, which can make insurance companies more aggressive in contesting liability and defending their interests.
  • Complex Regulations – Commercial trucks and operators are subject to a variety of federal and state regulations, including limits on the number of hours drivers can work, maintenance requirements, and cargo loading standards. Understanding these regulations and applying them to a liability claim makes a truck accident case more involved than another kind of motor vehicle accident lawsuit.

What Are the State and Federal Trucking Laws?

In North Carolina, trucking regulations are set by both state and federal laws. Here are some of the most pertinent ones:

  • Size Limits – The maximum width for commercial vehicles in North Carolina is 102 inches. The maximum height is 13 feet 6 inches. The maximum length for a single vehicle is 40 feet, while a vehicle combination is limited to 60 feet. Permits are available for trucks that exceed these sizes.
  • Licensing RequirementsCommercial drivers must be 18 years old to drive within the state and 21 years old to cross state lines. Specific endorsements are required for certain types of vehicles and cargo.
  • Load Securement Rules – All cargo-carrying commercial vehicles must adequately secure cargo to prevent it from shifting, falling off, or affecting stability. There are specific regulations for various types of cargo, and drivers must conduct periodic inspections of cargo and securements.
  • Fleet Manager Requirements – Fleet managers must maintain Driver Qualification Files for all drivers, implement drug and alcohol testing programs, ensure drivers comply with hours of service (HOS) rules, carry out regular maintenance, and maintain records of accidents.
  • Insurance Requirements – North Carolina requires a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance for interstate commercial carriers transporting non-hazardous goods. Specific transportation categories, such as transportation of hazardous substances, require higher coverage amounts.

Common Types and Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents

Trucking accidents come in many different types, some of the most common of which include the following:

  • Jackknife accidents
  • Rollover accidents
  • Underride accidents
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Blind spot accidents
  • Head-on collisions
  • T-bone accidents
  • Brake failure accidents
  • Tire blowout accidents
  • Wide-turn accidents
  • Sideswipe accidents
  • Unsecured cargo accidents
  • Failure to yield accidents
  • Improper passing accidents
  • Runaway trailer accidents
  • Overloaded truck accidents

A variety of factors can contribute to these types of accidents, such as:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Improper loading
  • Lack of maintenance
  • Defective truck parts
  • Inadequate training
  • Poor road conditions
  • Tailgating
  • Overloading
  • Inadequate inspections
  • Equipment failures
  • Reckless driving
  • Poor road conditions
  • Failure to yield
  • Unfamiliarity with routes
  • Pressure from employers
  • Inadequate surveillance
  • Illegal maneuvers

What Injuries Can Someone Sustain in a Truck Accident?

A commercial truck accident can often result in severe injuries due to the massive size differential between big trucks and the passenger vehicles they share the road with. Some of the most common include the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries
  • Lacerations and bruises
  • Whiplash
  • Burn injuries
  • Amputations
  • Disfigurement
  • Paralysis
  • Concussions
  • Crushing injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Knee and ankle injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Rib and torso injuries
  • Psychological trauma

In addition, if a truck accident becomes a fatal one, the surviving family may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Could Be Liable for a Truck Accident?

Determining fault after a truck crash requires a thorough analysis of the events leading up to the accident and the role each party played in it. Here are some parties that could be liable:

  • Truck Drivers – A trucker could be liable if their negligent or reckless behavior contributed to the accident. This could include instances of driving while distracted, impaired, or speeding.
  • Trucking Companies – The company that owns the truck or employs the driver can also be liable, either vicariously for its worker or directly because of its own behavior. This could be due to poor vehicle maintenance, negligent hiring practices, insufficient driver training, or unrealistic delivery schedules.
  • Truck Owners – If the truck is owned by a different entity than the trucker or trucking company, this party could be liable for not ensuring that the vehicle was safe to operate or maintained properly.
  • Cargo Loading Companies – If the cargo was improperly stowed or secured in a way that rendered the truck unstable, the company responsible for its loading could be responsible.
  • Manufacturers – If a defect in the truck or one of its components contributed to the accident, the manufacturer of the truck or defective part could be held accountable.
  • Government Entities – In some cases, a local or state government entity could be responsible if the accident happened due to poor road design, inadequate signage, or other roadway issues.

Each of these parties often has its own insurance companies and attorneys, further complicating the process of establishing liability. This is why working with an experienced North Carolina truck accident attorney who can handle these complexities is essential.

What Compensation Can I Expect to Recover in a North Carolina Truck Accident Claim?

Someone who gets hurt in a truck accident another party caused could be entitled to compensation for the following losses:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Property damage

What If I Am Partly at Fault in a North Carolina Trucking Accident?

North Carolina follows a harsh doctrine called “pure contributory negligence.” This bars accident victims — including those of a commercial truck crash — who are in any way responsible for their own injury from recovering compensation at trial. This rule underscores the importance of getting help from a skilled attorney, one who can build a strong case demonstrating the other party’s liability and is committed to protecting your rights.

Benefits of Hiring a North Carolina Lawyer for Your Truck Accident Claim

Among the benefits of hiring a truck accident lawyer in North Carolina include having a legal professional who can:

  • Investigate the accident to uncover all relevant facts
  • Identify liable parties and sources of compensation for your case
  • Calculate a fair and comprehensive estimate of all your losses
  • Compile, organize, and present useful evidence to support your claim
  • Handle all the paperwork and legal documentation related to your case
  • Work with experts and eyewitnesses to strengthen your claim
  • Communicate with the trucking company and their representatives on your behalf
  • Manage the timely filing of all necessary case documents
  • Negotiate fair settlements to avoid going to trial when possible
  • Advocate for your interests in court, if necessary

Get in Touch with a Truck Accident Lawyer in North Carolina Today

When the stakes are high, you deserve the help of a lawyer who makes your recovery their priority. You deserve Schwaba Law Firm. Andrew Schwaba has a proven track record of obtaining substantial settlements and verdicts for truck accident victims, and he’s here to help with yours. Reach out to Schwaba Law Firm today for a free consultation with a North Carolina truck accident lawyer.