How to Choose a Charleston Truck Accident Lawyer
Any traffic accident is unnerving; however, truck accidents often involve serious injuries and fatalities. There were over 141,000 accidents in South Carolina in 2017. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported an increase in large truck fatalities in 2017.
One of the most important steps you can take following a big rig accident is choosing a truck accident attorney. Trying to sort through the advertisements and other information about attorneys can be stressful, but it is important to find the right attorney to obtain the best outcome for your case.
Why Are Truck Accidents so Dangerous?
Many factors can contribute to tractor-trailer accidents, including driver errors, faulty equipment, or misloaded cargo. However they happen, 18-wheeler accidents tend to cause more serious injuries than car accidents. Tractor-trailers often weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles. Also, they are taller than passenger vehicles, which greatly increases the risk of an underride crash in which a car goes partly or completely under a truck or trailer.
Truck drivers need to be extra cautious, but so do other drivers who share the road with them. Causes of tractor-trailer accidents may include:
- Braking accidents. The stopping time and distance for a tractor-trailer are approximately 20 to 40 percent longer than for smaller vehicles. A fully loaded big rig needs a distance of more than a football field, even in good conditions. Therefore, rear-end collisions are common types of 18-wheeler accidents.
- Rollovers. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that an estimated 9 percent of all large big rig crashes involve rollovers. Such accidents frequently occur while braking. Regulations requiring electronic stability controls are aimed at reducing the frequency of these accidents.
- Truck driver fatigue. Often, drivers are under pressure to work long hours. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, truckers who have been behind the wheel for more than eight hours are twice as likely to have an accident. There are federal laws regulating how long a trucker can drive without taking a break, but drivers sometimes fail to comply. Recent federal law requires electronic logging devices to ensure driver compliance.
- Drug and alcohol use. There is a huge body of research proving that drug and alcohol use is a major contributor to accidents.
- Speeding. Drivers usually have a deadline to reach their destination. Speeding may cause them to misjudge traffic and reduce reaction time.
- Defective truck parts. Malfunctioning parts such as bad tires, or faulty brakes, steering systems, or hydraulic systems, cause many accidents on the road. In these cases, manufacturing companies may be one of the parties held liable. Proper maintenance of big rigs and equipment is also essential.
- Driver training. Learning skills such as backing up, maneuvering in close quarters and coupling or uncoupling are necessary, as well as special training in how to handle a large vehicle safely on the road.
- Cargo. A fully loaded 18-wheeler can present many risks if the cargo shifts or breaks loose on the road.
- Dangerous road conditions. Everything from poor weather conditions to potholes or unexpected hazards on the roadway can lead to a tractor-trailer accident.
Truck Accident Legal Issues
Tractor-trailer accidents frequently involve complicated legal issues. For instance, there may be more than one party responsible for your injuries, increasing the chances of the parties “pointing the finger” at each other. A commercial tractor-trailer accident can bring criminal law, workers’ compensation, and employment law into play, adding complexity to the process of recovering damages for you. That is why you need a skilled, knowledgeable Charleston 18-wheeler accident lawyer by your side as you confront the damages you have sustained.
How to Find the Best Attorney for You
Big rig accidents may leave you with serious long-term or even fatal injuries. There will probably be ongoing financial losses, not to mention human suffering. Money may not adequately compensate for some of these, but it can make it possible to cope with daily life going forward.
How do you find an attorney who can help you recover those damages?
You may start by inquiring whether anyone you know and trust has personal experience with truck accident attorneys. But, that can be hit-or-miss.
Similarly, you may turn to online research. But, that can also be overwhelming if you don’t know where to look. Here are some tips:
- Look for attorneys in your state who handle your specific type of case. There are so many lawyers out there, you can almost always find someone with specific experience helping people like you.
- Check their client reviews and testimonials. But, view them with a skeptical eye—no attorney is going to post bad reviews.
- Another good source of information is the bar association, which is a professional association of lawyers. Every state has a bar association, which maintain databases on attorneys licensed in the state. If you have narrowed your search, check to be sure the attorney is licensed and in good standing. Also, there are local bar associations, or professional groups that focus on that area of the law and which may offer useful resources.
After completing your research, schedule an initial consultation. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation. During the initial consultation, the attorney will typically gather information from you about your accident. Be prepared to explain your case in detail and include information about your injuries. The attorney will review the facts of the case and tell you whether he or she can help.
The other important purpose of the consultation is for you to learn about the attorney and his or her staff. Don’t hesitate to ask questions such as:
- How many cases similar to mine have you been involved with as the principal attorney over the past several years?
- What were the results?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to representing people who have been injured in an 18-wheeler accident?
- Would you be primarily responsible for my case, or will you be referring it to your staff or another law firm?
- Can you give me a general idea of the process?
- How are fees handled?
- Does your firm have the necessary financial resources to handle my case?
- Do you participate in any organizations related to tractor-trailer accidents?
How Can a Charleston Truck Accident Attorney Help You?
Truck accidents often result in complex legal disputes involving insurance companies and other commercial parties. They also cause catastrophic problems for victims and their families.
If you were hurt in a tractor-trailer accident in the Charleston area, contact the Hughey Law Firm to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we may help you recover the compensation you deserve.