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Asheville Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyers

Tractor-trailer accidents are some of the worst on North Carolina’s roads. These commercial trucks are massive and weigh much more than other vehicles. When they are in a crash with a car or pickup, people in the passenger vehicle almost always suffer the most severe injuries.

They can take weeks, months, or even years to recover, and some truck accident victims never make a full recovery. These injuries are extremely costly to treat, and medical bills often pile up while the accident victim is left unable to work due to their injuries.

Truck accident victims do have options for claiming compensation after a crash that was someone else’s fault. They can file an insurance claim or even file a lawsuit against the liable party.

Commercial trucks must carry at least $750,000 in liability insurance, with some carrying much more than that. Insurance companies don’t want to pay out on those big policies. The trucking company will have a team of lawyers, and they will try to shift blame to the victim.

A North Carolina truck accident lawyer can help those hurt fight back against these tactics to pursue the compensation they deserve. Find out how The Elmore and Smith Law Firm, PC can help you. Contact our Asheville firm now for a free consultation.

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Why Are Truck Accidents More Complicated?...

Commercial truck accidents often have many added complications that aren’t present in car accident cases. This is why no one should ever try to handle a case on their own without a lawyer’s help.

In truck accident cases, multiple parties are potentially liable. A trucking operation requires an entire team of people to get their trucks on the road. Manufacturers must design and build a solid truck that is safe and roadworthy. Trucking companies must hire only competent and capable drivers, and they must maintain their fleet of trucks and trailers. Cargo companies must properly load and secure freight. Truck drivers must operate their vehicles safely.

Any time any of these parties or others are negligent, it could cause a truck accident. Determining who is responsible becomes very complicated in a truck accident case.

Trucking companies are also unique and very complex operations. The trucking company may buy or lease the trucks and trailers, or the truck driver could own or lease their own equipment. Insurance for the trucking company could cover everyone involved, or just the company. Drivers and leasing companies often have separate insurance policies. Dealing with one insurance company often presents its own challenges after an accident. When you have to deal with two or three, it becomes even more difficult.

Insurance policies for commercial trucks often have much higher limits. This means more money is on the line, particularly considering the severity of injuries caused by truck crashes. You can count on insurance companies to fight aggressively to avoid paying out.

Both the federal and state governments understand the risks associated with commercial trucking. For this reason, each has their own regulations that trucking companies and drivers must follow. These include driving a limited number of hours per day, keeping logs, meeting licensing requirements, taking mandatory breaks, and more.

After a crash, surveillance footage, electronic data, and logs books could indicate if these regulations were violated. Accident victims rarely know how to find and collect this evidence on their own, which is another way truck accidents are much more complicated than other crashes.

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Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?

It’s very likely that the truck driver was responsible for the crash. After all, they were driving the truck. However, there are many parties potentially liable for a truck accident.

In many cases, the truck driver and the owner of the truck are two different people. When this is the case, leasing companies and truck owners are responsible for ensuring their trucks are properly maintained and safe. If they fail to perform necessary service on the truck and that makes the truck unsafe and causes an accident, the truck owner could be held liable.

Just as truck owners are responsible for ensuring a truck is safe, so too are truck manufacturers. When designing and building a truck, manufacturers must ensure all the parts and equipment on a truck are safe and that there are no defective parts on a truck. When they fail to do so, they could be named in a lawsuit as one of the responsible parties for the accident.

In some instances, the truck driver might load and unload the truck. In other situations, this is done by other people that work for the trucking company or a cargo company. They are responsible for ensuring the cargo is secure and that it will not fall off the truck or shift its weight during transit.

When truck drivers are negligent and make mistakes, the effects are often catastrophic. Truck drivers who operate a truck while fatigued, distracted, or impaired are driving negligently and those injured can hold them accountable for doing so. The company that employed the driver is typically also liable for the trucker’s negligence.

Trucking companies can also be held responsible for failing to properly train drivers. They may also have been negligent in hiring a driver with a dangerous driving history or retaining a driver who has proven to be unsafe.

In many cases, multiple parties share responsibility for a tractor-trailer crash, which makes a claim even more challenging. Your attorney can collect the necessary evidence and investigate the accident to establish fault and hold all responsible parties liable.

Evidence Our Firm May Use in a Truck Accident Claim

When accident victims file a claim against any liable party in a truck accident case, they have the burden to proof to show that the liable party was responsible for the accident. To do this, they need to present evidence and facts that the at-fault party acted negligently. This evidence can take many forms.

One of the pieces of evidence our firm may review are the logbooks truck drivers are required to maintain. These logs indicate how long the driver had been on the road for, how many miles they had traveled before the accident, and when their last break was. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) places very strict regulations on truck drivers regarding mandated rest periods. If the logbooks were not properly maintained, falsified, or show a violation of FMCSA regulations, an attorney could use them as evidence of negligence in the case.

Many trucks today also automatically store electronic data. This is done through a “black box” on the truck that records factors such as if the brakes were engaged before the crash and how fast the truck was traveling beforehand. If these records indicate the driver was breaking a law, such as speeding, this can also show the driver was negligent.

Many trucks today also have in-truck cameras. If these recordings show that the truck driver was driving while distracted or impaired, or simply not focusing on the road, these cameras can also provide evidence for the case. An outward-facing camera could also show that the truck ran a red light or crossed the centerline, for example.

Evidence in a truck accident case often includes expert testimony and witness statements. People who saw the crash can help everyone involved understand what happened, and they may even point to the negligence that caused the crash.

Expert testimony can help strengthen the accident victim’s claims of the nature and severity of their injuries. This testimony can include the type of medical treatment the accident victim will need in the future, the long-term effects of their injuries, whether they can go back to work, and if they can perform the same type of work they did before the accident. Accident reconstruction experts can also help clarify how the crash happened, and who was responsible.

Compensation in an Asheville Truck Accident Claim

In North Carolina, the compensation sought in an insurance claim or lawsuit is known as damages. The state has two main types regularly claimed in lawsuits, special damages and personal damages. Special damages are those that have a quantifiable amount and are easy to calculate. Some common types of special damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Accommodations made to home, such as a wheelchair ramp
  • Replacement services, such as a housekeeper or a meal service
  • Physical therapy costs
  • Any other out-of-pocket expenses

Personal damages are those that do not have an actual dollar value attached to them. Due to this, calculating these damages is a bit more difficult and often quite subjective. Some common types of personal damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Physical disfigurement

Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Asheville

Truck accidents happen in an instant, and the people involved don’t always know the cause of the accident right away. While truck accidents can happen for a number of reasons, there are some causes that are more common than others. Examples include:

  • Driver negligence including, driving recklessly, improper lane changes, tailgating, failure to yield right-of-way, and speeding
  • Driver fatigue
  • Impaired driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Improper maintenance of the truck
  • Cargo imbalance or unsecured cargo
  • Poor hiring practices, such as not conducting background checks or failing to properly train drivers
  • Truck defects such as defective brakes or worn tires

Truck accidents don’t happen without reason. When a crash occurs, an attorney can find the cause to establish who was at fault and work to hold them liable for paying fair compensation.

Catastrophic Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents

When a crash involves a tractor-trailer, the occupants of the passenger vehicles often sustain catastrophic injuries. Many of these injuries are extremely difficult to recover from, are very expensive to treat, and leave the accident victim in an immense amount of pain.

Some of the most common catastrophic injuries after a truck accident are:

  • Spinal cord injuries, including nerve damage and paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe back injuries
  • Severe neck injuries
  • Amputations, whether they are accidental and occur at the scene or are necessary due to the severity of injury to a limb
  • Severe burns from fires and explosions
  • Rib and torso injuries, such as broken ribs or a punctured lung
  • Internal injuries
  • Seat belt injuries
  • Multiple broken bones

How Our Asheville Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, our personal injury lawyers in Asheville want to help. At The Elmore and Smith Law Firm, PC, we are prepared to fully investigate the cause of your crash, collect evidence to back up your claim, and pursue all the compensation you may deserve to help with your injuries.

Tractor-trailer accidents are some of the most complex accident cases, so don’t try to go it alone. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you through this very difficult time. The initial consultation is absolutely free.

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