The injuries sustained in truck accidents are often significant. While any collision can result in serious damages, the chances increase sharply when one of these oversized vehicles is involved. Truck drivers and trucking companies are held to a higher standard of safety than other drivers due to the added risk that these vehicles pose.
After a trucking accident, it is essential that victims recover fair compensation in order to cover all the damages that they incur. Hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer in West Ashley from MDSW Legal will give you the best chance of receiving the money you need to cover your expenses and help put your life back together.
Determining Who Is Responsible for Your Truck Accident
Before you can recover compensation for damages sustained in a truck accident, you must first determine who is liable. This process can sometimes be fairly straightforward in a car accident. However, in most truck accidents determining fault can be quite challenging.
The main reason for this confusion is that there are so many parties involved in the commercial trucking industry, and there is the potential that any of them could share in the blame. Some of the potentially liable parties include:
- The driver of the truck
- The trucking company
- The truck’s manufacturer
- A maintenance company that serviced the truck
- A shipping company that loaded the truck
- Another driver on the road whose actions caused the truck to collide with your vehicle
Sorting through the chaos can be very difficult to do on your own. Fortunately, an experienced truck accident lawyer knows what to look for in these types of cases and can help you to identify the liable party.
South Carolina and Comparative Negligence in Truck Accidents
Another wrinkle in determining liability in a West Ashley truck accident case is the way in which South Carolina handles determining responsibility. When it comes to personal injury cases, South Carolina is a fault-based state. Furthermore, the state works on a system known as comparative negligence. Under this system, multiple parties can be held at fault for an accident.
If you are deemed to have held a level of fault for your truck accident, the amount you can recover from the primarily liable party will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if it is determined that you held 30% of the responsibility for an accident, you will only be able to recover up to 70% of the full value of your claim.
If you are the primarily liable party, with over 50% of the fault for an accident, you will not be able to recover compensation from the truck driver or trucking company. Instead, you will likely find that they will attempt to recoup their losses from you and your insurance.
Hiring a West Ashley Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You Focus on Recovery
After a truck accident, you are going to have a lot of things on your mind. You will likely be dealing with financial concerns, as well as worries about your health and whether your life will ever fully return to normal.
You are going to have enough stress without having to worry about fighting a legal battle to recover compensation. Fortunately, hiring a truck accident lawyer in West Ashley can help to alleviate this pressure. Your truck accident attorney will take over all aspects of your case, from speaking with insurance companies to filing lawsuits.
You can feel confident that your legal issues are being dealt with and that your financial situation will likely be fine if you have an experienced attorney on the case. This relief can leave you free to focus on recovering physically and emotionally from your injuries. Stress can slow recovery, so getting this battle off your plate should help you significantly.
How a West Ashley Truck Accident Attorney Works for You
One of the first things your truck accident lawyer will do after being hired is to begin an investigation into your accident. Police investigations tend to focus on determining whether or not the accident resulted from criminal actions by any involved party. While the information they gather can be useful, it often paints an incomplete picture when it comes to a civil lawsuit.
Your lawyer’s investigation will focus on proving liability and gathering evidence in support of the damages you have sustained. Your lawyer will then use the information they have accumulated to calculate the full value of your claim. Once this is complete, they will file the necessary documents to make a claim with the liable party’s insurance or initiate a lawsuit with the court.
In cases where you are filing a lawsuit, your West Ashley truck accident attorney will go through all the steps of the pre-trial process, and if no settlement has been reached by the end, they will argue your case in court.
Be Wary of Initial Settlement Offers from Insurance Companies
Another reason to hire a lawyer quickly after a truck accident is to protect yourself from the insurance company. Insurance companies hate when they have to pay out claims and will do everything possible to deny or minimize the value of a claim.
One tactic they commonly use is to approach an accident victim shortly after the accident, (sometimes, when they are still in the hospital) and offer them a settlement. They know that this is when victims are at their most vulnerable as they are still often in shock and likely haven’t hired an attorney yet.
The insurance adjuster will swoop in with a lowball settlement offer and pretend they are playing the hero, attempting to get you money quickly. Never take a settlement deal without talking to a lawyer first.
Your attorney will evaluate the full extent of your damages and assess the fairness of any offers made by the insurance company. They will use that information to ensure you get the money you deserve.
The Benefits of a Settlement Agreement
While your lawyer goes through all these other steps, they will simultaneously be in negotiations with the opposition to attempt to reach a settlement agreement. The majority of truck accident cases settle out of court because it is often in the best interest of all parties involved to do so.
For the defendant, avoiding a courtroom trial can mean they also avoid bad publicity. Additionally, they will have fewer legal expenses as they won’t rack up any more lawyer’s fees once the deal has been finalized.
For the plaintiff, the main benefit is time. A settlement means that you can recover compensation far quicker, which is a welcome relief when the bills continue piling up.
Both sides also benefit from not having to worry about the uncertainty of the courtroom. Even if you feel confident in your evidence, a trial can be unpredictable. Reaching an out-of-court compromise ensures that both sides avoid the worst possible outcome.
How Long do You Have to File a Lawsuit in West Ashley?
After a truck accident, accident victims have a three-year period to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party under SC Code § 15-3-530. However, there are special circumstances that may limit this statute of limitations.
It is always best to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. A truck accident attorney in West Ashley will be able to review your case and make sure that all deadlines are met.
What Is a Contingency Fee?
When a lawyer works on a contingency fee basis, it means they only receive a payment if they secure compensation for their client. While lawyers in most other fields charge their clients differently, personal injury lawyers nearly always work on a contingency fees basis.
That means that, unlike most other lawyers, anyone can afford to hire a personal injury attorney. There is no risk to hiring one of these attorneys, as clients will never pay a single cent out of pocket. Instead, lawyers collect their payment as a pre-arranged percentage of the compensation they are able to secure.
Finding the Right Truck Accident Lawyer in West Ashley
It is critical to find a truck accident attorney who has the necessary experience, and with whom you feel comfortable. Do your research online and take advantage of the free consultations offered by many personal injury attorneys to make sure you and your potential lawyer are a good fit.
At Miller, Dawson, Sigal & Ward, we are dedicated to providing experienced legal counsel to victims of truck accidents. Fill out our contact form or give us a call today to discuss your case with a West Ashley truck accident attorney.