Raleigh Truck Accident Attorney
Not surprisingly, large truck accidents account for some of the worst – and most fatal – vehicle collisions on the roadways. If you or your family member have been hurt or even killed in a trucking accident, experienced Raleigh tractor trailer accident lawyers can help.
While it may seem straightforward that an accident involving a large tractor trailer is more likely to cause severe damages, obtaining adequate compensation for your injuries is not always simple. Insurers for trucking companies notoriously undervalue claims, even for victims who have been seriously injured or killed.
Skilled truck accident attorneys in Raleigh will fight for the compensation you deserve. We have experience negotiating with trucking company insurers, as well as pursuing truck accident claims through trial. En Español.
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- What to Do After an Accident
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Trucking Accident Facts in North Carolina
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) collects comprehensive statewide statistical information on crashes. According to data from North Carolina 2020 Traffic Crash Facts (2020 being the most recent report), North Carolina saw a total 273,573 accidents involving commercial vehicles. More than 69,000 of these crashes resulted in injury while a staggering 1,523 resulted in one or more fatalities.
Wake County had the second-highest rate of commercial motor vehicle accidents in North Carolina, with a total of 28,714 crashes. Based on the definitions used by NCDOT, collisions involving “commercial motor vehicles” include the following:
- Tractor-trailer accidents
- Commercial bus accidents
- Accidents with single-unit trucks
- School bus accidents
- Fire truck accidents
A total of 6,556 commercial truck accidents in Raleigh and other areas of Wake County resulted in injury. Tragically, 84 of these crashes proved fatal.
If you or your family suffered harm in one of the tens of thousands of truck accidents involving injury or the thousands of crashes resulting in death, our Raleigh truck accident attorneys can advise you of your rights. It won’t cost anything to see if we can help.
Common Injuries in Truck Accidents
The occupants of passenger vehicles are very likely to suffer serious injuries when they are involved in collisions with commercial trucks. Semi-trucks are much larger and heavier than the average car, making accidents with 18-wheelers extremely dangerous for other people on the road.
Our Raleigh truck accident lawyers help clients who have sustained a wide range of injuries in accidents with commercial trucks. Some of the most common injuries we see in these crashes include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to the head and face, including eye injuries, trauma to the mouth and jaw, etc.
- Whiplash, disc herniation, and other types of neck injuries
- Back injuries, including fractures, soft tissue damage, etc.
- Spinal cord injuries (up to and including paralysis)
- Orthopedic injuries (broken bones and soft tissue damage)
- Severe lacerations
- Burn injuries
- Loss of a limb/amputation injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Damage to internal organs
The nature and severity of your injuries will have a major impact on the value of your truck accident claim. It is in your best interest to speak to a truck accident attorney as soon as possible to review your case and determine what compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries.
Unfortunately, injuries sustained in a trucking accident often prove fatal for one or more of the victims. In this tragic situation, lawyers at the Whitley Law Firm can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of your family to seek compensation for the loss of your loved one.
Do I Need a Raleigh Truck Accident Lawyer?
Choosing to hire an attorney after any kind of motor vehicle accident is generally a wise decision. If you have been injured or a member of your family was killed in a commercial truck accident, retaining legal counsel is essential.
Truck accident claims involve a number of challenges and issues you won’t encounter in the aftermath of most auto accidents. Many lawyers lack the experience and knowledge to handle truck accident litigation precisely because they are unfamiliar with these difficulties.
Big reasons you should talk to a truck accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash with a tractor-trailer include:
The Trucking Company Is Already Building Its Case
Commercial freight carriers know the cost of accident claims. They will take immediate action to investigate the crash, collect evidence, and devise strategies to avoid liability.
The longer you wait to speak to a lawyer, the more difficult it will be to make an effective claim. Our Raleigh truck accident lawyers investigate promptly and collect all relevant evidence as soon as possible to preserve your right to compensation.
Evidence in Truck Accident Claims Is Complex
You need to establish the negligence of one or more parties to recover compensation after a truck accident. This is no easy task, which is one of the main reasons you should consult a lawyer as soon as you can after the crash.
Raleigh truck accident lawyers at the Whitley Law Firm will perform a complete investigation to build your claim. Our attorneys know what kinds of evidence are required to win these complicated cases, including:
- Photos of the truck accident scene
- Eyewitness testimony
- Accident reports from local police departments, state authorities, and (in some cases) the National Transportation Safety Board
- Video footage of the truck accident (if available)
- Logbooks kept by the truck driver in the course of the haul
- Hiring and supervision records for the commercial truck driver
- Inspection reports for the tractor-trailer
- Records concerning the cargo on the truck
- The truck driver’s cell phone records (if applicable)
- Data from the truck’s onboard computers and event data recorder
In addition, expert testimony is often necessary to establish what caused the truck accident, who is at fault, and more. The Whitley Law Firm has built relationships with a number of leading experts who can testify on these and other key issues in your truck accident case.
You Likely Have Serious Injuries
The more significant the injury, the more complicated your personal injury case. It takes time to recover from serious and catastrophic injuries. Oftentimes, full recovery from injuries sustained in a semi-truck accident is not possible.
Hiring a truck accident attorney will enable you to focus on recovery while your lawyer deals with the details of your case. If the trucking accident left you with permanent, disabling injuries, our lawyers will determine if your injuries are stable before calculating the compensation you are entitled to.
Truck Accident Damages Are Often Substantial
Due to the high number of serious, life-altering injuries and fatalities in truck accidents, the damages in truck accident claims are frequently much higher than they are in other types of motor vehicle accident cases. The more compensation you are owed, the more aggressively the trucking companies, insurers, etc. will challenge your claim.
Hiring a truck accident attorney is the best way to overcome the defendants’ efforts to pay you less than you deserve. The Whitley Law Firm will fight for full compensation on your behalf, whether that means negotiating a favorable settlement or taking your truck accident case to court.
Multiple Parties May Be at Fault for the Truck Accident
Another complicated issue in truck accident cases is the fact that the negligence of multiple parties often contributes to accidents involving big rigs. Knowledgeable truck accident lawyers will be able to determine what issues led to the crash and who is responsible.
It is important to note that North Carolina follows the standard of contributory negligence in personal injury claims (including truck accidents). Under the contributory negligence law, any degree of fault on the part of plaintiffs disqualifies them from recovery. Even if the defendant or defendants are 99.99% at fault, a meager 0.01% of negligence on your part will make it impossible for you to obtain compensation for your injuries.
Defendants in truck accident claims often try to take advantage of North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule to avoid paying what’s fair. Our Raleigh truck accident attorneys are prepared for these arguments, and we will fight hard to place the blame for the crash where it belongs.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
Comprehensive investigation of a commercial truck accident often reveals errors or wrongdoing on the part of multiple individuals, companies, and other entities. Identifying all of the parties at fault for the accident is essential for maximizing the compensation you are able to recover.
Potentially liable parties in your truck accident claim may include:
- The truck driver: Obviously, the actions of the commercial operator are the first and most important to consider in the aftermath of a truck accident. Multiple errors on the part of the truck driver can lead to an accident, such as speeding, driving while fatigued, etc.
- The trucking company: Commercial carriers can be held liable for the negligence of the drivers they employ as well as their own errors and wrongdoing (e.g., failure to hire qualified drivers, inadequate supervision, negligent maintenance and repair of trucks, etc.).
- The manufacturer of a defective truck and/or defective parts: Mechanical failures on 18-wheelers can lead to serious accidents. If these failures are caused by a defective vehicle or component, victims of the crash can bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
- The shipping company: Commercial trucks are loaded by third-party companies responsible for positioning and securing cargo so it can be transported safely. The freight carrier can be held liable for trucking accidents caused by improper loading and securement of cargo.
- Third-party maintenance companies: Owners of commercial trucks may turn to third-party mechanics and businesses to maintain their rigs and perform necessary repairs. Negligence on the part of these individuals and companies can make the trucks unsafe. If a truck crash occurs as a result, these maintenance companies can be held liable.
Many of these parties are difficult to hold accountable. They have considerable financial power and resources designed to limit their liability for truck accidents.
You need an experienced Raleigh truck accident attorney to handle your claim against the parties liable for a crash involving an 18-wheeler. Lawyers at the Whitley Law Firm can navigate the complex web of commercial trucking regulations to establish who broke the rules and advocate for maximum compensation on your behalf.
Trucking Company Responsibilities
When a trucking company puts a truck driver on the road, the company has a duty to the public to make sure that its drivers are qualified and well-trained, and that its company policies encourage safe driving behaviors.
They also have a responsibility to conduct adequate background checks of a driver’s record, including any past alcohol or drug-related driving convictions or loss of commercial driver’s license status.
Unfortunately, many trucking companies fall short of or deliberately ignore this goal. Tractor trailer drivers are sometimes forced to drive for unreasonably long periods of time without rest in order to boost the company’s bottom line with quick deliveries.
These drowsy drivers are much more likely to cause a collision on the road, and when truck drivers take drugs or supplements – whether legal or illegal – to stay awake, the risk is even greater.
Trucking Company Safe Driving Practices
Because dangerous company policies promoting unsafe driving have landed some trucking groups in hot legal water in recent years, companies may have developed policies that are safer.
But if these safer policies are not actually followed or companies take advantage of policy loopholes, the move toward safer driving is only theoretical. Providing bonuses and incentives to truck drivers who exceed their driving-time goals, for instance, can be just as unsafe as having an official policy that does not allow for much rest.
What Is My Truck Accident Claim Worth?
The compensation you may be due after a truck accident can be divided into economic and non-economic damages. In addition, you may be entitled to recovery of your damages to date as well as losses you are likely to sustain in the future.
Economic damages in a truck accident claim may include:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, therapy, etc.
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity (if you are unable to work as a result of your truck accident injuries)
- Property damage (repair or replacement of your vehicle, as well as any other personal effects)
- The cost of travel and accommodations for medical appointments
- Canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices
- Disability modifications to your home and vehicle
- Home-based medical care
- The cost of hiring outside help for household activities
Non-economic damages in a truck accident claim may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Permanent scarring/disfigurement
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (i.e., the loss of the benefits of a relationship with a spouse)
In select circumstances, punitive damages may also be awarded in truck accident cases. To recover punitive damages, a plaintiff must present evidence that the defendant’s actions involved an “aggravating factor” – namely fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct (see North Carolina General Statutes § 1D-15).
Judgments and large trial awards are not only a means of compensating truck accident victims for the substantial losses they incur. They also send a clear message to the trucking industry and other parties that extreme recklessness and wrongdoing will not be tolerated.
At the Whitley Law Firm, we are committed to making safer communities. We believe this is achieved through rigorous championing of those who suffer injuries and lose loved ones in accidents and seeking to enforce accountability under the law.
How Can a Raleigh Truck Accident Attorney Help?
Skilled tractor trailer accident lawyers in Raleigh have experience analyzing trucking company policies and practices and assessing proper adherence to safety regulations.
We will thoroughly investigate whether the trucking company’s negligence or harmful actions contributed to causing your accident and negotiate compensation that is just and fair, or ask the court to award the damages you deserve.