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Holland & Usry, P.A.

Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions

When you’re faced with a major life event, you’re filled with questions and uncertainty. Get the straight answers you’re looking for from a South Carolina attorney.

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  • Are there any laws about safe tractor-trailer tires, and are truckers trained to handle blowouts?

    Yes and yes.

    Federal regulations help keep highways and interstates safe by setting minimum standards for tires. The standards include:

    • No hazardous defects. Tires cannot have belt material exposed through the tread or sidewall, show tread or sidewall separation, or leak audibly.
    • Minimum tread depth. For front wheels, tread groove pattern depths must be at least 4/32 of an inch on major tread grooves. Other wheels must have a depth of at least 2/32 of an inch.

    The regulations expect truckers to inspect tire safety before every trip in an effort to prevent tragic accidents.

    Truckers Know How to Safely Handle a Tire Blowout

    Tire blowouts can cause an 80,000-pound road monster to careen out of control. The South Carolina Commercial Driver’s License manual teaches truck drivers to recognize and respond to tire blowouts.

    • Recognition. Tire blowouts often come with a loud “bang.” They can also make the semi thump or vibrate. When a front tire fails, the steering can feel heavy. Frighteningly, rear-tire failure can cause the trailer to slide back and forth uncontrollably in a violent fishtail.
    • Response. In a blowout, the truck driver must hold the steering wheel firmly. This is especially true for a front-tire blowout, which can twist the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands. Truckers must resist the urge to brake—hard braking could actually cause loss of control.

    Take Action If the Trucker or Trucking Company Didn’t

    If you get hurt or worse, lose a loved one in a fatal accident, you can hold the trucker and possibly the trucking company accountable.

    If you need questions answered, fill out our Get Help Now form or call 888-230-1841 to set up a free strategy session with an experienced trucking accident lawyer. 

     

  • How could a tractor-trailer have brakes bad enough to cause an accident?

    It’s almost beyond belief—the idea a massive machine the size of 40 elephants, moving at interstate speeds, can’t stop itself. But it’s a real problem, often worsened by the twin evils of speeding and tailgating.

    A joint government-sponsored study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed just how big that problem is. The study looked at a representative sample of nearly one thousand tractor-trailer crashes and concluded deficient or failed brakes contributed to an estimated 29% of crashes.

    The sad truth is, a variety of factors can cause semi-truck brakes to fail or go bad, causing tragic wrecks. But there are two issues we look for first:

    • Inadequate inspections. I’ve written before on federal law requiring pre-trip inspections as well as the inspection processes that have been put in place to promote highway safety. In the federal regulation containing the items to be inspected, the first one listed is the brakes. Careless or nonexistent inspections can overlook faulty brakes. Both the trucker and the trucking company can be held legally accountable for these poor inspections.
    • Poor maintenance. Finding a brake problem is just half the battle. Turning a brake problem over to a poorly trained or incompetent mechanic won’t solve the problem. Federal law also tries to protect us from this by providing minimum qualifications for big rig brake mechanics. These qualifications include successful completion of an approved apprenticeship or training program. 

    If you’re involved in a tractor-trailer accident, you can rest assured the trucker won’t volunteer the cause of the crash—just like his insurance company won’t volunteer to pay your medical bills. Get a trained professional who wants to help you. Fill out our Get Help now form, or call toll free 888-230-1841 to start getting some answers and building your case.

  • What does the law say about driving 18-wheelers in bad weather?

    Federal regulations require the driver of a semi-trailer, 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, or other large truck to use—and I quote—“extreme caution” when driving in “hazardous conditions” that reduce visibility or tire traction. You might be surprised to learn the law defines “hazardous conditions” to include:

    • Snow
    • Ice
    • Sleet
    • Fog
    • Mist
    • Rain
    • Dust
    • Smoke

    In these conditions, federal regulations require speed to be reduced. If the situation becomes sufficiently dangerous, the trucker is required to stop. We’ve already written about how commercial truckers should handle slick roads.

    Bad Weather is No Excuse for an 18-Wheeler Accident

    Few things on the interstate are more terrifying than encountering these highway mammoths in bad weather. While truckers are legally required to use extreme caution in bad weather, don’t let your guard down. Truckers sometimes are blinded to safety requirements, just as they’re blinded by blowing snow or thick fog.

    And if you get victimized by a crash as a result, don’t let a truck driver’s insurance company victimize you twice. Send us an email so we can talk about how to enforce your rights for a fair recovery without breaking the rules of the road and the laws of the land.

     

  • What is a black box, and how can it help my tractor-trailer accident case?

    A “black box” is also called an engine control module or electronic data recorder. It’s a computer measuring certain key events that can be useful in proving a tractor-trailer caused a crash and assessing whether the trucker drove recklessly, giving you the right to punitive damages.

    Shockingly, federal safety regulations do not require them. But most tractor-trailers built in the last few years should have them anyway.

    What the Black Box Measures

    Black box data depends on the year, make, and model of the engine…and sometimes owner-selected features. In a trucking accident case, the black box can show:

    • The speed at impact.
    • Hard braking—or the lack of it.
    • The last stop when the engine got turned off. This might be used to check the honesty of the trucker’s logs that show he was taking the rest breaks required to prevent fatigued driving.

    How the Black Box Is Used

    The insurance company won’t just give you the black box. And you need to get it fast. You’ll need a skilled tractor-trailer wreck attorney to find the right expert with trucking industry or accident reconstruction experience to download the data and then interpret it.

    DON’T DELAY. This data can expire or, even worse, vanish seemingly without an explanation. Preserve your rights to this data by getting the right lawyer who knows how to do everything possible to prevent this vital evidence from evaporating.

    If you’ve been involved in a crash where you’re concerned about black box evidence helping you, act fast and call us now at 888-230-1841 or 864-582-0416 to discuss how we can take steps to keep your rights from disappearing.

     

  • What does it mean when a semi-trailer “jackknifes,” and what causes it?

    Few things inject more fear in the heart of drivers than a tractor-trailer spiraling out of control in a jackknife, sweeping a path of destruction on the highway. In a jackknife accident, the two parts of a tractor-trailer fold up together at a sharp angle resembling a jackknife with a blade emerging. Typically, these crashes sweep across multiple lanes of traffic, putting all nearby vehicles at risk.

    The 2015 South Carolina Commercial Driver License Manual makes the key distinction between two types of jackknife: a tractor jackknife and a trailer jackknife. In both cases, the root cause is the same: braking too hard causes wheels to lose their grip on the road. Depending on what part of the vehicle loses its traction, however, what happens next can be very different:

    • Tractor jackknife. This involves the wheels on the truck, not the trailer. The back wheels lock, then slide sideways ,trying to “catch up” with the front ones. This causes the trailer to push the truck sideways, resulting in the jackknife.
    • Trailer jackknife. The trailer wheels lock, causing it to swing around. Surprisingly, this is more likely when the trailer is empty or lightly loaded.

    Prevention And Consequences

    Tuckers can prevent deadly jackknifes by observing a few simple rules to keep from needing to slam on brakes:

    • Look out for other drivers.
    • Don’t speed.
    • Don’t slam on brakes.
    • Don’t rev the engine.

    When a tractor trailer jackknifes, the consequences for innocent motorists can be life-changing injuries…or just plain deadly. If you’re the victim of one of these crashes, check out our site for more information on 18-wheeler accidents. Order our FREE REPORT about accident cases to learn more. You can always start a live chat right from where you sit or call us to arrange a free meeting to discuss how we can help you get properly compensated for the toll the jackknife took on your life.

     

  • I got rear-ended by an 18-wheeler. The trucker says he tried to stop but had bad brakes. Is anyone responsible for this?

    Yes—both the trucker and trucking company he works for may be responsible for the crash. Don’t let their insurance company representative shrug his shoulders and tell you, “Accidents happen. We couldn’t prevent it.”

    First, don't assume the 18-wheeler truck driver drove safely. He may have been distracted, speeding, or even tailgating you. 

    Second, truckers have a legal responsibility to inspect the truck to be sure it’s safe to operate, and the trucking company has an obligation to fix any defects. Truckers are required to inspect their brakes to be sure they are in working order before their trip and at the end of the day. Truckers must note broken safety equipment—like brakes—on a written report.

    Broken safety equipment must be fixed before a semi can be driven. The trucking company must certify the repairs are done on the written report. The next trucker to drive the truck must sign the report to confirm the repairs were done.

    Here, the trucker may not have properly inspected the truck or the trucking company may have chosen not to do the repairs, or did them improperly. This could mean one or both of them are legally responsible for your injuries.

    At Holland & Usry, we know an 18-wheeler accident is not your typical car accident. Because the trucking industry is highly regulated to protect the safety of innocent motorists like you, your lawyer needs a firm grasp of all the safety rules involved in your case and how to take advantage of them to help you. Handling a trucking accident case requires extensive knowledge of those safety regulations to help prove how violations caused your injury.

    Truckers and trucking companies are also required to maintain a wealth of information that can help your case…if you have an experienced lawyer who knows how to get those records and use them. Truck crash injuries are often far more severe than those from other traffic accidents, so it may require examining thousands of pages of medical records and familiarity with complex medical terms and procedures to develop a convincing case about the extent of your injuries.

    If you or someone you love has been hurt or worse in an 18-wheeler crash in Spartanburg, Greenville, Gaffney, Union, or anywhere in South Carolina, call us for a free meeting to discuss how we can help get you compensated for the harm done. To get a feel for some basic issues in your case, check out our free report on traffic accident cases, which includes a chapter on trucking. Truckers and trucking companies sometimes choose to gamble with lives and safety, and we must not let this recklessness go unchallenged. Feel free to send us an email or live chat right from where you’re sitting.

     

  • The way some truckers drive, it seems like anybody can be one. Are there any minimum requirements to be a trucker?

    Yes. Federal regulations set the minimum general requirements to be a trucker. Under those regulations, you are qualified to be one if you meet all of these rules:

    • You are at least 21 years old.
    • You can read and speak English well enough to talk with the general public, understand traffic signs and signals, and create reports and records.
    • You can safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.
    • You have been found physically qualified by a certified medical examiner as required by the regulations.
    • You have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) issued by a single state (this makes it easier to track safety violations).
    • You gave your trucking company employer a report containing all your traffic law violations for the last 12 months.
    • You are not disqualified to drive due to license suspension or certain criminal offenses, including alcohol and drug related charges.
    • You passed a road test or proved to your employer’s satisfaction you had either a CDL or passed a prior road test in the last three years.

    These Regulations Are Not As Rigorous As They Sound—And Sometimes Ignored

    This list of rules may seem like it provides a lot of assurance that truckers will be safe on the road. Sadly, all too often long hours and the overwhelming need to meet a deadline can overcome a trucker’s wealth of safety training and cause him to forget his enormous responsibility to keep everyone safe while driving his powerful machine. Worse, there are dishonest truckers who drive when they don't meet the qualifications, and there are irresponsible trucking companies who know it, or should know it, but let them do it anyway.

    If you have been hurt—or, worse, if you have lost a loved one—in one of these 18-wheeler accidents in Spartanburg, Greenville, Union, or beyond, then you’ve probably spent restless nights wondering whether a trucker should be behind the wheel. We want to remind you that you have rights. A skilled trucking lawyer may be able to use these federal safety regulations to help make compelling case to maximize your compensation. Getting a full and fair settlement or trial award may be the best measure of justice you can achieve, since the trucker will most likely get a traffic ticket for a few hundred bucks at worst.

    But obtaining compensation in these cases is not easy. Trucking cases are not your typical car crash—they can be far more complex due to extensive safety regulations that can impact your case, the severity of your injuries, and many times, an insurance company that fights you tooth and nail. For more information, check out our free report on South Carolina traffic accident cases, which includes a chapter on 18-wheeler crashes.

    Please contact us when you’re ready to discuss your rights and learn how we can build a strong case for you. You can call us locally at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841, or start a live chat or email right from this site.

     

  • My uncle got seriously hurt in a tractor-trailer accident in Union. I know we can hold the truck driver accountable because the crash was his fault. But can we hold the trucking company accountable too?

    Yes, assuming the trucker is legally considered an employee of the trucking company. The company may claim he's an "independent contractor", a legal technicality that gets the company out of responsibility. That defense can be defeated with the right evidence, but you'll need a sharp, experienced trucking attorney to find it and convincingly present it to win your case.

    There are two ways the trucking company can be held responsible. First, the trucking company is already responsible because South Carolina law holds an employer liable for the acts of its employee. Since the trucker caused the crash, his employer—the trucking company—will also be held accountable.

    The second way the trucking company might be held accountable is a little more complicated. Stated in general terms, the second way is called negligent hiring, training, supervision, retention, entrustment, and maintenance. It can be an important part of your case because South Carolina law considers this a separate liability, meaning you may be compensated for these claims in addition to compensation for the crash itself. The basic legal principle behind this is that trucking companies are responsible when they knew or should have known their driver or their truck created an undue risk of harm to the public. At Holland & Usry, we would say this is not just a legal responsibility, but a moral one. Briefly, here are some facts we can develop to help prove these claims:

    Negligent Hiring

    Holds the trucking company accountable for failing to:

    • Perform a proper background search of the driver, especially his driving and criminal record, that could have revealed him legally ineligible to drive an 18-wheeler in the first place;
    • Adequately check qualifications to drive a big rig, like making sure he could pass a tractor-trailer driving test as required by federal regulations.

    Negligent Training

    Holds the trucking company accountable for failing to properly train the trucker to:

    • Safely operate the tractor-trailer;
    • Know and obey laws and regulations regarding the operation of tractor-trailers;
    • Be consistently taught safe driving practices to protect the motoring public, by a company-sponsored safety program.

    Negligent Supervision

    Holds the trucking company accountable for:

    • Failing to monitor the trucker’s driving record and driving performance during employment to be sure he drove safely once employed;
    • Committing what I call “the worst deadly sin”: allowing the trucker to drive excessive hours and ignoring logbook violations. Federal regulations strictly limit the amount of hours a trucker can drive. We all shudder at a 30-ton mammoth machine hurtling down the interstate at 70 miles per hour with the driver asleep at the wheel. Log books—also required by federal regulations—keep truckers honest by forcing them to document they rested as required by law. But cheating occurs, and companies sometimes look the other way.

    Negligent Retention

    Holds the trucking company accountable for failing to discipline and even fire the trucker for a pattern of dangerous driving.

    Negligent Maintenance

    Holds the trucking company accountable for failing to properly maintain the tractor-trailer involved in the crash.

    Negligent Entrustment

    Holds the trucking company accountable for giving its tractor-trailer to a trucker who’s unqualified, inadequately trained, or just plain incompetent to drive it.

    If you look back at these factors, you’ll realize they have two things in common; they are designed to make trucking companies help keep us safe, and violating them is a choice made by the trucking company. Violations may be proven by showing the trucking company did not have policies and procedures to prevent them, or that the trucking company did have policies and procedures in place but ignored them. We might also hold the trucking company liable by proving it ignored federal regulations.

    At Holland & Usry, we take severe injuries from South Carolina tractor-trailer accidents seriously, whether they occur in Spartanburg, Greenville, Cherokee, or Union counties, or anywhere in our state. If you’re the victim of a South Carolina semi-truck crash, you owe it to yourself and your family to speak with an experienced attorney to explore your rights and develop a case against the trucking company for breaking safety rules designed to keep you safe.

    Sometimes, we’ll hire a trucking industry expert to help us prove what both the trucker and the trucking company did wrong to maximize your compensation for severe injuries or the death of a loved one. You can also check out our free report on South Carolina auto accidents, which includes a chapter on tractor-trailer accidents. If you’d like a free meeting with us to discuss your tractor-trailer wreck case, we can come to you if you’re too hurt to come to us. Feel free to start a live chat or send us an email. If you prefer, you can simply call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free 888.230.1841 for your free meeting to begin evaluating your case and preserving your rights.

     

  • I was hurt in a serious truck accident in Spartanburg, and now I’m worried about how I will pay these high medical bills that keep piling up. How can I know how much my Spartanburg truck accident settlement will be worth?

    Driving next to a large 18-wheeler truck is overwhelming. When something goes wrong—as it did for you—the outcome can be catastrophic. Because of the size and weight difference between your car and a semi-truck, chances are your injuries were far worse than those of the truck driver.

    If the truck driver caused your accident, he will be responsible for paying for your high medical costs in a settlement or verdict, if a lawsuit and trial are necessary. You can likely hold the trucking company he works for accountable, too. Unfortunately, the insurance claims agents affiliated with the trucking company will work hard to limit how much you receive. This can leave you to pay for the mistakes of a professional driver.

    Knowing some of the top factors that go in to determining your settlement can help you avoid being cheated out of valuable settlement money. Tractor trailers are regulated not just by the rules of the road, but by federal law that imposes stringent requirements to keep innocent motorists like you safe.  It can be very hard or impossible to prove whether the truck driver violated these regulations without an experienced tractor trailer accident lawyer. It can even be hard for lawyers - which is why at Holland & Usry, we sometimes hire trucking experts in serious cases to help us make sure we get the right evidence and develop it properly to prove the trucker and trucking company broke safety regulations that caused your injury.

    Getting the maximum settlement for a Spartanburg truck accident is not easy. Trucking insurance companies fight hard to beat down severely injured motorists to settle cheap. We can help fight back. Contact a skilled Spartanburg truck accident lawyer at Holland & Usry to put someone knowledgeable in truck crash law on your side so that you can be confident that you get the best possible outcome in your case. Call us today toll free at 888-230-1841 or 864-582-0416.

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