Big trucks are a fact of life on North Carolina roads. Whether they’re passing through the state on the freeways or delivering a load of goods into Winston-Salem, the 18-wheel behemoths that we all rely on for shipping goods share the roads with passenger cars and trucks. So it’s sadly no surprise that trucking accidents can leave serious injuries and death in their wake.
Most big semi-trucks are involved in interstate commerce, traveling in and out of Winston-Salem and throughout North Carolina on their routes. This means that they are mostly governed by federal laws that apply to vehicles working and traveling in more than one state. Big trucks that operate solely within the state follow most of the same rules, except for a few slightly different state laws. A skilled lawyer is your best ally so that you know what laws and regulations might apply if you’ve been involved in a crash with a big truck.
Insurance In North Carolina Trucking Accidents
All vehicles on the road in Winston-Salem and throughout North Carolina are subject to insurance requirements to cover damages caused in a crash. The minimum amount of insurance coverage for private vehicles registered in North Carolina is $30,000 of bodily injury coverage per person ($60,000 total for two or more people) and $25,000 property damage insurance to pay for vehicles or other property damaged in the crash.
However, under federal laws and related state requirements, commercial for-hire carriers in vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds, like big semi-truck rigs, must have at least $750,000 in insurance coverage.
But to get that to cover your medical bills or expenses, you’ll need to show that the truck driver was negligent in operating the vehicle that caused the crash.
Legal Liability In North Carolina Trucking Accidents
The causes of truck accidents can range from driver error to mechanical failure to road damage or even weather issues. So the question of which person or company to bring a claim against when you’ve been injured in a truck accident can be complicated.
Even if driver error was the cause of the crash, whether it was driver distraction, extreme fatigue, substance abuse, or even just a mistake in handling the truck, the trucking company will likely be legally responsible as well. The legal rule that puts responsibility on companies is called ‘vicarious liability,’ or ‘respondeat superior,’ which basically means that the boss is responsible for the conduct of the workers.
If the cause of the trucking accident was a mechanical issue, legal responsibility may rest with the mechanic who did the work, with the company that produced parts that failed, or even with the truck driver, if a reasonably careful driver would have been aware of the mechanical problem and gotten it fixed before it caused an accident.
If road conditions or construction played a role in causing the crash, the local or state government may share some of the blame. A skilled and experienced truck accident attorney can help sift through the confusion and make sure to file claims against all of the responsible parties.
It is critical to note that North Carolina courts follow the legal rule called ‘contributory negligence.’ This means that you lose your right to get monetary compensation for your injuries if the defendant can show that you contributed to the cause of the crash in any way. It can seem exceptionally harsh and unfair, but it is the rule that courts in the state follow. So even if you were considered to be only 1 percent at fault for the crash, the court will deny you any monetary compensation for your injuries from the crash.
Time Limits For A Lawsuit After A Trucking Accident
While it is important for you to give notice to your insurance company as soon as possible after a crash, a truck company has a legal duty to report a serious accident to local law enforcement immediately. Truck companies must also file a report with the state’s Public Safety Commission within 24 hours of a fatal truck accident and within 15 days of a non-fatal crash. The truck company also has to file a report with the Director of Public Safety within 30 days.
Under North Carolina’s statute of limitations, you have three years after a truck accident to bring a lawsuit. If the crash involved fatalities, relatives of the deceased must bring a wrongful death claim within two years.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina Truck Accident Lawyers
To learn more about truck accidents, including how to win and get justice in a lawsuit stemming from an accident, then you should talk to a North Carolina truck accident attorney. Hiring the right North Carolina truck accident lawyer is essential to protecting the value of your case. The Law Office of Kevin J. Williams, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, knows this. Backed by decades of experience helping truck accident victims, the Law Office of Kevin J. Williams has the skill and judgment to hold bad truck drivers, their employers, and their insurance companies accountable. We are here for you and will provide you with peace of mind on the best way to proceed during this difficult time. Most importantly, we will fight on your behalf to get you compensation. To learn more about how we can help, reach out to the Law Office of Kevin J. Williams, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by calling (336) 793-8459 or by contacting us online today.