Charlotte Truck Accident Attorney
Large trucks and tractor-trailers are part of our local landscape on the interstate and local roads. Most of these big rigs go unnoticed, that is, until they are operated without proper maintenance by drivers who are inadequately trained, fatigued, or negligent, and cause serious or fatal injuries to an innocent motorist. At Auger & Auger, the truck accident lawyers in our Charlotte offices understand the difficulties that can arise after a truck accident.
When fully loaded, these semis and 18-wheelers are heavy, weighing up to 80,000 pounds, meaning trucks do not accelerate or brake as quickly as a car. The semis and 18-wheelers are not the only trucks that Charlotte drivers need to worry about. Our local roads are full of garbage, local delivery, and mail trucks, which can cause devastating injury and damage when colliding with a passenger vehicle.
Our Charlotte truck accident lawyers have witnessed the injuries and damages resulting from a truck wreck and understand the struggle victims may face in trying to recover compensation for their losses. We are dedicated to seeing that truck accident victims are treated fairly and adequately compensated. The insurance company for the truck that causes a wreck will immediately begin an investigation and come up with reasons why they should not pay. You need experience on your side. Our truck accident lawyers provide free consultations.
Once retained, we will investigate on your behalf and gather the evidence necessary to prove your case so that you can concentrate on your recovery.
Our Experienced Team of Truck Accident Lawyers
The best way to protect your rights after an accident with a tractor-trailer truck is to get help from an experienced truck accident attorney. At Auger & Auger, our Charlotte truck accident attorneys have been helping injured victims and family members since 1990. Our attorneys are here and ready to help you pursue a truck accident claim and recover your damages for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Partner Herb Auger is the lead truck accident attorney at Auger & Auger. He has successfully handled personal injury claims against large trucking companies and their insurance carriers and is well versed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, which may affect your claim. “If you or a loved one was injured due to a truck driver’s negligence, filing a claim with the truck’s insurance company can be difficult. Many of these trucks are self-insured or insured out of state. Locating adequate insurance coverage can be difficult. Sometimes just figuring out whose insurance company to contact – the driver’s, the trucking company’s, etc.- can be difficult. In addition, the commercial insurance companies or large self-insured haulers employ teams of investigators to cover their tracks. They will do everything they can to deny or delay the compensation you are entitled to. Do not hesitate to call my office for a free consultation”, said Attorney Herb Auger.
Common Causes of Charlotte Truck Accidents
Accidents with a tractor-trailer often happen due to the very nature of those vehicles: their size and weight prohibit them from accelerating, steering, and stopping the way a car does. Other frequent causes of truck accidents include:
- Inadequate truck driver training. Trucking companies should ensure their drivers have all the proper training and certifications. In some cases, they may need additional training to drive certain types of trucks, like those containing hazardous materials. Sometimes the company may fail to adequately check out the driver’s qualifications.
- Distraction from cell phone, eating, or passenger. Distractions like texting and driving are dangerous enough in a car. In an 80,000-lb vehicle, they can have terrible consequences, often for other people on the road.
- Alcohol or drug use while operating a truck. Most trucking companies require drug testing before hiring a driver, and some periodically test current drivers. But even these measures can’t prevent all possible issues, and sometimes drivers are behind the wheel when they shouldn’t be.
- Exhaustion due to long hours on the road. Driving while overtired can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
- Improper maintenance of the truck. Sometimes this is due to driver negligence, but it can also be an issue where a driver has reported a problem, and the company failed to fix it. Other times a repair person may have made a mistake that later led to an unsafe condition.
- Insufficient safety devices.
- Excessive speed. Even going slightly over the speed limit can be a huge risk in a truck that can easily take the length of a football field to stop in an emergency. When drivers speed, others on the road are at increased risk. Many trucks are outfitted with supplemental braking systems, such as jake brakes, to help them slow down faster.
- Inattention to weather and road conditions. Because sudden, sharp braking is dangerous in a large truck, drivers should slow way down when conditions are poor, or visibility is reduced. This helps prevent situations where they need to brake suddenly.
According to federal law, truck drivers can operate a truck for a maximum of 11 continuous hours but then must rest for 10 hours before getting back behind the wheel. That means a truck can be on the road for 60-77 hours in a seven-day week. After two and a half days of rest, a trucker can start their week at zero hours. These laws were established because driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of serious truck wrecks. Many truckers will break these rules to keep their job, make more money, or meet demanding delivery schedules. A driver’s log may be the most important evidence in your case. Today, most truckers who drive interstate must use electronic logs, which are more difficult to trick. However, some local drivers who don’t go out of state can use paper logs.
Types Of Truck Accidents in Charlotte
Here are some of the main types of truck accidents we see, although other kinds of collisions with large trucks are possible:
- Intersection accidents. Accidents often happen at intersections, and truck crashes are no exception. Often someone runs a red light or gets confused about who has the right of way, leading to a collision. With big trucks, sometimes the issue is visibility. Semis have large blind spots, and although truckers are trained to look very carefully before turning or going through an intersection, sometimes they can still miss a smaller vehicle. Sometimes drivers are under pressure to deliver the freight in an unrealistic time frame. Many modern trucks have “governors” to ensure drivers don’t go over a certain speed, but these can’t control whether or not the truck stops at a light. The trucker may see an opportunity to save some time, think no one is coming, and blow through a red light or stop sign, unaware of a smaller vehicle approaching. Wide turns can be another source of accidents at intersections.
- Carriage Underride Accidents. Due to the height of a semi-truck relative to a car, the smaller vehicle can hit a semi and slide underneath it, even becoming stuck in some cases. These crashes can be severe, often resulting in head and neck or crush injuries for the car’s occupants. There have been some cases where the truck driver was not even aware of what happened – a car hitting a semi may not cause enough of an impact for the semi driver to feel it. Many of these collisions happen when the car strikes the truck from behind, so maintaining a safe following distance can help reduce the risk. However, in some cases, the truck may not be visible due to improper lighting and poor weather conditions. Underride guards, and steel bars placed on the underside of the carriage, can help reduce the risk, but some vehicles may still slip past them.
- Hit and run accidents. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes even well-trained semi-truck drivers will hit a vehicle or pedestrian and just keep going. Again, there are a few cases where the driver doesn’t notice they’ve hit someone, but in most of these accidents, they are afraid of losing their job and possibly their CDL. If you can get the plate number or a truck description, we can try to track it down. Even if the police were unable to locate the driver, in some circumstances, we can do our own investigation and find them ourselves. However, in other cases, this is simply impossible, but we can still make a claim on your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. We will always make every effort to find available insurance coverage for your damages.
- Jackknifed trailer accidents. These situations can be very dangerous for multiple other vehicles on the road. Usually, they happen because the driver either slammed on the brakes or attempted too sharp of a turn. When this occurs, the trailer can go sideways, even toppling over in some cases. Poor truck loading can also be an issue here. If the trailer is excessively top-heavy, it’s more likely to topple. Even trailers that don’t overturn can do an incredible amount of damage, swinging outward and sweeping through multiple other vehicles on the road in a jackknife situation.
- Rear-end collisions. You wouldn’t think the area directly in front of a semi would be hard to see, but considering the height the driver sits at, it can be if there is another vehicle in front of it but very close. In other words, the driver usually has a good line of sight in front and out, but they have no way to look straight down. However, the truck driver should have been trained to understand this situation and never follow closely. Excessive driver distraction may also be a potential cause of rear-end crashes. Additionally, sometimes cars rear-end a large truck with devastating results.
- Rollover accidents. Like jackknife crashes, these can cut a path of destruction as the truck turns over and rolls. Anyone in the path may suffer devastating injuries, and some may even be killed. Again, top-heavy trailers may play a role. This is also one of the few types of accidents in which the semi-driver is at high risk of being hurt as well – in many other types of accidents, the truck driver is often relatively safe, while people in a car or smaller vehicle suffer severe injuries.
- T-bone accidents. These can happen two ways: the truck smashes into the side of a smaller vehicle, or the smaller vehicle hits the side of the truck. However it’s easier to see a large truck, so it’s more common for the truck to hit the smaller vehicle. Both are disproportionately dangerous for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. Even side-impact airbags and seat belts may not be enough to prevent injury when a semi-truck crashes into a vehicle, especially for a driver or passenger on the side the truck hits. T-bone crashes also frequently happen at intersections when one of the drivers fails to recognize the impending collision.
- Sideswipe crashes. These are a little like t-bone accidents but occur at a different angle. The truck and smaller vehicle start by riding parallel to each other, and one drifts into the other’s lane. Again, usually, the truck crowds out the car because the driver doesn’t see it. Truck drivers are trained to prevent these kinds of accidents by always checking their blind spots before changing lanes or turning. In other situations, a tire blowout, road hazards, extremely windy weather, or driver error can cause the trailer to swing into the smaller vehicle’s lane, striking it.
- Bobtail truck accident. An 18-wheeler that doesn’t have a trailer attached is called a bobtail truck. Even though these rigs are much smaller, they are still dangerous. Bobtail trucks are difficult to maneuver and harder to brake, due to the design of the truck. These trucks become especially difficult to drive in inclement weather.
- Deadhead trucking accident. “Deadhead” trucks are carrying empty trailers. Large rigs are designed to pull heavy loads. When the trailer attached is not full, the truck can be difficult to maneuver because there is no weight holding it down. The trailer may swerve, slide, or even overturn.
Potential Injuries in Charlotte Truck Crashes
Because of their massive size and weight, trucks can do an extraordinary amount of damage to anyone or anything in their path. As a result, many of the injuries from these collisions can be very serious, and some are fatal. In most accidents, the truck driver is usually okay or only has minor injuries, while people in a smaller vehicle may suffer severe injuries or death.
- Broken bones and dislocated joints. In many cases, a person might have multiple broken bones, especially on the side of the vehicle hit by a semi in a side-impact crash. These can take months to recover from and may require multiple surgeries and weeks of physical therapy. In some cases, health insurance may not cover all these costs, leaving the victim with a large bill.
- Serious head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, these head and brain injuries often have serious and permanent effects on the patient. Some people may continue to struggle with cognitive and memory problems for months or permanently. Others may develop chronic headaches, mood or personality changes, and difficulty performing everyday tasks.
- Neck, back, and spine injuries. This is another area where an injury may have terrible consequences. A spinal cord injury could lead to paralysis, while other back and neck injuries, such as dislocated discs, may result in lifelong back or neck pain. These injuries can be tricky, and symptoms may not show up right away. As a result, you should try not to move too much until the paramedics arrive and go to the hospital for further evaluation. Sometimes, the paramedics may be able to prevent permanent damage to your spine by stabilizing you on a stretcher until a doctor can examine you carefully.
- Lacerations. Some can be quite deep and may cause serious scarring.
- Crush injuries. The compression from being crushed under a semi trailer can mean severe trauma for soft tissues, muscles, and nerves. Internal organs may be damaged, and sometimes limbs must be amputated.
- Rib and torso injuries. Your ribs protect your vital organs, but they can be fractured in a serious crash, and this can be quite painful.
- Burn injuries. Victims may suffer serious burns and scarring if the crash results in a fire or involves certain corrosive chemicals.
Recovering the Damages You Are Entitled To
Call our Charlotte office to speak with one of our dedicated and knowledgeable truck accident attorneys to learn about your rights and options for your specific case. We understand that every case is different. We will listen to the facts of your case and explain your rights based on the type of truck wreck and loss that you or a family member has suffered.
Your consultation is free and confidential. Many victims of truck wrecks are dealing with high medical bills, daily medical treatment, lost income, property damage, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. If you or someone you love was involved in a truck accident and the truck driver was a fault, Auger & Auger can help.