The Top Charlotte Truck Accident Lawyer Reviews the 5 Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Due to their tremendous size and weight, commercial trucks present a high level of danger to passenger vehicles. With 18-wheeler trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds and passenger vehicles weighing an average of 4,000 pounds, it is no wonder that occupants of passenger vehicles face a higher risk of serious injury or death in an accident. A variety of factors can lead to a vehicle accident, such as poor weather, driver fatigue, or equipment failure. In our latest article, an experienced Charlotte truck accident lawyer reviews the 5 most common causes of commercial truck accidents.
1. Driving in Poor Weather
Bad Weather Can Throw Off Even the Most Experienced Commercial Truck Drivers
If a truck driver is not properly trained or if they underestimate the severity of the current weather conditions, they can put both themselves and other drivers around them at risk. During poor weather conditions, these drivers must practice extreme caution. They may even have to pull over to the side of the road if the dangerous weather conditions persist or grow worse. Failure to practice safe driving practices can result in severe injury or even death.
Rain — A heavy downpour can cause slippery road conditions. If a driver does not know how to properly brake without skidding or jackknifing, they pose a serious risk to the vehicles near them.
Ice and Snow — Icy roads are also particularly difficult for truck drivers to navigate. Due to the weight of the truck, drivers can easily lose control of their vehicles when attempting to maneuver them
Fog — Fog causes poor visibility, thereby increasing the chances of a commercial truck accidentally hitting another vehicle.
2. Equipment Failure
Forgetting to Regularly Inspect Equipment or Properly Maintain a Truck Can Result in Equipment Failure
Commercial truck drivers clock in thousands of miles every day. As a result, their trucks go through quite a bit of wear and tear. In order to keep their vehicles safe and properly-functioning, drivers and their crews must maintain the truck on a regular basis. Operating a truck while it is in need of maintenance — such as a worn brake pedal or a broken windshield — could cause a catastrophic traffic accident. Because of the dangers that a malfunctioning truck can inflict, drivers are required to inspect their rig and submit a vehicle maintenance report at the beginning of each shift. Equipment manufacturers could also be held responsible for an accident if investigators find a damaged or defective part in the truck. Parties that could be deemed liable include the equipment parts manufacturer, trucking company, and even any mechanics who performed repairs on the vehicle.
3. Engaging in Dangerous Driving Practices
Passenger Drivers Can Pose a Risk to Both Themselves and Nearby Vehicles
It is important to note that commercial truck drivers are not always at fault when an accident occurs. Passenger vehicles put themselves at a greater risk of causing an accident or sustaining serious injuries from an accident when engaging in unsafe driving practices. To protect yourself and the passengers of your vehicle, you should avoid:
Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
Cutting in front of another passenger vehicle or commercial truck
Driving in a truck’s blind spot
Driving while drowsy or extremely fatigued
Distracted driving from texting or attempting to multi-task
4. Truck Driver Fatigue
Driving While Drowsy Can Have Devastating Consequences
Driving while fatigued is a major problem among commercial truck drivers. In fact, the CDC found that commercial drivers were more likely to suffer from drowsiness than regular drivers who are able to follow a regular work and sleep schedule. Truck driver fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors including a lack of sleep, attempting to drive while sick, or exhaustion from working too many hours.
5. Overloaded Cargo
Improper or Overloaded Cargo Can Fall Off a Truck, Causing a Catastrophic Accident
Because of the sheer weight and size of the loads that commercial trucks carry, drivers must abide by specific industry standards when loading the bed of their truck. Each load must pass various weight, size, length, width, and height requirements before being approved for transportation. Companies must employ special methods for securing their cargo. Any mistakes or negligence that occurs during the procedure could cause the load to fall into the road and cause a severe accident.
If you were involved in a commercial vehicle accident and need to speak with an experienced Charlotte truck accident lawyer, contact the Law Offices of William K. Goldfarb to schedule a free consultation. For over 30 years, the legal team at the Law Offices of William K. Goldfarb has successfully helped various clients who suffered from personal injury and damages as a result of commercial truck accidents.
A Personal Injury Lawyer in Charlotte Explains the 4 Key Differences
Anyone who has seen a truck or bus knows how much larger and intimidating they are than passenger vehicles. It’s no wonder you need a separate license to drive them! Unsurprisingly, commercial vehicle accidents are handled differently from passenger vehicle accidents.
Passengers Face a Higher Risk of Sustaining Serious Injuries in Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Commercial Vehicle Accidents Can Cause Severe Injuries — Even Death
Not all vehicle accidents inflict the same level of damage to each other. A small convertible is likely going to cause less damage to your vehicle than an 18-wheeler. In fact, accidents involving commercial trucks have a higher chance of resulting in death or serious injury than accidents involving two passenger cars.
This is why most truck drivers or commercial vehicle operators carry insurance with high liability limits. The higher the liability, the more money there is available for the injured party.
Common injuries that result from commercial vehicle accidents may include:
Back or neck injuries that could result in paralysis or impaired motor ability
Burns ranging in severity
Head trauma that could disrupt one’s ability to function independently
Cuts and lacerations
Internal bleeding to vital organs including the liver and the kidney
Many victims of these accidents choose to seek compensation for the negligence of the commercial party that resulted in their injuries.
Commercial Drivers Have Larger Insurance Policies
Compensation Might Be Higher for Commercial Vehicle Accidents
As we mentioned before, commercial vehicle drivers usually carry higher insurance liability limits than regular drivers. This is due to the higher severity of injuries that can result from accidents involving trucks and other commercial vehicles. Rather than being forced to pay out-of-pocket for their injuries, they can seek compensation from the damaging party. Victims seeking compensation for their injuries need enough assistance and help to get them through their recovery, whether this entails surgery or an extended hospital stay.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries
As a personal injury lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Law Offices of William K. Goldfarb knows that jurors consider the amount of compensation to grant victims according to several factors:
The severity and pain levels of the injuries: How severe were the injuries? Burn injuries are considered to be one of the most painful injuries that can result from a car accident. Paralysis and loss of motor functions can also result in chronic pain and interfere with one’s daily life and ability to function independently.
The length of recovery time: Some injuries take years to recover from. Some aren’t even recoverable at all. Jurors must seriously consider the extent to which a victim’s injuries have disrupted their lives.
The emotional trauma caused by the accident: Even after one’s physical injuries have healed, the psychological trauma that resulted from the accident can still remain. Years of therapy and counseling may follow.
There is Usually More Property Damage to Your Vehicle
Unsurprisingly, Commercial Vehicle Accidents Tend to be More Expensive Than Passenger Accidents
A semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This hefty weight, combined with the size of the truck, can inflict some serious damage on a vehicle. While they may be smaller, these commercial vehicles can also cause critical damage requiring expensive repairs:
Determining the Cause and Liability of a Commercial Vehicle Accident is More Complicated
Companies Could be Held Liable for Accidents — This is Why
Most commercial trucks traveling the roadways are performing interstate deliveries. As a result, most drivers operate under state and federal regulations. To become a driver, they must undergo specialized education and training before obtaining a commercial driver’s license.
You might be wondering “Why does this information matter?” In short, if an accident occurs and authorities discover that the commercial driver did not possess the required qualifications for the job, the trucking company could be found liable for negligence in training their drivers. The company could also be charged for negligence if investigators discover that equipment failure played a role in the accident. However, the driver could still be held partially responsible for the accident as they are expected to conduct thorough vehicle examinations before departing.
How to Decide Whether or Not You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in North Carolina
Hint: You Probably Do
When it comes to commercial vehicle accidents, these cases tend to be more complex than passenger accidents. Many past victims of commercial vehicle accidents found that they needed help navigating the complex legal process they were required to undergo. Because a company-owned vehicle was involved in the accident, insurance companies conduct a series of investigations and the defending party will need to follow. Attorneys at The Law Offices of William K. Goldfarb conduct a thorough investigation into the accident — including obtaining relevant evidence from the commercial vehicle company and their insurance company.
Insurance companies might also try to low-ball victims for damages. If accident victims aren’t experienced with how the process of obtaining compensation works, they might end up accepting a lower, and less helpful, offer.
You may soon notice a change on the highways as you travel – large vehicles going much slower than you are used to seeing.
Safety regulators want to force trucks, buses and other large vehicles to slow down by requiring them to have speed governors installed. The governors would cap speeds of newly made U.S. vehicles that weight more than 26,000 pounds. Regulators are currently considering a cap of 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour but that has yet to be decided. Regardless of the speed, the governors will make it impossible to exceed the set limit.
The federal government said capping speed for new, large vehicles would reduce the 1,115 fatal crashes involving big rigs each year and save $1 billion in fuel costs and millions of gallons in fuel each year. The proposal currently wouldn’t require older trucks to install the devices but regulators are still considering it.
But as with most proposed regulation, this one is not without controversy. First, many truckers claim governors would be dangerous since they would force trucks to travel at much slower speeds than other drivers. And that, they claim, could actually increase the number of crashes. Second, some feel governors should apply to older vehicles as well – not just newly manufactured ones. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says retrofitting the governors would be too costly – anywhere from $100 to $2,000 per vehicle.
Despite the arguments for both sides, there is a compelling reason to act. An investigation last year by the Associated Press found that 14 states have speed limits for trucks that are equal to or higher than the speeds their tires are designed to handle. Most trucks tires aren’t rated for faster than 75 miles per hour. Tire manufacturers say traveling faster than that can lead to blow outs…. creating other safety issues.
The proposal is at the end of a 60-day comment stage for people to weigh in with their opinions. We’ll let you know what happens. Check back on this website for updates.
And if you’ve been in a collision or been injured in an incident involving a large vehicle, we can help. You can call the Law Offices of William K. Goldfarb at 704-296-0055 or simply complete the “Contact Us” form on this website.
Students Suffer Burns Aboard a Thomas Built School Bus
Officials suspect radiator failure
It’s happened yet again – students burned when a school bus radiator failed. And again, it is a Thomas Built school bus.
This latest incident happened on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 near Lugoff, SC near Columbia. The bus was carrying the junior varsity and varsity soccer teams to a when students said they heard a loud pop in the back of the bus. Students said hot smoke or steam began to fill the bus and some kind of liquid was running down the aisle.
“When I heard it happen, they were all like ‘Get out! Run! Run!”, one student, Daniel Garcia, told a local news reporter. “I was really scared ‘cause I didn’t know what happened. The smoke was coming and I was like ‘oh, my God, this is really like devastating.”
Another student, Junior Quintana, said, “It was really bad and people were just screaming and everybody was rushing at the door of the bus.”
A statement from the Lexington County School District One said that several students had to be treated for injuries. “Six students (one 17-year-old 12th grader, two 17-year-old 11th graders, two 16-year-old 10th graders, one 15-year-old 10th grader) were injured and either have received or are receiving medical treatment.”
This case is just one in a string of similar incidences we’ve told you about. Our law firm’s involvement came about as a result of a nearly identical incident in May 2015: a young girl severely burned by antifreeze while riding her school bus to Porter Ridge Middle School in Union County, NC. That little girl is continuing to heal and recover but it is a long, hard journey – one she should not have to endure.
We’ve discovered a long list of similar incidents around the country involving school buses spraying their young riders with hot antifreeze. From the most recent according to media reports:
June 2016: Alpenhorn, California
Three students injured when a coolant line bursts
May 2015: Vacaville, California
An elementary special needs student is burned after being sprayed with hot coolant
October 2015: Lake Arrowhead, California
About 20 middle school students injured with a radiator hose burst and spewed hot antifreeze
February 2015: Durham, North Carolina
Four elementary students treated after a radiator hose bursts on their school bus
June 2014: Salt Lake City, Utah
Two students burned when hot antifreeze sprays into the school bus cabin
November 2013: Pendleton, Indiana
Several elementary students injured, one hospitalized with burns, after a radiator hose bursts on their school bus
October 2013: Gresham, Oregon
Children burned after hot antifreeze leaks into the school bus cabin
September 2013: Edgewater, Maryland
Five elementary school children treated for burns from antifreeze on bus
May 2013: Greenville, North Carolina
Four middle school students suffer minor injuries after a radiator hose bursts
April 2013: Wilkes Co., North Carolina
Eight students burned when a hose bursts releasing hot water, hot antifreeze and steam
May 2012: Knightdale, North Carolina
More than a dozen middle school children burned on their feet after a hot liquid covered the floor of their bus.
April 2010: Oak Grove, Florida
Four students and the school bus driver injured with a radiator hose fails
October 2008: Sanger Texas
Six middle school students injured with a hot water hose burst
The child injured in Union County in May 2015 was aboard a bus built by Thomas Built. While some of the incidents listed above were noted to involve Thomas Built buses, the manufacturer of all the buses involved has not been confirmed. But as early as September 2013, the state of North Carolina was aware of the failures of heater hose fittings resulting in children receiving burns on feet and legs due to the cracking of plastic fittings in the passenger compartment. A school board member in Salt Lake City is calling for a national movement to address the issue.
The students in South Carolina, in this most recent incident, have no doubt been traumatized. One passenger, Erick Quintana, said, “I was ready to get off the bus ‘cause I was really like nervous scared it might blow.”
We have got to stop our children from being at risk for this kind of injury. The laws in North Carolina do not allow for a legal case against Thomas Built, the bus manufacturer, to go forward. However, South Carolina law is different and a case there could hold Thomas Built accountable and prevent other kids – in any part of the country – from being burned.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an incident similar to this, please feel free to contact us at 704-296-0055 or simply complete the “Contact Us” form on this website.
This latest incident happened yesterday in Lugoff, SC near Columbia. The bus had 46 people on board – most of them soccer players. Reports indicate the radiator failed and students described a hot liquid coming down the aisle. Several had to be treated for burns including one who ended up at the Augusta Burn Center. Take a look at the video linked below. Then check back to our website for more information on this…and other, similar cases.
<blockquote class="embedly-card" data-card-key="dc92d9a65ec342c8b5b56b267e7a1de2" data-card-type="article-full"><h4><a href="http://www.wistv.com/clip/13139538/the-smoke-was-coming-6-white-knoll-soccer-players-injured-in-bus-incident">'The smoke was coming': 6 White Knoll soccer players injured in bus incident</a></h4><p>(null)</p></blockquote><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><script async src="//cdn.embedly.com/widgets/platform.js" charset="UTF-8"></script>
We have got to stop our children being at risk for this kind of injury. We have had several similar cases in North Carolina. But the laws in North Carolina do not allow for a legal case against Thomas Built, the bus manufacturer, to go forward. However, South Carolina law is different and a case there could hold Thomas Built accountable and prevent other kids – in any part of the country – from being burned.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an incident similar to this, please feel free to contact us at 704-296-0055 or simply complete the “Contact Us” form on this website.
Think you don’t have a chance in court… just because you’re disabled? Think again. Pre-existing disabilities don’t keep you out of the courtroom if you’ve been injured through no fault of your own. It’s not easy… but it can be done. Here are some examples of success.
In Mecklenburg County last year, a woman sued a driver after automobile collision. The 49-year-old woman had a long and significant medical history including a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. While driving on I-85, she was rear-ended by another driver. She complained of injuries to her neck, back and right ankle. But her medical history also showed she had previously suffered from neck and back pain and a fractured ankle. To make matters worse, her neurosurgeon had twice had his medical license suspended. The driver that hit her admitted to negligence causing the collision but denied causing any injuries. Due to her pre-existing conditions, without going to trial, the case was negotiated and settled for $25,000.
A 35-year-old man living in the North Carolina mountains had always struggled. He suffered from mental health issues including PTSD. Even so, he rode a motor scooter every day to his job at a grocery store – a ride that took 1 ½ hours each way. But one trip changed his life even more when he was struck by a car. He was hospitalized for three weeks, in a rehab facility for five months, and then had to move to an assisted living facility. In a lawsuit, the driver who hit him tried to claim that the psychological effects from the collision were because he was already susceptible due to his pre-existing mental condition. Despite credible, expert witnesses on both sides of the case, the jury returned a verdict of $775,000.
In Wilson, NC, a 47-year-old man had long lived with pain. He had a history of herniated discs, among other things, with pain regularly radiating down his right leg. He was disabled and on restricted duty at work – sitting 85% of the time and no lifting. One afternoon, his vehicle was struck by a truck; he had to stop in a travel lane but the truck did not stop. Despite his previous medical conditions that left him partially disabled, the case was resolved pre-trial for $36,900.
If you or a loved one are disabled and think you’ve been wronged, please consider us a resource. We’re happy to review the circumstances with you and help you be compensated for the losses that you have sustained. You can call the Law Offices of William K. Goldfarb at 704-296-0055 or simply complete the “Contact Us” form on this website.. And there is no fee for the initial consultation.