Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Spartanburg and Greenville, SC
When you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a large commercial motor vehicle (CMV), it will be crucial to contact an attorney right away. In a large truck accident case, it is important to begin an immediate investigation into what caused the wreck. You must act fast into order to ensure that important evidence is preserved.
At Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., our attorneys have experience with investigating crashes that involve tractor-trailers (18-wheelers) in Spartanburg, Greenville and surrounding areas in Upstate South Carolina. Contact us today to learn more about our background and to receive a free and timely consultation about your case.
The investigation in your truck accident case may reveal one or more of the following factors:
Truck Driver Negligence
The driver behind the wheel of a large truck may engage in conduct that is simply careless and raises the risk of a crash. Examples include:
- Speeding – The trucker may go beyond the posted speed limit or drive too fast for conditions. When roads are wet or icy, visibility is reduced by fog or traffic is slowed by congestion, the trucker driver should adapt his or her speed.
- Driving while drowsy – Although Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules limit the number of hours that a truck driver can spend on the road, many truckers ignore these hours-of-service regulations and press on in order to make a delivery deadline. Truckers who have been on the road too long can experience fatigue and lack the ability to safely control their rig.
- Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs – Drinking and driving is especially dangerous when the driver is operating a mammoth tractor-trailer. This is why many states, including South Carolina, make it illegal for truckers to drive with a blood alcohol concentration above .04. Drug use by truckers, including the use of prescription drugs that can cause drowsiness, can also cause accidents.
- Driving while distracted – The use of electronic devices by truckers, including talking on a cell phone or texting while behind the wheel, can lead to accidents. This is why the FMCSA has regulations that prohibit drivers from texting while driving and from using hand-held mobile phones.
- Failure to use flares or triangles – Truckers are required to put out flares or triangles when they need to pull their tractor-trailer to the side of the road. A significant number of crashes occur because drivers have failed to take these basic safety precautions.
Trucking Company Negligence
A trucking company can be held liable for the negligence of its drivers. However, in many instances, the company is directly responsible for causing an accident due to its own misconduct. Examples are:
- Negligent hiring, training and supervision – Trucking companies are required to conduct criminal, medical and driving record checks before they hire drivers. The failure to do so leads to dangerous truckers getting on the roads. Also, companies may fail to provide proper training to the drivers they hire or to keep proper oversight of their activities, including performing routine drug tests.
- Failure to properly inspect and maintain vehicles – The FMCSA requires trucking companies to perform regular inspection and maintenance of large commercial motor vehicles. The failure to do so can lead to equipment failures that cause accidents.
- Negligent loading of cargo – All too often, truck accidents are caused by trucking companies overloading cargo or failing to adequately secure cargo. Truckers and warehouse workers should be trained to load a tractor-trailer properly.
- Encouraging dangerous driving – Although most trucking companies abide by FMCSA regulations and make sure their drivers are in compliance as well, there are many who simply ignore the rules. For instance, they may set unreasonable delivery deadlines that put pressure on drivers to violate the FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations.
In some instances, the cause of a truck accident may have nothing to do with either the truck driver or trucking company. Instead, an accident may be caused by a defective piece of equipment that the driver or company could not have detected such as:
- Brake failures
- Hydraulic system failures
- Tire tread separation, tire blowouts or wheel roll-offs
- Defective hitches or couplings.
When defective equipment causes a truck accident, action may be taken against the manufacturer, distributor and/or retailer of the equipment.
Contact Our Upstate South Carolina Truck Accident Attorneys
An investigation of a truck accident by an attorney from Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., may involve immediate inspection of the tractor-trailer, data from the on-board computer, truck maintenance records and driver logbooks – evidence that could become lost or destroyed if too much time passes.
The investigation may also look into hiring and employment records, cell phone / texting records, toxicology tests, police reports and a driver’s or company’s history of violating state and federal regulations.
The goal will be to conduct an exhaustive inquiry that determines the cause of an accident and establishes the grounds for holding the trucker, trucking company and/or truck equipment manufacturer fully responsible for the harm that you or a loved one has suffered.
To learn more about what Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., can do to determine the cause of your truck accident, contact us right away.
Sources / More Information
• The Large Truck Crash Causation Study, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
Preventive Maintenance and Inspection Procedures, FMCSA
• Truck Safety Alert: The Rising Danger from Trucks, and How to Stop It, American Association for Justice