Trucking Company Liability and Trucking Accidents
Commercial trucks on the road today in South Carolina are increasingly owned by corporations instead of by independent truckers or owner-operators.
These companies can be held legally responsible for the negligent acts of their drivers. They can also be held accountable for their own negligence.
At Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., our goal is to seek justice for you if you or a loved one has been harmed in a truck accident in Spartanburg or elsewhere in Upstate South Carolina. We will pursue all available compensation from all parties responsible for your losses, including the trucking company.
To learn more, contact us today. We can provide a free consultation about your case.
Trucking Company Responsibility for South Carolina Accidents
A trucking company, or “carrier,” can be held liable if its negligence or recklessness contributed to an accident involving one if its tractor-trailers. Common causes of commercial truck accidents that are the trucking company’s responsibility include:
- Truck maintenance – Delayed or ignored repairs or maintenance of a transfer truck can make a large commercial motor vehicle unsafe on the road. Carriers that skip regularly scheduled maintenance or necessary repairs to save money or time are acting recklessly. Forensic work by crash reconstruction experts after a truck crash can uncover worn parts or mechanical systems that contributed to a truck accident.
- Unqualified drivers – Carriers are responsible for ensuring that the drivers operating their trucks are qualified and properly licensed. They must also ensure that their drivers obey industry rules and regulations. A trucking company is responsible for advising staff drivers of new regulations and providing training as necessary.
Commercial carriers may be held responsible for hiring a driver who is not licensed with a South Carolina commercial driver’s license (CDL) or who has a history of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) violations if that driver causes a wreck. Hiring a driver with a history of drunk driving or other traffic violations is also a negligent act that a trucking firm may be held liable for later.
- Drug/alcohol testing – The FMCSA requires trucking companies to conduct pre-hiring drug screens of drivers. The company must also conduct random tests and screen drivers who they reasonably suspect are using alcohol or drugs while operating their vehicle. The failure to conduct this mandatory screening can be grounds for liability. (Also, after a crash, companies are required to test drivers under some circumstances.)
- Overworked drivers – Even qualified and properly licensed truck drivers become dangerous when they are fatigued. FMCSA rules, known as hours of service (HOS) regulations, define how long a truck driver may be behind the wheel before resting and how long he or she must rest before restarting.
As time is money, some trucking companies may push fatigued truck drivers to make deadlines in violation of HOS rules. Fatigued driving is a major cause of truck accidents, and companies that push employees to drive beyond legal limits can be held liable.
- Cargo irregularities – The FMCSA regulates interstate trucks’ cargo, including what they may haul and how it is loaded, secured and unloaded from trucks.
Cargo safety rules are important for many reasons. The weight of a cargo shift can send a truck out of control, topple the vehicle or cause it to jackknife. Improperly loaded or secured material can cause extensive damage if a cargo spill is part of a truck accident, particularly if hazardous material is being transported.
Properly training loading dock workers and ensuring that they follow rules and regulations is the trucking company’s responsibility.
Our South Carolina Lawyers Can Help You Hold the Trucking Company Responsible
Determining how a trucking company may be responsible for a truck accident requires an independent investigation of the accident by investigators with knowledge of FMCSA regulations and state laws that govern the trucking industry.
Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., has decades of experience investigating commercial truck accidents in Spartanburg and all across Upstate South Carolina.
We investigate truck accidents by collecting a variety of available data, from police accident reports and witness statements to truck drivers’ logs, company records, “black box” data recorders and, in some cases, footage from intersection cameras or other security cameras.
With the help of accident reconstruction experts, we can determine the circumstances of a truck accident and responsibility for it. When the evidence from a truck accident points to the trucking company, we won’t hesitate to hold the company responsible.
We will stand up to any trucking company on behalf of our clients and work hard to negotiate an appropriate settlement. If a carrier cannot do the right thing on its own, we are ready to go to court and fight for our clients’ rights to compensation for their losses.
To learn more, contact us today by phone or through our online form. We will provide a free consultation.
For More Information
• Rules & Regulations, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration