If you or a loved one was involved in a truck accident in North Carolina, the personal injury attorneys of Patterson Harkavy LLP are qualified to pursue justice and compensation on your behalf. With offices in Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Raleigh, our firm has represented clients statewide.
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Our attorneys are proud of the firm’s successful record of helping clients receive substantial monetary awards and fair settlements. To resolve these complex cases, Patterson Harkavy calls on a team of highly experienced experts, including accident reconstructionists and trucking safety specialists, to help us determine whether unlawful conduct caused injury or death. It is important that you get help with your claim early, as there are time limits after which a trucking company may destroy important records crucial to your recovery of damages.
Investigating Truck Accidents
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), North Carolina ranks sixth in the nation for the number of traffic crashes involving large commercial trucks. Nationwide, there are more than half a million truck crashes resulting in 5,000 fatalities each year. In North Carolina alone, 204 people were killed and more than 2,700 injured in North Carolina truck accidents in 2005.
Government statistics show that passengers in the automobile are far more likely to suffer injury than the truck driver. Both the law and the U.S. government recognize the disparity. Under the law, a driver of a large truck is considered to have an even greater standard of care than other drivers, because of the catastrophic injuries and fatalities common in a tractor trailer crash.
Truck accident litigation involves claims against negligent truck drivers and the companies who hire them. Truck negligence cases generally fall into two categories:
- Driver Error: The most common cause is fatigue, which can cause clouded judgment, slowed reaction from drowsiness, or falling asleep at the wheel. Driver error also includes: driving too fast for conditions, failing to yield, failing to maintain the lane, or failing to judge stopping distances; and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Vehicle Maintenance Failure: Bad brakes, bald tires, and improper safety lights on the cab or trailer contribute to crashes, as well as exceeding weight limits or improper loading and securing of freight. It is the trucking company’s obligation under federal law to comply with strict safety regulations.
Determining Liability and Pursuing Compensation
Determining who is liable can be difficult and complex. Trucking companies and insurance adjusters realize the potential for major lawsuits in a truck accident, and actively investigate to prove that another driver or road conditions caused the crash. Our lawyers act promptly to determine what caused the crash and who is liable:
- Driver Fatigue — the driver may be at fault, or the truck owner may have required the driver to be on the road beyond strict federal limits on hours without rest
- Overloaded or Unbalanced Freight — the trucking company or a third party may be responsible for loading errors
- Excessive Speed — both the driver and the company could be responsible for the wreck, if strict and unreasonable deadlines were imposed on the driver
- Equipment Malfunction — the truck’s owner may be on the hook for shoddy maintenance, or the manufacturer of a failed truck part (such as defective tires) may be responsible
- Failure to Follow State and Federal Regulations — a factor in the overwhelming majority of truck fatality cases, making the company that owns the truck legally responsible for injury or death
- Negligent Hiring and Training — if the trucker has a history of traffic offenses, substance abuse, or accidents, or if the driver was not properly trained to handle an 80,000-pound tractor trailer, the employer can be liable
The trial lawyers of Patterson Harkavy have handled truck accidents occurring on I-40, I-95, I-85, U.S. 64, U.S. 1 and other major trucking corridors in the Piedmont and elsewhere in North Carolina. We have the right combination of experience, knowledge of the trucking industry, access to experts, and commitment to clients. We will fight for your maximum compensation for medical care, lost income, pain and suffering, and lost quality of life.
You can reach us toll-free at (800)458-2541 or via our online contact form. You are assured of a free consultation with an attorney (not a paralegal) to evaluate your case. We do not collect lawyers’ fees unless we are successful in winning damages for you.
Have more questions about trucking accidents? Read our FAQ here…