Distracted Truck Driver Accidents in Beaufort
Driving a commercial semi is a tough job. Truckers often spend up to 11 hours on the road, and many may seek ways to keep themselves awake and entertained on long, boring hauls. However, tractor-trailers are among the most dangerous vehicles on the highways, requiring their drivers to be alert and completely attentive for safe operation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cites driver error as the most frequent cause of truck crashes that lead to injuries or fatalities. If you were physically harmed by a distracted truck driver accident in Beaufort, you could claim damages from the negligent motorist and their trucking company. An experienced truck wreck attorney could help you prepare a claim to seek adequate compensation for your losses.
Common Forms of Distracted Driving in Beaufort
There are many ways that a trucker could become distracted behind the wheel and cause a traffic wreck. Tractor-trailers are particularly difficult to handle and less forgiving of driver error than passenger vehicles, so commercial truck operators have a heightened duty to remain completely attentive on the road at all times.
There are laws and safety rules prohibiting certain distractions. For example, every state—as well as the FMCSA—prohibits commercial drivers from using cell phones or texting while driving. Some trucking companies also ban their workers from driving with passengers to prevent inattentive driving. Other common behaviors that could lead to a distracted driver truck collision include:
- Checking the GPS
- Tuning the radio
- Adjusting mirrors or other equipment
- Searching for a personal item in the cab
- Reading, writing, or watching a video
- Eating or drinking
Most drivers are unlikely to admit to being distracted behind the wheel, but law enforcement and crash reconstruction experts are adept at pinpointing driver error, which often indicates inattentive driving. An attorney in the area could subpoena phone records, driver logs, and black boxes to determine whether driver distraction was a likely cause of a particular truck crash.
Proving Truck Operator Negligence to Recover Damages
The size of these vehicles combined with their cumbersome handling, slow response time, and tendency to jackknife or roll-over make semi-trucks a lethal weapon when mishandled. As such, injuries resulting from tractor-trailer accidents are often so severe that they may permanently alter the lives of the victim and their family. Unfortunately, this type of physical damage is often doubly burdensome when factoring in the heavy cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation.
The law of negligence allows an injured person to seek compensation from anyone who caused their traffic accident by failing to exercise reasonable care on the road. Accordingly, a tractor-trailer driver and their employer could be potentially liable for negligence. A Beaufort lawyer could reconstruct a distracted driving truck accident to identify all the potentially negligent parties that could be named in a claim for damages.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
In a personal injury claim, a plaintiff might seek economic damages to reimburse past and future expenses associated with the truck accident. These damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost economic opportunities
- Lost wages of family members who are unable to work because of caregiving responsibilities
On the other hand, non-economic damages provide compensation for the pain and suffering that the injured person endured. This could also include payments for mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life. For victims of fatal semi-truck collisions, the family members may seek non-economic damages for loss of the person’s companionship and consortium. A Beaufort attorney who is well-practiced in distracted truck driver claims could help injured victims and their families determine what damages they may seek to recover.
While economic and non-economic damages compensate injured victims for their losses, punitive damages are meant to punish the negligent party. These damages are sometimes available in Beaufort truck accident cases if the negligent behavior of the driver was especially egregious and caused severe injuries.
South Carolina Code §15-32-520 allows a plaintiff to receive punitive damages if they can prove by clear and convincing evidence that their injuries were caused by someone else’s willful, reckless conduct. This argument might not be always be available, but a savvy attorney could analyze the evidence of a particular case to determine whether the Beaufort truck driver’s inattentiveness warrants punitive damages.
Call a Beaufort Lawyer with Experience in Distracted Truck Driver Claims
Truck collision victims should be allowed to focus on recovering from their injuries rather than having to attempt settlement negotiations. The attorneys for truckers and trucking companies spend their entire careers learning how to minimize payouts even in legitimate claims.
It may be necessary to retain a Beaufort attorney who focuses on distracted truck driver cases and has a track record of helping injured victims seek appropriate compensation. Call the legal team at Schiller & Hamilton to schedule a complimentary case review.