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Getting Schooled: Special rules in truck accidents

I. Legally Bound in Truck Accidents

You probably remember, especially if you have taught sons and daughters to drive, how complicated everything seemed before you got that official driver’s license. Unfortunately, when an accident involves a big rig or semi-tractor trailer, it can feel as though you are back to the nervous days of a learner's permit. There's also a legal risk to not having an experienced Charlotte trucking accident attorney help you from the very start. Not only are there special rules involved in learning to drive, there are special rules about how accidents may or may not shift the load of responsibility following a big rig incident.

One major reason this “word play” is so alien to any average type of person is because a Charlotte trucking accident attorney protects a client from an unfair misrepresentation. A truck accident attorney is aware of the fact that words often have special meaning when in a courtroom. The following case talks about how courts interpret legal phrasing in General Assembly language. The truck accident attorney had to wrestle with exactly what it meant in terms of “parking” a big rig to make it safer. When you stop to think about it this makes a lot of sense: every major industry has special practices or methods that reflect on how things should or should not be done. For example, parking a big rig is completely different than what you would expect in terms of learning how to safely park a comparatively small car.  In this case, the key question was whether or not a disabled semi-truck had become “parked” on a highway. If it was parked, and not just disabled or at a stand-still, the truck accident attorney representing the car driver who struck the big rig had reason to expect special precautions to have prevented the collision.

II. Words Meet Matter

The accident in this case occurred late at night on a two-lane highway in North Carolina. Both parties were represented by qualified truck accident attorneys. The driver of the car who hit the truck made the argument at the trial court that the truck driver had failed to take adequate precautions to prevent the collision.

At a minimum, the truck accident attorney for that driver--Mr. Morris--said that special lights should have been put out on the road…such as flares. Since the driver’s truck accident attorney had also sued the company, this allowed the driver of the car to inquire into safety and standards used by the owners of the truck as well as the driver individually.

The average automobile on an American highway now weighs around 3,000 pounds…actually a few hundred pounds under that (2,800 pounds). Compare that weight to your average semi, and the difference can be devastating. With an average trailer rig coming in at 30,000 pounds empty, the materials matter. This explains why the horrific outcome of a typical tractor trailer versus car can have such devastating and long-term consequences. An experienced Charlotte trucking accident attorney tries to even the scales. Being aware of these industry conditions is a good start. Meeting with an experienced truck accident attorney can help put the protection of your rights (including medical recovery) in motion.

III.   Never Yield: Protect your rights

The trial court judge disagreed with the basic argument that the truck driver was in any way liable. The trial court judge dismissed the case, and the auto drivers truck accident attorney quickly appealed the case to clarify exactly what responsibility the top truck company and driver had. Because it was so late at night, the issues about how quickly the accident happened were pivotal. However, there was also key testimony that almost certainly settled the case. The driver of the automobile testified that in approaching the truck, he was unable to see it, or its lights. The reason? The driver of the automobile had been blinded, he said, by the lights from an oncoming vehicle. Even worse for his case, was the fact that accident reconstruction showed that he had been speeding at the time of the collision. This leads to conclusion That no matter what the truck driver had done, he would have been hit by the car. Thus, the truck driver’s failure to put out safety lights was not seen as the actual cause of the accident in this case.

This case demonstrated clearly, at least, one thing. Truck accident attorneys can build a case based upon responsibility for an accident. Yet there is always a risk that there may be some superseding or intervening event that Shields the truck driver from what would have been practical or common-sense actions to prevent an accident. That was the case here.

IV.  Why you need an experienced truck accident attorney

As mentioned in the introduction, there are often special rules regulating the conduct of trucking companies and their operators. These rules often supersede even contributory negligence, or possible poor decision making by other people. In this case, the judges clearly considered whether or not there was some type of statutory duty by the trucker which would have made him liable in this case. This type of so-called per se liability is crucial, and is why an experienced truck accident attorney often makes the difference and whether a case proceeds the trial. Additionally, establishing liability can make a difference in terms of how insurance companies view payments to injured individuals.

The knowledge of truck accident cases also gives an experienced negligence attorney another advantage in cases such as this. Knowing the regulations well enough to speak convincingly with law enforcement can also make or break this case. In this case, a Deputy Sheriff was called upon to give his opinion: he expressed a belief that the truck driver had not in fact parked his truck. A key part of that deputy sheriff's investigation was that the trucker had still been in his cab, and not had time to get out and do anything. In that sense, then, the argument of the truck accident attorney that special liability attached because the semi-truck was “parked” on the road did not apply. If the Deputy Sheriff had come to a different conclusion, and viewed the semi-truck as actually having been “parked” on the highway, then this case very likely would have gone against the trucking company and trucker.

Conclusions:   

This case would probably have had a quite different outcome if the driver of the car had not been speeding. The fact that he admitted, he had been blinded by oncoming headlights, was probably less important to the outcome than the fact that speeding vehicles are viewed as precipitating causes of accidents in many cases.

So if you, a family member or a loved one have been hurt in a semi- or big truck/tractor vehicle accident—or have questions about insurance claims or need help related to a motor vehicle insurance policy, or involving related claims or your legal rights or hearings, please contact us.  You will speak with a Charlotte truck accident attorney who can best answer your questions.  There is never a fee for this initial consultation.

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