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Your Guide to Truck Accident Laws in North Carolina

According to the NC Trucking Association, 85.6% of North Carolina communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods. This leads to 7.7 billion miles of road covered by trucks each year and sadly, with that many trucking miles, there are bound to be some accidents. Just by the nature of the vehicles involved, these often lead to severe injuries or even fatalities due to the size and weight of these trucks. In North Carolina, understanding the state's specific truck accident laws is vital for those involved in such incidents. This knowledge is especially critical for victims seeking compensation for injuries sustained in these often-devastating accidents.

Understanding Truck Accidents 

Truck accidents refer to accidents involving commercial trucks, like semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, tri-axle trucks, and other large freight carriers. Unlike standard car accidents, truck accidents are often more catastrophic due to the immense size and weight of these vehicles. Common causes include driver fatigue, improper cargo loading, and failure to adhere to road safety regulations.

Multiple parties can be involved in the liability surrounding a truck accident, including the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, and the cargo loading company. Each party may share varying degrees of responsibility, depending on the accident circumstances, which underscores the need to engage a knowledgeable Charlotte NC truck accident lawyer to effectively navigate these complexities.

North Carolina law imposes stringent regulations on commercial trucks, including service hours, maintenance requirements, and cargo load limits. These laws ensure the safe operation of commercial trucks to protect all road users.

There is a lengthy set of requirements needed in order to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in North Carolina. Before you can apply for a commercial driver's license (CDL), you need to have a valid North Carolina driver's license. You must be at least 21 years old to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines (interstate) or hazardous materials. 

You must obtain a commercial learner's permit (CLP) by passing the written knowledge test at your local DMV. After holding your CLP for at least 14 days, you can take the CDL skills test, which includes a vehicle inspection test, a basic controls test, and a road test.

You must pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination which includes eyesight, hearing, and general health evaluations. You must also have a clean driving record. Too many moving violations and/or any DUI/DWI convictions may disqualify you from obtaining a CDL.

If you're involved in a truck accident, you should be aware of North Carolina's statute of limitations. This law gives you three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Failure to file within this timeframe could jeopardize your chance to seek compensation, hence the importance of consulting a skilled Charlotte NC truck accident lawyer promptly.

Liability in Truck Accidents

Determining liability in truck accidents can be a complex process due to the potential involvement of multiple parties. Liability may rest with the truck driver, the trucking company, or even the party responsible for maintaining the truck, depending on the accident's specific circumstances. The principle of vicarious liability often applies in truck accident cases, holding employers (trucking companies) liable for the actions of their employees (truck drivers).

The trucking company’s insurance company may also argue that your actions caused the accident. Under North Carolina law, the doctrine of contributory negligence applies, meaning that if you're found to be even slightly at fault for the accident, you may be barred from receiving compensation. This doctrine has nuances that are best understood by experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyers. They can guide you from the very beginning on what the process for filing a claim is and handle the communication with the insurance companies and their adjusters.

Steps to Take Following a Truck Accident

In the aftermath of a truck accident, your first priority should be your safety and the safety of others involved. If possible, move to a safe distance from the scene and call emergency services. A police officer can create a report that includes all the necessary contact information for those involved and any eyewitnesses to the accident.

You should seek medical attention, even if you think you are fine. Many people think they are fine, but some serious conditions like concussions may not present themselves immediately. A medical professional can diagnose these things early to help you prevent more injuries and this also helps establish causation between your injuries and the accident. 

After this, you should notify your insurance company of the accident and contact a NC truck accident law firm. Your attorney will guide you on preserving crucial evidence, which could include photos of the accident scene, witness testimonies, and medical records, to build a strong case. They will also become the point of contact for the insurance companies and any other attorneys involved in the case, relieving you of the burden of coordinating all these things while trying to heal from your accident.

Compensation in Truck Accident Claims

Victims of truck accidents can claim both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Noneconomic damages  include compensation for pain and suffering. The role of insurance companies in compensating victims is crucial, but it's important to remember that insurers often aim to minimize payouts.

The determination of compensation amounts depends on several factors, including the severity of injuries, the extent of property damage, and the victim's earning capacity. A Charlotte, NC truck accident lawyer can assist in accurately quantifying damages and negotiating with insurance companies to ensure a fair settlement. They bring legal expertise, understand the tactics used by insurance companies, and have a thorough understanding of North Carolina's truck accident laws. An attorney can evaluate your case, identify liable parties, and represent your interests in negotiations or a courtroom if necessary.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Truck Accident Claims

Victims of truck accidents often make mistakes that can negatively impact their claims. These can include admitting fault at the accident scene, not seeking immediate medical attention, or failing to document the accident properly.

Another common mistake is attempting to negotiate with insurance companies without legal representation. Insurance companies often take advantage of unrepresented individuals, offering settlements that don't adequately cover the victims' damages. A Charlotte, NC truck accident lawyer can guide you through the process, helping you avoid these pitfalls and protecting your right to fair compensation.

Understanding truck accident laws in North Carolina can be complex, but it's essential for anyone involved in a truck accident in the state. With the legal complexities and the stringent contributory negligence doctrine, securing legal representation from an experienced North Carolina truck accident lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Their expertise and local knowledge will be invaluable in seeking the compensation you rightfully deserve. Contact Rosensteel Fleishman Car Accident & Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation about your case. We are here to listen and help you get the compensation you deserve.

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