Whenever a car is involved in an accident with a semi-truck, the driver of the car is at real risk for disabling injuries or death due to the disparity in weight and size of the vehicles. Those involved in an 18-wheeler accident with a company-owned commercial truck may have legal recourse to file litigation against the driver and the trucking company. Below is some information that may prove useful to North Carolina drivers in such cases.
What are some common factors in accidents between cars and commercial trucks?
A commercial truck has several inherent performance capabilities (and lack thereof) that make collisions more likely. They include the time it takes a big rig to accelerate from a stopped position or a low gear, the extra time it takes to brake and the limitations of a driver's ability to see hazards in their blind spots. Coupled with the lack of knowledge of a car's driver about these things, the risks of accidents remain high.
What defines a "commercial truck?"
A commercial truck, or a "big rig," is a large vehicle that is used by businesses to transport commercial goods. Some examples are delivery vehicles, 18-wheeler tractor-trailers, freight trucks, tanker trucks and sometimes, regular pickup trucks used by companies. All but the pickup trucks require drivers to have commercial driver's licenses to operate.
I was in a wreck with a truck carrying a hazardous liquid, and now have respiratory problems. Can the chemical shipper be named as a defendant with the truck driver?
It depends. If the chemical shipping company failed to warn the trucking company and the driver that its shipment was hazardous in nature and injuries resulted, they could be held liable for failing to inform.
Can I sue the driver's company for my injuries?
Maybe. The plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that an employment relationship exists between the company and the driver that makes them liable for any injuries. This falls under a legal theory of "respondeat superior." If a driver is an independent contractor, this could prove more difficult.
If I were partly at fault for the accident, can I still recover damages?
It depends. North Carolina has a legal doctrine, comparative negligence, which determines the amount of liability of one party for an accident when compared to the negligence or carelessness of the other party's.
Source: FindLaw, "Truck Accident FAQ" Aug. 30, 2014