Determining Negligence In Tractor Trailer Accidents

Large trucks in North Carolina can be involved in a variety of accidents due to their large size, heavy weight, and the nature of their operation. 

Commonly, these accidents are typically more dangerous than car accidents for several reasons including their size and weight, longer stopping distances, and increased fire and cargo risks. 

If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident in North Carolina, it’s important to have experienced representation on your side – schedule a consultation with the personal injury attorneys at Green Mistretta Law today to protect your rights.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Truck Accidents?

Tractor trailer accidents have unique risk factors compared to passenger automobiles, and some of the most common ones include:

  • Jackknife Accidents: This type of accident happens when the tractor (the front part of the truck) and the trailer (the back part of the truck) fold into a V shape, similar to a folding pocket knife. This typically happens when the driver brakes hard and fast, causing the trailer to skid and swing out to one side.
  • Rollover Accidents: Given their high center of gravity, tractor trailers are more prone to rollovers. These can occur due to sudden turns, high speeds, wind gusts, or when the load is unevenly distributed.
  • Underride Accidents: These happen when a smaller vehicle crashes into the back or side of a tractor trailer and slides underneath it. These accidents can be particularly deadly due to the smaller vehicle often becoming crushed under the trailer.
  • Blind Spot Accidents: Tractor trailers have larger blind spots (or “no-zones”) than other vehicles. When drivers can’t see other vehicles in these blind spots, accidents can happen during lane changes or turns.
  • Rear-end Accidents: Due to their considerable weight, tractor trailers require longer distances to come to a full stop. If a truck driver fails to judge this distance correctly, they might crash into the vehicle in front of them.

What Is Negligence In Tractor Trailer Accidents?

Negligence in tractor trailer accidents in North Carolina, like in other states, revolves around four key elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. 

Here’s how each of these elements work:

  • Duty: This refers to the obligation of all drivers to behave reasonably while on the road. For instance, truck drivers are expected to obey traffic rules, observe speed limits, maintain their vehicles properly, and take necessary rest breaks to avoid fatigue. Trucking companies also have duties, such as the duty to hire qualified drivers and the duty to adequately maintain their fleet of trucks.
  • Breach: A breach of duty happens when a driver or company fails to meet the established standard of care. For instance, if a truck driver drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or a trucking company fails to properly maintain its vehicles, they could be considered to have breached their duty.
  • Causation: This refers to the link between the breach of duty and the accident. To establish causation, it must be shown that the accident would not have occurred but for the breach of duty. For example, if a truck driver was driving recklessly and caused an accident, it can be argued that the accident would not have happened if not for the driver’s reckless behavior.
  • Damages: This refers to the harm or loss suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the accident. This could include physical injuries, property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If all these elements are satisfied, the negligent party could be held liable for a personal injury settlement.

When it comes to liability in North Carolina, it’s important to understand that the state follows a doctrine known as contributory negligence. Under this doctrine, if the plaintiff is found to be even 1% at fault for the accident, they are barred from recovering any damages. This is one of the harshest negligence laws in the United States and it underscores the importance of having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side for these cases in North Carolina.

Who Else May Be Liable In A Truck Accident?

Additionally, in the context of tractor trailer accidents, liability may not be limited to the driver alone. The trucking company, contractors, insurance companies, and even vehicle or parts manufacturers can also be held liable under certain circumstances. 

For example, if the accident was caused by a faulty part, the manufacturer of that part may be held liable. Or, if the trucking company was found to have been negligent in their hiring or maintenance practices, they could be held responsible for damages.

Contact Our North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys Today

In any case, determining liability in a tractor trailer accident in North Carolina requires thorough investigation, a strong understanding of the laws and regulations governing trucking, and expertise in navigating complex legal and insurance issues. 

If you’ve been injured in a tractor trailer accident in North Carolina, it’s important to get legal representation as soon as possible. Contact the team here at Green Mistretta Law for your confidential, no-obligation consultation today. Remember – we don’t get paid unless you get paid, so contact us today!