North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

The family of a Texas woman killed in a commercial trailer accident has filed a lawsuit alleging the company that manufactured the truck failed to take a basic safety precaution that could have saved her life.
In Dodgen et al. v. PJ Trailers Manufacturing Inc., plaintiffs allege that had the trucking company installed underride guards on the side of the truck, as well as conspicuous side markings, the crash could have been avoided entirely.

The law does not require side underride guards, but the National Transportation Safety Board has been issuing warnings about this safety hazard since 1968. Most recently, the NTSB released a safety recommendation in the spring of 2014, suggesting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration require underride side guards for all vehicles that weigh over 10,000 pounds.
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A number federal agencies are charged with ensuring safe interstate motorways for drivers. This includes regulating the national trucking industry to keep drivers and large truck companies from violating safety standards and laws. According to a recent government report, The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared two South Carolina based trucking companies, and its owner-driver, to be imminent hazards to public safety. The federal agency has ordered the companies and affiliated drivers to promptly halt all business operations.


Trucking companies with a focus on generating profits by transporting goods across state lines have an incentive to drive quickly. In addition to getting from A to B quickly, many of these trucking companies will also flout national trucking regulations involving weight limits, maintenance, and driver limitations. All of these violations can create serious hazards for other motorists sharing the roads. Our Charleston truck accident attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims throughout the Carolinas and nationwide. We are committed to raising safety awareness and to staying abreast of truck industry legal issues that may affect Carolina drivers.
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A new report from the AAA Carolinas reports that a record 2.8 million North Carolina travelers will be traveling at least 50 miles from home for the holidays.
In total, the number of travelers is expected to increase by 48,500 compared to last year, and 9 out of 10 are going to be driving.

Sharing those roads are going to be tired truckers, often rushing to meet end-of-year deadlines – sometimes with too much cargo and too little sleep.
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For the most part, the underride guards of large, commercial trucks are doing a good job in helping to protect passenger vehicle occupants.

The standards for the strength of these guards have improved in recent years — and we’re all safer for it. On the other hand these guards are primarily helping to prevent injury in straight-on rear-end accidents, and not when passenger vehicles make contact with side portions of the rear of these trucks.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), most semi-trucks are required to have these underride guards. Officials with IIHS are pushing to get these guards on even more vehicles though — including dump trucks. These guards are steel bars that hang from the back of a large trailer or truck to help to keep passenger vehicles from sliding underneath in the event of a collision. Back in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) enacted tougher standards for these guards following a number of studies that proved they initial standards weren’t strong enough. Unfortunately, Canada still has better standards.

Our Asheville trucking accident lawyers understand that our passenger vehicles don’t stand much of a chance against large, commercial vehicles. We should rely on our safe driving habits to keep us out of accidents with these trucks, but we should also be able to rely on their underride guards to help to protect us in the event of an unavoidable accident.

The IIHS is working for tougher standards, but still haven’t heard back from the NHTSA. According to recent IIHS studies, these guards generally work well to prevent underride, except in crashes occurring at the outer edges of trailers. It’s time to make them work under all conditions.

The good news is that many underride guards do meet the current standards. As a matter of fact, many of them exceed the current standards. Officials believe that this is because the trucks are keeping up with the Canadian standards. Still, all of this is virtually worthless if you’re slamming into only a portion of the rear end of a truck.

In 2011, less than 300 of the estimated 2,240 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in accidents with a large truck were killed when the front of their vehicle slammed into the back of a truck. While that’s still an alarmingly high number, that’s a number that was nearly cut in half since 2004. Although many would like to credit the tougher standards for this decrease, officials also place a large part of the credit to the fact that both trucks and passenger car drivers have been spending less time on the road with our struggling economy.

In the meantime, we’re asking drivers to be on their best behavior out there while sharing the road with these large trucks. You never want to travel too closely. They take a lot longer than we do to stop, and your risks for a rear-end accidents jump when you don’t allow any ample amount of following space. Back off and stay safe.
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A trucker from Wisconsin is looking at years behind bars after a serious traffic accident in North Carolina. The trucker pleaded guilty after slamming his big rig into a line of stopped traffic along Interstate 26. According to JS Online, 5 people were killed in this accident. The driver pleaded guilty to five counts of involuntary manslaughter from the October accident. Three of the victims were from Hendersonville. The two others were from Lexington. A judge sentenced the 50-year-old Bulgarian immigrant to between 48 months and 60 months in prison.
According to authorities, the driver was heading east on the interstate when his big rig slammed into a line of cars that were stopped by another accident. Officials say that the truck was traveling at about 70 miles per hour when the accident happened. They say it happened because the driver was fatigued.

Our Charlotte trucking accident lawyers understand that the U.S. government has already established laws regulating exactly how long a commercial driver can work in a given period of time. These laws were enacted to help to protect both the truck drivers and the motorists. Fatigued and drowsy driving is unsafe for everyone on the road.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off the clock. They’re also not allowed to drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

According to, there are about 100,000 accidents that are reported every year as a result of driver fatigue. Unfortunately, the actual number may be a lot higher as there’s no real way to determine if a driver is drowsy or tired behind the wheel. We’ve got breathalyzers to test to see if drivers are under the influence, but nothing to test for drowsiness. With what we know, officials predict that drowsy and fatigued driving contributes to close to 2,000 fatalities and more than 70,000 injuries each and every year. These accidents are costly, too. Officials estimate that these accidents run a tab of more than $12 million in monetary losses.

Close to 75 percent of American adults drive a vehicle to and from work. Many of them are drowsy drivers. The ones who are driving while on the job may be even worse. Imagine spending more than 10 hours behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. You’d get tired, too. That’s why it’s important that our truckers are getting the rest that they need. Their trucks serve as death weapons out on our roadways. Our passenger vehicles stand little to no chance against the size, weight and power of these big rigs.
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In Darlington County, all lanes of I-20 were closed after a big rig flipped.

It wound up blocking traffic for most of the day, according to WISTV10.
Accident reports from the South Carolina Highway Patrol report that the accident happened in the westbound lanes at roughly 9:00 a.m. near mile marker 127. It happened right near the Lee County Line. Traffic was rerouted. The truck was carrying batteries and officials have yet to pinpoint what caused the catastrophic accident.

Our trucking accident attorneys understand that tractor-trailer accidents, like the recent one right here in South Carolina, kill thousands and injure even more each and every year. But do you really know how serious the problem is? Each year, there are about 500,000 accidents involving big-rigs, semis, tractor-trailers and big wheelers. Roughly 5,000 people are killed annually. It’s so bad that officials estimate that one out of every 8 traffic accidents out there involves a large truck. Many of these accidents are serious and even fatal!

Of all of the traffic accidents in the state of South Carolina, about 10 percent of them involved a large truck.

What’s most alarming is that many these accident are avoidable. Both drivers of passenger vehicles and of large trucks can do their part in helping to ensure that these kinds of accidents do not happen.

We’re turning to the drivers of passenger vehicles for this road safety. It’s important to practice your most defensive driving habits out there to stay out of these kinds of accidents. Luckily, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is here to offer you some safe driving tips to keep you safe when traveling with large trucks.

Safety Tips for Car Drivers:

-Avoid cutting off large trucks. They take longer to stop and could wind up slamming into the back of you.

-Always wear your seat belt. This is your best protection in the event of an accident.

-Keep out of large vehicles’ blind spots. These are the areas around the truck in which a driver can’t see you. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see the driver then the driver can’t see you.

-Never drink and drive. This is dangerous in any situation on our roadways, but especially when large trucks are involved!

-Don’t squeeze your way in. When these large vehicles are making turns, don’t squeeze in between them and the side of the road. They make wide turns but then bring it back in. Don’t get caught in the squeeze.

-Keep your cool behind the wheel. Remember that these vehicles take longer to accelerate, take longer to stop and sometimes travel slower than some of us might like. Stay calm and avoid succumbing to aggressive driving habits. That’s only going to heighten your risks for an accident.

-Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and put away the distractions.
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There were more than 50,000 people who were injured in bicycle accidents in Asheville and elsewhere in 2010, according to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Throughout the entire year, nearly 620 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle-related accidents. These fatalities accounted for about 2 percent of the total number of traffic fatalities.
We may have seen a decrease in the number of bicycle fatalities from 2011 to 2012, from 628 to 618. But the truth of it all is that these fatal bicycle accidents still accounted for the same percentage of traffic fatalities. We saw a slight decrease in the overall number of traffic accidents during this time, too.

Our Asheville bicycle accident lawyers understand that safety experts are expecting the risks for these kinds of accidents to increase in the coming months. Right now, in the summer travel season, we’re already seeing increasing risks for these accidents. More motorists are heading out and more bicyclists are pedaling through. With more of these travelers, the risks and the number of accidents is expected to increase alongside. Drivers as asked to be careful when traveling near our two-wheeled friends as bicyclists are asked to make themselves as visible and predictable as possible when traveling near motor vehicles. Both parties need to be responsible for their own actions and they need to work with one another to help to preserve traffic safety.

If you’re riding a bicycle in the area, there are few things that you should be on the lookout for. First off, you want to make sure that you’re careful when traveling through urban areas and through non-intersection areas as most accidents occur in these locations. You’re also warned to be cautious when traveling during the evening hours. About 30 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents in 2010 happened between the hours of 4:00 and 7:59 in the evening. The second most dangerous time to be out on our roadways was from 8:00 and 11:59 at night. The fewest number of fatal bicycle accidents occurred between midnight and 4:00 a.m. We’re not saying that you should go out and ride your bike during this time, because you’re less likely to be involved in an accident, we’re just saying that fewer bicyclists were out during then and therefor there weren’t a lot of accidents.

In 2010 in the state of North Carolina, there were nearly 25 people who were killed in bicycling accidents throughout the state. Although the state has been working on a number of initiatives to help to improve safety for all, drivers are asked to do their part and to keep an eye out for these vulnerable travelers. According to the recently-released statistics from the NHSTA, bicycle accident-related fatalities accounted for more than 1.5 percent of the total traffic accident fatalities for the year. These accidents are usually the result of driver inattention. Please be on your best behavior behind the wheel to help to keep everyone safe! The change starts with you.
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Employers from across the U.S. are realizing the dangers that are presented on our roadways when workers use their cell phone behind the wheel. To help to make our roadways safer for everyone, employers are taking it upon themselves and their companies to implement comprehensive cell phone policies.

To help these employers, the National Safety Council is recommending policies that ban the use of both handheld and hands-free devices behind the wheel. The Council recently announced the release of an updated Cell Phone Policy Kit that aims to keep up with the most recent distracted driving trends and statistics.

Companies, communities and organizations are all encouraged to take advantage of the NSC Cell Phone Policy Kit. By implementing more laws and regulations to regulate distractions behind the wheel, we can work our way to safer roadways be helping to reduce the risks of car accidents in Asheville and elsewhere.
In a 2009 survey conducted by the NSC, more than 2,000 NSC members responded and concluded that nearly 500 companies ban the use of both hands-free and handheld devices for some or all of its drivers. Nearly all of those who were surveyed said that productivity remained the same.

Our Asheville car accident lawyers understand that distracted driving is alarmingly common on roadways worldwide. According to recent surveys, drivers understand the dangers that are presented by distracted driving and support measures to help to stop this behavior, but still drivers aren’t willing to hand up the phone behind the wheel. Currently, there are 35 states that prohibit all drivers from texting behind the wheel. There are only 9 states, including the Virgin Islands and DC that prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones. In addition, there are 30 states, as well as DC, that ban novice drivers from using a cell phone while driving.

Still, with these laws in place our country saw nearly 5,500 roadway fatalities in 2009 because of distracted driving. Included in these statistics are another 450,000 injuries. Officials believe that this number is actually much higher as they believe that not all cases of distracted driving were reported in accident reports. With the statistics that we do have, nearly 20 percent of all fatal accidents involved a distracted driver.

The NSC Phone Policy Kit Includes:

-A sample of an effective comprehensive cell phone kit.


-A sample letter for the NSC President to company employees.

-Various posters and tip sheets to help to raise awareness about and educate employers of the dangers of distracted driving and of the new policies.

-A one year plan and roll out calendar.

-Various activities to help employers to discuss the topic of distracted driving. It’s important to get everyone on the job on the same page!
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The transporting of large loads can be a multifaceted and very detailed process that involves several different parties. But if there is an accident caused by the recklessness of more than one of those parties, what happens?
If you have been injured in a Carolina truck accident, it is important to know who you can sue for damages. Our Charlotte injury attorneys understand that the process can be tough, but we want to help you identify the liable parties in your personal injury lawsuit.

Roquemore v. E.R. Express is case that exemplifies the legal intricacies surrounding trucking accidents. This case began where American Bridge Manufacturing (ABM) had an extremely large beam it needed to transport from Oregon to Michigan. ABM hired Sherman Brothers to arrange for the logistics of the transport, including obtaining the permits necessary and the driver. Sherman Brothers hired Trans/Mid-American to obtain these permits.

American Bridge loaded the beam onto the tractor trailer. And Karkhu, who was employed by E.R. Express, prepared to drive this E.R. Express tractor trailer to Michigan. ABM had reported the beam to be measured at 13 feet and nine inches; however, in reality it measured at 13 feet and ten and a half inches. Had these measurements been accurately reported by ABM to Sherman Brothers, and then to Trans-Mid-American, the permit for transport would have never been issued because there was an overpass on route that the truck would not have been able to clear.

Nickie Donald was traveling in a tractor trailer behind the truck Karkhu was driving, which carried the beam. Karkhu approached an overpass, and upon attempting to go under it, the beam smashed into the overpass. The impact of this caused the beam to dislodge from its reinforcements on the truck and the beam went flying back into the cabin of Donald’s truck. The weight of the beam was so great that it pinned Donald into the cabin until he bled to death. It was only through the use of a crane that Donald’s body was able to be recovered.

Donald’s estate was represented by Roquemore, who sued the four companies listed above. The main argument was that each of the four parties had been negligent and this negligence combined caused the death of Donald.

Because the actual truck that collided with the overpass was owned by E.R. Express, the other three companies argued that they could not be held liable. In support of this contention, these three defendants relied on Michigan state statute which they interpreted as stating that only the owner of a vehicle that collides with a lawfully established bridge can be held liable under common law negligence.

The initial court to hear this case agreed with the collective defendants and dismissed the plaintiff’s negligence claim against three of the four parties, only leaving E.R. Express as a liable party. Plaintiff appealed this decision leading to this circuit court case.

The final holding of this case illustrates the complexities involved in truck accidents. The court distinguished that where intervening and concurrent causes each contribute to an accident, the liability can be distributed among all of the negligent parties consistent with the amount of negligence each party is guilty of. It is common to see one party held liable in a truck accident because the other parties usually settle beforehand. Thus, there is no precedent that dictates that only one party can be held absolutely liable.

Therefore, this court found that each of the negligent parties can be parties to the litigation as long as they were in fact negligent and their negligence contributed to the plaintiff’s damages.
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The legalese in car insurance policies can be very intimidating. And if you are denied benefits in your Carolina vehicle accident case, you may not understand why.

Having an experienced Carolina injury attorney can mean the difference between getting your insurance benefits and going medically untreated.
A recent case out of New Jersey deals with questions arising from insurance policy exclusions. Vann v. Mercury Indemnity Company, No. A-4264-10T4 (N.J. Apr. 25, 2012). Richard Vann (plaintiff) worked as a truck driver for his father’s company named Vann Trucking. Vann Trucking owned three trucks which they used to attach and transport trailers. Plaintiff preferred using just one of the trucks for the three to five days a week that he was working with Vann Trucking.

Plaintiff had an automobile insurance policy with Mercury Indemnity Company (defendant) for the two personal passenger vehicles that he owned. Under this insurance policy, the defendant was to pay personal injury protection (PIP) benefits and med-pay benefits. Vann Trucking had a commercial policy with a different insurance company that did not offer PIP or med-pay benefits.

Plaintiff was driving the Vann Trucking truck he usually used when he decided to stop on a service road outside of Philadelphia. He had been traveling to pick up a trailer to hitch to his truck and transport. As the plaintiff was stopped in the truck, a train came and collided with the truck where plaintiff was. As a result of this train-truck accident, plaintiff sustained injuries to his head, neck, shoulders and back.

Because the plaintiff was unable to collect med-pay from the Vann Trucking commercial insurance policy, he decided to enter a claim with the defendant because it was his personal insurance carrier.

The defendant denied plaintiff med-pay benefits because of a provision in the policy called the “regular use” exclusion. Insurance policy exclusions are where insurance companies specify which circumstances would render the insured excluded from obtaining benefits.

A “regular use” exclusion was created by insurance companies to encourage people to purchase insurance for all vehicles they own and operate. These provisions were also created to protect insurance companies from having to pay for injuries sustained when those they insure are driving a vehicle for work and are injured.

The exclusion applicable to this case stipulated that the defendant would pay medical expense benefits where someone they insure suffers bodily injury in an accident with a vehicle they own. The part that excludes benefits states that where an insured is injured while using a vehicle customarily used, the defendant does not have to pay med-pay benefits.

Essentially, an insurance company will extend benefits to you where you are involved in an accident in a car you do not own, only when it is a rare occurrence for you to drive that vehicle.

The court in this case analyzed previous case law that dealt with this type of insurance exclusion provisions. In the past in New Jersey, courts have held that employees who are injured while driving a vehicle owned and insured by their employer, cannot seek med-pay benefits from their private insurance carrier. This is because these cases usually involved the insured customarily driving this work vehicle.

In order to be consistent with previous case law, this court entered summary judgment for the defendant. Plaintiff was unable to collect med-pay benefits as a result of this truck-train accident.
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