In the United States there are an estimated 2 million semi trucks on the road, and about 500,000 of them are involved in automotive accidents across the country. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 22% of these crashes involve a semi truck colliding with the rear end of another vehicle.
Unfortunately, these statistics show that accidents involving semis are much more common than most people think. So with these growing numbers and the seriousness of being rear-ended by a 40 ton truck, it’s reasonable to question what to do when you find yourself in such a situation. This article will help you understand what to do right after the crash, who may be liable, and steps you should take to ensure you’re adequately protected and compensated for your injuries.
What Do I Do Right After the Crash?
As with all automotive accidents, the most important step right after a crash is to call 9-1-1 and report the accident. This is not only important to ensure that emergency responders can provide aide as quickly as possible, it may also bear on any legal issues that stem from the matter. It’s important to alert authorities and establish an official record of what has occurred. In most cases, you’ll also want to take photographs of the collision to have physical proof of what happened.
Once the crash has been reported, it’s also crucial that you obtain medical treatment for your injuries. Although this may seem obvious right after a major car accident, it also includes ensuring that you attend all follow-up appointments with your doctor and keep them informed about your overall health. Again, receiving adequate care and following up with your doctor is vital for any ensuing litigation.
On that note, once authorities have been alerted and you have received any emergency care, you should contact an experienced truck accident lawyer to assess your case. In addition to understanding the facts of your specific case, an attorney will also know the nuances of North Carolina law addressing accidents involving semi trucks.
Negligence and Last Clear Chance
When you’re rear-ended by a semi truck it is important to know who is at fault. Typically one would expect the driver of the truck that rear-ends another car will be found to be at fault for the accident. However, there are many cases where the driver in the front is actually held accountable for the damage.
For example, if you were rear-ended by a truck and your taillights were not working properly, a judge may well find that because of your failure to have working taillights, ultimate responsibility lies with you. In many jurisdictions, fault may even be split between the involved parties. Unfortunately, that is not the case in North Carolina.
North Carolina follows the legal principle of contributory negligence. Under this principle, the law prohibits injured victims from recovering any compensation if their actions contributed to the crash–even if the other driver was 99% at fault. Conversely, and to provide some relief, North Carolina also follows the last clear chance doctrine.
This legal doctrine may allow you to recover compensation, even if partially at fault, if you can prove that there was a dangerous situation making it impossible for you to avoid the crash, and the other driver had a clear chance to avoid the collision but they failed to take it.
Damages and Compensation
In North Carolina, parties may file a lawsuit to recover compensation for damages suffered from being rear-ended by a semi truck. Examples of these damages include, pain and suffering, lost wages, medical costs, and property damage, among others. Moreover, if a passenger is killed in the accident, you may seek to recover costs related to funeral and burial expenses, and lost income of the decedent.
Getting rear ended by a semi truck can be a terrifying experience. It can also be extremely serious. Notifying authorities and obtaining any emergency medical care are primary steps that should be taken if you find yourself in such an unfortunate situation. However, it is also essential to engage a qualified lawyer that is experienced in semi truck accidents as well as the many nuances of North Carolina law. A qualified lawyer will help you navigate through the daunting investigation and legal processes, and work to ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries.