commercial truck

5 Things to Do if you are in an Accident with a Commercial Vehicle

If you are in a collision with a big rig truck, it can be an unsettling and frightening experience.  Large commercial trucks are typically 20 to 30 times heavier than other types of vehicles, and they can do widespread damage when they are involved in an accident. At first, you may be in a bit of a shock and you may not be totally sure if you are hurt or not. Next, your heart starts to race, and a million thoughts go through your mind as you think about what all this means and what needs to be done to properly handle the situation.

The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. The steps you take immediately after an accident with a semi-truck could greatly impact any claim you bring later on for property damage and injuries, so it is important to clear your mind and remain calm to help ensure that everything can be handled appropriately.

Here are five things you should do after you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle:

Call for Medical Help

The first priority after any type of motor vehicle accident is to make sure everyone who is hurt gets proper medical attention, and this includes yourself. You may not feel hurt while you are at the accident scene, but this could just be because of adrenaline, or the fact that some injury symptoms do not start to show up until later on. Call 911 immediately to bring an ambulance to the scene. Along these same lines, if there are injuries, the police should be called as well. In many cases, the 911 operator will call the police for you. Otherwise, call the police to the scene, so they can assist those involved in the accident, document the incident, and get an official report on file.

Secure the Accident Scene

After you call for help, move your vehicle (if possible) to a safe location that is off to side of the road or otherwise out of the line of traffic. Keep your hazard lights on, and put cones, flares, or flashers around the vehicles involved in the crash so other motorists can avoid them.

Collect Information about the Accident

Exchange information with the truck driver, and obtain their name and contact information, driver’s license number, U.S. DOT serial number (if available), the name and contact information of their employer (if applicable), and their insurance information. You should also document as much as possible for your own records. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene and write down or voice record on your cell phone as much detail as you can about what happened while everything is fresh in your mind. The police will file an official report, but you should have your own report as well, so you can compare it to what the police reported and correct any errors.

Obtain Witness Statements

If there were any individuals nearby who witnessed the event, be sure to obtain statements and contact information from them. Many times, witnesses will allow you to record a video statement from them describing what happened. If you are able to do this, the testimony of these witnesses can be extremely valuable in proving your case if you decide to bring an accident injury claim later on.

Report the Accident to your Insurance Company

Most insurance companies require you to report an accident within 24 to 72 hours after it occurs.  Individual policies may vary, so it is best to get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible.  Report the accident, but only give them the facts. Do not admit fault or speculate on who was at fault, leave that for the experts to sort out. Also, do not give an insurance company any recorded statements or sign any medical release forms without first speaking to an attorney.

Injured in a Commercial Vehicle Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident in South Carolina, it is important to get an attorney involved as soon as possible after the accident, so important pieces of evidence can be preserved and your legal right to compensation can be protected. At Peake & Fowler, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients who have been injured in commercial truck accidents. We work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward obtaining the full and fair compensation they need and deserve.

For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our online contact form.

What is Causing my Neck and Back Pain after an Auto Accident?

What is Causing my Neck and Back Pain after an Auto Accident?

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of injury in the United States. A car accident, even one that seems relatively minor, can result in fairly serious injuries. Oftentimes, however, those involved in these types of accidents don’t notice their injuries until later on. This frequently happens for the same reason athletes may not feel injured while they are in the middle of a game; the adrenaline rush.

You have most likely seen or heard stories of football players finishing a game with a broken ankle or broken leg, then not being able to move and requiring surgery after the game. The adrenaline rush of being “in the zone” allows athletes to minimize the pain in their minds and keep powering through while the game is still going on. Auto accidents can create a similar situation for some who are involved. When you crash into another vehicle, you are startled, your heart starts to race, and your mind is intently focused on dealing with the situation.

In the heat of the moment, you may feel only minor aches and pains, if anything at all. But in the coming days, you begin to experience neck and back pain and start to wonder what’s causing it. This is where many who are involved in auto accidents make a mistake. They believe that, just because they felt little (if any) pain at the scene of the accident, the pain they are feeling now must be minor. In many cases, however, this is the sign of a more serious injury.

What is Causing my Neck and Back Pain after an Accident?

If you are starting to feel neck and back pain (particularly pain in your lower back) after an auto accident, this is often due to a whiplash injury. Whiplash is the rapid, jerky back-and-forth motion experienced by many vehicle occupants during a collision. Whiplash can cause injuries to the neck and several areas of the back. The effects of these injuries can last for days, weeks, or even months.

The extent and severity of a whiplash injury depends largely on the speed at which the vehicles collide, the ability for vehicle occupants to “brace” for the collision, how soon those involved are treated for their injuries, and other factors.

Symptoms of whiplash can occur immediately after an accident, but as we discussed earlier, it can take several hours up to several days in some cases to begin feeling the effects of the injury. Some common symptoms of a whiplash injury include:

The neck and back pain you feel after a car accident is known as discogenic pain. Discogenic pain refers to aches associated with our spinal discs. There are five vertebrae in our lumbar spine with soft discs between each one. These discs serve as a cushioning system and help provide mobility and stability for our body.

Individuals can experience discogenic pain because of gradual deterioration of the spine, or it can happen because of sudden trauma, such as a whiplash injury from a car crash. Some of the most common conditions that may cause neck and back pain after an accident include:

What to Do if you Feel Back and Neck Pain after an Accident

If you or someone close to you was involved in an accident and you are experiencing neck and back pain afterwards, seek qualified medical treatment immediately. Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical, and the sooner you see a medical professional, the better the chances of a successful recovery without requiring major procedures such as surgery. After you have received medical help, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

If the accident was the fault of another party, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. With these types of cases, insurance companies often contact injured parties soon after the incident with a lowball settlement offer. Before accepting any offers from an insurer, speak to the skilled South Carolina accident injury lawyers at Peake & Fowler. We will thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options, so you will have all the facts before deciding how to proceed. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 for a free consultation or send us a message through our web contact form.

Trucking Accidents

Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents

Truck drivers have a difficult and stressful job. They drive for long hours over-the-road, and they are frequently under pressure to deliver their loads on schedule. With these types of conditions, many truckers stay on the road longer than they should, making them susceptible to fatigue, drowsy driving, and even falling asleep at the wheel.

The Drowsy Driving Problem in the U.S.

Drowsy driving is generally defined as driving with the combination of fatigue and sleepiness. This can be caused by driving without having enough sleep. But it can also happen because of alcohol, various medications, too many repetitive hours on the road, and untreated sleep disorders. Drowsiness adversely affects drivers in several ways:

  • Inhibits drivers’ ability to pay attention to the road;
  • Slows driver reaction time;
  • Causes drivers to make poor driving decisions.

Driving while drowsy is a major problem in the United States, and it is far more widespread than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • One out of 25 drivers (18 years of age or older) report having fallen asleep at the wheel during the past 30 days;
  • Drowsy driving is responsible for approximately 72,000 crashes each year, and up to 6,000 of these crashes are fatal;
  • Commercial drivers (such as operators of tow trucks, 18-wheelers, and buses) and those who drive long shifts are among the groups most likely to drive while drowsy.

Drowsy Driving and Trucking Accidents

Because of their sheer weight and size, large commercial vehicles are the most dangerous vehicles that can be involved in a drowsy driving accident. Truck accidents can result in serious and catastrophic injuries and fatalities, and most often, occupants of other vehicles are the ones who suffer the most severe injuries.

According to a Harvard School of Medicine Study, nearly half of semi-truck drivers who participated in the study admitted to having drifted off while driving a long-haul route. Researchers have found that driving while drowsy produces similar affects to driving while intoxicated, and with drowsy driving so widespread among truckers, it puts countless other motorists who share the road with them in serious danger.

Why are Truckers more Susceptible to Drowsy Driving?

Sleepiness and fatigue can happen to anyone who is out driving. Truck drivers are especially at risk for driving drowsy, however, because of the nature of their job. Truckers frequently drive during overnight hours when it is easy to dose off; and as mentioned earlier, they are often under enormous pressure to deliver their cargo on time. While a typical driver who is tired can pull into a rest stop and sleep for a while, a trucker may not have that luxury, because obtaining a few hours of well-needed sleep might mean throwing your schedule way off.

To address the issue of long hours on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has hours of service guidelines that all over-the-road truckers must adhere to. For example, commercial truck drivers that carry cargo may not drive more than 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours being off duty. Unfortunately, these and other safety guidelines are frequently ignored by drivers who are pushed to meet deadlines and/or incentivized to deliver their cargo ahead of schedule.

When a trucker ignores government regulations and a truck accident occurs because of drowsy driving, it is important that those responsible are held fully accountable. These types of cases can be complicated, however, and it can be difficult to determine whether liability lies with the driver or the trucking company. This depends largely on the relationship between the two.

If a driver is a direct employee of a trucking company, then it is pretty clear that the employer can be held responsible. If the driver is classified as a subcontractor, however, then the case requires further investigation. There are times when a driver meets the criteria for being an employee but is misclassified as a subcontractor, so the trucking company can avoid responsibility for the driver’s actions.

Speak with a Skilled South Carolina Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, you need an experienced attorney by your side who understands the complexities of these types of cases and what it takes to obtain a favorable result even against well-funded adversaries. At Peake & Fowler, we have successfully represented truck accident injury victims in South Carolina since 2000. We work closely with clients, thoroughly investigating their cases and exploring every potential legal avenue toward obtaining full compensation. For a free consultation with one of our seasoned personal injury attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.