Truck Driver Receives $1.35 Million Settlement After Losing Arm In Truck Accident

Jun 03, 2022

Truck Accident Case Resulting in $1.35 Million Settlement

Here in North Carolina, our roads are regularly abuzz with commuters, residents, and travelers. Plenty of commercial trucks also fill highways, posing dangerous risks to everyday drivers. In the first half of 2021 alone, an estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes. A tractor-trailer wreck can result in life-altering consequences, including disabling or fatal injuries.

Here’s the story of one 44 year old plaintiff, who we’ve renamed Todd for privacy. A lifelong over-the-road truck driver, Todd emigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam at the age of 16. One rainy night, he was driving in the mountains when he came upon a disabled tractor-trailer partially blocking the highway. Todd attempted an avoidance maneuver to miss the broken vehicle but unfortunately crashed into a mountain face at highway speeds.

This accident resulted in the amputation of Todd’s left arm. Because he was speeding at the time of the wreck, the defendant argued contributory negligence. However, the truck driver failed to meet his obligations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which required placing three bidirectional reflective triangles to warn oncoming motorists of hazards ahead.

Throughout his life, Todd suffered multiple distressing injuries, such as the amputation of his arm, a traumatic brain injury, and an open pelvic fracture requiring surgical repair. This wreck left him ineligible to hold a Commercial Driver’s License. Todd’s attorneys – David Kirby and Mary Kathryn Kurth of Edwards Kirby – took a different route, invoking the last clear chance doctrine. The case ended in the plaintiff’s favor, resulting in a $1.35 million settlement.

How is a Commercial Truck Defined in North Carolina

A commercial motor vehicle is defined by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety as any vehicle used to cross state lines for business purposes weighing 10,001 lbs. or more.

Tractor-trailers, 18–wheelers, and big rigs, must meet specific operational requirements. Registered motor vehicles that weigh over 55,000 pounds must file for a Heavy Vehicle Tax. Annual registration is required for all commercial vehicles, including:

  • Box Trucks
  • Cargo Vans
  • Commercial Buses
  • Single–Unit Trick
  • Passenger Vans
  • Tow Trucks

No more than 90 days prior to expiration, a vehicle must first undergo a full safety and/or emissions inspection. This involves a licensed mechanic examining the vehicle’s headlights, signals, brakes, steering, windows, and tires. Failure to obtain inspection results in blocked registration until record of completion.

Paid and volunteer drivers must acquire commercial licenses. A Commercial Driver’s License subjects all individuals to regular alcohol and drug testing rules. Special endorsements are needed to haul hazardous materials, transport passengers, drive school buses, pull double trailers, or drive tank vehicles. The minimum insurance required for interstate operations is $750,000. Road tests are also necessary.

Commercial vehicles are required to enter weigh stations throughout North Carolina. General rules prohibit any driver on the road for more than 11 hours at a time.

What Causes Truck Accidents?

Even minor driving errors, like running stop signs or failing to signal before lane changes, can lead to catastrophic situations.

Determining liability varies from case to case. Thankfully, our Raleigh truck accident lawyers can break down the many complexities of truck accident cases. Working meticulously, our team has successfully recovered over $40 million on behalf of truck accident clients.

A number of common causes, violations, and negligent acts lead to determining who should be held responsible. Factors in truck accident cases include:

  • Distracted drivers
  • Aggressive driving behavior
  • Entering “No–Zones” areas, or places with limited visibility
  • Reckless driving and speeding
  • Defective or poorly maintained vehicles
  • Driver exhaustion
  • Lack of experience
  • Intoxication
  • Severe weather
  • Maintenance failures
  • Unsafe passing
  • Violation of laws related to commercial vehicles

The trucking industry is subject to numerous regulations and driver qualifications. Despite these precautionary measures, not everyone complies with traffic laws, trucking regulations, or personal duty of care – all of which can result in a truck accident with major consequences.

Case Investigation Process

If you’re seeking a reputable North Carolina truck accident law firm, our attorneys offer valuable resources. Our experienced Raleigh team reviews the facts and damages incurred to arrive at an estimated value range, which is vital to negotiating a full and fair settlement.

Early action can make a difference, so it’s widely advised to seek legal help as soon as possible. Truck drivers may not be the only party to bear financial responsibility. North Carolina’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is 3 years from the date of an accident. Certain factors may alter this statute to give victims less – or more– time to protect their rights. Our tractor-trailer accident attorneys are here to assist with any unique circumstances that may impact your case, working to achieve a truck action settlement through:

Investigation and/or reconstruction of the accident site
Filing evidence from first responders or investigators, such as photos, videos, and testimonies.
Negotiation with insurance companies for any damages
Handling of all case documentation
Communication with the client as well as the opposing legal team
Determination of the party at fault in the truck accident case

What To Do if You Are in a Truck Accident

Take the following steps to ensure necessary medical attention and litigate your claim without delays.

1. Call 911
Any truck accident with significant property damage or injury requires a legal report with local authorities. Accident reports prove handy for legal action.

2. Take Plenty of Pictures
Documenting the accident is important. Photograph the involved vehicles and surrounding scene, or ask a witness.

3. Exchange Contact Information
Request as many details as possible, including driver name and address, employer name and contact information, trailer license number, and anything else that comes to mind.

4. Seek Medical Attention
Go to the hospital and get x-rayed, even if injuries aren’t visible. Medical reports create a paper trail.

5. Retain an Attorney
We know how to help victims and families fight for full financial compensation. Read about how our truck wreck attorneys can help in truck accident cases.

6. Notify Your Employer
Tell work what happened, along with any medical recommendations. Your employer may offer additional benefits if the truck accident occurred on the clock.

Edwards Kirby’s team knows how to guide clients to success. Backed by decades of experience, award-winning lawyers, and record-setting results, visit our blog to explore other cases we’ve handled.

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