One Injured in Greenville, NC, 18-wheeler Accident on MLK Highway
Greenville, NC -- March 1, 2017, one person was seriously injured after an accident where their car was hit by an 18-wheeler on Martin Luther King Highway.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol investigated the two-vehicle accident which happened at about 7:20 a.m. Preliminary investigations say the accident occurred along Martin Luther King Highway, but did not specify where.
Authorities stated that an 18-wheeler approached the highway intersection and ran through a stop sign, entering highway lanes. As a result, the semi-trailer crashed into a passenger car, hitting it off-road.
The driver of that car, said to be the sole occupant of the vehicle, was critically injured in the accident. EMS transported them to a local hospital for treatment.
Authorities say that the driver of the 18-wheeler was issued a charge for running the stop sign and that additional charges could follow.
Investigations are ongoing.
Map of the Area
A lot of people are going to read this report and think, "Well the truck driver was cited by police, so that means they're liable for the accident." This actually isn't the case. When a driver is cited or charged for an accident, that falls under the criminal law system and requires processes unique to that area of the law. Conversely, getting compensation from a trucking company falls under civil law and that has a different set of rules and procedures. People who aren't aware of this can easily find themselves unprepared for when a trucking company fights claims of liability after an accident.
A truck driver's insurance company never has an obligation to compensate victims of an accident unless a civil jury finds them liable. This means that police reports and criminal charges by themselves will do nothing to help those affected by a truck accident. These charges or citations certainly could help a case, but are completely separate from any civil proceedings. The defense could easily argue, "Sure, our driver ran a stop sign, but the other driver was speeding and failed to avoid the accident."
As flimsy as the argument is, that alone could allow the trucking company to avoid liability entirely if not properly addressed. North Carolina civil law has what's called contributory negligence. This basically means that if a plaintiff is found at all responsible for their own damages, then the defendant can't be held liable. So if someone hurt in a truck accident sues the trucking company, and a jury finds the victim even 1% at fault, then the trucking company doesn't have to pay anything. They walk away scot-free.
When a trucking company has an opportunity to avoid fault for an accident, they'll do everything they can to do so. Working in an all-or-nothing environment only gives them more opportunity to avoid compensating victims after an accident. Running a stop sign may seem like and obvious indication of fault to many people, but it takes a rock-solid case built upon verifiable evidence to back that up. An attorney inexperienced with truck accidents or contributory negligence states won't be prepared for the blame-shifting tactics that trucking companies will pull, and this can rob victims and their families of their chance for justice.
We can start to see how a simple argument like, "We ran a stop sign, but they screwed up too," begins to gather momentum when it goes unchecked. However, approaching these tactics with a thorough investigation, irrefutable evidence, and the support of someone experienced in dealing with these kinds of cases, victims of truck accidents can overcome the barriers that trucking companies try to put in their way and hold the trucking company accountable.
--Grossman Law Offices