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Things to know when injured in a truck crash

Getting into an accident with a big rig on the highways and interstates of North Carolina is a lot different than having a little fender-bender with another car. The sheer size and weight of an 18-wheeler barreling into you can cause catastrophic injuries from a truck crash.

But other factors come into play when an accident occurs with a semi owned by a commercial trucking company. Below are some questions and answers that may be of interest to some North Carolina residents.

What defines a "commercial truck?"

Commercial trucks, often referred to as "big rigs," are used to facilitate a company's business as well as for transporting commercial goods across town or across the country. Some examples include tanker trucks, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, delivery trucks and any other large freightliners. Commercial trucks are usually dedicated to a specific purpose (like a cement truck), require drivers to possess a commercial driver's license and are large in size. However, some businesses do use regular pickup trucks commercially.

What causes most collisions between commercial trucks and cars?

There are a combination of factors that contribute to commercial truck/car accidents. Some of the most common are a commercial truck's limited ability to brake and accelerate quickly and a lack of visibility. Drivers of cars who are unaware of these characteristics can also be a factor. Large trucks have larger blind spots than cars and are cannot respond quickly to some hazards.

Can I sue the trucking company for my injuries from a collision with one of the trucks bearing their company's name and logo?

It depends. There must be an existing employment relationship established between the trucking company and the truck driver involved in the accident. A company can be held liable for their driver's negligence under "respondeat superior," a legal theory used in these cases. The situation differs with independent contractors; then the plaintiff must establish how much supervision was exercised by the company.

There are no one-size-fits-all rules to cover every case. To learn what your rights are after being involved in a wreck with a commercial truck, it's advisable to consult a North Carolina personal injury attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Truck Accident FAQ" Aug. 12, 2014

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