State Supreme Court Reviews South Carolina Truck Accident Case

One of the key factors in truck accident litigation involving serious personal injuries is identifying all potentially liable parties to help clients seek damages that meet their long-term needs. In many cases, this means looking beyond the likely at-fault driver to examine whether equipment problems or other drivers' behavior may have contributed to the accident.

The Supreme Court of South Carolina recently considered a case involving allegations that a truck driver's recklessness justified an award of punitive damages after he rear-ended the plaintiff's minivan, causing it to flip and land in the median. The trauma of the accident caused shoulder, neck and head injuries to the woman.

The injured motorist also filed suit against the South Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT), alleging that a highway department truck driver's caused the accident while he was in the process of turning around in a paved median on I-95. While he waited for a break in northbound traffic, the trailer behind his dump truck protruded into the left southbound lane, causing several vehicles to swerve, brake and collide.

The car wreck injury victim settled with the DOT, and after a jury trial she was awarded over $700,000 in damages from the truck driver who collided with her. However, the trial court rejected the plaintiff's claim that punitive damages should also be awarded based on the truck driver's recklessness, and both parties appealed aspects of the judgment.

The South Carolina Court of Appeals held that allegations of traffic violations and testimony that the truck driver had failed to slow down when encountering heavy traffic presented a factual issue regarding punitive damages that should have been resolved by the jury. On further appeal, the Supreme Court of South Carolina affirmed this holding, as well as the trial court's rejection of the defendant's theory that intervening negligence by the plaintiff's physician had made her injuries worse.

Helping Injured Clients Protect Their Right to Compensation

A comprehensive personal injury legal strategy must recognize that a client's interests need protection at all stages of the process. From recognizing opportunities for a fair settlement to seeking corrections of legal errors that compromise an injury victim's pursuit of all justifiable damages, a car accident attorney's representation can help a client understand the big picture.