South Carolina Truck Accidents

Injured plaintiffs or their surviving families are entitled to seek compensation for pain and suffering, lost income, medical bills, property damage and more.

Trucking accidents are on the rise in South Carolina and across the nation. Statistics from the National Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA) show a growing nationwide trend in truck accidents.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 4,842 fatal large truck crashes in 2020, the most recent data year available. The U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) annual report, the Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts, shows that truck accidents are common in South Carolina and continue to increase yearly.

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Trucking Industry Overview

Approximately 7.65 million people are employed in the trucking industry, in the United States, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). Of those, 3.36 million are professional truck drivers.

Combined, they travel over 400 billion miles every year. Truckers transport over 10 billion tons of freight yearly. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) statistics, there were  3.97 million semi-trucks operating in the U.S. as of 2020. U.S. highways are teeming with trucks including large semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and other large trucks.

Big rigs can weigh up to 30 times as much as regular passenger vehicles, loaded or not. Large trucks are taller, with more ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles under-riding or side-riding trucks in collisions. Occupants in passenger vehicles are at an increased risk of severe injuries, damages, and even death in the event of an accident.

U.S. Trucking Industry Statistics

National Truck Accident Statistics

Data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows that in 2020 there were a total of 35,766 thousand fatal crashes on U.S. roads. Despite there being less traffic in 2020, fatal accidents jumped from 33,487 to 35,766. This number includes all vehicle types, trucks, and cars.

Fatal Crashes between 2016-2020 in the U.S.
Fatal accidents in the U.S. 2016-2020


More specifically, there were 20,566 light trucks and 4,842 large trucks involved in fatal crashes nationwide. In 2020, 54,272 thousand vehicles were involved in fatal crashes. Out of that number, 47.5 percent of vehicles involved in fatal crashes were small and large trucks

Fatal Crashes by Vehicle Type in the U.S. in 2020

2020 traffic fatalities by vehicle type


Looking more closely at the data, fatal large truck accidents have been increasing over the last decade. The data from the NHTSA indicates that in 2016, 4,562 large trucks were involved in fatal wrecks across the country. By 2018, that number had increased to 4,862 and 4,842 in 2020. Between 2014 and 2018, the United States saw a 29 percent increase in fatal truck collisions.

The rising trend in truck accidents also leads to an increasing number of fatalities. According to NHTSA data and FARS, 4,965 people died in large truck crashes in 2020. Eighteen percent of those deaths were occupants of a truck, 71 percent were other vehicle occupants, and 11 percent were non-motorists like pedestrians or bicyclists. Between 2014 and 2020, there was a 24 percent increase in fatalities in accidents involving large trucks.

People Killed in Crashes Involving Large Trucks 2016-2020

Truck accident fatalities
Large Trucks Crash Trends In-Depth
Truck Accident Trends

When Do Truck Accidents Happen?

Every year, the United States Department of Transportation releases a report, Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts, which tallies these types of accidents across the United States.

Every year, the United States Department of Transportation releases a report, Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts, which tallies these types of accidents across the United States. The most recent crash facts, from 2019, indicate that the majority of fatal truck and bus crashes happen on weekdays between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

Thirty-six percent of all fatal crashes, 22 percent of all injury crashes, and 20 percent of all property damage only collisions involving large trucks occurred at night. Overall, the majority of fatal wrecks (83 percent) and nonfatal crashes (86 percent) involving large trucks happened Monday through Friday.

Fatal Crashes by Time of the Day, 2020

Fatal Truck Crashes by Time of Day

Trucking Industry Violations and Inspections

Trucking companies are under continuous pressure to deliver cargo quickly. To keep up with the time demands, fatigued truck drivers, improperly loaded and secured trucks, and poorly maintained trucks are out on American roads and highways. While the trucking industry is regulated by several state and federal laws relating to how many hours truck drivers can drive in a day, vehicle upkeep, markings, and placement of under-ride bars, violations still occur.

An NHTSA study revealed driver fatigue is considered to be a factor in 30 to 40 percent of all truck accidents. To combat this problem, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reduced the maximum number of hours a trucker can work by 12 hours. Drivers are now required to take a break of at least 30 minutes after working 8 hours. Nevertheless, violations still occur.

Every year, the U.S. Department of Transportation has State and Federal inspectors conduct inspections of truck drivers and their vehicles. In 2020 24,698 federal and 2,545,582 state safety inspections were conducted. These government inspections uncover various violations, some more serious than others.

The top five most frequent driver violations found by the inspections in 2020 included:

Top trucking violations

Causes of Truck Accidents

According to the NHTSA, approximately 94 percent of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States are the result of driver error. The American Truck Association puts the estimate lower, at around 80 percent. Therefore, it is safe to assume that at least 85 percent of all truck accidents are caused by motorist or truck driver error. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:

Truck Accident Injuries

Because trucks are much bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles, injuries resulting from collisions with them are often catastrophic. Truck accidents can cause severe and often permanent injuries, including death. The most common injuries from truck crashes include, but are not limited to:

Truck Accident Injuries and Top Causes of Truck Accidents in the US
Causes of Truck Accidents in the US
South Carolina
South Carolina Truck Accident Trends

South Carolina also shows many of the same trends that have been happening at the national level.

According to data from the NHTSA, the state of South Carolina had a total of 962 fatal crashes in 2020. Fatal crashes between 2016 and 2020 maintained an upward trend.

Fatal Accident Trends 2016-2020 in South Carolina

Fatal truck accidents in South Carolina


According to the South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book 2020, prepared by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs Statistical Analysis and Research Section, every 4.3 minutes a traffic accident occurs, and every 9.1 hours one fatal collision happens in the state. One person is killed every 8.2 hours, and one person is injured every 11 minutes on South Carolina roads and highways.

Examining the statistics from the South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book 2020, a disturbing trend emerges. In 2020, commercial vehicle collisions accounted for 2.1 percent of total crashes in South Carolina but were 9.4 percent of total fatal traffic collisions.

This data shows that an accident involving a large, commercial vehicle is more likely to be fatal.

Crash frequency in South Carolina

In about 4.7 percent of crashes involving large trucks, a vehicle-related factor was to blame. In other words, something was wrong with the truck that caused a fatal crash. Most commonly, tire failure, brake failure, and failure of the trailer safety chain systems were to blame for the accidents.

Statistics indicate that fatalities from collisions involving trucks have been steadily increasing. While total motor vehicle collisions decreased by 14 percent in 2020 due to the dramatic decrease in overall traffic, the number of fatal accidents increased by four percent over 2019.

People Killed in Crashes Involving Large Trucks 2016-2020

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that between 2016 and 2020, 584 people died in crashes involving large trucks in South Carolina.

South Carolina truck fatalities
Where Do Accidents Occur in South Carolina?

According to the Institute for Highway Safety (IHS), statistics for large truck crashes for 2019 show that 54 percent of large truck collisions happen in urban areas and 45 percent in rural areas, while the remaining approximately one percent occur in areas of unknown land use.

Most crash deaths, 68 percent, happened on roads in rural areas and 32 percent in urban locations. Sixteen percent of the deaths occurred at intersections in rural areas, while 33 percent happened at intersections in urban locations.

In 2020, a total of 1,432 vehicles were involved in fatal crashes in South Carolina. According to data from NHTSA, 566 light trucks and 199 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes that year.

Urban and Rural crash fatalities in South Carolina
When Do South Carolina Accidents Happen?

Data collected by the NHTSA illustrates that fatal crashes in South Carolina are most frequent on the weekends, specifically from Fridays through Sundays. Out of 962 fatal crashes, 475 crashes occurred on those days. Moreover, data shows that most fatal crashes take place between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

South Carolina Crashes by Time of Day


The South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book shows similar data as to when truck accidents occur in the state. Most collisions involving truck tractors happen between 6:01 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. The majority, or 82.5 percent, of crashes involving trucks happen between those hours.

Interestingly, according to data provided by the South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book 2020, the majority of wrecks involving truck tractors occurred on weekdays. In fact, 89.6 percent of accidents involving trucks happen Monday through Friday.

The South Carolina data is slightly different from the data provided by the NHTSA. This is because the number supplied by the NHTSA includes data for all crashes, passenger vehicles included. That is why NHTSA data shows that most accidents happen during the weekends. Private citizens will use their cars on weekends more for leisure activities. While truck accidents are more likely to occur during the week during standard work hours for truckers.

Liability in Truck Accidents
Liability in South Carolina truck accidents
Truck Accident Liability

When someone has been involved in a truck accident, the first concern is the seriousness of the injuries and what property damage was done. To obtain compensation, the at-fault party needs to be identified.

To make things more complicated, truck accidents often involve many individuals, insurance companies, and trucking companies.

Liable parties in a truck accident may include:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • Manufacturers
  • Maintenance and repair shops
  • Government entities
  • Shippers, in the case of hazardous goods

In the event of a fatal truck accident, trucking companies act to protect their reputation and avoid any penalties. For an injured plaintiff or in the case of a fatal accident, the family of the deceased needs to provide evidence and a legal reason, such as negligence, to hold the trucking company, the trucker, or the insurance company liable for the crash.

Truck companies and their insurance companies can hire teams of attorneys and adjusters. The insurance company's first action in the aftermath of a truck accident is to diminish liability. If they succeed, any settlement could result in a reduced payout. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a truck accident, it is a good idea to hire a South Carolina truck accident attorney to help you obtain fair and equitable compensation.

Truck Accident Compensation

Compensation and settlements in truck accident cases are variable because the circumstances of each case and the injuries involved are different. Compensation is based on the specific details of each accident.

The loss of a normal way of life may also be factored into a settlement or jury award for damages. Pain and suffering may be awarded for the physical pain a victim endured. Awards for pain and suffering vary depending on the facts of the case.

Injured plaintiffs and family members of a deceased truck accident victim can seek compensation for medical bills, property damage, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages.

Wrongful Death in Truck Accident Cases

Wrongful death can occur in different types of fatal accidents, including fatal truck accidents. Losing a loved one is painful, and while no amount of compensation can replace a deceased family member, it can alleviate the financial burden and allow the family to move forward in their grieving process.

Under South Carolina law, the spouse or child of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim (or a claim may be made on their behalf.) In the event that there is not a spouse or children, the parents of the deceased may file a claim. When the deceased person does not have a spouse nor any children, a claim may be filed on behalf of their heirs.

A wrongful death action in South Carolina must be brought by or on behalf of the executor or the administrator of the fatal truck accident victim. If the deceased individual does not have a will, the estate will distribute the property according to state probate laws.

After a successful wrongful death action, any damages awarded will be distributed among the spouse, children, parents, or heirs of the deceased; each party will receive a percentage based on what they would be entitled to if the deceased person did not have a valid will.

Your South Carolina Truck Accident Law Firm

If you or someone you love has been recently involved in a truck accident, or someone you loved has died in a fatal truck accident, the experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate South Carolina truck accident attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm can help. We advocate for your rights and hold all responsible parties liable. Our team of attorneys conducts a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident and work to protect your interests.

The Steinberg Law Firm has been helping South Carolina injury victims recover from their injuries since 1927. We represent clients, not cases, and our interest is in assisting clients to recover compensation for the injuries that have impacted their life, financially and holistically. Our attorneys have over 200 years of collective experience handling a diverse range of personal injury matters.

Call us today and schedule a free, confidential case evaluation and find out if you may be entitled to compensation for the death of a loved one in a trucking accident.