Trucking Accident in Atlanta, Georgia
If someone has been involved in a trucking accident in Atlanta, Georgia, they may need an attorney to help with their case. Commercial trucks such as tractor trailers, tankers, 18 wheelers, and big rigs are all heavy vehicles that can cause lethal accidents. When a truck accident occurs, both the driver and the trucking company may be held liable for property damage and injuries.
Truck Accidents May Be Different from Car Accidents
Investigating and proving the cause of a truck-related accident is different, and requires a different process, compared to cases that involve a typical car accident. While there are numerous laws that govern all cars and drivers on our roads, commercial truckers and their companies are subject to complicated professional regulations. It is essential to enlist the help of a dedicated truck accident attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, to investigate such accidents and determine if there have been any violations of laws or rules, and if so, to collect the necessary evidence with which to build a case.
For instance, there are regulations in place that state how long truck drivers may operate a vehicle, how often they should rest, and how often they must be tested for narcotics. The drivers could violate the regulations by driving for longer than they should or falsifying their log books to meet their demanding delivery deadlines.
Other driver errors and violations could result in accidents, too, arising from the driver’s unfamiliarity with a road or road conditions, substance abuse, distraction, or even fatigue.
There are also rules that govern how much a large rig can carry, how the loads should be secured, and how often large trucks and their systems should be serviced and inspected. Improver loading, overweight rigs, and poor maintenance are common causes of accidents on our roads.
Determining Fault in a Truck Wreckage
The government has implemented strict guidelines for commercial trucking companies to follow so as to protect drivers from such life-threatening crashes. If the regulations are not followed and result in trucking wreck, the truck driver or the company to which the truck belongs will likely be at fault and could be held liable for any damages or injuries the trucking accident caused. Three of the most commonly violated rules are:
- Tired drivers
- The violation of highway safety and traffic laws
- Improperly maintained trucks
In Georgia, driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents on our roads. It is not uncommon for tractor-trailer drivers to drive for longer than their amount of designated hours permitted in a day to meet unrealistic deadlines, and this, in turn, leads to fatigue. Unfortunately, this is an extremely common issue in this industry, and when an accident does happen, a thorough examination of records is necessary.
Typically, driving logs can demonstrate the overall disregard for safety regulations or may even prove to be fraudulent. Furthermore, drivers and the trucking companies are only obligated to keep their records for a period of six months. That is why it is essential to obtain the implicating logs within the initial six-month period, or they could be destroyed by the responsible company. If a driver injured in the trucking accident in Atlanta, Georgia, does not have solid proof or any incriminating evidence to demonstrate that regulations were ignored, they are bound to have a challenging time winning tractor trailer injury case.
A skilled Atlanta truck accident lawyer, such as Terrence R. Bethune, can analyze the case to prove that the driver of the truck or the trucking company acted negligently and is at fault for the accident by:
- Checking the vehicle maintenance
- Analyzing the driving logs
- Authenticating the driver’s credentials
- Identifying any relevant manufacturer recalls and defects
- Gathering police reports
- Investigating the scene of the incident
- Scrutinizing photographs
- Gathering witness statements
In Georgia, the trucking accident fault laws require that the person who is liable for causing the vehicle crash to compensate the crash victim or his or her loved ones for both current and future costs and other damages resulting from the incident. The state law uses a proportional comparative fault law when it comes to determining how much financial compensation the parties ought to be awarded for injuries that result from a truck accident. Under this proportional comparative fault rule, victims of trucking accidents may only recover financial damages for injuries if the injured party was less than fifty percent responsible for the wreckage that caused the injuries.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will carefully evaluate the facts of the case to determine the percentage of fault. In doing so, an experienced truck accident lawyer may examine:
- If one of the parties involved was more at fault than another
- If the truck driver or the vehicle operator broke the law, such as not stopping at a red light or driving over the speed limit
- Whether a third party, such as the rig owner, could be at fault
Victims of truck crashes should seek the advice of a truck accident lawyer before agreeing to a settlement with an insurance provider. An attorney will be able to provide a full evaluation of the case data and facts, including a thorough assessment of how our state’s courts would rule on the issue of fault, as well as provide an outline of potential compensation should negligence be successfully proven in court.
Often, trucking accident victims set out to pursue claims against the negligent drivers so as to recover damages for lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. However, there may be other liable parties to go after, who may even have deeper pockets than the rig driver. Liable parties may include:
- The driver – drivers responsible for such accidents are often speeding, distracted, or they drive too close to other vehicles on the road.
- Mechanics – a mechanic who has not bled the brakes could be held liable if the crash was the result of the operator’s inability to properly stop.
- Owners of trucking companies – the owners of the trucking companies may be held responsible for operating poorly maintained and unsafe vehicles.
- Loading companies – such companies may be found to have overloaded the truck beyond its weight capacity.
- Truck manufacturers – manufacturers could be liable for installing faulty breaks and other equipment.
Trucks are certainly complex constructions that require certain skills to successfully operate, and it takes just a small degree of irresponsibility to cause a serious accident. Other causes of crashes tend to include:
- Poor supervision – it is up to the trucking companies to hire qualified and experienced drivers, and screen them for health conditions, and make sure that their drivers follow the necessary safety rules. When a company fails to hire, supervise, and train their drivers properly, an accident is more likely to occur.
- Driver error – it is up to the vehicle operator to operate the truck safely, and when the driver is distracted, drowsy, makes a mistake, or drivers under the influence of alcohol, catastrophic injuries can result.
- Treacherous road conditions – missing guardrails, poor signage, inadequate signals, and broken pavement all increase the likelihood of a crash.
- Mechanical failure – it is not uncommon for large vehicles to endure mechanical failure in a system, such as the steering and breaks. Such failures can result in an accident on our roads. A common cause of mechanical failure is a hidden defect within a part of the truck.
- Third-party intervention – trucks are certainly not the only vehicles on our Atlanta roads. The negligent behavior of other drivers on the road can result in a chain of events that end with catastrophic injuries.
Licensing and Insurance Regulations in Georgia
Truck drivers on our roads are under the oversight of both federal regulations and Georgia state laws. Agencies such as the United States Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may come into play after a truck accident in Atlanta, Georgia. The outcome can vary depending on whether or not the large vehicle was carrying goods across state lines or operating just within the state.
State laws requires that truckers carry specific licenses and also charges truck drivers special taxes on truck fuel. Furthermore, truckers have to be insured. Under federal government, these drivers must carry at least $750,000 in insurance if they cross state lines and so as to cover injury and property damage up to an amount of $5,000,000 is hazardous materials are being transported by the truck.
Types of Truck Collisions on Georgia Roads
While there can be an array of different truck accidents on our roads, there are some specific types of accidents that occur more often than others. For instance, in many incidences, side impact collisions tend to be the most common, but there are also a range of other collisions that can lead to serious property damage and personal injury for all the parties involved, particularly for drivers of smaller cars or those that are riding motorcycles. Common types of collisions involving trucks include:
- Underride crashes
- Rear-end collisions
- Frontal accidents
- Dangerous material spills
Sadly, when a commercial vehicle is traveling at great speed, the energy that is exerted at the point of impact can have severe and life-changing effects on everyone involved in the crash. Those involved in a truck collision should contact a truck accident lawyer to explore their legal options and seek fair compensation for their injuries and damages that result from the crash.
Common Injuries from Truck Crashes
Even when drivers of smaller vehicles obey our traffic laws, they are still vulnerable to serious physical harm should they be involved in a crash with a large truck or tractor-trailer. Such devastating and severe collisions can lead to serious physical injuries. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Brain injury
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in Atlanta, Georgia
Most truck operators are professional and excellent drivers, and many of them choose to participate in continuing driver education throughout the course of their careers, since they have a good understanding of the obligation to safety when operating a large vehicle along highways and busy roads. But, for a variety of reasons, such trucking accidents still occur throughout our country. Some of the most common causes of these trucking accidents are:
- Excessive speeding
- Defective or dangerous roads
- Poor maintenance of trucks
- Insufficient driver training
- Unsecured loads
- Mechanical failure
- Defective vehicle parts
- Distracted driving
- Overloaded cargo
- Driver fatigue
- Unrealistic deadlines and schedules
- Driving under the influence of narcotics or alcohol
While some trucking accidents may be the result of inclement weather conditions, it is often the case that carelessness is the root cause of an accident. It is important to have the backing of an experienced truck accident lawyer who has the resources, knowledge, and ability to trace the source of the truck accident to is an actual cause and hold liable the responsible party.
What About Fatal Trucking Collisions?
With the severity of trucking accident injuries, many collisions tend to result in death. While no amount of financial compensation can make up for the devastation caused by a fatal crash, damages from a wrongful death claim may provide those left behind with the resources needed to rebuild their lives. Damages may include:
- Loss of companionship
- Burial and funeral costs
- Lost prospect of inheritance
- Medical bills prior to the death
- Loss of future benefits and wages
Under Georgia law, certain members of a deceased person’s family are allowed to seek financial compensation for the “full value of life” of the person they have lost in a crash. Further, they may be permitted to file a claim with the deceased person’s estate to provide for pain and suffering as well as end-of-life costs.
According to our state’s law, the following people could qualify for such compensation:
- The deceased person’s spouse
- The deceased person’s children
- The parents of the deceased person
- The executor of the deceased’s estate
Filing a claim can be emotionally difficult for those left behind, and a truck accident lawyer can help family members navigate the law with dignity and compassion.
Compensation for a Trucking Accident in Atlanta, Georgia
It is understandable for a trucking accident victim to be left feeling overwhelmed and scared after suffering serious injuries or losing a loved one in a trucking accident. It only takes a mere second for a life to be permanently changed. If a person or a loved one is hurt in a trucking accident, they do not have to face the law and settlements alone. The experienced truck accident lawyer at Bethune Law Firm understands how overwhelming the ordeal of being in a trucking accident, but our experienced trucking accident lawyer are committed to working tirelessly to ensure that victims and families receive fair compensation for damages and losses.
However, when one person or company is responsible for an accident, the injured victims are entitled to seek financial compensation for a range of both economic and non-economic damages, including the following:
- Cover for lost wages and the lost value of the victim’s ability to handle his or her household maintenance, childcare, or repairs
- Medical bills, including bills for mobility aids, prescription medicine, surgery, medical equipment
- Burial and funeral expenses if the crash killed another person
- Compensation for loss of consortium, pain and suffering, support, guidance, and loss of comfort
- Rehabilitation and therapy expenses, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other kinds of therapeutic treatments
Theories of Recovery
A truck accident lawyer can help victims or surviving family seek compensation based on several legal arguments. For instance, it could be possible to hold the trucking company liable on the basis of:
- Lease liability
- Employer liability
- Negligent hiring or keeping drivers that have faulty driving records
Victims may also be able to seek to hold trucking companies’ insurance companies liable under theories such as:
- Insurance broker liability
- Negligent hiring by the truck company
- Negligent inspection, repairs or maintenance of vehicles
Furthermore, a truck accident lawyer might suggest the victim should seek financial damages against a shipper or to hold other persons responsible who may be found to have dishonored Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. For example, if an experienced truck accident lawyer or a trucking accident victim suspected that a potential defendant has interfered with evidence or even destroyed the necessary crash evidence, such as a driver log, they may be held responsible for spoliation of evidence.
Going to Court for a Trucking Accident
Victims that are involved in a trucking accident in Georgia need to be aware that the state statute of limitations begins as the accident occurs and personal injury claims have to be filed within two years, while property damage claims must be filed within four years of the incident. It is wise to hire the assistance of a dedicated truck accident lawyer who can walk the victim through the lengthy and daunting litigation process.
The Bethune Law Firm in Atlanta, Georgia, can help victims or surviving family members recover damages from a truck accident. The firm has the experience needed to assist with gathering the necessary evidence and determining whether the company, the driver or another third party should be held liable for causing serious injuries, pursuing maximum and fair compensation. Contact Bethune Law Firm for a consultation on your Atlanta trucking accident today.