Commercial trucks are often involved in some of the most serious accidents that occur in Georgia highways. The size difference between passenger cars and tractor-trailers is a major factor that contributes to increased rates of injuries and fatalities. In case you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it’s important to consult with an Albany truck accident lawyer.
Truck accidents often involve multiple cars, and typically bring several insurance companies into the claim, which makes these cases more difficult to navigate. Calvin Smith Law has a team of personal injury attorneys with decades of combined experience in helping victims to recover compensation for the injuries and damages caused by other people’s negligence. Get in touch with us today at (404) 383-7552 to learn how we can help and schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers.
Are Truck Accidents Common in Albany, Georgia?
According to a report published by the Federal Carrier Safety Administration, there were 4,311 fatal accidents reported in the U.S. in 2014, which represents an 8% increase compared to the previous year.
In Georgia, there were 1,554 reported traffic fatalities in 2016. Between 2011 and 2015, the total number of fatalities in a collision involving large trucks and light trucks increased considerably. Georgia’s interstates have become synonymous with truck accidents, some of which being interstate 16, 20, 75, and 85.
The state has enacted some laws to try to avert these fatal crashes and accidents, which include some that govern the driving practices. An example of such laws is one stipulating that trucks can only operate on the two right-hand lanes, unless while they are making a left turn. Trucks are also not allowed to drive on the highways, though there are some special exceptions, such as while picking up a shipment in a location that isn’t accessible using other routes. There’s also a truck belt law implemented by the state that requires truck drivers to always have their seat belts on.
Still, truck accidents are pretty common despite these measures. If you or a loved one has become a victim of a truck collision and lost their lives in the process, you have the right to seek justice, ideally through an Albany wrongful death attorney.
You deserve getting compensation not only for your physical injuries but also for the pain and suffering and the emotional anguish you went through because of the accident. Calvin Smith Law is made up of a team of car accident lawyers that are always ready to help you with the process, from collecting and gathering evidence to representing you in the courtroom.
What are the Most Common Albany Truck Accident Injuries?
Common injuries caused by trucking accidents include the following:
- Broken limbs
- Soft tissue injuries
- Bone fractures
- Brain and head injuries
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Bone fractures
- Back and neck injuries
- Organ damage
Whether the kind of injuries you sustained from the accidents were minor, moderate, or severe enough to leave a permanent disability or death of a loved one, you can get the help you need from an attorney. At Calvin Smith Law, we have a solid understanding of both the psychological and physical repercussions of being involved in truck accidents and how severe they can be. You might have to stop going to work for some time, lose the ability to work entirely, or need new vocational training. There are a few other problems that you might have to deal with, including anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, personality changes, and a lot more. We’ll be by your side to document these injuries and help you pursue the maximum compensation.
Types of Truck Accidents
Over the years, we have been helping individuals and families in Albany, GA, to deal with devastating truck accidents, and there are some patterns that we’ve observed. Here are some of the common types of truck accidents in Georgia:
These are some of the most common, especially in expressways that typically have heavy traffic. Rear-end collisions that involve trucks usually multiply that damage potential. While these types of accidents can be devastating, it all depends on the carry load. We have handled many rear-end collision cases in the past, from aa truck crunching the rear of a car resulting to back injuries to the occupants to cases where the entire vehicle is crushed under the truck where all the occupants lose their lives. When the traffic on the expressway slows down dramatically, it’s wise to use the hazard flasher to alert the driver behind to pay attention.
These are among the most dangerous kinds of truck accidents. Keep in mind that as the two vehicles collide, the speeds of the two are combined, along with the mass and momentum of the truck and the small car. The laws of physics will tell you the small car won’t win such a contest. Plus, considering that many truckers on the roads have a tight schedule to follow and are always under pressure to beat deadlines. When such a driver is rushed, fatigued, distracted, or under a lot of pressure, they may tend to become reckless on the road.
When the truck’s trailer folds and forms an acute angle, it looks like a jackknife, where the trailer swings outwards during the accident. This typically results in the cab of the truck turning to the trailer and usually happens when the driver applies brakes quickly.
It’s quite difficult to control a vehicle when it has a tire blowout, especially with large commercial trucks. The effect is actually worsened compared to its effect on a small car. That’s why such accidents involving trucks can be devastating. In one of the cases we’ve handles, the front steering wheel of a truck blew while the truck was in a highway, which veered it to the other side and crashed with oncoming traffic.
These happen when the truck loses grip on the ground, making it lose control and slide sideways, which often results in a rollover. The center of gravity of the truck, the loading, characteristics, and the handling can make the truck rollover, even while it’s traveling at a low speed, say 5mph. This is especially true when the load being transported shifts while the truck tries to make a turn. On one of the cases we’ve handled, the truck had a heavy tile that wasn’t braced properly, which caused the trailer to roll over.
Trucking safety rule emphasizes on the need for inspecting the brakes before the trip and having a regular inspection schedule. When a truck has bad air brakes, it can cause it to crash while going downhill as it makes it impossible to stop it. That’s because a lot of pressure is being put on the air brakes, especially for heavy vehicles, which makes it vital for the driver to monitor and service the truck brakes regularly.
This occurs when small cars crash under a truck or trailer from the side or rear, usually when the truck stops unexpectedly without warning, is wrongfully parked on the side of the road without giving any warning, or pills out across the road when it’s dark. Most trailers in the U.S. have underride guards to help with this, though they are usually not as effective because they’re weak. Trailers in Europe also have these underride guards to prevent small cars from crashing underneath when the truck pulls across the road or stops especially when it’s dark.
This is a side-impact crash that occurs when the tractor-trailer hits a smaller car on the side, often on the side of the driver. This could end up causing a fatal crash especially on the car’s occupants.
A key responsibility of the truck driver is making sure the load is secure while on the road. The driver should always be checking this throughout their trip. When the load falls off the truck, it could cause a serious accident.
These are common and quite significant with large trucks, making it a bit more complicated for the driver to change lanes. All truck drivers are required to check their mirrors regularly to see whether there are any motorists approaching the blind spots of the truck. Fortunately, there are newer technologies being installed in trucks that warn the driver when there are vehicles in the blind spot. It’s also wise for motorists to avoid entering in trucks blind spots of the truck to avoid getting in an accident.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Whenever we take up a case, we try to do our best to find out whether there was any form of negligence and preserve the available evidence for the case. There are a few common causes of truck accidents that we have identified over the decades we have been handling such cases. Some of them include:
Violations of Commercial Rules
The FMSCA put regulations in place with regards to logged hours and truck maintenance to protect the public. If these regulations are violated by the trucking companies or employees, it could lead to fatal accidents.
Inadequate Truck Maintenance
When it comes to inspecting and maintaining vehicles, there are very strict regulations that both the employees and the drivers need to abide by. If they fail to adhere to them, they will be considered negligent.
People who employ truck drivers are required to perform thorough vetting for prospective employees to check their driving history and whether they have any history of drug abuse. In case they fail to conduct proper background checks and investigations, they can be considered liable when the negligent actions of their employees lead to injury.
Lack of Training
It’s the responsibility of the truck driver to train their driver and monitor their behavior while behind the wheel. The driver and other employees should know about the regulations and get adequate training, and it’s the responsibility of the driver to do that.
Distracted, Tired, and Impaired Drivers:
Accidents can also be caused by truck drivers who’ve been on the road for many hours, especially those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or those who get distracted while driving.
The attorneys at Calvin Smith Law understand that different laws will be applied when dealing with commercial truckers. They do understand the different approaches that might be used while approaching cases that result in injuries. There are a few instances where several factors lead to the accident, and the lawyer working your case will have this in mind and investigate your case aggressively.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
Following a truck accident, there are a few steps you should take. Some of them include:
- Offering assistance to anyone who needs help
- Calling 911 to request for emergency and police services
- Obtaining information of other drivers involved in the accident
- Getting insurance information from the other driver
- Taking the names and details of any witnesses
- Documenting the scene of the accident through photos and videos using your phone
People often have a hard time being polite or responsive after experiencing a traumatic event. However, if you manage to keep a cool head and collect as much information as possible following the accident, it will help you significantly when pursuing compensation.
Our truck accident lawyers understand how hard it can be for you to follow the above steps after being involved in an accident. In case you were injured, your main priority should be getting to a hospital. If this was your situation, ensure that you call your lawyer as soon as you can. We’ll be there to start investigating the accident and collecting any available evidence that might be relevant for your case, as you focus on recovering.
How can I Avoid Truck Accidents?
While sharing the road with trucks, make sure that:
There’s enough room between your car and the truck. In case you find yourself driving too close to the truck, know that you’re increasing your risk of hitting the truck from the back or even get under it. There are people who believe that they can save on gas consumption by driving close to the truck. However, this can be very dangerous, despite not being true at all.
Just as you can see the side mirror of the driver, when you see the side mirror of the truck, then you can tell that the truck driver can see you too. Generally, trucks have much bigger side mirrors compared to normal cars, though truck drivers can’t see motorists close to them unless they are visible on the side mirror.
Of course, trucks need ample stopping room. If you’re in front of an 18-wheeler and you stop suddenly, the truck’s slower stopping could lead to an accident. That’s why they generally need more room to stop. Braking suddenly can easily cause a jackknife.
Don’t forget that right turns are generally extra wide. When a truck is making a right turn, avoid making the right turn at the same time. Just let is complete making the right turn to prevent getting hit by the truck as it turns wide.
What is the Different Between Truck Accidents and Other Auto Accidents?
There are a number of differences. Here are the five biggest:
Severity of Injuries
Truck accidents often lead to more serious injuries and fatalities compared to other vehicle accidents. In accidents that involve commercial vehicles, even at low speeds, it could mean treatments involving long term care, and there’s no guarantee the victim is going to get back to their full health. Truck accident victims usually have to deal with the emotional, physical, and financial consequences of the injuries for many years, sometimes even a lifetime.
The Accident’s Complexity
Whenever commercial vehicles get involved in accidents, the cases tend to become more complex. The laws and regulations governing commercial trucks are a bit more specific, and it’s essential to have someone with a good understanding of these laws by your side, as it will be invaluable when arguing your case. This is especially true when it comes to placing liability on anyone, whether it’s the trucking company, the driver, vehicle or parts manufacturer, or another entity.
Difficulty in Getting Compensation
Many trucking and insurance companies usually have a team of attorneys in place ready to tackle and minimize any liability charges. So, if you’re inadequately prepared for it, you could end up with less than you deserve in compensation.
How Many Parties are Involved
If the accident involved a semi-truck and a small car, there might be more than two entities involved. Although there are instances where it might seem that the driver is to blame for everything, the liability might not exactly land on them. Factors like following unreasonable schedules, loads that are not poorly secured, or failure of safety equipment could be the case for the accident, and the liable parties might be miles away.
The Underlying Cause of the Accident
Many things can potentially go wrong when driving a truck. Some of these things such as the speed, following distance, resting, staying sober, regular sleep, etc. are the sole responsibility of the driver. Others like weight and size of the load, safety equipment, transport schedules, etc. are not the responsibility of the driver, and mostly lie on the employer. It’s therefore important to find the actual factor that caused the accident to determine liability and pursue compensation.
Trucking Laws and Regulations
The main reason why claims for trucking accidents are different from those of normal vehicles is that there are state and federal laws that the trucking companies have to abide by. The laws are generally strict and complex. In case one or more of the regulations in place were violated at the time of the accident, it could be used as evidence to prove that the driver was negligent.
Regulations usually encompass hours of licensing, service, maintenance, inspections, repairs, etc. The drivers will need a commercial driver’s license and often need more endorsement, though this will depend on the kind of truck they were driving and whatever they were carrying. One of the most violated rules is the many hours of service rules, and the truckers usually know how to get around these rules. This might be because they want to raise their income or exert pressure on the employer. It’s quite common for the drivers to fudge the numbers and even drive more in a day than they should. There are strict rules outlining how the cargo should be loaded, the kind of repairs and inspections to be done, and the amount of cargo to be carried.
There are also rules regarding impaired driving. When a truck driver is caught with an alcohol concentration of more than .04, they can be charged with DWI/DUI. Keep in mind that this is less than the standard, which is .08.
You should consult with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to know whether there were any federal or state regulations that the driver violated during the accident, at Calvin Smith Law, our team of attorneys will start the investigation, evaluate the evidence, and determine if there was an actual violation.
The Truck Accident Lawsuit Process
When working on your truck accident claim near Albany our attorneys take the following steps:
The insurer (or the truck driver, owner, maintenance company, etc.) will send someone immediately after the accident to collect as much information as possible, which they can potentially use to limit their liability. That’s why you should consult with a lawyer too to ensure you have someone do an investigation on your behalf.
Creating a Claim
The evidence collected during the investigation process will be used to create your claim. The claim will highlight the state of your injuries, demonstrate how the other party was negligent in their actions, and request for compensation. The claim will be the basis of your suit, which can effectively be solved through arbitration, settlement, or litigation.
Before your suit is filed, your attorney and the insurance company will try to negotiate a financial settlement without the need to go to court. When the suit is filed, there might be other chances of negotiating the settlement amount. However, if this fails, the only option is to take the case to trial.
Your lawyer and the other party will also have the opportunity to present the case to court. When both sides present their case and evidence, the jury or judge will deliberate and make a verdict. This will determine who was at fault, and the total amount of compensation that you’re going to get.
Proving Negligence by the Truck Driver
- To investigate negligent behavior, your attorney is going to:
- Evaluate whether the vehicle was properly maintained
- Review the company’s logbooks and check whether they followed the federal and state regulations
- Review the driver’s credentials
- Assess whether there were any manufacturer defects in either the truck or your vehicle
- Analyze the entire accident scene through photos and police reports, witness accounts, and even work with professionals to reconstruct the accident.
What Compensation Can I Recover for a Truck Accident?
If you were injured in a truck accident, you have the right to compensation for your injuries and damages. These are some expenses or losses that you could recover, though it will largely depend on the nature of the case, some of these include:
These are losses or expenses that have a calculatable monetary value. They include:
Hospital and Medical Bills
Expensive medications will be needed to treat severe injuries. Treatment may also involve extensive hospital stays, and sometimes post-injury rehabilitation will be needed. Your attorney will investigate diligently to calculate the total medical compensation you might need as a result of the accident.
In case you can’t resume work because of the injuries you sustained, this can be factored in your compensation as lost current and future wages.
Your lawyer can also pursue compensation for property damage on your behalf. E.g. damage to your car.
These are the kind of damages that don’t have a set value and are generally harder to quantify. They include:
This can be due to depression, loss of a loved one, or severe injuries. Your attorney can compel the negligent party to pay compensation by calculating an appropriate estimate.
Loss of Consortium
In case you’re now finding it harder to take pleasure in life because of things like amputation, paralysis, brain injury, or you’re no longer able to enjoy the physical company of your spouse like you were used to, you can seek for compensation from this in your claim.
Your lawyer can also bring your case to trial and pursue punitive damages on top of both the economic and non-economic losses described above. Punitive damages are usually meant to serve as an extra punishment and deterrent in cases where there was malicious action on the part of the negligent party who caused the accident, which inevitably resulted in severe injuries or complications that will never go away, or even loss of life.
When you consult with one of our expert lawyers at Calvin Smith Law in Albany, GA, they will help you determine whether punitive damages can be pursued in your case. This will go a long way in helping you get awarded the maximum compensation possible for your case.