Commercial trucks cause some of the most serious accidents seen on Georgia highways. The size difference between tractor-trailers and passenger cars leads to increased injury rates and fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck it is important to contact an Atlanta truck accident lawyer. Truck accidents often involve multiple cars bringing several insurance companies into the claim, making these cases more difficult to navigate. At Calvin Smith Law our personal injury attorneys have decades of combined experience helping injured victims recover compensation for damages caused by other’s negligence. Contact us today at (404) 383-7552 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help.
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Are Truck Accidents Common in Atlanta, Georgia?
The Federal Carrier Safety Administration had a report showing that in 2014, there were 4,311 fatal crashes reported in the US, which was an eight percent increase compared to the previous year.
The state of Georgia had 1,554 reported traffic fatalities in 2016. There was an increase in the number of fatalities in collisions that involved large and trucks and light trucks between 2011 and 2015. The interstates in Georgia have become synonymous with truck accidents, with some of them being interstate 75, 85, 16, and 20.
Some laws have been enacted by the state to try and prevent these accidents and fatal crashes, and these laws include the ones governing the driving practices. One example of the law is the one stating trucks can only operate on the two right-hand lanes, unless when they make a left turn. Trucks aren’t allowed to drive on the highway, but there are some special cases such as picking up a shipment in a location that cannot be accessed using any other route. There is also a truck belt law that has been enacted by the state, where truck drivers are required to always have their seat belts.
Truck accidents are still common despite these laws being enacted. If there is a family member who has been a victim of a truck collision and died in the process, you can seek justice through an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer.
You deserve to get compensation not only for the physical injuries but also for the emotional loss you had to deal with because of the accident. We have a team of committed accident lawyers ready to help you with the process, from gathering and compiling the evidence, to representing you in the courtroom.
What are the Most Common Atlanta Truck Accident Injuries?
- Soft tissue injuries
- Crushed limbs
- Bone fractures
- Head and brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Nerve damage
- Organ damage
Whether the injuries you sustained from the accident are moderate or those leaving permanent disability or the loss of a loved one, then you can get help from an accident attorney. We have a good understanding of both the physical and psychological repercussions after a truck accident and how severe they can be. You might be forced to stop going to work for some time, need new vocational training, or lose the ability to work permanently. There are other problems you might have to deal with after the accident, some include depression, anxiety, personality changes, sleep disturbances, and many more. We will be there to document these injuries and seek the maximum compensation for you.
Ten Common Types of Truck Accidents
We have been representing families and individuals dealing with catastrophic trucking accidents near Atlanta over the years, and some patterns keep recurring that we have observed. Below are the most common types;
- Rear-End: This is one of the most common, especially in expressways that experience heavy traffic. When the rear-ends involves trucks, the damage potential is multiplied. These types of accident can be catastrophic, but it will depend on the carry load. Our firm has handled many rear-end cases, from crunching the rear of the led vehicle that resulted in back injury to the ones that the entire car is crushed under the road tractor where all the occupants in the car lost their lives. When there is a slowdown of the traffic on the expressway dramatically, I usually use the hazard flasher button to let the driver behind know and pay attention.
- Head-On: This is the most dangerous type of truck accident because the two vehicles are in a head-on collision, where the speeds of the two are combined, the momentum and mass of the small car and the 80,000-pound truck. Physics will tell you that the small is never going to win such a contest. Many truck drivers on the road are following a tight schedule and always under pressure to work within a given time frame. When they are fatigued, rushed, distracted, or feeling a lot of pressure, they tend to become a little reckless trying to meet their deadlines. This is one of the most dangerous accidents involving trucks.
- Jackknife: When the trailer folds and forms an acute angle (this looks like a jackknife), where the trailer is swinging outwards during the accident, and this results in the cab of the truck turning to the trailer. This usually happens when quick braking is applied.
- Tire blowout: It is very hard to control a vehicle that has had a tire blowout, especially if it is a commercial truck. This is even worse when compared to the effect it has on a smaller car. This is why such accidents involving trucks are potentially catastrophic. There was a case we were handling where the front steering wheel of a truck had a tire blowout, and the truck headed to the highway then it crashed to the oncoming traffic.
- Truck Rollovers: These are the most common. This is where the truck is not able to “grip” the road, losing control and sliding sideways, and then a rollover happens. The loading, handling characteristics, the center of gravity of the trucks can lead to rollover even if they are traveling at low speeds like 5 mph, especially when the load being carried shifts when the truck is trying to make a turn. There was a case we handled. And the truck was currying heavy tile that has not been properly braced, and this caused the trailer of the tractor to roll over.
- Air Brake: The trucking safety rules put a lot of emphasis on inspection of brakes before the trip and have a regular inspection schedule. If a truck has bad air brakes, it can lead to a crash when the truck is going downhill, and this makes it impossible to stop it. There is a lot of stress being put on the air brakes of the truck, especially when the vehicle is heavy, which is why a driver needs to make sure you monitor the brakes of the truck regularly.
- Under-Ride: When small cars go under a trailer or truck from the rear or side when it stops suddenly without any warning, pills out across the roadway when it is dark, or wrongly parking on the shoulder of the road and failing to give any warning. The trailers in the US have underride guards to help, but they are usually not that effective because they are weak. Europe too has underride guards preventing small cars when the truck stops or pulls across the road especially when it is dark.
- T-Bone (Side-Impact): This happens when a tractor-trailer hits a smaller car in the side, more common on the side of the driver. This can end up being fatal from the driver of the small car.
- Lost Load: One of the most important responsibilities of a truck driver when on the road is securing their load. They should be always checking their loads throughout their trip. When they fail to do this, they can cause serious truck accidents.
- Blind Spots: Blind spots are common and more significant when it is a large truck, which makes it a little more complicated for a drive to change lanes. Truck drivers are required to check the mirrors regularly so they can know whether any cars or motorcyclists are approaching the blind spots of the truck. Newer technologies are being used in trucks that provide a warning when there are vehicles in blind spots. It is a good idea for motorists to avoid getting to the blind spots of the truck because this can prevent a truck accident.
Causes of Truck Accidents
When we take your case, we are going to try our best to find where there was negligence and preserving evidence that might be needed for the case. There are some common causes of severe and fatal accidents we have been able to identify over the many years we have been dealing with such cases. Some of them include:
Violations of commercial rules. The FMSCA has protected the public by having regulations in place concerning maintenance and logged hours. When these standards are violated by the employees or trucking company, it can lead to a disaster.
Negligent hiring. Employers of truck drivers re obliged to do a thorough vetting of a prospective employee to see their driving history or any history of substance abuse. When they fail to do proper background and investigations, they can be liable when the negligent action of their employee causes an injury.
Inadequate truck maintenance. There are strict regulations when it comes to maintaining and inspecting vehicles, and both the drivers and employees need to follow them. If they don’t adhere to these regulations, they will be considered negligent.
Lack of training. The truck company has the responsibility of training their drivers and their behavior when behind the wheel. The employees need to know about regulations and get adequate training, and the employer is responsible for that.
Distracted, impaired, or tired drivers. Accidents can be caused by truck drivers who have been on the road for many hours, distracted when driving, or when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Calvin Smith Law attorneys know that different laws will be applied when dealing with commercial vehicles. They know the different approaches that can be used when approaching a case of an accident that resulted in injuries. There are some instances when several factors are causing an accident, and the attorney working on your case has to understand this and investigate the case aggressively.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
After a truck accident, there are some steps to take. Some of the steps are:
- Calling 911 and asking for the police or emergency services
- Assisting anyone that needs help
- Exchanging information with the other drivers involved in the accident
- Obtaining the insurance information of the other driver
- Taking the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Documenting the accident scene through videos and photos using your phone
People tend to have a hard time being responsive and polite after going through a traumatic experience. But if you manage to keep a cool head then gather as much information as you can after the accident is going to help you a lot when you start the process of getting your compensation.
Our trailer accident attorneys know that it can be hard for you to do the above after being in an accident. If you were injured, the main priority becomes taking you to a hospital. If this is your situation, make sure you call us as soon as possible. We will be there to start investigating the crash and gathering any evidence that might be used, while you get the chance of recovering.
When you share a road with a truck, ensure:
There is enough room between your car and the truck. If you are driving too close to the truck, then you increase the risk of hitting the truck from the back or even go under it. Some people believe that they will save on their gas consumption by driving close to the truck. This is very dangerous and not accurate at all.
That you can see the side mirror of the driver. If you see the side mirror of the truck, then know the truck driver can see you too. Trucks have a bigger width compared to normal cars, and the truck drivers can’t see those close to them, unless visible from the side mirror.
You keep in mind that there needs to be a stopping room for the truck. When you are in front of an 18-wheeler and you stop, the truck stopping too can lead to an accident. This is because they need enough room to stop. Sudden braking can cause a jackknife.
Remember that the right turns of trucks tend to be extra-wide. When the truck is making a right turn, do not try making a right turn at the same time. Let it turn first before you do it. this will prevent your car from getting hit when the truck swings wide.
What is the Different Between Truck Accidents and Other Auto Accidents?
There are many differences, and below are the five biggest:
The severity of the injury. Truck accidents tend to have a more serious and fatal injury compared to other auto accidents. When the accident involved a commercial vehicle, even if going at a low-speed, it can result in long term medical care, and there is no guarantee that the injured are going to get back to full health. Victims of truck accidents have to deal with the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of the injuries for many years or even a lifetime.
The complexity of the accident. When commercial vehicles are involved in an accident, the become more complex. The laws on commercial trucks are specific, and it is important to have someone who has a good understanding of these laws because they are going to be needed during the case, especially when it comes to placing liability on the driver, the company, or another party.
The underlying cause. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when driving a semi-truck. Some of the things like following distance, speed, staying sober, sleeping regularly, etc. are the responsibility of the driver. There are others like the size and weight of the load, schedule, and safety equipment are some of the things that are not the responsibility of the driver. It is important to find the actual cause of the accident to get compensation.
The number of people involved. When the accident involved a sing semi-truck and one car, there might be more than two parties involved. While there are times when it might seem like the driver is to blame, the accident liability might not rest on them. Factors like poorly secured loads, unrealistic schedules, or equipment failure might be the case of the accident, and the people liable might be thousands of miles away from the accident.
Difficulty getting compensation. Most of the trucking companies and insurance companies have a team of attorneys ready to minimize liability. If you aren’t adequately prepared, you might end up with less than you deserve in terms of compensation.
Trucking Laws and Regulations
The reason why claims for a truck accident is different from the normal car accidents is that there are federal and state laws that trucking companies have to follow. These laws tend to be strict and complex. If one or more of the regulations have been violated at the time of the accident, then it could be used as evidence to show that the driver was negligent.
Regulations will encompass hours of service, licensing, maintenance, repairs, inspections, etc. Drivers are going to need a commercial driver’s license and might need more endorsement, but this will depend on the type of truck they drive and what they are carrying. The one that is violated by many is hours of service rules, and truckers know how to get around the rules. This could be because they want to increase their income or pressure from their employer. It is common for drivers to fudge the numbers and drive more than they should in a day. There are strict rules that outline how the cargo needs to be loaded, the amount of cargo to be carried, and also when inspections and repairs need to be done.
There are also rules on impaired driving. If the truck driver has an alcohol concentration of .04 or more, they can be charged with DUI. This level is less than the .08 which is the standard.
You should meet with a car accident lawyer so you can know whether there were state or federal regulations violated concerning the accident. We have a team that will start the investigation, look at the evidence, then determine if there was a violation.
The Process of Truck Accident Lawsuit
Investigation. The insurance company (for the owner, truck driver, or maintenance company, etc) is going to send someone immediately after the accident so they can get as much information as possible, which they can then use in limiting their liability. This is why you need to contact a lawyer too so they can also do an investigation on your behalf.
Creating a claim. The information that was collected during the investigation is going to be used in creating your claim. It will contain the state of your injuries, show how the other party was negligent and responsible for the injuries you sustained, and request for compensation. The claim is going to be the basis of the suit, which can be solved through settlement, arbitration, or litigation.
Negotiations: Before the suit filed, the attorney and insurer will try negotiating a financial settlement without the need of going to the courts. Once the suit has been filed, there might be another meeting to negotiate a settlement. If this fails, then the remain option is taking the case to court.
Litigation: your attorney and the other party will have the opportunity of presenting their case in court. Once both parties present their case and evidence, the judge or jury is going to deliberate and make their verdict. This is going to determine who was at fault, and if you win, the amount of compensation you are going to get.
Proving Negligence by the Truck Driver
When investigating to determine negligent behavior, we are going to;
- Investigate if the vehicle was properly maintained
- Review the logbooks of the company to make sure they followed the state and federal regulations
- Review the credentials of the driver
- Analyze the accident scene through police reports and photos, witness interviews, and working with experts to reconstruct the accident.
- Identify if there were any manufacturing defects in either the truck or the other vehicle
What Compensation Can I Recover for a Truck Accident?
You have the right of getting compensation if you get injured in a truck accident. There are some expenses and losses you can expect to recover, but it will depend on the nature of the case. Some of them include;
Economic damages have a calculable monetary value and include:
Expensive medications will be needed when treating severe injuries. Extensive hospital stays, and in some instances, post-injury rehabilitation might be needed. Your lawyer is going to do an evaluation to come up with the medical compensation you need as a result of the accident.
If you have not managed to go back to work because of the injuries, then it can be factored in your compensation as a loss of present and future wages.
You can talk to your lawyer so you can get compensated from property damage, e.g. damage to your car.
Non-economic damages do not have a set value and are harder to determine. They include:
This can be a result of depression, severe injuries, or the loss of a loved one. The lawyer handling your case can compel the negligent party to pay the compensation by estimating the approximate.
Loss of Consortium
If you are finding it harder to take pleasure in your life because of things such as paralysis, amputation, brain injuries, or you are no longer enjoying the physical company like you used to with your wife before, you can add this to your claim so you can get compensated for it.
The attorney dealing with your case can also bring the case to court seeking punitive damages on top of the economic and non-economic losses stated above. Punitive damages are awarded when there was malicious action on the part of the other part that resulted in the accident and if it resulted in grace injuries, complications that cannot go away, or even death.
When you talk to one of our reputable injury law firm in Atlanta, GA, you will know whether the punitive damages can be added to your case, which will help you in getting the maximum amount possible in compensation.