Have you suffered injuries because you were involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a truck in Atlanta? You may be entitled to compensation from the truck driver, trucking company, or another negligent third party. At Hasner Law, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers will work tirelessly to secure maximum compensation on your behalf. Give our law offices a quick call to schedule a free consultation and learn more today.
Why Should I Call a Personal Injury Lawyer After My Atlanta Truck Accident?
It’s not surprising to learn that our economy relies heavily on the trucking industry. Commercial hauling of products on our roadways is a crucial part of nearly all business sectors. But, sometimes, these large vehicles get into accidents.
Due to the sheer size of these rigs, which include 18-wheelers, delivery trucks, tow trucks, and garbage trucks, the resulting damage can be devastating. If you are involved in a collision with a truck, you may require expensive medical treatment, a lengthy rehabilitation process, and your ability to work and day to day living may be impacted.
Note that truck accidents can be more complicated than simple car accidents. This is because the driver is typically an employee for a commercial company, and/or there may be underlying problems with the vehicle. These issues can make it difficult to sort out liability. For these reasons, it’s important to speak with our Atlanta personal injury lawyers about your case.
Information on Truck Accidents
Truck Accident Statistics
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are nearly 500,000 truck crashes reported each year. Of these, 0.8% result in death, and 22% result in some sort of injury. Interestingly enough, the most dangerous places for trucks are non-urban environments. In fact, 61% of all fatal crashes take place in rural locations.
Keep in mind that driver-related factors are far less likely to be the cause of a fatal crash involving a truck. By comparison, these factors are present in 55% of passenger car crashes, but in only 32% of truck accidents.
Causes of Truck Accidents in Atlanta
The most common driver-related factor is speeding, followed by distraction or inattention, such as using a cellphone or eating/drinking.
Other factors include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Being fatigued or falling asleep
- Emotional distress
- Aggressive driving
- Unbalanced/improper cargo distribution, and
- Ignoring hazards.
It’s important to make sure that your truck accident is investigated carefully. You’ll want to be certain that you know why it happened and who might share blame. Contact Hasner Law to learn more about how we can help you with your truck accident injury case today.
Truck Driver Regulations in Georgia
Commercial truck drivers have more rules and regulations to follow than drivers of passenger cars. This is important because failing to follow these rules can be grounds for finding a driver at fault for an accident, provided the violation caused the collision.
Here are some examples of rules that apply to commercial truck drivers in Georgia:
Licensing: The driver must have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Georgia requires drivers to be at least 18 years of age, and 21 years of age if they will be crossing state lines.
Testing and Inspection: The driver must be drug tested prior to employment, and tested again if there is any suspicion of drug use. Further, the truck must be inspected regularly and comply with the state’s minimum safety requirements, such as having working brakes, lights, and equipment.
Vehicle Weight and Signage: The driver’s load cannot exceed the weight limit for the road. In addition, proper signage must be displayed if the driver is hauling hazardous materials.
Time limits: If the driver is hauling property, he or she has a window of 14 hours in which to drive before taking a mandatory consecutive 10-hour break. During this 14 hours, the driver can have up to 11 hours of actual drive time.
- The driver cannot go more than 8 hours without a 30-minute break
- The driver cannot drive more than 60 hours in one week, or more than 70 hours in an 8-day period
Note that this clock resets once a driver has taken 34 or more consecutive hours off.
Rules of the Road: The driver must follow basic rules of the road applicable to all drivers, including complying with all post speed limits, using turn signals, and stopping at red lights.
Steps to Investigating a Truck Accident in Georgia
If you are injured in a truck accident, you may be interested in what legal options are available to you. Keep in mind that if you decide to file a lawsuit, you must prove that someone acted negligently. Negligence means that the person failed to act reasonably under the circumstances and this behavior led to your injury.
Negligence is not always easy to show. For that reason, it’s important that you have evidence to back up your claim. This will give you a greater chance of success during settlement negotiations or if your case goes to trial.
As you might have guessed, there are more issues to investigate in a Georgia truck accident than with a simple car crash. In looking for evidence of negligence, an experienced accident lawyer in Atlanta will review the following:
- The truck driver’s credentials. Was the driver properly licensed for the vehicle he was driving?
- The truck driver’s track record. Was there a history of accidents caused by the driver?
- Maintenance records for the truck. Could the trucking company have acted negligently? Are there manufacturing defects on record for this truck?
- The company log. Was the organization following state and federal laws and regulations?
- Local and state statutes. Are there any laws particular to this area?
- Reports from the accident. Was there anything reported to the police?
Note that after an accident it’s always good practice to document and photograph what you can. It’s also helpful to write down the contact information of any witnesses that can help corroborate your side of the story.
How Can I Get Money After a Truck Accident?
In a typical car accident, the process for collecting from a driver that was at fault is fairly straightforward. In most cases, you either go through the driver’s insurance company and negotiate a settlement or file a claim in court and pursue a damage award.
But, with a truck accident, this process can be much more complicated. If you believe that the driver was negligent, you may have grounds to bring the lawsuit against him directly. But, the company employing the driver may also be liable. In many cases, this will depend on whether the driver is classified as an employee or an independent contractor.
This classification is not always clear, but it often turns on the degree to which the company has control over the driver’s actions. Specifically, the less control the company has, the less likely they are to be found liable. But, in some cases, an employer can still be considered at fault even in independent contractor arrangements.
For example, if the company knew that the driver had a poor driving record, but they chose to work with him anyway, this could be considered negligent hiring practices. Further, if you are able to prove that the accident was caused by an issue with the truck itself, it might be possible to sue the manufacturer of the vehicle for negligence. As you can see, these cases can get very complex. For that reason, it can be helpful to reach out to a qualified attorney to help you navigate the process.
Damages Available to Truck Accident Victims
If you were injured in a large truck or tractor-trailer accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. These are referred to as “damages” and are amounts paid to you to cover your medical bills, lost income, and even pain and suffering.
Calculating Damages After Your Atlanta Truck Accident
Now, medical expenses and lost earnings are fairly straightforward forms of damages. They are objective, which means the calculation is based on your actual out-of-pocket costs.
Pain and suffering, on the other hand, is subjective and much more difficult to reduce to a specific dollar amount. These damages are typically decided during settlement negotiations or by a jury after a trial, and consider such factors as your physical pain and mental anguish as well as loss of enjoyment of life.
Note that there is no cap to what you can get for pain and suffering.
Damages Following a Fatal Georgia Truck Accident
Keep in mind that dependents and spouses of a deceased victim can also be awarded damages. These are typically meant to compensate for lost income that the victim would have made during his life as well as additional amounts to cover funeral/burial expenses. They also may compensate for more subjective factors, such as loss of companionship.
Sharing Fault for a Georgia Truck Accident
It’s important to note that you can generally still recover compensation from a truck driver even if you were partially at fault for the accident. An example might be if you were texting while driving, but were hit in an intersection by a truck driver that ran a red light. In Georgia, you can be awarded damages so long as you weren’t more than 50% to blame for the collision. This means that if you are found to be 51% at fault, you would be entitled to nothing.
Apportioning fault in an accident is not always easy, and in close cases, there can be a lot of uncertainty if these matters go to trial. For that reason, it’s important to speak with an attorney to evaluate your case and advise you on how best to proceed.
Contact Our Atalanta Truck Accidents Lawyer Today
If you were involved in a truck accident, it’s important to contact a qualified personal injury lawyer early on in the process. Don’t feel pressured into accepting a settlement until you speak with a law firm that has experience with trucking accident cases.
At Hasner Law, we have years of experience negotiating with insurance companies and navigating complex cases involving multiple parties. Often these matters lead to a settlement, but we are also prepared to take your case to trial if we can’t reach an agreement. We are dedicated to getting you the compensation you deserve. Call our law firm today for a free consultation.