If someone has been involved in a trucking accident in Atlanta, Georgia, they may be left with serious injuries and medical bills. 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. At Bethune Law Firm, we have Atlanta truck accident lawyers waiting to help you file a personal injury lawsuit and who will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
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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 logbooks to meet their demanding delivery deadlines.
Other driver errors and violations could result in accidents, too, arising from the driver’s unfamiliarity with 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.
How Can A Truck Accident Attorney Help You?
Regardless of whether you have made the choice to agree to a settlement from the liable party or you want to take the other party to court before any of these situations arise, you need the counsel and the support of a reliable, reputable and well-versed truck accident lawyer.
After the destruction of an accident involving a truck, residents in Georgia, similar to any other state, are usually extremely concerned for their family, property, and their lives. Here are ways a truck accident lawyer can help you.
Filing a Claim
A professional truck lawyer can help you deal with all the legalities, allowing you to focus on your recovery and getting the medical and emotional help that you need. Your lawyer can assist you with filing your claim, and ensuring that the claim includes every important piece of information.
These lawyers also arrange for an immediate investigation of your incident directly after your initial consultation. This part of the process is highly important, as gaining traction for any type of litigation process or settlement is dependent on the type of evidence used for the case. The evidence that the truck lawyer is able to provide is vital when it comes to determining evidence linked to the at-fault driver.
The investigation process that Georgia Truck Accident lawyers use also includes:
- Hiring experts that specialize in reconstructing incidents.
- Review the police reports and any photographic evidence from the accident scene.
- Identify components that may be faulty on the truck.
- Conduct interviews with witnesses that were present at the time of the accident.
These are just a few processes and tasks that your lawyer will undertake to add as much evidence as possible to the case.
Things are not always the way they look, to begin with, and in some cases, it becomes necessary to conduct further investigations when there is a possibility that there are other parties other than the truck driver to blame when it comes to your accident. In certain instances, it could be the driver of the truck, the company that they work for, any other parties such as the manufacturer of the truck that can share the fault. Truck accident lawyers that are experienced are skilled in knowing what specifics need to be reviewed in order to identify one or more culprits.
Settlement Negotiations & Trial Representation
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.
What Do You Need To Do Directly After An Accident With A Truck?
This may seem like an impossible task directly after an accident, yet is in your best interest to try and remain as calm as possible. When possible activate the hazard lights on your car, and stay in your car (if it is safe to do so), and make a call to an emergency service. Allow paramedics and EMT to examine you as soon as they arrive on the scene. At the time you might feel that you have only suffered very minor injuries, yet it is highly advisable to go for a full medical examination directly after the accident. If you had passengers in your car, they also need to go for an examination.
Avoid at all costs leaving or fleeing the accident scene before taking down all the necessary information that becomes essential if you want to go after a case. This information includes contact information and the names of every party involved along with any eyewitnesses.
When a law enforcement officer arrives at the scene, take down their badge number and their name. It is also important to take videos or snapshots of the accident scene. Make sure you take photos of every vehicle involved from several angles around each vehicle. Follow up by taking shots close-up of the impact points or of any other aspect that you may feel is important.
Never take on responsibility when it comes to the accident. This means not saying anything that seems innocuous such as “I am sorry” and avoid talking about what you believe or think happened with anyone else but a police officer or your insurance agent. You are under no obligation to discuss anything with the insurance providers of the liable party.
Determining Fault in a Truck Wreck
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 a 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 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 a 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
If I Am Partly at Fault, Can I Still Recover Compensation?
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 modified comparative negligence standard 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 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
What Parties Could Be Liable for a Truck Crash?
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.
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 require that truckers carry specific licenses and also charge truck drivers special taxes on truck fuel. Furthermore, truckers have to be insured. Under federal law, these drivers must carry at least $750,000 in insurance if they cross state lines and coverage for injury and property damage up to an amount of $5,000,000 if 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. Our personal injury lawyers can assist you if you were injured in a truck accident. 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 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 state 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. As an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer, Terrence R. Bethune understands how overwhelming the ordeal of being in a trucking accident. And he is 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 families 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.
Call an Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer at Bethune Law Firm
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.