Tractor-trailer trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded. They weigh as much as 40,000 pounds even when they are not carrying cargo. That compares with a passenger car, which only weighs about 3,000 pounds. Persons inside those smaller vehicles usually sustain the worst injuries in any crash involving a truck.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, speak to a Georgia truck accident lawyer who can help. Call today or contact Cain & Mays Trial Lawyers online. Our Georgia truck accident lawyers will review your case for free. We can give you the best chance possible for a successful outcome.
Why Truck Accidents in Georgia Are More Complex
Truck accidents are not like other crashes on the road. Several factors make truck accidents much more complex and confusing than other accidents. Those factors include:
- Damages – It’s a simple fact: trucks weigh much more than other vehicles, and they are much larger. The damages and injuries in tractor-trailer accidents are also much more serious. It may take victims much longer to recover from those injuries. A claim cannot be filed until the accident victim has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). At that point, the victim’s injuries will not get any better, nor will they get any worse. That recovery period can drag a claim out for months and months.
- Determining liability – It is always difficult to determine liability in a car accident. That becomes even more complicated when a commercial truck is involved. This is in part because there be several liable parties. A truck driver may have caused the crash. The company he works for may have also played a part. The manufacturer of the truck, a cargo company, or a truck repair service may also be liable in the accident.
- Dealing with trucking companies – A representative of the trucking company is likely to visit the crash scene almost immediately after an accident. The representative may be looking to remove evidence that proves who was liable for the accident. Trucking companies will also make it very difficult to obtain the truck driver’s employment records and other documents that could show liability. The trucking company’s stonewalling and foot-dragging make the aftermath of a crash a trying and difficult time.
- Federal regulations – Many federal laws and regulations control the trucking industry. For example, truck drivers must comply with federal hours of service rule. That dictates the amount of time truck drivers can be on the road. Those laws and regulations add complexity to a truck-car crash.
- Truck data –Many truck drivers now carry a black box within their vehicle that records data. Among the data collected: the speed the truck was traveling at and how many hours it had been in operation before the accident. The black box can provide critical evidence, but accident victims often do not know how to access it.
Simply put, accidents with trucks are much more complicated than those involving two cars. Victims should always work with an attorney who can help them through these challenges.
Leading Causes of Truck Accidents
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents in Georgia include:
- Distracted driving — A truck driver who is distracted from the road could make a crucial mistake that leads to an accident. Distractions can take many forms, including talking on the phone, texting, using a navigation device, or eating and drinking, for example.
- Fatigue — Because driving a truck is a difficult and tiring job, authorities have established strict rules for how long and how often truck drivers can be behind the wheel without taking a break. A driver who violates these rules is at risk of causing an accident due to dulled reflexes, increased reaction times, and the chance of falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Impaired driving — Truck drivers who drive while under the effects of drugs – including prescription and over-the-counter medications – or alcohol put themselves and others in extreme danger, especially given how large and heavy semi-trucks are. Truck drivers who are impaired have delayed reflexes, are prone to mistakes, and may fall asleep at the wheel.
- Speed — Truckers who speed will have difficulty maintaining control of their vehicle and less time to react to changing road conditions, making it more likely that they’ll cause an accident.
- Lack of experience — Driving a truck is a complicated job with high stakes should something go wrong, and inexperienced drivers are prone to making mistakes that can injure themselves and others.
- Failure to obey traffic rules — Truck drivers should be especially careful to follow traffic rules because of how awkwardly their vehicles handle. Trucks should always yield the right-of-way when required and follow all other traffic regulations.
- Poor judgment — An inexperienced or sloppy truck driver might make a mistake that causes a crash, such as failing to check their blind spots before a turn or failing to signal a lane change.
Common Types of Truck Accidents
Some of the more common types of truck crashes include:
- Truck rollovers — A truck that overturns may land on top of another vehicle, or other vehicles nearby might collide with it after it has overturned.
- Intersection collisions — A truck driver who ignores a stop sign or traffic light can collide with other vehicles passing through the intersection.
- Tire blowout — A tire blowout can cause a truck driver to lose control and collide with nearby vehicles.
- Wide-turn accidents — Trucks have to make wide turns, especially when turning to the right. Other vehicles can sometimes become pinned between the truck and other vehicles or objects as the truck is turning.
- Blind spots — Truckers sometimes run into vehicles in their blind spots when the truck is turning, merging, or changing lanes.
- Rear-enders — A truck takes a long time to stop, which can cause it to rear-end the vehicle in front of it if the driver is following too closely.
- Underride — If a truck stops suddenly, another vehicle might plow into the back of it and become lodged under its trailer.
- Lost load — Cargo that suddenly comes loose while a truck is in transit can strike other vehicles, or other vehicles may hit the cargo as it lies in the road.
How a Georgia Truck Accident Attorney Can Make a Difference in Your Case
Working with a Georgia truck accident lawyer can make a crucial difference in your case. Here’s what an attorney can do on your accident claim:
- Determine liability – With so many potentially liable parties after a truck accident, it is almost impossible for accident victims to determine who was at fault. That is especially the case when accident victims are suffering from serious injuries. An attorney will determine who is to blame for the crash. An attorney can hold that party accountable for the crash. An attorney can recover the compensation accident victims need to move on with their lives.
- Collect evidence – If you were hurt in a crash, simply saying someone else was at fault is not enough. You will need evidence to show another person was negligent and at fault. An attorney can collect this evidence while you recover from your injuries.
- Understand federal and state law – A state’s personal injury laws can affect an accident claim. Federal laws that regulate the trucking industry can also have an effect. An attorney will know these laws and can explore how they may affect your case.
- Identify damages – When filing your claim, you must prove any damages so you can secure compensation for them. A lawyer will identify these damages. They may include your medical expenses, your pain and suffering, your emotional distress, and your loss of enjoyment of life. Some of these losses are not easy to calculate. An attorney will identify and evaluate each one. That allows you to claim the full amount of compensation you deserve.
These are just a few of the ways an attorney can help with your claim. A lawyer will work as an advocate and in your best interests at all times.
How Is Fault Determined in a Georgia Truck Accident Claim?
A successful outcome in a truck accident case hinges on the evidence that will prove your claim. The types of evidence used in a truck accident case can include:
- Data recorders – Black boxes can provide important evidence about how the truck was being driven, and what the truck driver was doing, at the time of the crash.
- In-cab cameras – Many trucks today are equipped with cameras that typically sit behind the driver. These can also show the driver’s actions in the moments before the crash.
- Logbooks – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires drivers to maintain detailed logbooks. Those books show when truck drivers were on the road, when they rested, and when their trucks were inspected. These logbooks may indicate that the truck driver did not follow federal regulations in the hours before the accident.
- Eyewitness statements – Eyewitnesses are generally considered to be unbiased third parties. As such, the courts will heavily weigh their testimony about the accident.
- Expert testimony – Experts can be used to provide opinions or evidence to substantiate your claim. Those experts include accident reconstruction engineers and medical professionals.
- Medical records – In any accident claim, you must prove the extent of your injuries. Medical records that include a diagnosis and a prognosis are used to show those damages.
- Photos – In any accident, photographs can serve as useful evidence. The position of the vehicles can indicate how the crash happened. Pictures of your injuries can show how severe they are and their long-term impact on your life.
Schedule Your Truck Accident Consultation Today
The Georgia truck accident lawyers at Cain & Mays Trial Lawyers are here to stand up for your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a collision involving a commercial vehicle. Contact our office today for a free initial consultation.