Victims of Georgia truck accidents experience serious injuries and damages
Anyone who drives on Georgia’s busy roads and highways is at risk for being involved in a serious truck accident because there are millions of trucks traveling, throughout the US, every single day. Meanwhile, big cities like Atlanta are at the highest risk due to more congested roadways. Trucks, tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, semis, and big rigs, are all responsible for hundreds of serious, and often fatal accidents every day.
Of course, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies make every effort to improve roadway safety by establishing strict and thorough laws and safety standards. Unfortunately, accidents continue to occur with trucks that are unfit for use, poorly maintained, or operated by individuals who are either unqualified, impaired, or simply at risk of making the same mistakes that anyone else might make on the road. The primary difference is that truck accidents involve such large and heavy vehicles, maximizing the amount of damage that can be done. If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident in Atlanta, you need to contact a trucking accident attorney as soon as possible to get started in the right direction on the long road towards recovering your losses and getting back on your feet.
Truck accidents cause more damage than ordinary traffic accidents
There are many laws and guidelines on every level of government to ensure that the trucking industry is well regulated with safe driving procedures and safe vehicles. For example, drivers are confined to operating their trucks for a specific amount of time each day to avoid drowsy driving. There are guidelines for how much weight a truck can haul. There are rules regarding maintenance to ensure that the vehicle itself is fit for the road. There are special logs that truck drivers have to maintain and supervisors to report to. All of this is to prevent the devastating amount of damage that a truck accident can do, which is far beyond that of an ordinary auto accident. Anyone who has experienced an ordinary auto accident can attest to the immense amount of damage and loss that they can cause, and truck accidents are much worse than this.
Furthermore, truck accidents differ from ordinary auto accidents in that there is more likely to be more than one liable party. For example, the driver, naturally may be responsible for the accident; yet, you may also be looking at liability from the fleet owner, multiple associated companies, truck maintenance professionals, the manufacturer of the truck, or even road maintenance crews. This makes the process of filing a personal injury claim or wrongful death claim that much more complicated and confusing than other auto accidents.
Because there are so many corporations and insurance companies involved, it is not uncommon for an insurance agent to be at the scene before there is even time to clear away the damage. Then, the victims will experience far more pressure to sign their rights away for a minimal settlement which is far less than the fair compensation you should be fighting for. This is why it is so important to avoid dealing with insurance claims adjusters before contacting a qualified Atlanta trucking accident attorney who is experienced in trucking accident claims.
For a free legal consultation with a truck accidents lawyer serving Atlanta, call (770) 792-1000
Common causes of trucking accidents
Trucking accidents occur every day in Atlanta. The most common causes include traffic variables and highway conditions, bad weather, sleep deprivation and drowsy driving, the pressure of tight deadlines, simple inexperience on the part of new truck drivers, general distractions that can affect any driver, and improper truck maintenance.
Our Atlanta, Georgia trucking accident attorneys can help you!
Facing the aftermath of an Atlanta trucking accident can be overwhelming, confusing, and difficult. You have medical issues and expenses, property damage, and time off of work weighing on you, and you may not know where to begin with seeking compensation. This is where our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys can be of immense help. We know how to investigate driver’s logs, truck equipment, and maintenance records; how to analyze police reports and medical records; and how to work with witnesses and expert witnesses, like accident reconstructionists, to establish and prove the value of your claim. It is our job to ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the compensation you deserve and need to recover from the devastation of a trucking accident. You can read the reviews and testimonials of our past clients to see how satisfied people are with the results we can achieve.
All it takes is one call to get the help you need from an Atlanta trucking accident attorney.
Our attorneys are here to help you through this difficult time and to handle the complex process of establishing your trucking accident case and receiving compensation. All it takes is one phone call to get started with the help that you need. Contact us today for a free consultation.
There are many risks associated with trucking accidents in Atlanta
Large trucks and commercial vehicles are far more dangerous on the road than ordinary, normal sized motor vehicles. However, they are caused by many of the same issues that you see in other auto accidents, only with a higher likelihood of negligence and more extensive damages. For example, truck drivers spend more time on the road and are more likely to become drowsy drivers, distracted drivers, and careless drivers. In many cases, they are even intoxicated drivers.
Then, there is the higher frequency of accidents caused by poor maintenance or defective products. Trucking accidents are also associated with circumstances that do not occur with other auto accidents, such as additional blind spots or tipping over (due to a higher center of gravity) and spilling products or toxic materials. Trucks can also cause traffic delays, due to their larger size; and this can result in other drivers becoming frustrated and acting recklessly. When trucking accidents do occur, their larger size is also likely to contribute to far more damage. Some cases involve multiple factors, and a qualified attorney will be best prepared to sort through the details of the accident and ascertain the cause or causes.
There are special laws surrounding accidents involving trucks
Commercial traffic is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA, which controls commercial licensing regulations, tracks safety records of commercial transit companies, and establishes and regulates safety standards. The goal of the FMCSA is to ensure that truckers are driving safely, in vehicles that are safe to drive, and in a manner that reduces the frequency and severity of truck accidents in Atlanta and throughout the US. Their regulations and standards are quite strict and thorough, while also providing a strong basis for insurance claims and lawsuits against the responsible parties when accidents occur.
Because of the various laws, regulations, and standards set for multiple entities involved in trucking accidents, you need a qualified and experienced attorney to sort through the evidence and establish the causes and liabilities that relate to your accident.
To find out how our Atlanta truck accident lawyers can help you with your accident claim, contact us for a free consultation, today. We’ll review your claim at no cost and give you advice on whether or not you can recover compensation and how to go about doing so.
Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer Near Me (770) 792-1000
Our attorneys understand the process of Georgia trucking accident lawsuits
The first step in the process of filing a Georgia trucking accident lawsuit is the investigation. The insurance company may send analysts directly to the scene to limit their liability through a thorough investigation of the evidence available. In some cases, the trucking company or maintenance company will do this as well. It is essential to contact an attorney as soon as you can after the accident so that you have someone on your side conducting an investigation.
During this process, you need to avoid discussing the accident and your injuries and losses with the insurance company. You should only discuss these things with your own doctor and your attorney. This is because the insurance company will be looking for anything that they can use against you to prove that they are not accountable for your losses. Let your attorney handle communications with the insurance company, and politely decline to give a statement.
The next step in the process will be to create a claim. Your attorney will do this for you, using the information and evidence that they’ve acquired from their investigation. The claim is where you express the injuries and losses that have occurred and request compensation. It will set forth the argument of negligence and responsibility of the truck driver or other entity. While the claim is the first step towards a lawsuit, you may be able to negotiate a settlement without having to go to court. Thus, this is also the first step to initiate negotiation.
Naturally, negotiations are the next step in the process. This will occur before the lawsuit is formally filed, and your attorney will work with the insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement, with the goal of avoiding court. Both sides want to avoid the time and expense of court proceedings, so you have a high likelihood of reaching a settlement. However, if you cannot reach a settlement that is fair, your case will have to go to court.
When negotiations, fail, the final step in the process is litigation. This is where your attorney and the insurance company or other opposing party will go to court to argue their case to a judge, and possibly a jury. Then, the judge or jury will review the evidence and testimonies to come to a verdict that establishes who was at fault for the accident and what amount of compensation is warranted, assuming that you win the case.
Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys will investigate to prove negligence
There are many factors that can contribute to negligence, and our attorneys will investigate the evidence to prove who is at fault for the trucking accident. To do this, they will establish whether or not the vehicle was property maintained, whether traffic laws were adhered to, and whether there were any defects in the manufacturing of the truck. They will also review the credentials of the driver and the log books that should be maintained by the driver and company. Finally, they will work with expert witnesses to establish the details of the accident.
You can recover compensation for all of your losses
There are different forms of compensation that you can recover for your injuries, damages, and various losses. These include medical expenses (past, present, and future), lost wages and future earning potential, pain and suffering, psychological trauma or mental anguish, and funeral costs, if someone has died from their injuries.
Contact our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys today
If you have been in a trucking accident in Atlanta, our trucking accident attorneys are here to help. We’re available to give a free consultation of your claim; and if we take your case, we don’t get paid unless you receive compensation for your losses. We understand the ever changing laws and regulations related to trucking accidents and we are aware of the many details and potential liabilities associated with Georgia trucking accident claims. We have the experience and expertise that you need from your attorney. Contact us today to get started.
Truck Accidents Related To Fatigue and Hours of Service Violations
kennesaw GA auto accident attorney
The overlap of driver fatigue and truck accidents is particularly alarming, especially given the consequences on the road. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, driver fatigue is a major contributor to the deaths of the 4,000 or so people who are killed each year in large truck crashes.
Hours of Service Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) places limits on the number of hours truck drivers can drive without having to take a break (known as the “Hours of Service” regulations). Unfortunately, these regulations rarely get updated to incorporate recent trends that may cause safety issues on the roads; in fact, the last time a final rule was released was five years ago, in 2011.
The regulations apply roughly based on how much the vehicle weighs or what it is designed or used to transport. Specifically, they set forth that property-carrying drivers:
- May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty;
- May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty (following 10 consecutive hours off duty);
- May drive, in general, only if eight hours or less have passed since the end of the last off-duty or sleeper period of at least 30 minutes. This effectively mandates that drivers take a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of their shift so that they can stay alert while driving. However, it is important to note that this does not apply to several short-haul exceptions discussed in the regulations; and
- May not drive in general after 60-70 hours on duty in seven-eight consecutive days, where seven-eight consecutive days is kicked-off once the driver has taken 34 or more consecutive hours off duty (however, the enforcement of the 34-hour restart requirement was suspended in late 2014).
The net effect was to reduce the average maximum number of hours a truck driver could work down to no more than 70 per week, where being “on duty” includes waiting to be dispatched, time inspecting and/or loading the truck, providing a urine sample for testing purposes, etc.
It is also important to note that, if these hours of service rules are being violated, the carrier does not need to have actual knowledge of the violations; it is automatically liable if it had or should have had the means by which to detect the violations. It is assumed that, if carriers fail to have a management scheme in place to prevent the violation, then they automatically permitted the violation to occur.
How Are They Tracked?
Most recently, the agency put in place an Electronic Logging Data (ELD) mandate, meaning that electronic devices which synchronize with the vehicle’s engine to record driving time will replace paper logbooks in order to enable more accurate hours of service reporting.
Dangerous Exemptions & Training Shortcuts
The 2011 adjustments to the regulations were based on verified scientific studies demonstrating that long work hours without recovery time can lead to chronic fatigue and that it is difficult for truck drivers to assess their own fatigue levels accurately. But has the problem been fixed at this point?
The FMCSA can grant waivers to companies or industries on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the exemption for short-haul drivers is more sinister than it sounds: short-haul drivers in the industry that have reported employers pushing for 14 to 16-hour days for drivers—as well as pressuring them to go on layovers to finish a run—creating a situation in which drivers are fatigued and pushing the speed limit, too nervous to mention that they are too tired to drive to their employers.
Some drivers have also reported that the regulations have simply resulted in employers placing more pressure on drivers to get their work done within a 14- (instead of 24) hour window in order to ensure that the deliveries stayed on schedule while the company still manages to comply with federal and state regulations. In addition, training programs set in place by large trucking companies have, of late, been so poor that, over the years, the quality of truck drivers has significantly diminished. With only a few weeks of training and no prior experience, truck drivers are expected to hit the road on their own. This spells trouble for the drivers and everyone else on the road.
Punitive damages have been awarded in hours of service-related cases, whereby the truck driver—by violating the hours of service regulations and operating the truck when he or she was too tired to do so safely—was found to have behaved outrageously and recklessly with regard to others’ safety. Cases where they has been evidence of falsification—either through the driver or employer concerning driver logs—have also given rise to courts assigning punitive damages against defendant truck companies.
Severe Violations in Georgia
Georgia-based Industrial Transit was served with a federal court order on October 4th of this year, when the FMCSA ordered the company to cease operations due to being a “threat to public safety.” The company’s most recent accident took place on August 22nd, when the driver lost control, crashed, and caused the truck to catch on fire while transporting Takata airbags, leading to an explosion which killed nearby occupants in both cars and homes. When the FMCSA conducted its investigation, it found that the company was violating numerous federal regulations, including allowing improperly-licensed drivers to work, ignoring alcohol and drug screening test results, failing to properly train drivers and comply with hours of service regulations, and failing to properly maintain their trucks.
Atlanta Trucking Accident Attorneys Who Care
If you or a loved one has been a victim in a truck accident, our Atlanta, GA trucking accident attorneys can be of help. We have close to 30 years of experience investigating driver’s logs, truck equipment, and maintenance records. We are well-versed in analyzing police reports and medical records after these accidents, as well as working with our own expert witnesses to ensure that justice is done for you and your family. It is our job to ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the compensation you deserve and need to recover from the devastation of the accident. We take our jobs very seriously. You can find out more about us by reading client reviews and testimonials here, and get in touch today for a free consultation where we can discuss your options. Contact us at (770) 792-1000.