A tractor-trailer crashed into a Norcross QuikTrip gas station parking lot just recently, damaging 10 cars and causing Jimmy Carter Boulevard to be shut down for some time. The tractor-trailer appeared to careen off Jimmy Carter Blvd. and over a retaining wall before flipping over in the parking lot. One individual required first responders to excavate them from their car. They were taken to a nearby hospital with what were reported to be “non-life-threatening” injuries.
According to witnesses, the truck hit a vehicle that it was following. That car also ended up in the QuikTrip gas station. In one photo, you can see one car laid atop another. Both cars are totaled.
The truck was transporting nine rolls of paper that weighed about 5,500 lbs. each.
Who’s Responsible for This Accident?
In this case, the first collision was between the truck and the car that was directly in front of the truck. In other words, this collision was the first in the chain that resulted in the truck turning over, 10 cars being damaged, and one person requiring a rescue from a car that had been crushed. In most cases, we need only look at the first collision in the chain to determine fault. In other words, we want to know more about how the tractor-trailer rear-ended the passenger vehicle.
While it’s true that in most cases, the driver of the car that rear-ended the other car is usually responsible for the accident, there is no law that says the rear-ending car is always responsible for the accident. However, other laws prohibiting tailgating or following too closely do figure into a liability claim against the driver in the back.
In addition to traffic laws favoring the driver who got rear-ended, tractor-trailers have smaller windows in which they can stop and truck drivers need to have better reaction time in order to stop their truck. The greater the weight of the vehicle, the more important it is to maintain a safe speed and not follow too closely behind other vehicles. While we can’t know for sure that the accident was entirely the fault of the truck driver, we can say with some confidence that the truck driver will be assigned the majority of the liability for this accident.
Fault in Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits
The driver who rear-ends the other driver is almost always 100% at fault for the accident because they have a duty to maintain a safe speed and a safe distance from the other vehicle in front of them. When they fail in that duty, the blame falls on them and no one else. However, there are scenarios in which the vehicle that was hit can contribute liability or fault for the accident. Here, we’ll discuss some scenarios in which fault can be shared between two drivers.
The first thing you need to know is that the State of Georgia follows a contributory negligence rule. A driver who is injured or suffers property damage in an accident can only file a claim against the other driver if their share of the blame is less than or equal to the other drivers. In other words, if the person filing the claim is 51 percent responsible for the accident, they cannot collect any money in damages at all.
However, if they are 50 percent responsible for the accident or less, they can still file a claim against the other driver. But their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. If a jury, therefore, finds both drivers contributed 50 percent of the fault, the plaintiff’s damages will be reduced by half.
Determining Fault in Rear-End Collisions
Are there any situations in which the leading vehicle can contribute fault to a rear-end collision? The answer to that question is yes. Some scenarios where the lead vehicle contributes fault include:
- Brake light failure. The way that drivers know that it’s time to slow down is by looking at the vehicle in front of them. If a driver begins to brake and their brake lights don’t go on, the rear-end driver can claim that they didn’t have enough time to react. At least some of the blame will fall on the driver who was rear-ended since they are expected to maintain their vehicle in roadworthy condition.
- The lead driver made a sudden maneuver. If the lead driver makes a sudden maneuver (like braking suddenly for no apparent reason), then some of the blame may fall on them. Also, if the driver changes lanes unexpectedly and cuts off another driver who is coming up from another lane, then the lead driver may be responsible for the accident. Failure to signal can also contribute fault to an accident because the driver behind them did not have a reasonable amount of time to stop.
- Domino effect. If one driver is not paying attention to the road and they come onto a sudden stoppage of cars, they strike the car that is directly in front of them which strikes the car that is directly in front of them and so on. In this case, the only driver who contributed fault was the first one in the chain that slammed into the vehicle. The driver that caused the chain reaction would be responsible for paying damages to all the other drivers.
Is the Tractor-Trailer at Fault for This Accident?
Probably. That’s certainly what any personal injury attorney who reviewed the incident would be thinking. Unless the lead car stopped suddenly or cut in front of the truck driver, the truck driver and their trucking company will be held liable for this accident.
Talk to a Kennesaw, GA Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured by a careless truck driver, call the Roger Ghai Law Offices. We handle cases throughout Georgia, in Kennesaw and the surrounding areas recovering thousands and sometimes millions of dollars in damages for our clients. Schedule your free consultation today!