A large truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. If you are in an accident with one, the results can be devastating. You could be facing extensive medical bills, ongoing pain and suffering, and short- or long-term disabilities. Act quickly to protect yourself and your family from crippling financial burdens that an accident can cause. David Brauns is a truck accident attorney in Duluth Georgia who can help.
Our team helps accident victims recover compensation from liable parties after truck accidents, such as trucking companies, vehicle maintenance companies, etc. You will not have to worry about lowball offers and dubious settlement offers from the insurance company with Brauns Law, PC on your side.
The Brauns Law, PC team will evaluate your case and help you identify the responsible party or parties. Trucking accidents can be complicated, and there may be multiple entities involved. The following scenarios can affect liability in your case.
Industry violations: Sometimes drivers ignore important federal regulations guiding allowable service hours or cargo securement. Driver work logs, cargo containment and tie-down procedures, or truck weight can all become key pieces of evidence in an accident case.
Negligent hiring or training: A trucking company could be liable for failing to ensure that its drivers have adequate training and qualifications. Unqualified truckers are a danger to all who share the road.
Negligent service and maintenance: If your accident occurred because some important mechanical system of the truck failed (braking system, for example), you might need to focus on the maintenance and service company that worked on the truck or the trucking company as the responsible entity.
Manufacturer defects: When a part or component of the truck breaks and causes an accident, the manufacturer of the truck or a specific part might be the liable party. If the part was substandard or faulty, you may be entitled to compensation from the company who made it.
Your attorney will help you understand who might be liable for the truck accident when you are preparing your case. Consider the following possibilities:
Driver error: In many cases, the driver of the truck may be at fault for the accident. It is possible that the driver’s negligence (texting and driving, aggressive driving, etc.) caused the events leading up to the crash. In these cases, the trucking company that employs the driver could be vicariously liable.
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Truck Accident FAQ
Large commercial trucks caused 45 fatalities on Georgia’s roads in the last year for which statistics are available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That is far less than the 557 deaths caused by crashes of passenger cars. But in fact, crashes with a large truck can be much more likely to result in deaths and catastrophic injuries than those with a smaller vehicle, simply because trucks are so much larger and heavier.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about truck accidents.
What Kinds of Trucks Are Involved in Accidents?
Every type of truck on the road can potentially be involved in an accident. Commercial trucks, however, are what people often mean when they speak of a truck accident. If you are listening to the radio in the morning, for example, and the announcers talk about a truck accident on the road, they are almost certainly referring to an incident with a large commercial truck.
Why? These types of trucks are prone to certain types of accidents that can pose dangers to passing motorists and tie up traffic for miles around. A rollover, for example, can spread a truck across several lanes of traffic. So can a jack-knife, where part of the truck is perpendicular to the other part. Cargo is more prone to spill in incidents like this, and the flying cargo itself can pose a danger to passersby. If the trucks are carrying flammable liquid, the potential danger of fire or chemical spills can be great. So one of the reasons for the radio announcements is to warn motorists to take other routes to avoid the danger—or plan for the delays that can ensue from a truck accident.
Legally, What’s the Difference Between Commercial Trucks and My Neighbor’s Pick-Up?
The commercial trucks category can include 18-wheeler tractor trailers, tanker trucks, delivery vehicles, and other large freight trucks. Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Commercial trucks are often used to deliver products and freight for interstate commerce throughout the country, not just in intrastate driving.
That’s not to say that pick-ups and vans can’t also be commercial vehicles. But they can also simply be private vehicles. Pickups and vans also get into truck accidents in Georgia. According to the NHTSA, for example, pick-ups caused 235 deaths in crashes and vans caused 46. Light utility trucks were responsible for 217 fatalities in traffic accidents.
Any collision with pick-ups, light utility trucks, and vans may do more damage than a passenger car, but they are not likely to do as much damage as an 80,000 pound 18-wheeler. That is roughly 40 times as heavy as a small passenger car.
A major difference between any commercial vehicle and a pick-up or van driven for personal use is the licensing requirement and potential liability in an accident. Let’s discuss those.
Do Commercial Truck Drivers Need Special Licenses?
Commercial truck drivers must have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL). Drivers need to obtain a CDL in Georgia if they will be driving a combination of vehicles weighing 26, 001 pounds or more, one vehicle that weights 26, 001 pounds or more, a vehicle that requires a placard of hazardous materials, or a vehicle that will be carrying over 15 people, such as a bus.
Large commercial vehicles can be quite different to drive than smaller vehicles. The CDL is designed to require both knowledge of how to operate the larger vehicles and a skills test that demonstrates the ability to do so. Specific tests are also required for specific types of vehicles (school buses, for example) or transport (such as hazardous materials).
The tests also require drivers to know pertinent information, such as how to check a truck’s load.
Who Is Liable if I’m Injured in a Truck Accident in Georgia?
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Georgia, liability for any injuries and property damage rests with the at-fault party, which can be a person, a company, or other entity. This is true of any vehicle accident, whether it’s with a truck or not.
However, commercial truck liability can be very complicated to assess. The reason? Multiple parties may bear responsibility for an accident occurring in a commercial truck accident.
If the driver’s actions cause the accident, the driver (via the insurance company) will be liable for your injuries. If the driver is speeding and going too fast to stop at a red light, for example, and runs into you in an intersection, the driver is at fault. You can pursue the driver’s insurance company to pay damages from the accident, such as medical bills for injuries caused by the accident and any wages lost from work the accident caused. You may also pursue a personal injury claim for these damages, and pain and suffering.
But other factors can cause what appears on the surface to be driver error. If commercial trucks are not maintained properly, the brakes or other areas may not work properly. If brake failure was the reason the truck didn’t stop, the truck’s owner, the truck fleet owner, or the company charged with doing periodic inspections, maintenance, and repairs can all be partially or even completely responsible. Federal regulations require commercial truck owners to perform regular inspections, maintenance, and necessary repairs.
In addition, improper loading of the cargo into the truck can cause some truck accidents. It needs to be balanced and secured in very specific, appropriate ways. If it isn’t, the truck can become difficult or even impossible to steer. Unbalanced or too heavy loads can prompt rollovers and jack-knifes, especially if the driver goes too fast or the weather is inclement.
Defective components or defects in truck manufacturing can cause accidents. The manufacturer or maker of the truck and its components can be liable if that’s the case.
Finally, if a truck driver causes an accident and does not have a valid CDL license, the entity responsible for hiring drivers can be partially liable for the accident, because trucking companies have a responsibility to hire qualified drivers.
Because of the potential for multiple at-fault parties (often with different insurance companies), it’s often necessary to investigate the causes of accidents involving large commercial trucks. Law firms often work with investigative teams in such cases.
What should I do now?
Call David Brauns and the Brauns Law, PC team for help. Our team is ready to hear your story and offer legal advice to help you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. For a no cost, no obligation consultation, contact us at 404-348-0889.
“I couldn’t have chosen a better law firm. From beginning to end I felt like top priority as if I was their only client. Everyone I encountered was always compassionate and kind, even in my moments of flipping out due to the stress of changes my accident caused. Mr. Braun, kept me informed every step of the way, educated me on things I didn’t understand and made me feel part of the process. He definitely is there for his clients and their best interest, not just another case. Yessenia was AMAZING in helping with everything and I appreciate her hard work! I’m thankful I was led to THIS PARTICULAR law firm (after being in the area only a month). I’m grateful for their attention, compassion and hard work to get my family through this ordeal.”
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Contact us today to set up your free case consultation. David Brauns will discuss your case with you in detail and explain all your legal options. Our goal is to get the full and fair compensation you deserve after a serious truck accident.