Injured Due to a Truck Accident?
Speak with Our Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney Today at 404-618-0960.
SERVING THE STATE OF GEORGIA
An accident involving a passenger vehicle and an eighteen-wheeler can have serious and even disastrous consequences. These massive trucks carry tremendous force when they collide with another object or vehicle. There are many reasons why these accidents occur—a truck driver's negligence, lack of maintenance on the vehicle, and even bad weather that day.
Whatever the case may be, you should know that you have every right to seek holding those parties accountable for your accident. As seasoned litigators, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers can assist you with the claims process. We have worked with a Fortune 500 insurance company, and we know what it takes to help our clients obtain the outcome they desire.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Georgia has many frequently traveled highways, and a truck accident can occur without notice. Responding to the scene of a truck accident is critical, as are the moments immediately after. What we can do as your Atlanta truck accident attorneys is investigate every detail and determine the source of the incident.
These are the most common causes of truck accidents:
- Lack of driver training
- Drug or alcohol use
- Inclement weather
- Poor road conditions
- Distracted driving
- Unsafe lane changing
- Failing to maintain proper distance
- Aggressive driving
- Improper truck maintenance
- Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo
At Paisley Law LLC, we have extensive legal experience handling the most serious and difficult of cases. When you retain our services, you can rest assured knowing that we are on your side every step of the way. From the claims process to negotiating with insurance companies, and even taking cases to trial—we take every case seriously.
Any time you have a commercial truck involved in an accident, immediate action must be taken. Even in cases where a client might have been at fault or cited for the accident, if the injuries were bad enough, it may warrant further investigation and expense.
A trucking case can generally be described as any accident case involving a potential defendant that should be governed under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules (FMCSR). 49 C.F.R. §390.5 defines a commercial motor vehicle as “any vehicle used on the highway in interstate commerce transporting people or property with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 10,001 lbs. or more.”
Practically speaking and per the book on Understanding Federal Motor Carrier Claims, the FMCR's apply to any “owner and/or operator of any business vehicle and/or trailer with any load which in combination weighs more than 10,001 lbs. must comply with FMSCR. Straight trucks, work vans, large pick-up trucks with trailers, landscaping vehicles, HVAC work vehicles, plumbing trucks and utility may fall within this definition of a commercial vehicle.”
Handling Trucking Personal Injury Cases
Minor v. Major Cases
Minor impact cases involving an 18-wheeler are rare, and even if you think you're okay after being hit, it is imperative that you see a doctor immediately and at least have an MRI of your spine. If the case is in fact a minor impact with minor injuries and you retain a lawyer, these cases can be handled similarly to car wrecks with a few exceptions like sending out spoliation letters. I've had two of these cases recently where my clients were not hurt that bad. They had some minor bruising and more or less wanted to get checked out and verify that the injuries were minor. The biggest indicator that they were not seriously injured was that they had little inclination to attend their doctor appointments and wanted their cases closed immediately. If injuries are minor, the settlement values on commercial policies can be much greater than the auto liability carriers. In my experience, typical minor soft tissue settlement values range from 2-5x medical special damages. For a complimentary case evaluation to determine what your case may be worth, contact us today.
Major impact cases with serious injuries or death are another battleground:
In a serious case, the trucking companies know they have everything to lose and they have response teams to intervene and investigate the accident. Their insurance carriers have investigators, lawyers, and risk management on call 24/7 and they are usually on scene no later than two hours post-accident. They will almost always beat plaintiff's counsel to investigate the wreck.
Once hired, we immediately send out spoliation letters to the trucking company preventing them from losing or destroying vital information about the wreck. We always demand preservation of six-month driver log reports, maintenance records one year before and six months after the accident, vehicle inspection reports, and whatever else is relevant. If a case is serious enough, our firm must facilitate a response team of our own. Accident reconstructionists, mechanics, safety compliance experts, photographic investigator, load securement specialist, human factors expert, and an expert to download the ECM data from the truck should all be considered. None of this can wait and must be done immediately or the data is lost and gone forever. Skid marks disappear fast as do electronic evidence like ECM data, the black box, and evidence of mechanical failures. We never rely solely on the police.
To further explain the complexity of these cases, it's worth noting who the parties to a suit might be. The driver, the common carrier, the owner of the trailer, shipper, consignee, broker, insurer, and the logistics company can all be viable defendants in a commercial trucking case. During litigation, your attorney might need to depose the driver, safety director, risk manager, maintenance director, training director, dispatcher, route specialist, and the information specialist.
It's always helpful to understand ways to establish liability and/or increase the value of a case. We find out whether the truck driver was drinking or on drugs. Having a list of all rules of the road that were violated as well as all potential violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations is critical in proving liability. This also helps in proving liability. Having an expert immediately can ascertain whether more specific FMCSR violations were contributory in the wreck. The expert can opine on the driver's background, the logbooks, required inspections, loading requirements, braking, conspicuity, other safety equipment, and all other documents required.
The FMCSR rules are most important because they establish the standard of care a truck driver must use – its higher than a regular driver because of all the training and testing, inspections and logging of procedures. In fact, truck drivers must use extreme care in the fog, rain, sleet, or snow.
In establishing liability in trucking cases, we utilize Georgia's CDL manual that specifically combs through every rule the driver must follow. It addresses inspections, the 7-step method of starting up the truck, and basic control procedures while driving that include seeing, controlling speed, distance perception, managing space between vehicles, night driving strategy, distracted driving, being alert and safe, and understanding the load and cargo and its effects on the way one drives. The Manual also addresses the safety of transporting passengers, air brakes, combination vehicles, double and triple trailers, tank vehicles, haz mat, and school buses. The CDL driver must be shown to be a professional – they have a rigorous licensing process, their daily procedures before they can drive are lengthy, they have to know mechanics of systems unlike drivers of regular vehicles, so they must be held to a higher standard. Again, it is useful to use the CDL manual to show that CDL driving is most of the time a higher standard that other drivers are held to.
This is a general overview of how we approach trucking cases, but every case is different and the sooner you hire an attorney, the better. Call our Atlanta personal injury firm today (404) 618-0960 for a FREE no-obligation case evaluation or contact us online.
We can arrange in-home or hospital visits, including weekend appointments. Be sure to schedule your appointment as soon as possible.