Two people were killed on June 30, 2016 because of a vehicle accident on Interstate 85. The crash involved a tractor-trailer and a sedan. The collision happened on the northbound lanes of I85 near Georgia Highway 316. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, traffic backed up for five miles and six lanes were blocked so that police could respectfully move the dead and clear their vehicles from the highway.
While the cause of the accident has not been determined, the accident raises two common accident issues that an experienced Georgia vehicle accident attorney knows how to handle. The first issue is why collisions between trucks and cars are so dangerous. The second issue is what types of claims can be brought when a loved one is killed due to the fault of another.
Why passenger vehicle vs. tractor-trailer accidents are often deadly
Whether it’s a tractor-trailer, semi-trucks, 18-wheeler, or some other large truck, an accident between a truck and a regular sedan is more likely to cause a death. Here are some of the reasons:
- Trucks are much longer, wider, and heavier than automobiles. The sheer difference in size and weight means the car suffers the brunt of any physical impact between the two vehicles. The length of trucks makes it harder to pass a truck than it is to pass a car. Trucks have blind spots that can cause the truck driver to fail to see smaller vehicles as the vehicle passes them on their side.
- Trucks are harder to control than cars. Drivers of most large trucks are required to have a commercial driver’s license because trucks are harder to turn, are more susceptible to jack-knifing or rolling lover, they are harder to stop, and take longer to accelerate.
- Truck drivers are usually more tired than car drivers. Shipping companies and transport companies regularly pressure drivers to make deliveries on time. That pressure and often leads to little sleep for the driver. Even though federal and state laws regulate truck driving, many truck drivers ignore the rules and travel for 10 hours daily and up to 70 hours weekly. Constant driving causes fatigue that can cause accidents.
Sometimes, a truck fails in an emergency because it was not properly inspected. That improper or outright lack of inspection can result in cargo from trucks spilling onto the roadway. Shifting cargo can make it tough to control the truck.
Wrongful death claims in GA
The family of a deceased victim who can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of some or all family members. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit brought because of negligent conduct or misconduct of another. If someone dies because of a speeding truck, the surviving family can file a lawsuit against the truck driver as well as the company that owned the truck or hired the driver. Georgia law says that even the insurance company that insured the truck company can be named in the lawsuit.
- Who can file the wrongful death claim? In Georgia, the surviving spouse has the first right to bring the lawsuit on her/his behalf, and on behalf of any surviving children. If the person killed did not have a spouse, the children can file the wrongful death lawsuit. If the person killed did not have a spouse or children, then a parent can bring the wrongful death lawsuit.
- What claims can be brought on behalf of the decedent directly? The administrator or executor of the estate can sue for:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- The pain and suffering that the loved one suffered before dying
- What damages can the family members obtain? The family members or estate administrator can demand payment for the “full value of the life” of the person killed. The full value of a life includes:
- The economic loss. This figure is the money the person would have earned had he/she lived.
- The intangible loss. This amount covers the loss of life’s pleasures the person missed. Things likemarriage, having and raising children, reading, traveling, LIVING a life.
- Are punitive damages allowed? Georgia does allow an award of punitive damages. This award is meant to prevent or deter the wrongdoer from acting improperly again.
Contact a Strong Advocate When Highway Death or Injury Occurs
Injured vehicle accident victims and families of victims have the right to demand justice. If your life has been altered because of an accident or a loved one is no longer alive because of another driver’s poor driving, an experienced Georgia accident lawyer can help. Call us at (404) JUSTICE or complete our online contact form to schedule an appointment. Our lawyers are ready to answer your questions.