Truck Accident Attorney in Georgia

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On the road, tractor-trailers can drive like bullies. In the courtroom, we turn the tables.

Each day, for-profit trucking companies send out 80,000-pound, 80-foot-long tractor-trailers to drive hundreds of miles on the same highways that you and I use. Whether you call them tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, or semi-trucks, they can’t stop as fast as most vehicles, can’t turn as quickly, and are sometimes on the road for 10 hours or more per day.

Our country gives truck companies the privilege of using public highways to make a profit, but that privilege comes with responsibility: truck companies must not endanger private citizens.

But sometimes these large vehicles cause serious accidents that hurt people. These injuries may affect truck accident victims for the rest of their lives. Hiring a knowledgeable and dedicated Georgia truck accident lawyer who understands how to hold truck companies accountable is important.

If you have been injured in a truck accident in Georgia, you may be facing massive medical bills, lost wages, and other physical, emotional, and financial stresses. The skilled and compassionate Georgia truck accident lawyers at the Butler Kahn fully understand what you are dealing with, and our tractor-trailer accident lawyers are ready to do everything we can to help. Our Georgia tractor-trailer accident law firm has offices in Atlanta, Lawrenceville, and Roswell. If you think we can help you, we can be available to meet with you in any of our offices, in your home, at a hospital, or anywhere else you need us to be. Talking with us is free.

Why You Need a Lawyer After Your Georgia Truck Accident

Your truck accident claim’s success will largely depend on the experience and skill of the trucking accident lawyer you choose to represent you. If you were injured by a truck driver or a loved one was killed in a fatal 18-wheeler accident, you need a Georgia truck accident attorney who understands how to build a strong case. Many truck accident attorneys take on many cases at once and settle them as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next case. These firms also often aren’t willing to go to trial. The insurance companies know this, and as a result, they will make a much lower settlement offer than what the case is actually worth. We don’t work like that. We won’t hesitate to take your truck accident case to trial to pursue the maximum compensation you deserve. We have helped many individuals in their truck accident cases and we can help you. Lawyers for the insurance and trucking companies know this, which boosts our ability to negotiate a full and fair settlement before we get to the courthouse. For example, our thorough pre-trial preparation of a fatal truck accident case allowed us to secure a $2 million policy limits settlement long before the case went before the judge and jury.

Common Injuries Caused by Truck Wrecks

Common injuries sustained in truck accidents include:

  • Broken bones
  • Cuts, bruises, lacerations
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Whiplash
  • Internal injuries
  • Rib and torso injuries
  • Amputation
  • Disfigurement
  • Burns
Georgia truck accident injury victim in a wheelchair

Who Can Be Responsible in a Georgia Truck Accident Case?

Potentially liable parties in a truck crash case may include:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • The owner of the truck
  • The cargo loader
  • A parts manufacturer
  • The truck maintenance provider
  • Another motorist

After being injured in a truck accident in Georgia, it is crucial to get help from an experienced attorney. A seasoned lawyer will understand how to investigate your situation and identify all the liable parties.

What Factors Make Trucking Cases Unique?

Truck accident investigations are different because there are certain types of evidence that are unavailable in cases involving only cars, but could be present in a truck crash. Examples of types of evidence that could make a difference in your case include:

  • GPS tracking devices – Because these devices track the movement of goods in transit, they can indicate what happened in the time leading up to and during the truck accident. This hard data can prove to be valuable to the success of your truck accident case.
  • Direct action– In most cases, evidence of insurance is inadmissible.  For example, in a car accident case, the jury must return a verdict against the defendant without knowing whether the defendant has the insurance that Georgia law requires.  But in a trucking case, the rule is different.  In a trucking case, Georgia’s “direct action” rule allows a plaintiff to sue the insurance company directly, in addition to the trucking company and trucker.
  • Black box information – Many trucks have electronic data recorders or “black boxes,” which can provide information about how fast a truck was traveling, when the driver applied the brakes, what steering actions the driver took, and other important information.
  • In-truck cameras – Video footage may clearly show how the truck driver’s negligence led to the accident. For instance, video could indicate that the truck driver was following too closely prior to a rear-end accident. We have found that video from in-truck cameras can be very powerful in our trucking cases.
  • Dispatch records – These records can provide a lot of information about the truck driver’s route, the nature of the particular job, and the duration the driver was in the vehicle.
  • Inspection reports – Trucks have to be inspected regularly by law. Inspection records could indicate that the trucking company failed to have the truck inspected or did not properly address a maintenance issue.
  • Driving Logs – Truck drivers are only allowed to drive so many hours without a break. They are required to log the hours they drive each week. The driving log can contain key information that can help your case.
  • Cargo-loading records – Improperly loaded cargo can throw off a truck’s center of gravity and lead to a rollover accident, or the cargo could fall off the trailer and cause a crash, for example. These records can provide insight into a cargo loading company’s negligence.

Truck Accident Settlements, Verdicts, and Compensation in Georgia

When a tractor-trailer driver is negligent or reckless and causes injuries to another driver, the hurt driver is entitled to compensation. Most truck accident cases settle before trial, so the injured person normally receives a settlement. If the case does not settle before trial, then the jury will render a verdict that sets the compensation to which the victim of the tractor-trailer accident is entitled.

Under Georgia law, the victim of a trucking accident is entitled to compensation for various losses, usually called “damages.” Types of truck accidents damages for which a victim should be compensated include:

  • Past medical bills – If someone is hurt and incurs medical costs, the truck company should pay for those medical bills. Importantly, the truck company is liable for the full amount of the bills, even if the injured person had health insurance. (One reason is that the injured person will likely have to pay the health insurance company back.)
  • Future medical bills – Serious injuries last a while – sometimes for the rest of a person’s life. If future medical treatment will be required, like physical therapy, a follow-up surgery, or in-home nursing care, the trucking company should pay for those future costs.
  • Past pain and suffering – It hurts to be hit by a tractor-trailer, and victims are entitled to be compensated for the pain that a truck has put them through.
  • Future pain and suffering – If an injury is serious, the pain may not go away immediately. It lasts and lasts, long after the lawsuit has come and gone. For example, pain from neck or spinal injuries can last a lifetime, especially if arthritis sets in at the site of an injury. Metal plates and bone screws can hurt when the weather changes. If a victim of a truck accident is going to experience pain going into the future, Georgia law recognizes that he or she should be compensated for that.
  • Interference with daily living – Minor injuries may heal completely, but some serious injuries never do. In the case of the severest injuries, like paralysis or amputations, the truck accident can change a person’s life forever. If a truck company puts a victim through that, then under Georgia law, they have to compensate him or her for it.

Trucking Companies & Insurance: Who Pays the Money?

Trucking companies and their insurers almost always pay truck accident settlements or verdicts. The money almost never comes out of the individual truck driver’s pocket. There are two reasons for that.

The first reason is a legal rule called vicarious liability, respondeat superior, or statutory employment. It means that when a person is working for a company or another person and is acting within the course and scope of his or her employment, then the company or employer is responsible for the negligent or reckless acts of the person.

You can imagine how that works in the context of a tractor-trailer accident – the truck driver is almost always driving for a trucking company when the accident occurs because otherwise, the trucker would not have been on the road in the truck in the first place. Even if the trucking company attempts to claim that the driver was only an “independent contractor,” the trucking company is almost always responsible for injuries caused by its driver under the principles of “statutory employment,” which has roots in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and Georgia common law. We see that so-called “defense” often, and it almost always fails.

The second reason is insurance. The rules change from time to time, but currently, any tractor-trailer that operates in “interstate commerce” (i.e., it regularly crosses state lines for business reasons, as most tractor-trailers do) must carry at least $750,000 in liability insurance. If a truck operates only within the state of Georgia (which is rare), it must have at least $100,000 in liability insurance. There are other categories with different requirements – for instance, trucks carrying hazardous cargo must have more insurance, and trucks working in agriculture may be able to carry less. But most of the time, tractor-trailers carry significant insurance.

“Direct Actions” in Truck Accidents under Georgia Law

In most car accident cases, the injured person can sue only the at-fault driver and is not allowed to tell the jury that the at-fault driver has insurance. But the rule is different in trucking cases.

In truck cases, the injured person can sue the trucking company’s insurer directly in what lawyers call a “direct action.” Most of the time, the injured person will sue the trucking company and the trucking company’s insurer in a single lawsuit. But not always. If the truck accident attorney and the client prefer, they can file separate lawsuits against the trucking company and the insurer.

Occasionally, limitations on where cases may be filed (what the law calls “venue”) may require separate lawsuits. But most of the time, the tractor-trailer accident lawyer sues the trucking company and the insurer in a single lawsuit, which tells the jury that the trucking company is insured.

Time Limit for Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit in Georgia

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The statute of limitations for a truck accident lawsuit in Georgia is generally two years from the date of the crash. However, it can be longer or shorter depending on the circumstances of your case. If you have been hurt in a crash, talk to an experienced Georgia truck accident lawyer about the specifics of your case.

Federal and State Trucking Laws and Regulations

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The truck driver’s responsibility to follow federal rules applies whether the truck is stopped or on the move. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSR”) carefully limit the length of time that a truck driver can be on the road and the length of the breaks that he or she must take.

Truck drivers on the move must keep focused, paying attention to what is happening 12 to 15 seconds ahead of them. Stopped trucks must not be parked in places that endanger other drivers or passengers. A truck accident lawyer understands the rules, the consequences of a truck accident, and the serious injuries that can follow.

Federal and state laws confirm the responsibility of trucking companies. For instance, drivers of tractor-trailers must keep accurate logbooks confirming that the driver has not been driving too long and has had adequate rest. 49 C.F.R. § 398.6. Truck drivers must regularly inspect their trucks, must keep the trucks from rolling away out of control while they’re being inspected, and must not park their trucks in ways that put other people in danger. See 49 C.F.R. § 396.3. Trucking companies have a legal duty to hire honest, competent drivers and keep their trucks in good working order. Coe v. Carroll & Carroll, Inc., 308 Ga. App. 777, 785-86 (2011); Fouts v. Builders Transport, Inc., 222 Ga. App. 568, 570 (1996). Truck drivers should not consume alcohol or other intoxicating substances in any amount while on the job. 49 C.F.R. § 382.205.

Hiring a knowledgeable and smart truck accident lawyer who understands the rules, the justice system, and the way to present a truck accident injury to a jury is important.

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Talk to a Georgia Truck Accident Attorney Now

The Georgia truck accident lawyers at Butler Kahn understand the complexities and technicalities involved with truck accidents. We also know how traumatic these accidents can be for the victim. Our highly skilled and compassionate truck accident attorneys will work tirelessly to hold the negligent parties accountable and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

If you’re suffering from injuries from a truck accident, we hope this page has been helpful. If you think we could help with your personal injury case, please call us or contact us online. Talking with us is free.