A mixture of heavy trucks and small passenger vehicles travel the busy streets and roads in and around Lawrenceville every day. When these mismatched vehicles collide, the results are often devastating – particularly for the occupants of a car hit by a truck.
Large commercial trucks like 18-wheelers are often up to 80 feet long and can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. An average car, on the other hand, is about 15 feet long and weighs only 3,500 pounds. It’s no wonder that collisions between these two types of vehicles are often catastrophic, with drivers and occupants of passenger cars bearing the brunt of the damage.
In a single recent year, there were 151,000 people injured and nearly 5,000 people killed in U.S. accidents involving large trucks. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 80 percent of the people killed in large truck crashes were occupants of passenger vehicles or non-occupants like pedestrians or cyclists. In Georgia, large trucks made up almost 10 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes.
The devastation a truck accident leaves behind can be overwhelming. Insurance forms, accident reports, and soaring medical bills add more stress to an already difficult situation. Here’s some good news: a Lawrenceville truck accident lawyer from the Butler Law Firm can help by taking on the legal burden and fighting for compensation to set things right.
Contact us if you’re ready to discuss your situation and your legal options. Talking to us is free and without obligations.
What Makes Truck Accident Cases So Complicated?
Several common factors in tractor-trailer accidents create complications that are less common in crashes that involve only passenger cars. Some of the most significant distinctions in big truck accident cases include:
- More severe injuries – Since large trucks are so much bigger than cars, they usually cause a lot more serious injuries when they collide. More severe injuries mean higher medical bills and related losses, which mean more valuable accident claims. There is also more money on the line because heavy trucks typically carry much more insurance coverage than personal vehicles – usually $750,000 at lease. When an accident claim is as costly as it can be for a large truck accident, you can count on the insurance companies to vigorously fight the victim’s claim.
- More parties involved – A truck driver is almost always on the road in a commercial capacity, which means they may not be the only one liable for the accident. Any parties responsible for the truck driver, truck, or truck cargo can become defendants if the truck is involved in an accident. This could include trucking companies, truck maintenance companies, insurance companies (in what the Georgia law calls a “direct action”) and cargo companies, for example.
- More extensive rules and regulations – As commercial drivers, truck operators are subject to specific rules and regulations that don’t apply to most other drivers. Federal regulations, Class C license restrictions, trucking company policies, and commercial trucking laws can all play a factor in truck accident claims.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Lawrenceville
Tractor-trailer drivers are often on the road for up to 11 hours per day, sometimes daily for days or weeks at a time. Truckers near the end of a long haul may feel fatigued or worn down, and their semi-trucks or trailers can sustain wear and tear over time, too.
Often, truck drivers will even drive beyond the hours of service time limits permitted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, due to pressure to make deliveries on time. The grind of many miles over long hours can make 18-wheeler operators less alert over time, increasing the chances of a catastrophic collision.
In addition to fatigue, some of the other most common factors that cause large truck accidents include:
- Distracted or reckless truck drivers
- Intoxicated truck drivers, including impairment from prescription or over-the-counter medications
- Driving errors
- Following too closely
- Failure to check blind spots
- Inadequately trained or unqualified drivers
- Violations of trucking safety rules
- Improper truck or trailer maintenance
- Improperly loaded or secured cargo
- Defective truck or trailer components
- Unethical trucking company policies
Common Injuries Associated with Truck Accidents
Since trucking accidents involve such massive vehicles, the resulting injuries from these collisions tend to be correspondingly substantial. Occupants of an average passenger vehicle that gets struck by a tractor-trailer are far more likely to sustain serious or fatal injuries than the driver in a big rig.
Some examples of common injuries from the victims of large truck accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Neck and shoulder injuries
- Herniated discs and other back injuries
- Spinal cord trauma
- Broken arms and legs
- Broken collarbones and ribs
- Fractured pelvis
- Friction, heat, or chemical burns
- Punctured or ruptured organs
- Internal bleeding
- Knee and other joint trauma
- Cuts, bruises, and skin trauma
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Depression, anxiety, and PTSD
- Amputated limbs or digits
- Total or partial paralysis
- Wrongful death
How a Lawrenceville Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer Can Help with Your Claim
Whether your truck crash injury case is resolved in a settlement with insurance providers or ends up in court, an experienced truck accident lawyer can take the burden off your shoulders in many ways. An attorney who focuses on accident and injury law can deal with insurance negotiations and legal red tape while you focus on your mental, physical, and emotional recovery.
If you decide to enlist legal representation in your Lawrenceville truck accident claim, a lawyer can help you with:
- Investigating the details of the accident and who caused it
- Calculating the full extent of your losses
- Analyzing the laws and regulations that apply to your case
- Collecting evidence to support your claim
- Consulting with experts such as accident reconstructionists
- Managing your important records and documents
- Communicating with insurance providers on your behalf
- Obtaining medical records from healthcare providers
- Negotiating with insurers for an appropriate settlement
- Litigating cases at trial if the insurers refuse to make a fair settlement offer
Evidence We May Use in a Truck Accident Case
Truck drivers’ employers, their insurance providers, and any other party potentially at fault for the accident will do everything they can to redirect blame and attempt to minimize your settlement. Additionally, evidence exists in a truck wreck case that you might not think to look for in a standard automobile accident.
To make sure you can successfully prove liability in your semi-truck accident, the legal team at Butler Law Firm can dig for evidence such as:
- Official police reports from the accident
- Statements from other drivers or eyewitnesses
- Photographs of the accident scene and resulting damages
- Bills and other records from medical treatment
- Expert witness testimony, such as accident reconstruction
- The truck driver’s official service logbook
- Records from the truck’s electronic logging device (ELD)
- Data from the truck’s electronic control module (ECM) or “black box”
- Dash-cam footage from the semi-truck, if available
- Records of the inspection and maintenance history of the truck
- Information from the truck’s onboard GPS or navigation systems
- The driver’s work history, qualifications, and training files
- The driver’s mobile phone records
- Drug and alcohol screening results following the accident
- Trailer, load, and cargo evidence like bills of lading or dispatch instructions
Who Can Be Held Responsible After a Truck Accident?
Unlike most car accidents, the responsibility for a tractor-trailer accident often goes beyond the truck driver and any other motorists involved. Commercial truck drivers on the road aren’t just driving, they’re working.
In general, the trucking company that employed the driver may be held liable for the driver’s negligence. That’s typically true even if the company labeled the driver an “independent contractor” instead of an “employee,” because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require that trucking companies take responsibility for their own drivers (in section 390.5). In addition, any parties that may have affected a truck driver’s ability to do their job safely can share in the blame for a resulting accident.
A few examples of the parties that may be held liable for a semi-truck accident include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The owner of the truck
- The owner of the trailer
- The manufacturer of the truck
- The cargo owner
- The cargo loading company
- The truck maintenance provider
What Compensation Can Be Recovered After a Big Rig Accident?
Like all accident claims, the compensation you may be entitled to receive following a large truck accident depends on several factors. The severity of the injuries the accident caused and any negligence on your part could greatly affect the value of your claim.
Generally speaking, though, you can pursue compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical bills and related expenses
- Lost income
- Diminished future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage
- Punitive damages in exceptional cases
- Wrongful death compensation if truck accident took the life of a family member
Time Limit for Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit in Georgia
A statute of limitations is a legal time limit for filing certain types of lawsuits. If you are unable to reach a settlement for your claim, any resulting legal action you bring needs to be filed before the statute of limitations expires.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. This means that you have a two-year deadline from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in court. Failure to file a case before the deadline means you will almost certainly give up your right to pursue compensation. Only very narrow exceptions can extend the deadline.
What Can I Do to Protect My Rights After a Truck Accident?
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer or other large truck, you’re probably facing significant losses. You’ll likely also have to deal with several parties who will attempt to shift the blame for the wreck so they can avoid paying their fair share. It is vital that you take steps to protect your rights and interests
Some simple steps you can take to protect your rights immediately following a truck accident injury include:
- Get to a safe location and seek immediate medical attention.
- If you are able to do so at the scene of the accident:
- Exchange information with the other drivers involved.
- Capture your own evidence of the accident scene.
- Talk to any witnesses and request their contact information.
- Call the police to file an accident report.
- Don’t agree to any suspicious offers or requests.
- Keep a log of all your medical bills and other expenses.
- Don’t give a written or recorded statement without the advice of your lawyer.
- Resist the temptation to accept the first settlement offer.
- Contact a Lawrenceville truck accident lawyer.
Talk to a Lawrenceville 18-wheeler Accident Lawyer
The attorneys at the Butler Law Firm are ready to listen to your concerns, analyze your situation, and lay out your best legal options. Talking with us is free and easy. Whenever you’re ready to get started, contact us by phone or online. Let’s see how we can help.