Truck Accidents: Causes, Effects, and Investigations
Good Georgia truck accident lawyers know the differences between car accidents and truck accidents. In 2013, more than 325,000 of the vehicle crashes reported to police involved some type of large truck, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Those traffic accidents killed more than 3,500 people. The size and weight of tractor trailers make them potentially deadly. If you or a loved one sustained a serious injury in a tractor-trailer accident, our personal injury lawyers are prepared to hold the right people responsible.
DANGERS OF TRACTOR-TRAILERS
Your vehicle probably weighs about 4,000 pounds. In contrast, a tractor-trailer loaded with cargo may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That’s a big difference. Knowledgeable Georgia truck accident lawyers understand that weight isn’t the only difference. The cargo that a tractor-trailer is carrying also matters. If the driver of a tractor-trailer didn’t secure the cargo properly, the cargo can shift while the tractor-trailer is moving, causing the driver to lose control. It’s also possible for heavy objects to fly out of the back of the truck, smashing into your car or causing you to lose control of your vehicle. In Georgia, drivers who fail to secure their cargo can be held accountable. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-248.1.
When a tractor-trailer hits another car, the consequences can be tragic. This video clip comes from a tractor-trailer accident case that one of our lawyers took to trial in Macon, Georgia.
The truck’s speed and the weight of the tractor-trailer influence how long it takes to come to a complete stop. Tire pressure, vehicle suspension, and brake condition also affect total stopping distance. In a car or pickup truck, your total stopping distance is usually around 300 feet. In a tractor-trailer traveling 65 miles per hour, the total stopping distance may be as much as 525 feet. That’s almost double the distance of a car. Total stopping distance is a combination of minimum reaction distance and minimum braking distance. You want to consult with Georgia truck accident lawyers who not only know these facts, but know the right experts to prove these facts.
Trucking companies love to deny responsibility. They hire lawyers, investigators, and specialized insurance personnel to help them do it. But when we cross-examine the truck company owners, sometimes the truth comes out.
INCREASED RISK OF ROLLOVER
Tractor-trailers are not only long, but tall. That can make them top-heavy. In some cases, that top-heaviness causes a rollover accident. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study determined that a major cause of rollover crashes is the driver’s failure to adjust speed when traveling on curved roads. Heavy loads, falling asleep at the wheel, driving while distracted, and brakes in poor condition are also associated with rollover accidents.
Tractor-trailers are especially dangerous when drivers don’t take their responsibilities seriously. Consuming alcohol, taking drugs, exceeding hours-of-service limits, and speeding are all examples of behavior that can cause fatal accidents. Hiring Georgia truck accident lawyers who know how to prove a truck driver was exceeding his hours-of-service limits, or was speeding will make a difference to your case.
INJURIES CAUSED BY TRACTOR-TRAILER ACCIDENTS
Because of their size, tractor-trailers tend to cause serious injuries. These are just some of the injuries that can occur due to a tractor-trailer accident.
Brain and Head Injuries
Brain and head injuries, such as concussions and skull fractures, often cause long-term problems with motor function, memory, and vision. Someone with a head injury may need surgery to repair damaged blood vessels, reduce intracranial pressure, or remove vehicle debris from the skull. In the most severe cases, the surgeon may have to remove part of the brain tissue due to excessive swelling. Our team of Georgia truck accident lawyers have worked with neurologists and neurosurgeons in evaluating and treating our clients.
Back and Neck Injuries
Back and neck injuries make it difficult to perform normal activities such as going to work, driving a car, or taking a walk. Severe injuries to the spinal cord may cause paraplegia (loss of function in the legs) or tetraplegia (loss of function in all four limbs), leaving an accident victim unable to get dressed, eat, use the bathroom, or perform many daily activities without assistance.
Tractor-trailer accidents may also cause spinal fractures or herniated discs. Spinal fractures are breaks in the bones that protect the spinal cord from damage. Spine fusion surgery, kyphoplasty, and vertebroplasty are surgical procedures used to relieve the pain of vertebral fractures. During spine fusion surgery, the surgeon adds a bone graft to the injured part of the spine. The bone graft eventually fuses two vertebrae together, which prevents the joint from moving and reduces pain. The vertebrae may also be held in place by rods, plates, or screws. Our team of Georgia truck accident lawyers have represented many clients who have needed back surgery because of a tractor-trailer accident.
Kyphoplasty is a procedure used to stabilize the fractured vertebra. During the procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision, inserts a tube into the back, and uses the tube to guide a special balloon to the fracture site. Once the balloon is in place, the surgeon inflates it, which pushes the fractured pieces of bone into a normal position. The balloon also creates a cavity inside the vertebra. The surgeon fills the cavity with a cement-like material that stabilizes the bone once it hardens. Vertebroplasty is very similar, except the surgeon injects the cement-like substance directly into the fractured bone instead of using a balloon to create a cavity inside the vertebra.
Someone with a herniated disc may need a laminotomy, discectomy, spinal fusion, or artificial disc surgery. During a laminotomy, the surgeon cuts into the lamina—the arched part of the vertebra—to relieve pressure on the nerve roots. Discectomy involves the removal of the disc or portion of the disc that is causing pressure on the nerve root. During artificial disc surgery, the surgeon removes the damaged disc and replaces it with a disc made of metal and plastic. All of these surgeries are painful, expensive, and could have been avoided had the tractor-trailer driver not caused an accident. Our team of Georgia truck accident lawyers regularly consult with treating surgeons on our clients treatments and surgeries.
Fractures, or broken bones, are serious injuries that interfere with simple activities. In some cases, a break is so bad that it has to be set with pins, rods, or metal plates. It takes several months for a fracture to heal, making it difficult to work, perform household chores, and drive.
The trauma of slamming into the steering wheel or having your seatbelt tighten during a crash can damage your internal organs, resulting in serious complications. An accident victim may need surgery to repair injuries to the kidneys, spleen, bladder, liver, pancreas, and other organs. Tractor-trailer accidents can also damage major blood vessels, leading to massive blood loss if the damage is not repaired quickly.
In this video clip, Butler Law Firm asks our client’s doctor to explain how collisions can cause spinal injuries. We played this video-recorded deposition at a trial in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Our firm has handled many cases involving spinal injuries.
Illustration of herniated disc.
INVESTIGATING A TRUCK ACCIDENT IN GEORGIA
When our Georgia truck accident lawyers are hired we start by conducting a thorough investigation of the truck accident. There are several things our law firm can do to gather evidence and determine who is at fault:
1. We can inspect the vehicle to determine if defective parts played a role in your accident.
2. We can ask the trucking company to provide the driver’s qualification file (DQF), which contains hours-of-service logs, employment applications, training records, and other information that can help us determine if the company made a mistake by hiring or continuing to employ the driver.
3. We can retain a crash reconstruction expert to take measurements and determine exactly what happened at the time of the crash.
4. We can request information recorded by the truck’s data or GPS recorder, which is similar to the black box in an airplane.
5. We can send spoliation letters to the trucking company. A spoliation letter informs trucking company personnel of their obligation to preserve crash-related evidence.
6. We can take depositions from people who witnessed the accident.
7. We can depose the driver, the business’s Safety Director, and other personnel at the business.
8. We can interview witnesses to determine what happened before, during, and after the crash.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System, which provides information about motor carriers located in the United States. As soon as you call us, we can use SAFER to look up accident and inspection data for the trucking company. We can even use the system to determine if the trucking company was properly insured at the time of your accident. This information can prove very useful at both the early and later stages of your case.
“Jeb and his team are extremely attentive. I was well informed throughout my entire legal process which helped me feel very comfortable. You’ll not find a more caring law team then [Butler Law Firm].”
OUR FIRM COVERS THE COST OF THE CASE
Preparing and litigating a tractor-trailer accident case can get expensive. It costs money to file a lawsuit with the court and serve papers on all parties involved in the case. Our law firm may need to hire medical consultants, crash reconstruction experts, or professional photographers. After we file, our Georgia truck accident lawyers will need to travel around the state, possibly the country, deposing the right people. Tractor-trailer lawsuits tend to cost a lot of money. We cover those costs. Only if we are successful—through trial or settlement—do we get paid back.
Tractor-trailer accidents are complex. You need reliable witnesses and documentary evidence to help you gather evidence and reconstruct the accident. When you come to our firm for help, you don’t have to worry about collecting evidence or trying to fight the trucking company on your own. Our team of Georgia truck accident lawyers will conduct a thorough investigation of your accident, request driver and vehicle records from the trucking company, and arrange for any necessary independent investigators to evaluate the crash. We know what to do and how to do it.
When deciding on who to hire as your lawyer, ask questions. Some of the questions you should ask a personal injury lawyer as you interview lawyers are: 1. Will you handle my case or a paralegal? 2. Have you tried cases in court? 3. How often do you go to court? 4. What makes you different from another personal injury lawyer? 5. Can you show me some examples of your previous cases and the results? Ask us, and we’ll be glad to tell you.
In addition to interviewing the lawyer you are thinking about hiring, you should read reviews by other clients and ask for the lawyer what makes them the right lawyer for you. Read our client testimonials and our reviews on Google, Avvo, and Facebook. Our Georgia truck accident lawyers and our staff treat every single client with respect and dignity— and our reviews prove it.