- In 2016, there were nearly 180 fatal crashes involving semi trucks in Georgia.
- Atlanta has the highest number of trucking jobs available in the country.
- Atlanta’s Spaghetti Junction is considered the worst truck bottleneck in the country.
Driving in Atlanta means driving around semi trucks. Whether you’re on I-285 or a backroad in the Metro area, dealing with semi trucks can be scary at best — and dangerous at worst. Because these large trucks take longer to brake, have massive blind spots, and can even be blown into the next lane by a large gust of wind, it is vital you drive carefully around them.
Yet, even if you take every precaution possible to avoid getting in a wreck, the sad fact is that accidents do happen. If you are involved in an accident involving a semi truck, it is important to know how negligence will be established.
An experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer can help you better understand the deeper details of negligence, but here are the basics you should know:
What Is Negligence?
In order to receive compensation after a truck accident in Atlanta, you must be able to establish negligence. This means the truck driver acted in a way that was thoughtless or careless and therefore caused the accident. For instance, if the truck driver changed lanes without looking or did not brake in time, they may be considered negligent.
There are four general elements of a negligence claim in a truck accident:
- The trucker had a duty to be reasonably careful
- The trucker breached that duty
- That breach of duty caused your injuries
- There are provable injuries and/or monetary loss
What this could mean is that just because you were involved in a truck accident, the truck driver may not be at fault. For example, if you suddenly cut in front of a truck on the highway and slow down, and the truck runs into you, you may be held liable, not the trucker, because the driver did not necessarily breach their duty to be careful. Of course, both parties may share blame. In which case, Georgia’s comparative negligence laws come into play.
Georgia’s Modified Comparative Negligence Laws
Like most states, Georgia follows a sort of comparative negligence law. This means that even if you are partly at fault for the accident you may still be able to receive some kind of compensation. (Only a few states follow contributory negligence laws, meaning if you are even 1% at fault you can not receive compensation.)
Georgia is a “modified 50% comparative” negligence state. This means if the jury finds that you are 50% or more at fault for your accident you are ineligible to receive compensation. To use the example above, if you cut in front of a truck unsafely but the truck was traveling at unsafe speeds, both you and the truck driver may be found (“apportioned”) 50% at fault. If so, you cannot receive compensation.
However, if the truck driver is found to be 60% at fault you would, therefore, only be 40% at fault. In this instance, you would be eligible to 60% of the total compensation ordered by the court. So, if the jury finds your damages to total $100,000 for your injuries, property damage, etc., you would only be eligible to receive $60,000.
Proving Negligence After a Truck Accident
The elements of negligence after a truck accident seem relatively simple. But proving these elements can be much more difficult. In a few cases, negligence is quite easy to prove. For instance, if the truck driver is driving drunk, it is easy to say they have breached their duty of care.
In other cases, the truck driver may not be qualified or certified to drive the vehicle. If they were hired by the trucking company anyway, the company itself may be held negligent. If the truck driver is considered an independent contractor and not an employee, the company may not be held liable at all. In these instances, getting the full compensation you deserve from a truck driver can prove difficult.
In the majority of cases, the facts simply are not so straightforward. No matter the situation, your Atlanta truck accident lawyer will need to conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf. This includes getting trucking logs, evidence of the trucker’s sleeping habits, expert testimony regarding how a truck driver should have acted in this situation, and more.
Why You Need an Attorney Who Focuses on Truck Accidents
Because there are so many elements to truck accident cases, it is incredibly important you hire an attorney who has extensive knowledge of how these cases work. Hiring a lawyer who only handles truck accidents occasionally can be detrimental to your case.
During your lawsuit, your lawyer will need to conduct a deep investigation and be ready to fight insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. An experienced attorney knows exactly what to look for, who should be held liable, and how to get a fair settlement.
What’s more, if the insurance company will not offer a fair settlement, your attorney should have extensive experience taking your case to court. If your attorney does not have a focus on truck accident cases, you may not be able to get the full compensation you deserve.
Call Our Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers Today
At Rafi Law Firm, we work on very select types of personal injury cases — truck accidents are one of our main focuses. Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys have helped victims recover more than $31 million, and we know how to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Call us at 404-800-9933 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to speak with a qualified, experienced lawyer today.