Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer
We believe that it is the duty of an Atlanta truck accident attorney to protect those rights and fight tirelessly for injured people to ensure they are fairly compensated.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 4,440 semi-trucks and buses involved in accidents that resulted in one or more fatalities in 2016. There were approximately 119,000 injuries resulting from crashes involving large trucks and buses in that same year.
Mike Rafi is an Atlanta truck accident attorney you can trust. Crashes involving tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles are often catastrophic simply due to the size difference between the two vehicles.
As any good Atlanta truck accident attorney knows, these accidents are more likely to cause fatalities than collisions involving two passenger vehicles.
Our trucking crash law firm, is well aware of the devastation accidents such as these can leave in their wake. Not only are victims forced to undergo weeks or months of medical care, but they can often face financial consequences beyond their control due to lost wages and mounting medical bills.
If you have been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other large vehicle, you need an Atlanta tractor-trailer accident lawyer standing by your side. You and your family deserve nothing less than a fair and equitable outcome, and the at-fault party must be held accountable. Our commercial vehicle accident law firm is here to make sure that both of those things happen.
Tractor-trailers are also referred to as “18-wheelers,” “semi trucks,” and “big rigs.” You will find tractor trailers on almost every major highway and road in the United States.
Tractor trailers transport about 75% of all cargo that is shipped in this country, making them an important part of our economy.
These large vehicles are legally permitted to haul up to 80,000 pounds or 40 tons of cargo. Consider that a typical passenger car weighs only about 2,000 to 4,000 pounds and it is easy to understand just why these accidents can be so catastrophic.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Atlanta truck accident attorney Rafi Law Firm has witnessed a variety of reasons for tractor trailer accidents. Although each accident is certainly unique, some causes tend to be more common than others.
As Atlanta truck accident attorneys, we speak with countless victims of truck accidents who found themselves in the no-zone, or a truck blind spot. Tractor trailers have blind spots on every side of their rig, including in the front and back. These blind spots often encompass one or more entire lanes of traffic.
Loading a trailer is a delicate job. If the cargo isn’t loaded properly it can shift, causing the trailer and its cab to roll over onto the vehicle of an unsuspecting motorist.
We are not only Atlanta truck accident lawyers, but car accident attorneys as well. We know the dangers of distracted or impaired driving, and truckers are not immune. Driver fatigue and impairment are very real dangers in the trucking world.
A driver who is fatigued or impaired has dulled reaction times and may have an inability to make wise decisions when operating their vehicle.
In 2018, speeding was a factor in 26% of motor vehicle collision fatalities. Speeding has been a factor in about 30 percent of crash deaths since 2004. Large trucks – even more than passenger cars – should not speed because of an inability to stop quickly and the danger of rolling over or jackknifing.
Your lawyer should ensure the truck’s “black box” or data recorder, which records speed, is saved so it can be downloaded and analyzed. Often, the black box is crucial in learning whether the truck driver was speeding.
Trucking companies and drivers are responsible for making sure only safe and well-maintained vehicles are on the road. For that reason, companies and drivers must document all maintenance checks. If not properly done, they can be at-fault for an accident caused by poorly maintained equipment.
Steering, cargo, brakes, mirrors, tires, conspicuous or reflective tape, and a host of other things must be checked and confirmed to be working before a driver may hit the road. Many times, however, companies do not keep their vehicles in top shape and drivers do not take the time to fully inspect trucks, leading to dangerous trucks being on the road.
Common Types of Truck Accident Injuries
If you have sustained serious injuries after a truck accident, your medical bills may pile up quickly. Don’t wait until your debt has threatened your financial security to seek compensation.
Of course, after being in a truck accident you should first seek medical attention and receive a thorough physical exam. You may have suffered internal injuries or other injuries without apparent symptoms. These are some of the most common truck accident injuries:
The vulnerable position of the human body, combined with the tremendous forces exuded in a truck accident creates a recipe for disaster. Because of their vulnerable position in the human body, back and neck injuries are unfortunately very common in truck accidents.
Here are some of the most common back and neck injuries that an Atlanta truck accident attorney at our firm has come in contact with:
Whiplash occurs when a person’s head is quickly and forcefully thrown backward, then forward. These injuries usually occur in rear-end accidents and often feature stretched or torn ligaments, tendons, or muscles in the neck. When the force of impact is strong enough, whiplash can injure bones in the spine and the discs between the bones.
Slipped or Herniated Discs
The adult human spine is made up of 24 vertebrae (interlocking bones making up the spinal column) cushioned by strong, elastic discs. When outside force, such as the impact in a truck accident, puts force on a person’s spine, the discs can slip out of place (slipped disc), or they may even rupture or tear (herniated disc).
When a spinal disc ruptures, the viscous center of the disc leaks, irritating the surrounding nerves. Both of these conditions – slipped and herniated discs – can be extremely painful and often take four to six weeks just for the pain to subside.
Unlike accidents between passenger vehicles where the frame of the car often remains intact, the force that is present in an accident between a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck will likely cause the car’s metal chassis to bend, perhaps even crushing it.
As a result, the passengers inside the car could be crushed, pinned, or thrown against the door, windshield, dashboard, or any other area of the car, the trauma of which can cause limb, rib, skull, or vertebral bone fractures.
Many people break a bone or two in their lifetime, but fractures resulting from truck accidents are often much more serious and require intensive surgery, after which the victim may have to undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation. Bones can also get infected, especially in the case of truck accidents when so much dirt and debris is released into the air.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are one of the most dangerous consequences of truck accidents. Unfortunately, they’re prevalent, too – the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there were 2.87 million traumatic brain injury-related emergency room (ER) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in 2014 alone.
The cause of these injuries is also concerning. The CDC reports that vehicle accidents are the second-leading cause of TBI in the United States, making up 20% of cases. That’s second only to falls, which make up 52 percent.
TBIs occur when sudden trauma (such as being hit by a semi-truck) causes your head to shake violently, hit an object, or be impaled by an object. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, your skull or brain could be damaged. Depending on which part of your head was damaged, you could suffer a wide range of symptoms, some on the mild side, such as bruising and slight swelling, and some severe like skull fractures, brain herniation, or even death.
There are two types of traumatic brain injury: closed and open. A closed head injury occurs when external trauma causes damage, but there is no penetration of the skull into the brain. A closed head injury can cause swelling or bleeding in the brain, which can be deadly.
Open head injuries occur when an object penetrates the skull and pierces the brain. In truck accidents, this type of injury most often occurs when a passenger vehicle slides underneath a semi-truck.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury include headache, confusion, nausea or vomiting, fatigue or drowsiness, sensitivity to light or sound, memory or concentration problems, mood changes or mood swings, and changes in sleep patterns.
This is not a full list of symptoms, and you should always speak with a doctor if you believe you were injured in an accident.
Semi-trucks can hold an average of 125-300 gallons of fuel. That’s an enormous amount of flammable liquid which presents a serious risk of burn injury. A collision between a truck and a passenger vehicle could cause the fuel or flammable cargo to catch on fire and spread to nearby vehicles.
That fire or explosion may result in first, second, or third-degree burns. First-degree burns are the least severe and may even heal without medical attention. Second-degree burns are more serious and may cause blistering and pain. Third-degree burns are the most severe and often result in scarring, dead tissue, nerve damage, and sometimes death.
Internal injuries can occur in a truck accident when a person’s body withstands a violent, sudden impact and is thrown or collides with objects inside the vehicle. They could slam into the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, or be restrained forcefully by their seatbelt.
Some of the internal injuries associated with truck accidents are rib fractures (broken ribs), internal bleeding, abdominal aorta aneurysm (occurs when the stomach is crushed or compressed, causing the artery to rupture), pneumothorax (when a lung is punctured and collapses, causing the chest cavity to fill with air), spleen rupture, and liver or kidney damage.
As long as you are not solely at fault for the accident, you have the right to seek compensation by filing a lawsuit in Georgia. Unfortunately, you will not receive compensation from the other driver until after your case is resolved, so you may need other methods of payment in the meantime.
If you have health insurance, this is your first option. Even if your physician offers to bill your car insurance, opt for health insurance coverage of your bills first. Your car insurance’s medical pay should be your second line of defense if your health insurance cannot cover your expenses.
According to Georgia’s comparative negligence law, the amount you will receive from the other driver’s insurance depends on what percentage you were at fault for the accident. For example, if you are found to be 25% at fault, your total compensation will be reduced by 25 percent. If you were 50% or more at fault for the accident, you will not receive compensation at all.
How an Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
If you have been hurt in a truck accident, you need a Georgia truck accident law firm you can trust. We are Atlanta truck accident attorneys with extensive track records of holding at-fault drivers accountable for their negligence or error.
We will do the same for you.
We understand that you may be facing financial difficulty due to the unnecessary strain of medical bills and time off of work. We do not believe that any victim should be forced to deal with this type of burden. You deserve to be compensated for your losses and we want to help make that happen.
Reach out to our office today and schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your Atlanta truck accident and your ensuing medical needs and financial difficulties. From there, we will develop a plan for securing the damages you are entitled to. You and your family do not have to fight the system alone.
Call our office to speak with a member of our team and take the first step on the path to recovering what you are owed. We will work tirelessly to ensure the at-fault driver is made to answer for their choices.
What State and Federal Regulations Govern Truck Drivers?
Trucking industries and other commercial carriers fall under the radar of both business regulation and public safety. Accordingly, there are dozens of regulations and rules they must follow.
Below are some of the most relevant regulations that apply to truck drivers and industries that use heavy vehicles as it pertains to avoiding truck accidents. An Atlanta truck accident attorney is likely to cite one or more of these laws when trying to establish how negligence led to an accident.
Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Substance abuse testing laws can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 49, Subtitle B, Chapter III, Subchapter B, Part 382. All drivers for commercial industries must submit to drug testing before being hired (pre-employment).
They should also be tested any time an accident has occurred or when the employer has “reasonable suspicion” that the employee may be abusing drugs or alcohol while driving. Employers have a duty to test in these circumstances.
Hours of service regulations are some of the most important federal laws in place to prevent serious truck accidents. Property-carrying drivers cannot continue to operate their vehicles for more than 11 consecutive hours after 10 hours off-duty. They cannot drive more than 60 hours in seven days (or 70 in eight days) unless they take “34 or more consecutive hours off duty.”
Passenger-carrying drivers are limited to 10 hours of driving after eight consecutive hours off duty. They are not allowed to drive more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight days. If a sleeper berth is available in their vehicle, drivers must take at least eight hours in the sleeper berth, which may be split into two periods of time (no less than two hours).
The FMCSA enforces hours of service rules by requiring drivers to maintain accurate logbooks and for employers to regularly review them.
Georgia laws require that all heavy commercial vehicles are inspected regularly to ensure satisfactory maintenance and compliance with minimum operational safety levels. All vehicles that cannot meet these criteria must be taken out of service (OCGA §40-1-1), either permanently or until the vehicle can be repaired adequately.
All reports concerning public safety should be copied and sent to the Georgia Department of Public Safety. Violation of any Georgia state truck driver regulations can result in misdemeanour charges per O.C.G.A. §40-1-8.
Finally, commercial vehicles must be clearly marked, especially if they are transporting hazardous materials. Loads must not exceed the maximum weight for specific structures and roadways. Drivers must obey all traffic laws that apply to other drivers in Georgia, particularly speed limits.
A truck accident is any traffic accident involving a passenger car and a commercial truck. Commercial trucks are on the road every day, and can include garbage trucks, tractor trailers, delivery trucks, gasoline trucks, and any other large, commercial vehicle.
Truck accidents are very different from car accidents. Car accidents are typically handled through the drivers and their insurance companies. Normally, a claims adjuster reviews and mediates the process. As a result, it is usually a simple process. A truck accident, on the other hand, most likely will involve several individuals/groups e.g., employers, corporations, lawyers, insurance adjusters, worker’s comp people, etc.
Truck accidents typically cause much more damage than ones involving cars, namely due to the difference in the weight and size of the vehicles. Therefore, truck accident cases typically take more time to investigate and file claims for. As a result, the time invested to receive compensation can be greater in truck accidents versus car accidents – but the compensation received is typically more in a truck accident than a car accident.
The Major No-Zones Include the Following:
Side No-Zone: This is the blind spot area to either side of the truck, which is significantly larger than a regular car’s blind spots. To avoid a side No-Zone, drivers should avoid hanging out next to a truck—especially on the right, where the No-Zone is larger. As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t see the driver in the side-view mirror, they can’t see you.
Rear No-Zone: Tailgating is bad driver behaviour with any vehicle, but can be especially dangerous with large commercial trucks where the truck driver cannot see your car behind them. Keep in mind that truckers do not have the benefit of a rear-view mirror as the trailer blocks it; instead, they have to rely on side-view mirrors.
Front No-Zone: Due to their large size, it takes considerably longer for a truck to come to a complete stop; in fact, many of them need twice as long as a regular passenger vehicle. For this reason, drivers should always avoid swerving or “cutting” in front of a truck as it could result in a rear-end accident.
It depends on whether an employment relationship is established between the truck driver and the trucking company. If your Atlanta truck accident attorney can prove the relationship, the company can be held legally liable for the driver’s negligence.
Establishing the liability of a company can be more difficult if a truck driver is an independent contractor of the company. In cases such as this, the main factor in determining if the trucking company can be held liable is the amount of supervising exercised by the company.
In order to get compensation, an attorney will need to show the truck driver failed to use due care in the operation of the truck. Typically, in cases where serious injury has resulted, a plaintiff will have claims for pain and suffering, negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
Commercial trucks in Georgia are subject rules and regulations set in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The organization has established rules for licensing requirements, electronic logging devices, training and physical requirements, hours of operation, drug testing, cargo standards, and more.
To protect your rights, you should not speak with the trucking company’s insurance adjuster. Your attorney will handle all negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf. Anything you say to the insurance company could be taken out of context and used against you, so it is best to let your attorney speak with them instead.
In Georgia, as long as you are no more than 49% responsible for the accident, you may recover damages. The state’s comparative negligence rule ensures that whoever is at least 50% responsible for the crash pays for the other party’s damages.