Atlanta is a major passthrough hub and destination for commercial trucks. Tractor-trailers are a normal part of the traffic in the city and suburbs. However, being involved in an accident with a truck can have devastating consequences when you are in a passenger car.
If you or a loved one has been in a crash with an 18-wheeler, you need a qualified Atlanta truck accident lawyer. At Joel Thrift Law, we will work to investigate the accident and help you build a strong case against whoever is to blame for your suffering. We secure the compensation you need so you can recover with peace of mind.
Common Types of Truck Accidents in Atlanta
Commercial trucks are a major part of the supply and distribution chain in our country. However, their large size and heavy weight mean they are much more destructive if they are involved in a crash. Trucks often have significant blind spots that prevent them from seeing other vehicles, leading to collisions with unsuspecting motorists.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) counts factors such as distracted driving, substance-impaired driving, poor truck maintenance, speeding, and reckless behavior as the most frequent causes of truck accidents. Other causes include poor weather or road conditions, road hazards, and faulty truck components.
Some common types of truck accidents are:
- Underride accidents: Vehicles traveling too closely to a truck can ride underneath it during a crash.
- Head-on accidents: A car slamming head-on into a truck can cause severe injuries or fatalities.
- Jackknife accidents: When a driver must stop suddenly, the trailer can twist alongside the truck, involving vehicles in other lanes in a crash.
- No-zone accidents: Trucks have large “no-zones,” which are blind spots surrounding the vehicle. Cars in these spots can “disappear” from the truck driver’s view.
- Rollover accidents: Incorrectly loaded or poorly balanced cargo can shift and cause the truck to roll onto other vehicles.
- Side impact accidents: Also called T-bone collisions, these happen when a truck hits a car on the side or a car runs into the side of a truck. They frequently happen at intersections.
In many instances, the driver may be at fault. However, it is common for a driver to lose control of their truck as they react to hazards or other problems on the highway. Determining exactly who is to blame requires the help of a reputable Atlanta car accident attorney.
Blind Spot Truck Accidents
A large commercial truck has “no-zones” or blind spots where other vehicles are out of the truck driver’s line of sight. Riding in these areas around a tractor-trailer puts you at significant risk if the driver needs to change lanes or stop unexpectedly. The general rule is that if you cannot see the truck’s side mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you.
When an 80,000-pound truck changes lanes, you could be the victim of a sideswipe accident. If you are following too closely when the driver must brake, you can easily crash into the back of the truck or even slide right underneath. These underride accidents can cause horrific injuries and death.
Avoid driving in the three “no-zones” for commercial trucks:
- Front no-zone: Extends to about 20 feet in front of the truck. Changing lanes in front of a truck puts you in this zone.
- Side no-zone: The entire right side of the truck and trailer. You are mostly invisible in this zone and should avoid passing trucks on this side.
- Rear no-zone: Extends from the back of the trailer to approximately 200 feet behind the trailer. Never follow a truck so closely that you cannot see its side-view mirrors.
Evidence and Liability in Atlanta Truck Accident Claims
Once you have hired a car accident lawyer, they can begin gathering evidence to show negligence and who is to blame. There can be many parties at fault, such as other drivers, repair shops, or road repair crews. Regardless of who bears responsibility, your attorney will collect evidence such as:
- Police accident reports
- Analysis from an independent accident investigator
- Maintenance records for the truck
- Truck driver training records
- Information on weather conditions
- Accident and driving histories
- Photographs of the weather and traffic conditions
- Photographs of property damage and injuries, as well as the accident scene
- Video from dashcams, security cameras, and traffic cameras
- Cell phone records to show if the driver was on their phone during the crash
- Statements from witnesses
- Testimony from various experts on collisions and your injuries
- Information from the truck Event Data Recorder (similar to an airplane’s black box)
- Manufacturer records for faulty components
It is essential that you and your lawyer put together high-quality evidence supporting your claim. Truck companies have teams of attorneys who will spend large sums of money to keep their reputations clean. They will work hard to show you are at fault or that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. They know they can outlast most individuals when it comes to paying a lawyer and going to trial.
While the driver or their trucking company may bear some blame, a thorough investigation may show that others contributed to the crash. For example, consider these factors:
There are thousands of parts on a commercial truck subject to failure from defective manufacturing or poor maintenance. Even the most careful driver cannot predict when a brake line could malfunction or a tire could blow out. If they are employed by a trucking company, the company’s maintenance team could be held liable.
Heavy or live cargo can shift during transport. It is up to the vendor or distributor to load it correctly to prevent movement while it is being hauled. Dangerous cargo, such as poisonous gases, could affect entire communities if it is not properly contained according to state and federal regulations.
The Weather and Road
Atlanta frequently receives heavy rain and the occasional ice storm. These can cause limited visibility and slick roads. During snow and ice episodes, an untreated road could lead to a crash, and the governing state agency might be at fault. In addition, debris, potholes, and abandoned vehicles can all force a truck driver to swerve and put other vehicles at risk.
Potential Compensation in an Atlanta Truck Accident
A collision with a commercial truck nearly always causes extensive injuries and property damage. Your car is often totaled, and you can be lucky to survive such a crash. Many victims end up permanently disabled and may require medical treatment for the rest of their lives.
There are many factors that can influence the amount of your settlement, such as your age, the severity of your injuries, the level of negligence involved, whether children were hurt, and the truck driver’s accident history. Because injuries can be so significant, the settlements for truck accidents can total thousands to millions of dollars. Each case is unique and will be decided on its own merits.
Your truck accident lawyer will conduct a full case evaluation to understand the kinds of expenses you have incurred as a result of the crash. They will assemble an estimate of damages, both economic (those that have a receipt) and non-economic (subjective expenses).
In an Atlanta truck accident claim, you could seek damages such as:
- Lost income while you cannot work
- Loss of inheritance potential for your family if you pass away
- Hospital costs (surgery, ICU, or ER)
- Travel for most medical treatment
- Private in-home nursing care
- Costs for physical rehabilitation and therapy
- Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
- Mobility devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, or canes
- Automobile repair or replacement costs
- Renovations to your home if you are permanently disabled
- Household services you can no longer perform, such as cleaning, lawn maintenance, or cleaning
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The first step will be to file a claim against the truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurance carrier. Your truck accident attorney can speak to the insurance adjusters on your behalf while you focus on healing. At Joel Thrift Law, we are prepared for the underhanded tactics these representatives will try to use, and we will push back. We fight hard for a fair and appropriate settlement for your damages.
If we cannot reach a satisfactory agreement with the insurance company, we will prepare your case for court. Truck accident claims have a recent precedent of extremely high jury awards. Called “nuclear awards,” these settlements often total millions of dollars and may bankrupt a trucking company.
Compensation Options for Atlanta Truck Accidents
Every truck accident is unique, but your truck accident attorney may discover that multiple people or entities are at fault for your injuries. This creates more options for seeking compensation and maximizes the reimbursement you could receive. After your free case evaluation, the lawyers at Joel Thrift Law can determine the best choices for you.
Groups or individuals who may provide compensation after your truck accident include:
- Your medical insurance
- Automotive insurance (yours or that of anyone who contributed to the crash)
- Personal injury lawsuits against individuals or companies
- Claims against government agencies responsible for maintaining roads
- The driver’s personal insurance
- Trucking company fleet insurance
- Parts manufacturers
- Maintenance or repair shops
- Inspectors who approved a faulty truck for use
In Georgia, a modified comparative fault rule is used to determine the amount of compensation paid by each party found at fault. This can be used against you by the defendant(s) and insurance companies since you cannot recover damages if you are found to be 50% or more at fault for the crash. If you are found to be 49% or less liable, then your compensation is reduced by that amount.
Your attorney will explain how the modified comparative fault could be used to reduce your claim by the opposing counsel. At Joel Thrift Law, we tell our clients the honest truth about their potential claim while working hard to reduce the proof of their possible liability.
Causes of Truck Accidents in Atlanta
Experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyers have seen many causes for these devastating collisions. Trucks are more difficult to maneuver and stop than other vehicles. Truck drivers may make some of the same mistakes as other people driving smaller vehicles. However, when a truck driver makes an error, it can be much more catastrophic.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Drivers who fail to follow traffic laws and signals
- Driving recklessly
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving while fatigued
- Speeding or driving too fast for road or weather conditions
- Trucks that are poorly repaired or maintained
- Drivers who are inexperienced or poorly trained
- Cargo that is not securely tied down or stacked
- Changes to the road condition from construction without adequate signage
- Difficulty turning the truck in tight spaces such as parking lots
- Trying to avoid another vehicle driving erratically in heavy traffic
- Heavy rain, snow, or ice
While most professional truck drivers are well-trained and must routinely renew their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), they are still at risk of making mistakes or succumbing to fatigue or distraction. Whether they intend to cause harm or not, it is the job of truck accident attorneys to determine who is at fault and hold them accountable for their clients. At Joel Thrift Law, we are committed to helping you from start to finish in your case.
Steps to Take After an Atlanta Truck Accident
When you are injured in a truck accident, your life is thrown into chaos. You must heal from your injuries, deal with insurance, and potentially pursue compensation from those responsible. This can be overwhelming if you are seriously hurt, but the truck accident lawyers at Joel Thrift Law can ease your burden. You can recover in peace while we ensure everything is handled on your behalf.
Before and after you hire an attorney, there are some steps you can take to protect your right to claim damages and to ensure you heal completely. If you cannot complete these steps at the time, ask someone else to assist you. The recommendations include:
- Seek help right away: Ask for medical evaluation and treatment from first responders on the scene. This establishes that your injuries are a result of the accident. Also, adrenaline or shock can mask symptoms of some injuries.
- Give your statement to law enforcement: If you are able, tell the police what happened. This can be critical evidence for your case.
- Obtain a report number: Officers will collect everyone’s insurance and contact information on the report. This can help if you are unable to do it yourself.
- Only share your contact and insurance details: You may check on others or call 911 but do not make small talk with anyone at the scene.
- Avoid admitting fault or apologizing: Most of us will say, “I’m sorry” after a crash, but this can be used against you by insurance companies or defendants.
- Contact your insurance companies: Notify your automotive and medical insurance carriers that you have been involved in a truck accident. Only give them the essential details.
- Only speak to insurance representatives with your lawyer: Insurance adjusters will try to reduce your claim. They will use any statement to discredit or minimize your injuries.
- Contact Joel Thrift for a free consultation: We will meet with you at home, in the hospital, or in our office to evaluate your claim.
- Do not speak to anyone about the accident: Aside from your lawyer, do not tell details to anyone else. These individuals may be questioned by insurance companies or defendants for testimony against you.
- Do not post on social media: Do not post on any forum, public or private, about the incident. These can be subpoenaed for use against you. Do not share information with anyone who posts on social media.
- See your doctor for treatment: Follow your physician’s orders and keep all appointments. Do not engage in any activities your doctor forbids because insurance companies can and do hire private investigators.
If you are seriously hurt, our team will connect you with medical specialists who can diagnose and suggest treatment. We also work with families who have lost loved ones in truck accidents by filing wrongful death lawsuits. No matter how you have been affected by a truck accident, Joel Thrift Law is here for you.
How Joel Thrift Atlanta Truck Accident Attorneys Help You
The trucking industry is highly regulated, with strict demands for driver education and monitoring. However, these regulations can create a legal nightmare when you are seeking compensation in a truck accident claim. Instead of trying to understand the complex justice system, you can rely on our expert team of truck accident lawyers to work for you.
Hiring a truck accident attorney after a crash can be essential in uncovering avenues for reimbursement that may not be obvious. Some common reasons to engage a lawyer after a truck accident may be if you:
- Want help gathering evidence for your claim
- Have suffered serious injuries and are focused on healing
- Experienced harm that made a previous condition worse
- Do not know how to negotiate with insurance companies
- Are afraid of taking on a large trucking company in court
- Do not understand how lawsuits should be handled
- Want to know the full amount of compensation you might receive
Seeking compensation in a truck accident is more complicated than filing an insurance claim. Injury law is very confusing, and it takes a skilled, knowledgeable truck accident lawyer to successfully litigate against large companies. If you try to do this yourself, you could risk leaving money on the table that you may need for future treatment and care.
One of the most important functions a lawyer can serve is to demonstrate liability on the part of those who hurt you. Successfully proving negligence in court is the foundation of demonstrating liability. It draws a direct line between the defendant’s actions and your damages. Once this is established, you can show clear support for your compensation claim.
A reputable truck accident attorney will submit high-quality evidence and solid arguments to prove the four elements of negligence:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care on the road.
- The defendant failed to maintain the duty of care.
- Their actions are directly responsible for the damages you suffered.
- You have accrued expenses from your damages.
Going to Court
Our truck accident lawyers are skilled in interpreting Georgia state law and Atlanta city statutes. We have worked in the local court systems and know the precedents that may affect your case. If we cannot reach a satisfactory settlement out of court, we will prepare your case for trial.
Our professional team of attorneys and paralegals will ensure your paperwork is filed correctly and according to essential deadlines. The Georgia statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. We will keep up with all the details so you do not miss the chance to seek justice.
Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements
There are multiple types of insurance requirements for commercial trucks because they may operate in a single state, may operate across state lines, or may carry hazardous materials. Each condition has its own minimums for liability insurance, which is what will pay compensation to you for injuries and damage.
Motor Carriers Operating Only Inside Georgia Only (Intrastate)
When trucks travel only within Georgia, they are subject to standard insurance regulations in our state. Motor carriers must carry liability insurance with a minimum of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per truck accident.
Motor Carriers Operating Across State Lines (Interstate)
Federal requirements apply when a trucking company’s fleet travels outside Georgia. Minimum insurance amounts are much higher, and the company must apply for the authority to operate across lines. They must submit documents to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requesting the appropriate insurance.
Truck weight and what they carry are used to determine liability minimums. Trucks transporting cargo or property that weigh less than 10,000 pounds must carry at least $300,000 in liability coverage. When trucks weigh more than 10,001 pounds, the amount goes up to at least $750,000.
Commercial Trucks Carrying Hazardous Materials
Liability minimums increase to $1 million when a truck weighs over 10,001 pounds and is carrying hazardous materials such as explosives, radioactive substances, or anything that is toxic when inhaled. Entire communities can be affected, even individuals in their homes and not directly involved in the crash.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FMCSA also requires drivers to obtain certain permits, including hazmat safety permits, for the specific substance they are transporting.
Speak With an Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer Today
At Joel Thrift Law, we are committed to providing the best legal representation you can find. When you need an Atlanta truck accident lawyer to fight for what you deserve, we offer compassionate service to ensure you do not face bills you should not have to pay.
We will help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us through our convenient online form today to schedule your free, no-risk consultation.