If you are anywhere on Georgia’s roads, chances are that you see trucks all around you. The last thing you want is for one of these massive vehicles to plow into your vehicle and leave you with life-altering and possibly deadly injuries. As a safe driver, you can only do so much to prevent this from happening. If you happen to fall victim to a truck driver’s carelessness, then you may have the right in Georgia to sue them and their employer for compensation. The skilled truck accident lawyers at Dozier Law provide you with some important information about how truck accidents occur, and what you should do to protect your legal rights if tragedy strikes.
Common Causes Of Truck Accidents
Several factors often contribute to the occurrence of trucking accidents. First, the size and weight of trucks make sudden, emergency stops very difficult. As you can imagine, it takes significantly longer for a massive truck to slow to a stop than it does for a smaller vehicle. It is not uncommon for tractor-trailers to rear-end the vehicle in front of them if traffic suddenly stops. You can try to avoid falling victim to such an accident by noticing if a truck is behind you and changing lanes to allow the truck to pass if it is following too closely.
The large size of a truck can also make it difficult to maneuver. A truck driver could lose control of the vehicle if they swerve or change lanes suddenly, putting nearby drivers at risk of a severe accident. A truck can jackknife or roll, ending up in the path of other vehicles or even crushing them.
Truck drivers’ long hours commonly contribute to accidents as well. Studies have shown that fatigued driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Even if a truck driver does not nod off, they still may present a safety hazard. Tired drivers are not as alert to notice potential hazards, and their reaction time may be significantly slowed. Although trucking regulations limit travel to 11 hours in one stretch, truckers often push these bounds to meet their employers’ high demands.
Trucking companies are required to conduct regular inspections to maintain their vehicles and carry out necessary repairs. However, many companies fail to do this. Unfortunately, malfunctions in brakes or steering often are found to be the cause of truck accidents. Many of these malfunctions can be avoided by regular inspections and maintenance.
If you are injured in a truck accident and decide to bring a claim to recover for medical bills or other expenses, you will need to determine who may be held responsible for the damages. In Georgia, the truck driver’s employer might be financially liable for damages resulting from the accident. This legal doctrine is called respondeat superior.
Several factors determine whether respondeat superior applies. The primary considerations are whether the driver was an employee or independent contractor, and whether they were driving for business at the time of the accident. If the truck driver was on the interstate driving a shipment of goods from point A to point B for their employer, the employer might be found liable for the driver’s negligence in an accident.
The trucking company also could be directly liable for the damage if the company’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident. For example, following the crash, an inspector could find that the truck’s brake pads needed to be replaced, causing the brakes to fail and the truck to rear-end your car. In that case, the company’s negligence in failing to conduct routine maintenance could make the company directly responsible for the wreck and liable for damages.
It is important to note that your compensation in a lawsuit could be reduced or eliminated if you are found by the court to have contributed to the accident. Georgia’s comparative negligence law assigns percentages of blame to each party. If you are found to have been negligent, and your negligence was 40 percent to blame for the accident, then the damages that you can recover could be reduced by 40 percent. If a court determines that you were over 50 percent to blame, you might not be able to recover at all.
Damages In Truck Accident Cases
Getting injured in an accident with a semi-truck can be extremely costly. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you could incur a lot of medical bills. The burden of these expenses could be compounded if you have to take time off of work because of the injuries and do not get paid sick leave for that time. Past and future medical bills and lost wages fall into the category of economic damages. If the truck driver and/or trucking company is found to be responsible for the accident, a court could award you compensation for those damages.
Another type of damages is called non-economic damages. These are designed to compensate an injured party for their pain and suffering or emotional distress caused by the accident and resulting injuries. These damages can be tricky to calculate, and the amount is up to the court’s discretion. An experienced attorney can help to come up with a value for these damages based on what the court has awarded in similar cases.
The third type of damages—punitive damages—punish the driver for particularly egregious behavior. One example of such behavior could be that the truck driver was under the influence of illicit drugs. Although less common, a court can order the defendant to pay punitive damages as punishment.
Statute Of Limitations
In Georgia, you typically will have two years to file a claim following a truck accident. After that deadline, you may be precluded under Georgia law from pursuing a case against the truck driver or company for your damages. The statute of limitations could vary based on a few factors, so it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to discuss your case and see how much time you have to file.
If you are ever injured in a truck accident in Georgia, then it is really important that you consult with a Georgia truck accident attorney who is experienced at bringing lawsuits and insurance claims relating to truck accidents, company vehicle accidents, or other types of motor vehicle collisions. At Dozier Law, our skilled accident lawyers know this arena well. We are focused on helping clients understand their legal options and rights, and helping them recover against bad trucking companies and their drivers. We will work tirelessly on your behalf in hopes of getting you the best resolution to your matter. Reach out to Dozier Law today by calling (888) 239-2129 or by contacting us online to talk with an experienced Georgia truck accident lawyer about your case.