Heavy trucks and commercial vehicles ply Georgia’s highways and roads every day. Most truck drivers take pains to drive carefully and cautiously on the road, given the dangers that large trucks pose to other drivers. But, unfortunately, it only takes one mistake by one careless truck driver to cause a tragic accident. Trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds – an accident involving one of these vehicles may cause injuries that are life-altering or even deadly.
If you or someone you love has been in an accident with a truck, you need to speak with an attorney who is skilled in Georgia trucking and commercial vehicle accident law. The legal team at Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. is extremely knowledgeable in this area and understands the pain and stress that an accident like this can cause. Call us as soon as possible at (770) 205-8827 to schedule a free case evaluation. Our Fayetteville truck accident attorneys provide a forthright assessment of your case and review all your legal options.
Why You Need a Lawyer After a Truck Accident
The litigation surrounding a major truck accident can be complex and difficult to resolve. There are often multiple parties that hold liability, including the driver, the trucking company, the freight company, and potentially third-party equipment manufacturers.
A skilled lawyer can investigate the scene of the accident, compiling evidence of negligent driving practices, as well as possible equipment failure. They can review the driver’s logbooks, the truck’s data recorder, and employment records to determine whether the driver took the required breaks and possibly uncover driving errors.
Your attorney can also speak on your behalf with insurance company representatives, making sure that all the required deadlines are kept, and rules are followed. They will negotiate aggressively and skillfully for the maximum compensation that you deserve.
Why Hire Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C.?
The attorneys at Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. are well-versed in truck accident claims, and have been helping Georgians recover compensation for their injuries for over 30 years. We work tirelessly to get our clients the best possible resolution for their case, no matter what it takes. We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients’ injuries.
Our firm has received top accolades from leading advocates forums and legal associations, such as the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, but it is the satisfied reviews of our clients that we are most proud of.
Common Types of Truck Accidents
There are just as many different types of truck accidents as there are causes of truck accidents. Each type of accident can pose significant and specific forms of damage and injuries. A serious jackknife accident can shut down an entire interstate. A cargo-related spill or accident can result in not one but numerous accidents that impact dozens of people caught in the debris field.
The type of truck accident can also sometimes provide clues as to how and why the accident occurred. An experienced attorney will understand that the type of truck accident that a victim is involved in may provide vital information about the nature of the accident. This information can help guide an attorney’s investigation and uncover evidence that may help strengthen a victim’s truck accident claim.
Some of the most common types of truck accidents include:
- Cargo-related accidents
- No-zone crashes
- Rear-end collisions
- Underride accidents
- Wide turn collisions
- Tire blowouts
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
There may be a number of factors that combine to cause a truck accident, but some of the leading causes unfortunately stem from driver error. These include:
- Drowsy Driving – Truck drivers often work long and late hours. Federal regulations require regular breaks and place limits on the duration of a driver’s shift, but some trucking companies push their employees past these limits in the pursuit of profits. Some drivers take stimulants to stay awake. While this may help a little in the short term, interrupting regular rest can cause a driver’s attention to drift or may cause them to fall asleep behind the wheel, initiating a devastating crash.
- Distracted Driving – Spending long hours behind the wheel can allow a driver to become complacent. In any vehicle, it is dangerous to divert one’s attention from the road to send a text message, answer a phone call, or perform other tasks. More than 2,800 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving in 2018 alone.
- Drunk/Drugged Driving – Getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is incredibly dangerous. The danger is that much greater when the driver is operating a heavy commercial truck. These substances can slow the brain’s ability to react in the moments before a crash. They can distort a driver’s perception, leading them to behave erratically and cause a wreck themselves. Driving while drunk or on drugs is extremely negligent behavior and leads to more than 10,000 deaths per year.
- Reckless/Aggressive Driving – Speeding, failing to signal, and tailgating are all bad driving behaviors that can lead to a crash. A large tractor-trailer requires an average of 370 feet to come to a stop, more than the length of a football field. Speeding or other aggressive behavior on the part of the driver of the truck or of another vehicle can cause the truck to lose control and impact many surrounding cars.
- Inexperience/Poor Training – Commercial vehicles require specialized training to operate correctly. The driver must learn how to use the braking system, how to turn safely, and how to properly balance the load in the trailer, among other procedures. Inadequate training or lack of experience on the part of the driver could lead to an accident. The trucking company has an obligation to make sure all its drivers are sufficiently prepared to operate its vehicles.
- Driving in the Blind Spots – 18-wheelers are, on average, 70 to 80 feet long, and they have large blind spots on either side. Drivers that stay within these areas can be invisible to the truck driver and are in danger if the truck changes lanes.
- Equipment Failure – The mechanical systems onboard an 18-wheeler must be functioning properly to allow the vehicle to operate. If one piece of equipment fails on the road, an accident could occur. Braking systems, signal and warning lights, tires, the trailer hitch, and the steering system must all receive regular maintenance and inspections to ensure that they are in working condition. Carriers are required to keep their fleets maintained, but companies sometimes cut corners in a misguided effort to save money.
- Rollovers – Trucking rollovers can be caused by trucking company negligence, faulty truck design, violations of regulations, and driver mistakes.
- Oversized/Overloaded Trucks – Oversized loads and overloaded trucks can create hazards on the roadways for a variety of reasons, from failure to properly flag an oversized load to improperly secured overweight cargo, in addition to the regular human error drivers may be susceptible to.
- Trucking Company Negligence – Trucking companies are obligated to maintain standards of safety in their trucks and to ensure that their drivers are properly qualified, among other things. If their failure to meet their obligations results in a crash, they could be liable for any injuries.
Many other circumstances could contribute to a truck accident, including low visibility at night or during bad weather, wet or icy roads, and high winds. All of these factors, in combination with the behavior listed above, can increase the risks.
Injuries in Truck Accidents
The injuries you encounter in truck accidents are often much more severe and life-threatening than those in other roadway crashes. Large, heavy vehicles do a significant amount of damage in a crash, and it is usually the passengers in smaller cars that suffer the most. Some of the most common injuries in truck accidents may include a combination of the following:
- Deep cuts and lacerations from flying glass and torn metal
- Crushed extremities
- Blunt head trauma from heavy impacts inside the car
- Multiple bone fractures and breaks
- Punctured lungs or other damage to organs
- Severe back and neck damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Smoke inhalation or burns from fire
- Long-term illness from chemical exposure
- Concussion and brain damage
It’s important to understand that your injuries may not be obvious until later. If you’ve suffered head trauma or internal damage, you may not feel hurt at first, but it’s vital that you seek medical attention immediately. You could suffer serious injuries later on if you’re not treated right away.
What to Do Following a Truck Accident
What you do in the moments after a truck accident is crucial, but just as vital to your claim are the actions that you take in the weeks and months following the crash. Although this can be a traumatic time, following some simple guidelines and tips after the accident can help strengthen your claim and protect you from being taken advantage of.
- Call for help. Immediately after a collision with a large truck, you will want to assess everyone for injuries and, if possible, get to a safe area where you won’t be a risk to yourself or other drivers. Call for medical assistance and law enforcement. Your health is the number one priority after an accident. Even if you don’t feel like your injuries are serious enough to warrant a ride in an ambulance, get medical attention as soon as possible. Law enforcement also needs to be on scene to make a report, control traffic, and help remove debris from the area.
- Collect Evidence. If you are physically able, try to take photos of the scene, damage to your car, and the truck. You may also want to take photos of the area itself, like skid marks on the road and nearby traffic signs or signals. Be sure to take note of the time of day and weather conditions as well. Exchange information with the driver and get the contact information of anyone on the scene who witnessed the accident.
- Contact an Attorney. The sooner that you get in touch with an attorney, the better. An attorney can help field calls from the trucking company’s insurers and, potentially, their lawyers. A skilled attorney can also begin the process of investigating the accident and securing evidence before it is lost or destroyed. Evidence that may be vital to your claim can include the truck’s “black box” recorder, dashcam videos, cell phone records, driving history, cargo and weigh station logs, and safety inspections, among other things.
- Document Everything and Keep a Pain Journal. Keep records of everything, including medical paperwork, receipts for out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident, and any correspondence between yourself and the insurer or trucking company. It may also be helpful for both your mental state and your claim to keep a journal outlining your pain, injuries, their effect on your daily life, and the progress that you make towards your recovery.
- Avoid Social Media. Do not post anything accident-related on social media. This information can be found by insurers and attorneys and could be twisted or used against you. When in doubt, keep silent and only talk to your attorney about the specifics of your accident.
- Keep Up with Doctor’s Visits and Medical Treatment. For both your health and your claim, it is important to follow all instructions provided to you by your doctor. Medical documentation can be an important aspect of a truck accident claim. Keep all doctor’s appointments and follow all treatment plans as laid out by medical professionals and rehabilitation specialists.
It can be difficult to keep up with the “do and don’ts” of a truck accident claim. That is why having an attorney on your side can be so beneficial. An attorney can help keep track of the important details of your claim while negotiating with the trucking company’s insurers and protecting your rights. They are an excellent resource for helping you navigate the often complicated and confusing process of handling a major truck accident claim.
If you or someone close to you has been injured in a serious truck accident, contact the legal team at Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. right away. Our team can help you during this difficult time, taking on the brunt of the work while you focus on your recovery. Get ahead of the trucking company and the team working for them. Get someone to work for you. Call us today at (770) 205-8827 for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents
Right now, you likely have many questions about the truck accident claim process. Your attorney is best suited to give you specific advice about your case. However, here are a few answers to common questions about what to expect.
How long will it take to complete my case?
A truck accident case can take anywhere from a few months to several years to reach a resolution. The duration depends on a variety of different factors, chief among them the severity of your injuries and the amount of time it will take you to recover. The longer your wounds take to heal, the more costly your medical and hospitalization bills will be. This will be an important element of your claim. Other factors in the case, such as investigations and civil or criminal proceedings, may delay the outcome.
If I was partly to blame for the accident, can I still collect compensation?
The comparative negligence laws in Georgia allow accident victims to collect compensation, even if they were partly responsible. The court assigns a percentage to each party for the level of responsibility they had for causing the crash. The damages awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault that each party had. For instance, if your level of responsibility was set at 10 percent, and you were awarded $100,000 in damages, you would receive $90,000. You can only collect compensation if you were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident.
What can I be compensated for in a truck accident case?
The amount and type of compensation you receive from your case will depend greatly on your level of injury and the amount of damage that occurred in the accident. Some forms of compensation include:
- Damages for pain and suffering
- Payment of hospital and doctor’s bills
- Medication reimbursement
- Long-term care and home rehabilitation fees
- Replacement of lost wages
- Recovery of damaged or destroyed property
- Emotional and psychological treatment
- Compensation for income lost due to disability or death
- Payment of expenses for funeral or burial arrangements
You will consult with your attorney on a detailed figure for economic (bills and income) and non-economic (quality of life/pain and suffering) damages.
Statute of Limitations for Fayetteville Truck Accident Lawsuits
Dealing with the trucking company’s lawyers and insurers can be a drawn-out process in some circumstances. This is relevant because if they take long enough to negotiate and come back with an unsatisfactory offer, you may be forced to take it because taking them to court will no longer be a viable option. In the state of Georgia, victims who want to file a personal injury lawsuit, which is what a truck accident case would be, only have two years from the date of the accident to file a suit.
If the two-year statute of limitations expires, then any case you bring after that can be thrown out by the courts. This gives victims who waited very little recourse for recovering compensation. Getting an attorney on board with you early in your claim benefits you in multiple ways. Not only can an attorney negotiate on your behalf with the trucking company’s insurers and lawyers, but an attorney will also be keenly aware of possible hurdles and looming deadlines. If negotiations are breaking down or the trucking company is dragging its feet, and the process is moving too slowly, an attorney can push for a timely response or begin the process of filing a lawsuit.
Consult With a Fayetteville Truck Accident Attorney Right Away
If you or a loved one has been in an accident involving a large truck, call Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. as soon as possible to discuss your case. Surviving a truck accident is a painful and life-changing ordeal, and your focus right now should be on what’s most important: your own health and your family’s well-being. Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. helps clients every day going through the same thing you’re facing. You don’t have to do this by yourself. Call us at (770) 205-8827 or fill out our web contact form today for a free case evaluation.