Truck Accidents

18 Wheeler Accident Trucking companies make a fortune sending 80,000-pound tractor-trailers onto the roads we all share. With this benefit comes an enormous responsibility to ensure the rigs and drivers are safe – and the risk of a truck accident is minimal. This is especially important because large trucks don’t operate the same way as passenger vehicles – and they can cause a lot more damage. That’s why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets a host of rules for carriers to abide – everything from special driver training requirements to drug and alcohol testing to hours of service to inspection, repair and maintenance.

As a truck accident lawyer in Atlanta for more than 20 years, Stephen M. Ozcomert is an unwavering advocate for victims of large truck crashes, many of whom have suffered life-altering, catastrophic injuries. We also work closely with families who have lost loved ones because of the careless acts truck drivers or trucking companies.

The fact is, trucking accidents tend to be more serious and claims more complicated than most others for two reasons:

  1. The sheer size of these vehicles.
  2. The fact that you’re dealing not only with the driver’s negligence, but also potential direct and vicarious liability claims against the employer, carrier(s), owner of truck or trailer, person or company that leased the truck from owner, manufacturer and the shipper/ loader of cargo.

In some cases, more than one driver may be negligent. There is also a possibility the truck or some component was defective or poorly maintained, in which case we might pursue a case against the manufacturer or auto repair company. In instances of poorly-designed or ill-maintained roads, there could be additional claims against the municipality responsible for maintenance. Construction companies could be responsible if the crash occurred in a construction zone that was improperly marked or negligently established.

We will also closely explore the possibility of punitive damages under O.C.G.A. 51-12-5.1. Trucking companies are fully aware of the potential damage their vehicles can cause, and as such, oversight of vehicle and driver safety can be interpreted as an entire want of care which may raise the presumption of conscious indifference to the consequences.

Some of the truck crash claims our firm handles involve:

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys recognize the stakes are high, and we will meticulously explore every possible avenue of compensation recovery.

Georgia Truck Accidents

Large commercial trucks and tractor-trailers are certainly an efficient means of transporting goods. But these vehicles are incredibly dangerous, especially in the control of a driver who is inexperienced, poorly trained, fatigued, distracted or impaired.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 4,000 people are killed annually in truck accidents, and another 116,000 are injured. These figures have been on the rise in recent years. Just in Georgia, it’s reported nearly 180 large trucks are involved in fatal crashes annually. Trucks involved in fatal crashes in Georgia make up 4.4 percent of the national total – which ranks us at No. 5 nationally.

Negligent operation of a truck can involve:

  • Speeding (or traveling too fast for current roadway conditions);
  • Impairment/ intoxication;
  • Unsafe loading;
  • Failure to yield;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Violation of weight restrictions;
  • Mechanical failures (i.e., defective tires, defective brakes, defective computer systems, etc.)

Meanwhile, product liability lawsuits or negligent maintenance or repair involving trucks may involve anything from balding tires to defective tie-downs to faulty electrical wiring.

Whether a carrier has a fleet of a single truck or thousands, they have a responsibility to ensure every truck and driver meets minimum safety standards.

Both federal and state laws stress that trucking companies and drivers have a heightened duty of care. Examples include:

  • 49 CFR 398.6Hours of Service. Truck drivers are required to keep accurate accounting of their travels in their logbooks, recording when they are on the road and when they have rested, to ensure they have had enough downtime so that they aren’t a danger to others.

  • 49 CFR 396.3Inspections. Trucking companies must have a systematic means of regular and scheduled checks to ensure their vehicles are in safe operating condition. Although federal law doesn’t specify exact intervals for maintenance, inspection and repair (as some are vehicle-specific), motor carriers have a statutory duty to inspect, repair, maintain and keep suitable records for all vehicles subject to their control for 30 days or more or else assign those duties to a third party. Ultimately, though, it is the motor carrier who has the sole responsibility to ensure vehicles under its control are in safe operating condition and that any defects have been promptly corrected.

  • Coe v. CarrollParking. This was a 2011 Georgia Court of Appeals ruling in which the court upheld liability of a trucking company where a driver’s alleged negligence in parking a vehicle that protruded into the roadway endangered other motorists.

  • 49. CFR 382.205Alcohol. No driver is permitted to use alcohol while performing “safety-sensitive functions.” This obviously includes driving. Commercial drivers with a breath-alcohol level of 0.04 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath or 0.04 grams of blood per milliliters are deemed under the influence (as opposed to the standard 0.08 for passenger vehicle drivers).

This list is far from exhaustive, and an experienced injury attorney can help you examine your case to determine what potential causes of action you may have to pursue damages. Although most trucking companies do their best to honor these rules by keeping their rigs in good repair and hiring drivers who are competent, properly-licensed, adequately supervised, well-rested and sober, the unfortunate reality is too many do not.

Many truck accidents occur as a combination of negligence by more than one party. This may result in:

  • Rollovers
  • Jackknife accidents
  • Swing turns
  • Explosions
  • Falling debris
  • Spilled cargo
  • Tire blowouts
  • Loose Trailers
  • Underride accidents

Unfortunately, many trucking companies try to sidestep liability for crashes by placing distance between themselves, the driver, the truck and the equipment. They hire independent contractors, as opposed to employees. They rent or lease the equipment, as opposed to purchasing it.

Our experienced team is committed to fighting through all that bureaucracy to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

If you have been injured in a Georgia truck accident, contact Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert at (404)-370-1000.

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