Fatal Truck Accidents

While hundreds of thousands of large trucks are involved in crashes annually, roughly 4,300 are involved in deadly crashes. That’s according to regulators with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees carriers of 18wheelers, semi-trucks, dump trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles.

Deadly trucking accidents have fluctuated over the years. Vehicles (both trucks and cars) are overall safer, but speed limits are higher, roads are in dire need of repairs and drivers are increasingly distracted. Trucking is unsurprisingly one of the deadliest occupations in the U.S., with the U.S. Labor Department’s annual workplace fatality report indicating nearly 800 are killed a year in crashes. About 180 large trucks are involved in deadly crashes in Georgia annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Atlanta truck accident attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert understands the sudden shock and intense grief that families endure. There is no amount of money that will bring your spouse, child or parent back. What we aim for, however, is financial security. We want to make sure you and your loved ones do not become additionally saddled with the unexpected economic burden that a sudden death can bring. This encompasses everything from medical expenses to funeral costs to the future lost wages your loved one would have earned had the crash never happened.

Another important goal is accountability of negligent drivers and trucking companies. Technically, the civil justice system is geared toward making whole the victim rather than penalizing the tortfeasor, though punitive damages may be appropriate in certain instances per O.C.G.A. 51-12-5.1. However, even just taking these companies to task and fighting for full and fair compensation puts them – and others – on notice that negligence will cost them. Putting profits ahead of people, failing to properly train their drivers or cutting corners on truck safety isn’t something they can be allowed to get away with. In some cases, civil litigation will be concurrent to criminal prosecution.

Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia

Claims for wrongful death in Georgia can be filed by certain family members (spouse, children, parents, estate representative) in the event a person’s death is caused by the negligent, reckless, intentional or criminal actions of another individual, company or business. There is a strict order in terms of who has the right to file a claim, so it’s best to consult with a wrongful death attorney who can best explain your rights.

Claims filed for recovery of damages based on Georgia’s wrongful death statute, O.C.G.A. Title 51 Chapter 4 seek the full value of the life of the decedent. This will involve analysis of the economic and non-economic value, which will include one’s earnings and loss of life enjoyment. Claimant may also recover for funeral, medical, conscience pain and suffering prior to death and other necessary expenses resulting from injury and death.

The exact amount recoverable is highly subjective, and as noted in the 2016 Georgia appellate case of Chrysler Group LLC v. Walden, the amount of the verdict is left to the “enlightened conscience of the jury.” In that case, jurors awarded $120 million in a traffic accident stemming from a poorly-designed vehicle that resulted in a little boy’s death. That verdict was affirmed.

Why are Georgia Truck Accidents so Deadly

There is always the potential for any motor vehicle accident to prove fatal. Truck accidents, however, are more dangerous than most – and passenger car occupants account for more than 90 percent of all those who die in these crashes.

Among the many reasons why truck accidents are especially dangerous:

  • Size and weight. The U.S. Department of transportation notes that large trucks weigh anywhere from 10,000 pounds to 80,000 pounds. Meanwhile, the average passenger vehicle weighs about 4,000 pounds. Most passenger vehicles are between 12 and 18 feet long, while large trucks are typically between 45 feet and 65 feet. This disparity in size difference means there is a much higher risk to passenger vehicle occupants of serious injury or death.

  • Stopping distance. Simple physics dictate that the bigger a vehicle is, the longer it’s going to take to stop. Truckers simply are not able to stop in the same amount of time as a passenger car driver. A car traveling 65 mph might need only 300 feet to stop, while a trucker might need 520 feet. In large trucks, there is also a lag time between when the brake is applied and when the signal reaches the wheels.

  • Maneuverability. Truck drivers simply are not able to avoid obstacles as deftly as smaller vehicles. That comes down to the length and mass of these vehicles. Large trucks cannot rapidly swerve to avoid a hazard, and those that do often end up in “jackknife” position. This is extremely dangerous not just for the truck driver but anyone else who encounters them.

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys are committed to fighting for compensation when you are reeling from the loss of a loved one due to a crash.

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