Large commercial vehicles are central to Georgia’s economy. They transport goods around the state and to distant parts of the country, returning goods from far-off states for Georgia consumers to enjoy. Drivers involved in 18-wheeler accidents in Georgia need to know; 18-wheeler accidents differ from run-of-the-mill car crashes because of the vehicle’s size and the number of parties who could be responsible for the crash.
For help with your case, contact MG Law today for a free consultation. 18-wheelers are particularly large commercial vehicles made up of a cab with an attached trailer. These “big rigs” as they are affectionately known rule the road because of their size and weight. Most 18-wheelers weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which is 40 tons, with trailers up to 48 feet in length. They can be seen at all hours of the day and night on our highways.
Common 18-Wheeler Accidents & Their Causes
Some of the more common accidents are:
- Jackknifes. In this type of accident, the trailer swings out in a perpendicular angle to the cab. Jackknife accidents can be caused by driving too fast on a turn or by dangerous road conditions, such as icing.
- Underrides. This accident describes the situation when a smaller motor vehicle slides under the trailer and gets stuck there. Underrides can happen due to motorists following too closely or because an 18-wheeler cuts off a motorist.
- Overrides. With an override, the 18-wheeler crashes into the rear of a vehicle and rides up onto the trunk and possibly into the back seat. Override accidents stem from 18-wheelers not stopping in time or from smaller passenger sedans cutting them off before hitting the brakes.
- Rollovers. The trailer can slide onto its side due to imbalanced cargo, wind, or taking corners while going uphill or downhill.
- Blowouts. Tires blow out frequently on 18-wheelers and can sometimes make them unstable.
Semi Truck Blind Spots
Every vehicle has blind spots. Blind spots are areas of the car that are difficult to see from the driver’s point of view. Because eighteen-wheelers are so large, they more blind spots than other vehicles, and failing to avoid their blind spots can be more catastrophic. There are four blind spots you should be familiar with. Familiarizing yourself with these blinds spots can help you keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.
Four Zones of a Semi-Truck To Avoid
The front of a semi truck is not as easy to see from the driver’s point of view as you might expect. Being stuck behind a slow-moving truck can be agonizing, so passing them is a natural reaction. However, it is imperative that you do so safely without cutting the truck off. Trucks have a difficult time slowing down because of their greater inertia and failing to leave a truck enough room to stop may leave them with nowhere to go except into your vehicle. For that reason, do not immediately slow down in front of a big rig. The rule of thumb for getting over is to leave a gap of one car length for every ten mph you are going between you and any drivers in the next lane.
The right of a large truck is its biggest blind spot. Because the driver sits on the left side of the truck, they have a more difficult time seeing their right side. The amount of road they can see on the right is negligible, so it may be safe just to assume that they cannot see anything. It is important that drivers avoid the right side of the truck as much as possible. Avoid driving on the right of the vehicle even on wide-lane highways. Pass a truck on its left side if you must at all.
The left side of a commercial vehicle also has blind spots, but they are not as large as the right side. Therefore, if you must pass a big truck, the left side is the safer side to do it on. Do not travel next to a large truck unless necessary.
While it is not the most significant blind spot a truck has, moving directly behind a truck is still dangerous and should be avoided. The truck ahead of you will block your vision of imminent hazards and will inhibit your ability to slow down or adjust as needed. If you are directly behind a truck, they will not be able to see you either. They may need to attempt to brake suddenly, which puts you in danger.
Trucks make wide right turns
Truck drivers often must make excessively wide right turns. Their right turns may be so wide that they have to swing to the left before they can make the turn. During the maneuver, a truck driver’s seeing ability is reduced lower than their already poor vision. They may not be able to see a car between them and the nearby curb. An excellent way to tell if a truck is about to make a right turn is by their signal blinkers. If you see a truck making a wide right turn, the best course of action for you to do is to give them as much space as possible. Remain patient and wait for the truck to complete its turn before resuming normal driving.
Parties You Can Sue in 18-Wheeler Accidents in Georgia
Any party who contributed to the crash is potentially liable in a lawsuit. The different parties include:
- Truck drivers. If the driver made a mistake or drove carelessly, then an injured victim can sue him.
- Trucking companies. The company might be responsible on two grounds. One, an employer is automatically liable for most accidents caused by its employees. Two, the trucking company might have been negligent in their hiring or training practices. For example, a trucking company might not have performed background checks or the necessary drug testing on its drivers.
- Truck manufacturer. A defect in the truck or the trailer could have caused the accident, which makes the manufacturer liable for the crash.
- Cargo company. A different company might have loaded the cargo. If unbalanced cargo contributed to the crash, then a victim could sue the cargo company.
- Insurance Company. Under what is called a “Direct Action” in Georgia, a victim of a crash caused by a commercial carrier owner of an 18 wheeler or other commercial vehicle can choose to add the insurance company in certain circumstances. This is authorized under O.C.G.A. § 40-2-140 and O.C.G.A. § 40-1- 112.
Generally, a party can be sued if their negligence contributed to the accident. An experienced attorney will cast a wide net in order to hold all relevant parties responsible.
Protecting Your Rights to Compensation
18-wheeler accidents differ from regular fender benders in another key way—more money is usually at stake with truck accidents. Principally, 18-wheeler accidents usually cause more serious injuries, which cost more to rehab and which cause more distress and physical pain.
Insurance companies will much more aggressively fight a claim when there is more money at stake. After a truck crash, the insurance company or the trucking company might send an investigator out to the scene of the crash to begin building a defense to any claim that they were negligent.
Under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33(g), accident victims can contribute to their own actions. This contributory negligence will prevent a lawsuit if the victim was at least 50% responsible. For this reason, trucking companies have an incentive to begin finding evidence that a victim was really to blame for his or her own injuries.
Even where our clients are less than 50% responsible, they can lose out on key compensation, which will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a client is 25% responsible, they will receive a quarter less in compensation.
Hire an MG Law Expert in 18-wheeler Accidents
Truck accidents can feel overwhelming. After a crash, you might be in so much pain you can’t leave your house or return to work. Many people report feeling financially distressed and might be tempted to agree to a quick settlement.
In our experience, injured victims are much better off hiring an attorney to represent them in any negotiations with an insurer or trucking company. At MG Law, we will handle all communications for our clients. To speak with a member of our team, please contact us today.Learn How Tractor Trailer Accidents Can Be Deadly