Large commercial vehicles are central to Georgia’s economy. They transport goods around the state and to distant parts of the country, returning with goods from far off states for Georgia consumers to enjoy.
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.
If you were involved in an 18-wheeler accident in Georgia, there is certain information you need to know. These 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.
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.
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
Truck accidents differ from regular fender benders in another key way—more money is usually at stake with truck accidents. Principally, truck 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.
Why You Need to Hire MG Law
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.