Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer
Commercial truck accidents are far more likely to result in catastrophic injuries than are other motor vehicle crashes. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 120,000 people are injured and 4,000 people are killed in large truck accidents in the United States each year.
Following a large truck accident, injured victims need strong legal representation. At MG Law, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers are committed to pursuing justice and maximizing financial compensation for injured victims. We know how to hold trucking companies and their insurers accountable under the law.
If you or your family member was injured in an 18-wheeler accident in Atlanta, please contact our Atlanta truck accident attorneys for free legal guidance.
The Georgia Statute of Limitations on Truck Accidents
Under Georgia law (Ga. Code Ann. Sec. 9-3-33), the statute of limitations for a truck accident lawsuit is typically two years from the date that the “action accrues”. In other words, your claim must be filed within two years of the date of the crash. If the statute of limitations runs out, your case may not be heard at all. Take action by calling an Atlanta truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after a major accident.
Proving Negligence in an Atlanta Truck Accident Claim
Large trucking companies are required to follow a number of different state and federal safety regulations. When companies violate these rules, it puts the health and safety of everyone else on the road at considerable risk. In Georgia, truck accident injury claims are based on negligence.
Plaintiffs must prove that the trucking company, or one of its representatives, such as the driver, acted in a careless or reckless manner that contributed to causing the accident. Some of the most common examples of negligence in commercial truck accident cases include:
- Truck drivers speeding on tight schedules;
- Truck driver fatigue;
- Distracted driving
- Lack of proper driver training;
- Improperly loaded trailers;
- Tire blowouts;
- Brake problems; and
- Failure to conduct adequate truck maintenance.
Truck accident claims are complex legal cases. In order to prevail in a lawsuit, plaintiffs must present strong and persuasive evidence that proves liability. Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys have the skills and experience needed to help you build a successful personal injury claim. We will gather all relevant evidence so you can hold the defendant legally liable for your accident.
Why Truck Accident Claims Are So Complex
As described above, there is a large range of potential acts of negligence that can lead to a crash. This is one of the primary reasons that truck accident claims are so complex – there are multiple parties who could be liable. Potential liable parties may include:
- truck driver,
- trucking company,
- shipper or loader of cargo,
- vehicle manufacturer or vehicle part manufacturer,
- another third party, such as a third-party driver.
Gathering and reporting the evidence that’s necessary to make a determination about negligence and fault is incredibly complicated, especially if a significant amount of time has passed between when the accident happened and when the investigation is being conducted.
Usually, at the very least, spoliation of evidence letters will need to be sent to the trucking company and any other parties that may have evidence (such as a gas station with a security camera that caught the accident on tape), and various experts will need to be brought into the investigatory process.
Experts may include accident reconstruction experts, vehicle design experts, and experts who can provide insight about NHTSA rules for large trucks and their drivers.
And that’s not the only reason that truck accident claims are so complicated. These types of claims are also complex because the extent of harm that a victim suffers is often enormous. Types of injuries that a victim of a truck accident claim may suffer include:
- Head and traumatic brain injuries. An injury to the brain can be catastrophic. If the head is hit with enough force (or if the brain is shaken or penetrated by an object), motor and sensory function, cognitive abilities, language, and emotion can all be disrupted. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) may never fully heal, changing a person’s life forever.
- Back, neck, and spinal cord injuries. Another type of devastating injury is a back, neck, or spinal cord injury. With enough force, a person may suffer a bone fracture in the spine, could incur a serious soft tissue injury (such as whiplash) that is painful and temporarily disabling, or, in the worst-case scenario, suffer a spinal cord injury. A spinal cord injury can result in partial or complete paralysis from the site of the injury downwards. Spinal cord injuries are permanent.
- Limb amputation/loss of use of limb injuries. With the amount of force that’s involved in a truck accident (determined by the mass of the vehicles involved and the speed at which they are traveling at the time of impact), it is not uncommon for the smaller vehicle to be utterly destroyed in the crash. If the smaller vehicle is severely damaged, so too may be any occupants of that vehicle. Injuries to limbs are very common and, in some cases, these injuries might include serious crush injuries or limb amputation injuries. Losing the loss of use of a body part is emotionally devastating, as well as incredibly limiting physically, too.
- Burn injuries. In some cases, truck accidents may result in vehicles catching on fire, resulting in burn injuries to any occupants of the vehicles. Occupants may also be ejected from the vehicle and skid along the road, resulting in road burn/rash injuries.
- Internal injuries. An injury to an internal organ, such as a kidney, occurs when the body is hit with a large amount of force or a bone fracture occurs that punctures an organ. In either case, the outcome can be tragic. Internal bleeding can be fatal and a person who suffers any internal injuries needs medical treatment immediately.
- Injuries to extremities. In addition to the injuries to extremities mentioned above, such as burn injuries and amputation injuries, other injuries to arms, legs, hands, and feet might include bone fracture injuries and soft tissue injuries, as well as bruises and lacerations.
- Psychological injuries. Finally, a victim of a truck accident may develop psychological injuries following a truck crash as well. Common psychological harm that may develop after a serious accident includes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Of course, this list is not inclusive; there may be other emotional and mental challenges that a person who has been involved in a truck accident experiences.
Truck accident claims are also complex because the parties involved–trucking companies and large insurance companies–are not eager to pay out settlements to victims and will try to get away with paying as little as possible. These companies are represented by smart lawyers who may use aggressive tactics to protect a company’s interests.
Compensation Available in Atlanta Truck Accidents
In Georgia truck accidents, victims have a right to seek financial relief for monetary damages and intangible losses. Sadly, large trucking corporations and their insurance companies are aggressive in handling claims.
If you were hurt in a truck accident, they will try to settle your claim for as little as possible — far less than you need to pay your bills and support your family. Effective legal representation can make all the difference.
At MG Law, our skilled Atlanta truck accident lawyers know how to help injured victims recover a maximum settlement offer or injury verdict. We can help you seek money damages for:
- Emergency medical treatment;
- Other hospital bills and medical expenses;
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation;
- Lost current and future wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Long-term disability; and
- Wrongful death damages.
When you are offered a settlement by a truck accident company/insurance company, you maintain the right to reject that settlement and renegotiate for a greater amount.
You deserve to be compensated for 100 percent of your losses, both economic and noneconomic. You may feel pressured to accept a settlement offer, especially when you are ready to have the process behind you and need to cash to start paying your medical bills and supporting yourself. While it may be tempting to accept anything you can get, don’t fall into this trap.
Instead, know that our passionate Atlanta truck accident lawyers will fight for your right to your full settlement amount and can handle negotiations on your behalf. If necessary, our lawyers have trial experience and will not hesitate to bring your case to litigation.
Why Choose the Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers at MG Law
Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys have a proven track record of obtaining successful results for our clients. Justice matters. We will work tirelessly to get you the full and fair financial compensation that you rightfully deserve. Our legal team offers every client personalized representation. We are prepared to:
- Offer a free, no obligation personal injury consultation;
- Take the time to answer your questions and help you explore your available options;
- Conduct a complete investigation of your truck accident;
- Put resources into your case, including working with medical professionals and other experts;
- Negotiate with the trucking company and their insurance provider; and
- File a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia court.
Similar to other personal injury claims, the majority of truck accident injury cases are settled prior to litigation. However, there are certainly exceptions.
If a full and fair settlement is not offered, our trial-tested Atlanta truck accident attorneys are always ready to take your case to court. When you choose our law firm, you can count on us to give personal, committed attention to your case and to design a case strategy that is unique to you.
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6 FAQs About Truck Accidents
1. Who’s Liable for a Truck Accident?
Liability for a truck accident may be based on fault/negligence or a theory of a liability, such as vicarious liability or respondent superior. For example, a truck driver who causes the crash may be held liable for the damages that result, or the trucking company for which the truck driver is employed could be held liable based on the employer-employee relationship. Liability for a truck accident can fall on the shoulders of:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- A third party, such as the driver of another vehicle involved in the crash
- A shipper or loader of cargo
- A truck part manufacturer
- The insurance company for the trucking company under the Georgia Direct Action law contained in O.C.G.A. § 40–2–140
The above list is not inclusive. What’s important is that after a truck accident, a thorough investigation into your case is opened and all evidence that provides clues about fault and liability is gathered. Important evidence includes truck driver logs, vehicle maintenance logs, truck ‘black box’ data, witnesses’ testimonies, and more.
2. Can I Bring Forth a Claim if a Loved One of Mine Was Killed in a Truck Accident?
When you are injured in a truck accident, you maintain the right to file a claim for damages against the responsible party – compensation received will be allocated to you to pay for things like lost wages, property damage expenses, medical bills, and pain and suffering. However, some truck accidents are fatal. If a loved one of yours has been killed in a truck accident, you may have a cause of action to bring forth a wrongful death claim. Please consult with our lawyers about wrongful death claims in Georgia, what you have to prove, and types of damages recoverable.
3. Do I Have to Accept a Settlement?
After the insurance company has conducted its investigation and made a determination about fault and damages, it will likely approach you with a settlement offer. You may be very tempted to accept this settlement, especially if your damages are serious and your financial losses large. However, accepting the first settlement offer may not be in your best interests. This is because first settlement offers are often low-balled, which means that an insurance company offers you less than you deserve in hopes that they will get away with paying out less than your claim is really worth. Once you accept a settlement, you give up your right to ask for further compensation. As such, it is usually wise to reject a first settlement offer and enter into negotiations; at the very least, you should have your settlement reviewed by an experienced Atlanta truck accident attorney.
4. How Long Will My Case Take to Settle?
A common question that we hear from our clients and prospective clients is that of how long a case will take to settle. Unfortunately, there is no way to know how long a case will take to resolve – this depends on various different factors, including the complexity of a case, whether or not fault is disputed, the degree of damages, the types and values of insurance policies involved, and more. Some cases will settle in a few months – others take longer. In some cases, a case may result in litigation, which can take over a year to resolve.
5. How Much Is My Case Worth?
Similar to the question of “How long will my case take to settle?”, there is no way to predict how much a case is worth, especially without a thorough evaluation of the case. (This is why you should never trust an attorney who promises you millions of dollars, yet hasn’t even reviewed the evidence in your case.) The value of your case will depend on numerous factors, including the degree of damages you’ve suffered. One thing that our lawyers can promise is that we will aggressively advocate for your right to your full compensation amount.
6. Do I Have to Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
You are not compelled under the law to hire a truck accident attorney when pursuing a truck accident claim; in fact, even if your case goes to litigation, there’s no requirement to hire a lawyer. However, not working with an attorney may be a big mistake. An attorney will know the ins and outs of the law and the claims process, can gather the critical evidence that your case will rest on, will know how to calculate the value of your claim and review your settlement, can negotiate on your behalf, and more. Working with a skilled Atlanta truck accident attorney is one of the smartest things you can do.
What Is Full Coverage Insurance In Georgia?
Many people use the term “full coverage,” but what does it mean? In Georgia, all motorists must carry certain minimum insurance coverage. Without this insurance, a driver cannot register their vehicle, and they could face other penalties if they are involved in an accident without proper insurance. But minimum coverage leaves motorists vulnerable after many wrecks.
There is no agreed definition of what qualifies as “full coverage” insurance in Georgia. However, speaking generally, full coverage combines the state’s minimum liability coverage along with collision and comprehensive coverage. There are many reasons to get full coverage, though costs are always a concern.
Minimum Liability Coverage
Georgia is a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents. Under this system, a driver who is at fault for a wreck must pay compensation to those injured. Victims usually suffer two types of damage—bodily injuries and property damage.
Unsurprisingly, Georgia requires that motorists carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. As the name implies, this insurance will kick in when someone covered under the policy causes an accident. So if Driver A strikes Driver B, then Driver B will make a claim on A’s liability insurance policy to pay compensation.
Like other states, Georgia sets minimums that those registering a vehicle must have to comply with the law:
- For bodily injury liability, the minimum is $25,000 per person injured up to $50,000 per accident (when 2 or more people suffer bodily injuries). Bodily injury liability pays for medical care, replaces lost wages, and compensates for pain and suffering.
- For property damage, a driver must carry at least $25,000 in insurance. This will pay to repair or replace the victim’s damaged property, such as their car.
Combined, this is called 25/50/25 coverage, as it’s known in the insurance industry.
Because these are minimums, a driver could carry more coverage. For example, you might carry $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, up to $300,000 per accident. Of course, you will pay more in monthly premiums for more coverage. But if you are at fault for an accident, the victim could sue you personally and, if he wins, try to put a lien on your home or levy a bank account. The cost of medical care continues to skyrocket, so realize that $25,000 might not cover much.
Collision & Comprehensive Coverage
To get “full coverage” in Georgia, you should get collision and comprehensive coverage. These policies are different from liability insurance because they are no fault insurance. This means you can be to blame for the wreck or damage to your vehicle, but you can still make a claim to get your car fixed. That makes them greatly beneficial to have.
They are distinct policies:
- Collision. This insurance pays to repair or replace a car that is damaged in a collision. It includes striking another vehicle or running off the road and hitting an object, like a pole or house.
- Comprehensive. This policy will cover the cost to repair or replace a vehicle damaged by something other than a collision. The policy will cover damage from storms, natural disasters, fire, vandalism, theft, and flood.
Let’s say you get into an accident, which is your fault. You cannot make a claim on your liability insurance or the other driver’s liability insurance because you are to blame. However, you could tap your collision coverage to get your car fixed.
Most lenders require that borrowers carry both collision and comprehensive on a car loan. These policies protect the lender’s investment since the car serves as collateral for the loan. If the car were wrecked, it would have little value.
Costs vary for collision and comprehensive. Generally, you could pay several hundred dollars more a month, depending on your driving history and the amount of your deductible. You should contact an insurance agent or request online quotes.
Should you get comprehensive and collision coverage if you don’t have a car loan? It’s really up to you. You might like the added protection just in case you crash. However, make sure this coverage fits your budget.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
Georgia law requires that any insurer who issues a liability insurance policy must include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (O.C.G.A. 33-7-11). They must provide policy limits equal to your liability insurance. So if you get a liability policy with 25/50/25 limits, then an equal amount must be offered of UM coverage.
These policies cover different situations:
- Uninsured motorist coverage. If the at-fault driver lacks insurance, then you can use this coverage.
- Underinsured motorist coverage. The driver might have lower policy limits, and you have unmet expenses. For example, you might carry $100,000 in uninsured motorist coverage, but the at-fault driver has the bare $25,000.
UM coverage is liability insurance, so it only kicks in when you are not to blame for the accident.
Do you need UM coverage? Consider that there are many uninsured drivers in Georgia—according to one estimate, at least 12%. That works out to nearly 1 in 8 Georgia drivers lacking insurance. UM coverage might be the only thing available if an uninsured driver hits you. You can usually make a claim on your UM policy if you are the victim of a hit and run, and the police never find the driver. Underinsured motorist coverage is helpful when you suffer heavy losses and the other driver has policy limits that are too low.
Georgia law allows motorists to reject UM coverage when they pick up the required liability policy. But we want to discourage any motorist from rejecting coverage. Your UM insurance might be the only policy available to pay compensation after many accidents.
A Truck Accident Lawyer can Help with Medical Payments Coverage
Thus far, we have looked at liability insurance that covers injuries to other people, and comprehensive/collision insurance which pays to repair your vehicle regardless of fault. But what about bodily injuries you suffer when you cause an accident?
This is where medical payments coverage comes in. This insurance will pay for medical treatment for victims regardless of whether you were to blame for the accident. It can also pay for medical care to any of your passengers who were injured.
Medical payments coverage is optional in Georgia, but it is definitely something you should consider if you are trying to get full coverage. Generally, insurers offer at least $2,000 in coverage but policies can go up to $10,000. Of course, your monthly car insurance premium will also increase.
You might wonder why someone would get medical payments coverage if they have health insurance. After all, your health insurance should cover the cost of medical care, even if you are responsible for the accident.
However, some people have health insurance policies with high deductibles. You can use medical payments coverage to pay for the deductible. You might also want the added protection of knowing you have coverage if you cause a wreck and injure a passenger. Two thousand dollars in coverage might not sound like much, but every bit is helpful after an expensive collision.
What If I Need Surgery After My Wreck?
Surgery is often necessary to treat spinal cord injuries, damage to internal organs, and to set some broken bones. Surgery is also very expensive, costing at least $10,000 and usually much more.
Fortunately, you can receive compensation for all medical treatment, including surgery, if it relates to your injuries. In a settlement, you can receive money to pay for surgery, including the cost of staying overnight in the hospital, prescription drugs, and assistive devices like wheelchairs or crutches. Remember to hang onto your medical bills so that your lawyer can properly calculate the amount of money spent to treat your injuries.
Surgery also often results in permanent scarring, which you can also receive compensation for. If you need surgery on a visible part of your body (such as your face), then permanent scars can cause severe emotional distress, including anxiety, embarrassment, and depression. Georgia law allows injured victims to receive compensation for this emotional distress.
Make sure your surgery is necessary and that your car accident is the cause of needing it. If you had a pre-existing back injury that wasn’t further injured in the crash, then you shouldn’t expect to receive compensation.
Speak to Our Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers Today
At MG Law, our Atlanta lawyers have extensive experience handling commercial truck accident claims. If you or your loved one was injured in a large truck collision, we are here to help. From our office in Atlanta, we serve injured victims throughout Fulton County and DeKalb County.
Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys always offer free case consultations to new clients and always commit the resources, time, and energy to our clients’ cases that are deserved. If you are ready to take the first steps towards improving your future and seeking justice for the harm you’ve suffered, we can help.
Please call us directly or use the contact form on our website to send us a message telling us more about what’s happened to you. We can begin working on your case immediately.
Our experienced attorneys also handle other type of trucks accidents including: