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Tractor-trailers rule the road. These large commercial vehicles carry goods around the state of Georgia and to distant points in North America. Unfortunately, these vehicles are so large and difficult to maneuver that they can cause devastating injuries when they crash into pedestrians or smaller, lighter passenger vehicles. Each year, hundreds of people are seriously injured in a collision with these “big rigs,” and some even die.
At MG Law our tractor-trailer accident lawyers in Atlanta have brought many claims for compensation. We know this area of law inside and out, and we can put our knowledge to work for your benefit. Please contact us today for a free consultation.
How Common Are Tractor Trailer Accidents?
Collisions between commercial vehicles and standard sized cars occur much more often than most people realize. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that there were at least 450,000 police-reported truck accidents in 2017 alone. Tragically, 4,237 of those accidents proved fatal, while 344,000 more involved injuries. Because commercial vehicles are so much larger than their passenger sized counterparts, a disproportionate number of those who lost their lives in these kinds of accidents were occupants of the smaller vehicle.
Why Tractor Trailer Accidents Occur
In rare instances, the driver of a small vehicle might cut in front of the tractor-trailer and cause a crash. However, in many more cases, the truck driver is to blame for the accident because he was negligent or reckless in how he operated his rig.
At our firm, we have seen the following causes:
- Distracted driving. Truck drivers cannot use a hand-held cell phone while driving, but many do, nonetheless. Drivers can also become distracted by eating, talking to passengers, or simply spacing out.
- Driver fatigue. Long-haul drivers are on the road for a long period of time and can easily fall asleep behind the wheel. Rampant use of stimulants only masks the symptoms of fatigue, such as delayed reaction times and poor judgment. Although federal “hours of service” regulations limit the amount of time a trucker can drive, many truckers violate these rules.
- Drug or alcohol use. An impaired driver is at risk of falling asleep and making critical errors. Even over the counter or prescription drugs can impair a driver.
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions. When a vehicle is going too fast, it takes longer to come to a stop. Many truckers rear-end smaller cars because they cannot stop in time.
- Improper loading of cargo. Unbalanced loads can make a tractor-trailer unstable, leading to rollovers.
- Operator error. Some truckers become confused about where to go, especially when driving in a city like Atlanta.
Regardless of how the accident unfolded, injured victims should quickly speak to an accident attorney in Atlanta. Our firm will swing into action to obtain the evidence necessary to press your claim for compensation.
What Vehicles Qualify As Tractor Trailers?
Tractor trailers are commercial vehicles that are made up of a tractor unit and at least one semi-trailer to transport cargo. Semi-trailers attach to the tractor portion of the vehicle with a fifth-wheel coupling or hitch, so much of the weight of the semi-trailer is actually carried by the tractor. Unfortunately, this design means that tractor-trailers and commercial vehicles, in general, are susceptible to certain types of collisions, including rollovers and jackknife accidents, both of which can be extremely dangerous for anyone else on the road.
A number of commercial vehicles actually satisfy the definition of a tractor trailer, including: tanker trucks, dump trucks, flatbed trucks, and tanker trucks, oil and gas rigs, and refrigerated trucks. While all of these trucks may vary in size and purpose, the effects of collisions between them and other vehicles are largely the same.
Types Of Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accidents
At MG Law, we see many common types of truck accidents, including:
- Jackknife. The trailer swings out perpendicular to the tractor, hitting vehicles in adjacent lanes. Jackknifes can shut down traffic for hours.
- Override. A big rig rides up onto the back of a vehicle stopped in front of it. Depending on the truck’s speed, it can ride into the back seat and kill anyone sitting there. Overrides often happen because of brake failure, driver fatigue, and driving too fast for conditions.
- Underride. A smaller passenger vehicle slides under the back of the trailer, often because a big rig stopped suddenly.
- Rollovers. With its high center of gravity, tractor-trailers are prone to rolling onto their sides. Also, unbalanced cargo in the trailer can contribute to instability.
- Sideswipes. Tractor-Trailers have large blind spots, and a trucker can sideswipe someone riding in an adjacent lane when changing lanes.
- Head-on collisions. A truck driver might drift into oncoming traffic after falling asleep or deliberately when trying to avoid an accident in front of it.
In any accident, the cargo in the trailer is at risk of spilling out, which can injure motorists and bystanders.
Who Our Clients Can Sue
We have experience suing any person or entity who contributed to the crash. These people can include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company that employs the driver
- The company that loaded the cargo
- The truck manufacturer, if a defect made the truck unsafe
Identifying the correct party to sue is confusing. Many victims are suffering from horrifying injuries that require all of their attention. They might spend all their time scheduling surgery or rehabilitation and struggle with emotional distress.
Our Atlanta tractor-trailer lawyers are skilled at reviewing the facts and choosing the correct parties to sue. In this way, we can increase the chances of our clients receiving the maximum compensation allowed under the law.
Compensation You Can Receive
We have helped clients recoup money for the following types of losses:
- Medical care to treat your injuries, including future medical care
- Lost wages, if you could not work after your truck accident
- Lost future wages, if your injuries prevent you from returning to your old job
- Damage to your motor vehicle involved in the truck accident
- Pain and suffering
Many of our clients dramatically underestimate the true value of their injuries and are too eager to settle their case for insufficient funds. By meeting with us, we will carefully go through all your losses and estimate the amount you are owed.
How An Attorney Can Help You
Tractor-trailer accidents can cause devastating injuries which costs tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to treat. To avoid paying compensation, trucking companies are constantly looking for ways to shift responsibility for the accident onto someone else, including you, the victim.
Within minutes of the crash, the trucking company should have a private investigator on the scene collecting evidence. You are at a serious disadvantage if you do not have someone in your corner who is looking out only for you.
At MG Law, we can handle the legal work so that you can focus on getting well. For example, we can:
- Investigate the crash
- Act as your go-between with the insurance company
- Find evidence that supports the truck driver or the trucking company is at fault for the accident
- Access the truck’s black box data, which can show how long the driver has been on the road and whether he has violated federal hours of service requirements
- Help you value the costs of your injuries so that you can receive a fair settlement
- Negotiate with the trucking company and its insurer for the maximum compensation available
If necessary, we are also prepared to file a lawsuit in court to hold the trucking company accountable, especially if the insurance company plays hardball.
Speak With An Atlanta Tractor Trailer Accident Attorney Today
Immediately after an accident, the trucking company will have an investigator at the scene collecting evidence to use. An injured victim is at a decided disadvantage if he or she does not have an advocate as well.
Contact MG Law today. Our Atlanta truck wreck lawyers will meet for a free consultation where we can review what happened, how badly you are injured, and your chances of legal success. Call us or send an online message.
Our experienced attorneys also handle other type of trucks accidents including: