Georgia remains a “fault” state for both truck accidents and car accidents. Our neighbor to the South, Florida, is a no-fault state for car accidents. But the Peachtree State has declined to follow Florida’s lead.
Consequently, anyone involved in a truck accident needs to carefully build a case showing that the truck driver or trucking company was negligent in some way. If successful, a victim can obtain compensation for their losses, which will make it easier to pay bills and recover from serious injuries. For assistance with this process, speak with a Conyers truck accident lawyer today.
Difference Between Fault and No-Fault States
“Fault” is a legal concept that basically means responsibility. Someone at fault for an accident was responsible for it, and under our laws the party at fault pays compensation to victims.
Fault and no-fault states have different insurance requirements. In Florida, for example, motorists have personal injury protection benefits, called PIP. A driver involved in an accident can always tap these PIP benefits, even when they are at fault for the accident.
In a fault state, however, motorists carry liability insurance. This coverage only pays out benefits when the policyholder is at fault and injures someone else. The victim can therefore make a claim for compensation.
Truck companies carry liability policies. If the truck travels across state lines and weighs more than 10,000 pounds, then current federal law requires at least $750,000 in insurance—much more than what the ordinary motorist must carry. Companies can lose the right to carry goods in interstate commerce if they do not have the necessary insurance, so the public should be protected.
Examples Of Fault
If you were injured in a truck accident, you can obtain compensation if you prove that the truck driver was at fault for the collision. Often, drivers make some careless mistake that leads to tragic accidents, such as driving while impaired, speeding, being distracted, or driving too close to other traffic.
Georgia also recognizes that victims sometimes were also negligent. For example, you might have been hit by an impaired truck driver but you were also driving while distracted. In Georgia, you can sue so long as you are less than 50% responsible. If they were 50% or more, then they cannot sue for compensation.
Who May Be At Fault For A Truck Accident
In many truck accidents, the driver is at fault because he made some mistake like those mentioned above. However, a trucking company could also be at fault because their negligence harmed a victim.
For example, trucking companies are required to perform certain background checks on job applicants. They also must ensure that their drivers pass a medical exam and have the appropriate driver’s license. When a driver is involved in an accident, the trucking company must administer a required drug and alcohol test and suspend a driver who fails.
Some trucking companies neglect to satisfy these requirements. Consequently, it is no surprise that some of their drivers might injure someone. And this means the trucking company can be legally liable for an accident as well.
In other situations, a different entity could be at fault. With trucks, for example, a different company might own the cargo and load it into the trailer. If the load is unbalanced or not secured, then an accident could happen.
What Is “Vicarious Liability”?
Sometimes, a trucking company will be liable for their employees’ negligence even when the company was sufficiently careful. For example, a trucking company might follow federal regulations to the letter; nevertheless, their truck driver still makes a careless mistake on the road that injures someone.
This is where Georgia’s “vicarious liability” doctrine comes into play. Under this theory, an employer will be automatically liable for any accidents caused by one of its employees who is negligent while working. The liability arises solely because of the employee-employer relationship.
To be clear, sometimes a trucking company is negligent because it failed to follow the law. But even when it hasn’t been negligent, it could still be liable simply because its employee was. That’s vicarious liability.
Of course, trucking companies already carry hefty insurance policies for their trucks, so it shouldn’t really matter. But vicarious liability remains an important doctrine that might crop up in cases involving catastrophic injuries.
Speak With A Truck Accident Lawyer
Proving fault in an accident remains a challenge in even the best situations. Often, victims cannot obtain the evidence they need, and many do not know where to look. This is a stressful time, so you need professional legal help.
Contact MG Law today. We have the experience you need at an affordable price. Our consultations are free and confidential.