Collisions between tractor trailers and passenger vehicles are notorious for resulting in devastatingly severe injuries, many of which leave victims to struggle with chronic pain and permanent disability for the rest of their lives. While recovering damages from the person or entity who cause these types of collision cannot truly compensate those who find themselves in this situation, it can go a long way towards helping injured parties get started on the long road to recovery. Unfortunately, filing toxic tort claims can be difficult, as these claims often involve multiple liable parties, extensive losses, and serious injuries, so if you were injured in a tractor-trailer accident in Georgia, it is important to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer who can help you seek compensation for your losses.
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.
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.
Common Truck Accident Causes
Recognizing that commercial vehicles are much larger and more dangerous than standard sized vehicles, federal regulators instituted a series of rules with which trucking companies and their drivers must comply. These rules cover a wide range of topics, including:
- How to properly load, secure, transport, and unload cargo;
- Maintenance, inspection, and repair standards;
- Hours of service limits;
- Driver training and licensing; and
- Keeping proper records.
Unfortunately, many trucking companies fail to ensure that their drivers comply with these rules, and in some cases, actually encourage their drivers to violate hours of service and record keeping rules. When this type of conduct results in tractor trailer accidents, the at-fault company can be held liable for damages compensating injured parties for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
While driver error can and does contribute to thousands of truck accidents every year, many can also be attributed to mechanical error, such as suspension system failure, defective or degraded brakes, or tire or wheel failure. When these defects can be linked to a failure to properly maintain a vehicle, the trucking company could be held at least partially liable for resulting accidents. If, on the other hand, it was a vehicle part manufacturer’s negligence that caused the defect, it too could be held liable for a portion of the injured party’s damages.
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.
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.
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.
Collecting compensation from the at-fault parties who cause tractor accidents is extremely important for those who are injured in truck-related accidents, as the injuries sustained in these types of collisions tend to be catastrophic in nature. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord damage, amputations, crushed or broken bones, and burns are some of the most commonly reported tractor crash-related injuries, all of which require long-term treatment and can leave an injured party permanently disabled. Fortunately, damages awards can compensate injured parties for these costs, as well as lost wages and pain and suffering.
Contact an Experienced Georgia Truck Accident Lawyer
To learn more about your own legal options following a truck accident, please call the dedicated truck accident lawyers at MG Law at (770) 988-5252 today. You can also request a free consultation with a member of our legal team by completing one of our online forms.Can You Claim Insurance From 2 Different Companies After A Truck Accident?