Truck accidents almost always lead to severe or fatal injuries to those in passenger vehicles. While in use, a truck’s weight, size, and velocity make trucking accidents very dangerous to passenger vehicle occupants. That is why it is so important that if you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, that you contact a local truck accident attorney as you may be entitled to compensation.
Truck Accident Negligence Claims
In a trucking accident case, you must show that the truck driver or the employer, and sometimes both, were negligent in their actions and that such negligence was the cause of the accident. The following are just a few examples of the types of trucking accidents which usually involve some type of negligence on the part of the driver, employer, or shipper:
Driving while Fatigued or Distracted — Many severe accidents are caused by fatigued truck drivers who become inattentive due to lack of proper rest, and inattentive due to texting, talking, or otherwise using a handheld device. Truck drivers are required to adhere to maximum hours of driving time, and when drivers fail to keep their hours under the required maximum, they can become fatigued and inattentive due to lack of proper rest. This puts other motorists on the roadway at risk. Another negligent behavior is when truck drivers become inattentive due to distractions such as texting, talking, or otherwise using a handheld device. Any distraction which takes a truck driver’s attention away from his or her duties and responsibilities while operating a commercial vehicle on public highways is a safety hazard.
Speeding, Following too close, and Violations of the Rules of the Road—Truck drivers must obey the same laws as other drivers, and any such failure to do so creates an enormous risk to the public. For instance, 18-wheelers need far more distance to brake and come to a stop in traffic than an ordinary vehicle. It is far more dangerous for an 18-wheeler to be following too close in traffic than an ordinary vehicle. Truck drivers must be more aware of their surroundings due to the inability to stop quickly, and when not paying attention, they run stop signs, stop lights, pedestrian crossings, etc. In fact, truck drivers should be trained to always be looking 12 seconds ahead of where they will be. Truck driver’s failure to obey traffic laws and pay attention while operating a commercial vehicle can cause many of the following dangerous collisions:
- Underride crashes – When a smaller vehicle becomes trapped underneath the trailer part of a tractor-trailer. The occupants of the vehicle become trapped underneath the truck and sustain serious or fatal injuries.
- Override crashes – When a truck driver runs over a passenger vehicle.
- Wide turn crashes – Trucks need to make wide turns and because of this they are banned from certain roads. When trucks make wide turns, they may swing into oncoming lanes of traffic.
- Jackknife – This type of accident is when the trailer gets ahead of the truck’s cabin. The trailer can drift and cause underride and multiple vehicle accidents. This type of accident can happen if the truck driver brakes too hard, brakes abruptly or is speeding.
- Rollovers – These crashes can occur due to many factors such as speeding, alcohol use, road conditions, and an improperly loaded truck.
Mechanical Issues—Federal law requires that truck drivers, and their employers, maintain the truck and trailer in a safe condition. In fact, truck drivers are required to perform both pre-trip and post-trip inspections on their tractor and trailer. These inspections require them to inspect their tires, brakes, headlights, turn signals, and loads. When they fail to perform the required inspections and something unsafe is undetected, major accidents can occur.
Improper or Unsecure Loading—Federal law mandates how cargo that is being transported on public roadways is to be loaded and secured on all types of trailers. A failure to properly secure a load can lead to it many dangerous conditions which can cause a major collision such as cargo falling off the trailer or a load shift which can cause the tractor and trailer to flip over due to the load moving during transit.
These types of truck accidents often result in catastrophic or fatal injuries to the occupants of smaller vehicles. Pedestrians and motorcyclists are more vulnerable to catastrophic injuries due to the large difference in weight in size and the lack of protection.
Wrongful Death Claims
Truck accidents are typically major accidents that oftentimes involve numerous other vehicles and frequently lead to deaths. When someone is killed due to a truck driver’s negligence, or the negligence of the employer or shipper, a claim for wrongful death can be brought by the family of the deceased. Wrongful death claims in Georgia are governed by Georgia law. Typically, if the deceased had a spouse, the spouse has the right to bring the wrongful death claim on behalf of the spouse and the children. If the deceased was not married, the children will have the right to bring the wrongful death lawsuit. And, if the deceased was not married, and had no children, the parents of the deceased will have the right to bring the wrongful death lawsuit.
Georgia and FMCSA Trucking Laws
Under federal and Georgia state laws there are numerous requirements placed on tractor-trailer drivers and their employers in order to protect the public. One such requirement is that tractor-trailer drivers must get a certain amount of sleep and take breaks while working and the employer must maintain accurate records of this. If the employer fails to keep accurate records, claims that the driver was overly tired or fatigued can be made. Under the federal hours of service regulation, drivers are permitted to drive 60 – 70 hours in a 7 to 8 day period.
Additionally, tractor-trailer drivers are not allowed to use drugs or medications that affect their driving ability and they must conduct safety inspections to ensure that their trucks are safe, and their loads are secured. Sometimes truck drivers are too tired to drive and to stay awake, so they self-medicate. This negligent behavior puts everyone on the road at risk.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident your lives are forever changed and the road to recovery will be long and costly. The attorneys at Langdale Law are knowledgeable about federal and state trucking laws and can investigate your truck accident to determine liability. Contact Langdale Law today to discuss the merits of your claim.