Most car accidents are scary, but when a car and truck collide, it can be truly devastating. A fully loaded semi-truck is permitted to have a maximum legal weight of 80,000 pounds. Unladen weight is anywhere from 25,000 to 35,000 pounds. By comparison, most passenger vehicles weigh an average of 4,000 pounds.
These behemoths commonly travel through Atlanta and other major metropolitan areas throughout the state of Georgia. As such, you’ve got a higher risk of having an accident with your car and a truck of this size and weight.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Ranking at the top of the causes of truck accidents is driver error. Because truck drivers must meet deadlines and arrive at their destinations on time, they may break the rules of the road by speeding to make up for the lost time.
Some will drive beyond their service regulation hours, making them prone to drowsy driving, which is nearly as dangerous as drunk driving.
Other common causes of truck accidents are rollovers, rear-end crashes, under-ride accidents, sideswipes, unsafe lane changes, wide-turns, blind spot accidents, jackknifing, and, on occasion, road rage.
In addition to potential truck driver error, some accidents caused by trucks colliding with cars come from negligent fleet management. If the fleet operator doesn’t maintain the semi-trucks, bad brakes could prevent the driver from being able to stop in time. Other times, defective or malfunctioning parts may be to blame, which would make the manufacturer of the truck or truck part liable in a claim.
Preventing Accidents with Semi-Trucks
Truck drivers have a responsibility to keep everyone safe on the road. However, you must do your part to avoid causing an accident, like being aware that all trucks have blind spots. While truckers are trained to always watch their surroundings on the road, it can be difficult.
Use extreme caution when you are in front or behind a large truck. In the front, the truck has a blind spot of about 20 feet, while behind it, that blind spot is 30 feet.
Additionally, follow the rules of the road yourself to avoid being put in a dangerous position. Since trucks weigh more than the average passenger vehicle, remember that they may not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting you if you stop short in front of one.
Trucking Regulations and Laws
A crash with a commercial semi-truck is different from other car accident claims. Truck drivers have to follow a strict set of rules implemented by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Mandated breaks, duty hours, maintenance schedules, and more are detailed within the rules. If the truck driver or their employer breaks any of the rules set by the FMCSA, they may be liable for any resulting damages. Successfully obtaining compensation for an accident with a semi-truck requires a thorough investigation to determine if any of the FMCSA rules were broken.
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How to Prove Truck Driver Negligence
When you work with an experienced car accident attorney that has handled trucking accidents, they will look for negligence on behalf of the truck driver or trucking company. As such, the first place to start is with the driver’s log books, which must always be kept current.
Another area an attorney should examine is if the driver failed to take a scheduled break. Failure to keep up the routine maintenance of the semi-truck will also be noted.
After an accident with a truck, it is important to collect the same types of evidence you would in any other accident. If you can do so, take photos of your vehicle and the accident surroundings, and obtain witness statements and contact information. You should also receive medical treatment, even if you don’t think you are badly injured. Make sure you get a copy of the police report, as your lawyer will need it to help identify the responsible party.
Additionally, Georgia is a state that engages in modified comparative negligence. Quite simply, if you were the one that caused or contributed to the accident, you may still be eligible to receive damages as long as you were 49% or less at fault for the collision.
Trucking accidents tend to be more complicated than other types of vehicle accidents. The injuries you suffer when your car and a truck collide may stay with you for the rest of your life. If you have been in this type of accident, you must seek the right counsel to assist you with making your claim and getting the compensation you need to pay for your losses.
Lawyer Henningsen recommends that if you or a loved one have been in a collision with a semi-truck you seek representation to navigate the legal process of obtaining proper compensation.