Most truck collisions are serious, resulting in catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. The great size and weight of commercial trucks make them significant dangers to smaller passenger vehicles. In a collision between the two, the truck will always win. If you or a loved one has experienced a recent truck crash in Atlanta, come to our law firm for a free consultation right away. The law may entitle you to compensation from the trucking company, part manufacturer, roadway maintenance crew, or other party.
Truck Accident Statistics
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains a record of truck crashes throughout the United States. With this data, the FMCSA can hope to enhance the safety of the commercial trucking industry. Here are some numbers for the country and for Georgia specifically:
- In 2015, 4,050 large trucks were involved in deadly accidents. This is an 8% increase from 2014, and a 26% increase from its low in 2009. The number of large trucks in injury accidents decreased by 1%, to 87,000. There were 342,000 large trucks involved in property damage only accidents.
- A total of 53,263 large trucks were involved in injury accidents, and 95,337 in tow-away collisions. Three percent of trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2015 were carrying hazardous materials such as gasoline and oil. Most crashes (65%) involved singles, or large trucks pulling single trailers.
- Single-vehicle truck crashes, including those that involved bicyclists and pedestrians, made up 20% of all fatal accidents in 2015. The majority of accidents (64%) involved two or more vehicles.
- The majority of fatal truck accidents occur on rural roads (60%). Only 25% occur on Interstate highways. Thirty-five percent of truck accidents in 2015 occurred at night, between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
- In 2015, 26 large truck drivers died in accidents in Georgia. There were 182 fatal large truck accidents total in Georgia the same year. There were seven deaths in Fulton County that involved large trucks in 2015.
The data is only half of the story when it comes to large truck crashes. The full picture involves serious injuries, medical bills, devastating losses, and life-changing consequences. Only the victims of truck accidents know how traumatic these events can truly be. At Kaufman Law, P.C., we’ve helped a number of clients get back on their feet after a truck wreck. It’s our mission to fight for the compensation that can help victims secure their financial futures.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Recognizing the most common reasons truck accidents occur can help you prevent and avoid them in Atlanta. Common contributing factors include:
- Drowsy driving. Truck drivers may fall asleep behind the wheel due to long shifts, having no passengers to talk to, and having to meet strict deadlines. Studies show that truck drivers are prone to sleep apnea, a respiratory problem that can interrupt sleep. This can increase the risk of falling asleep while driving.
- Driving under the influence. Truck drivers have lower legal blood alcohol concentration limits than standard drivers. The limit for truckers is 0.04%, or half the amount of drinks the average driver may legally consume before reaching the 0.08% limit.
- Texting while driving. In Georgia, no driver may text while driving. This includes emails, instant messages, and social media messages. Commercial drivers may get into trouble for using the phone while driving in any way, if it is a distraction while operating their truck.
- Other drivers. Truck accidents often stem from the negligence of other drivers on the roadway. Passenger vehicle drivers may not give large trucks the amount of space and stopping distance they need to avoid a collision. Cutting large trucks off, swerving in front of them, or slamming on the brakes can result in truck accidents.
- Defective parts. The truck driver isn’t the only possible cause of a crash. Sometimes, the truck’s parts have defects that make them unreasonably dangerous. In these cases, the manufacturer may be liable. If the part has an issue that relates to poor maintenance instead of a manufacturing defect, the truck company may be to blame.
- Roadway hazards. Debris, construction zones, fallen trees, and potholes can all contribute to large truck crashes. The City of Atlanta is responsible for maintaining its roads and keeping them safe for drivers. An injured trucker or other party may be able to sue the city government for these types of accidents.
Almost all truck accidents come down to negligence. Proving negligence may take eyewitness interviews, evidence gathering, and bringing in expert witnesses to testify. The right attorney can make this daunting process much simpler. Our team can help you bring a negligent truck driver, company, manufacturer, government, or other party to justice.
Types of Truck Accidents
While a large truck crash can involve almost many scenarios, there are certain types of accidents that occur more often than others. In accidents involving big rigs, the size and shape of the vehicle can affect the way it wrecks. This leads to a list of most frequent types of truck accidents on the road. Each type has its own common cause that can help victims go after the appropriate defendant. Here are five types of truck accidents we’ve seen often in Atlanta:
- Tire blowout. If any of the 18 wheels experiences a blowout, it can make the truck swerve dangerously, lose control, roll over, or go off the road. Blowouts can occur due to defects in the tires, or poor fleet maintenance.
- Rollover. A large truck can roll over if the driver loses control of the vehicle, or does something like take a turn too sharply. Speeding, driving down steep declines, or striking objects in the road can lead to trailers rolling over.
- Head-on collision. A head-on collision with a commercial truck will likely lead to fatal injuries. The larger vehicle will crush or obliterate the smaller one, as they collide at a speed that combines the speeds of both vehicles.
- Rear-end collision. Trucks do not possess the same stopping power as other vehicles. They need more time to come to a complete stop. If a truck driver isn’t paying attention, he or she may not be able to stop in time to prevent this type of crash. The same is true if a passenger vehicle driver slams on the brakes in front of a truck.
- Jackknife. This type of crash is unique to big rigs. It describes the axle brakes locking up, causing the trailer to swing outward in a jackknife position with the cab. Truck drivers have no control over trucks that jackknife. They can often lead to rollovers.
Truck accidents can include many types of trucks. The truck could be a semi, cement, garbage, fire, fuel, or delivery vehicle. It doesn’t have to be a commercial truck or big rig to have a claim against the company or another party. After a crash with any kind of truck, speak to an attorney to explore your legal opportunities.
Does the Trucking Company Have Any Liability?
In the past, trucks were rented instead of purchased and owned outright, allowing companies to escape responsibility for fleet maintenance and accidents involving problems with the trucks. Companies also hired independent contractors instead of regular employees. This placed the blame with the individual driver for accidents involving driver error instead of the company. However, federal laws made a few changes to prevent trucking companies from unfairly escaping liability for crashes. Today, trucking companies may have liability for:
- Driver error
- Lack of driver training
- Poor hiring decisions
- Truck maintenance
- Cargo loading errors
- Daily checks and inspections
Whether the crash involves driver negligence, the need for truck repairs, or an unsafe bed of cargo, the trucking company may face liability. The company’s insurer will be responsible for paying for any injuries, deaths, or property damage that the accident causes. The new liability laws have made companies take trucking safety more seriously. Unfortunately, some are still negligent in ways that result in major crashes.
When to Contact an Attorney
At Kaufman Law, P.C., we recommend scheduling a free consultation with an attorney after any truck accident. You have nothing to lose in discussing your crash with a lawyer in Atlanta, and potentially thousands of dollars to gain. You could be eligible for payment for your past and future medical costs, missed time at work, property damage, and pain and suffering. Don’t go up against big truck insurance companies on your own.
“I was involved in an automobile accident, and have never sought legal counsel in my life. I found Kaufman Law, met with them and am very thankful that I did. This firm and its associates are nothing short of amazing. My case was handled with complete professionalism, and best of all they made me feel like I was family. No question was too dumb, and my paralegal’s attentiveness was unfailing. I would highly recommend this firm to friends and family going forward. So if you ever need to seek legal counsel for any type of personal injury, please give Kaufman Law P.C a call. I doubt that you’ll regret it.” – Johnny
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