A stretch of highway just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, referred to as “Spaghetti Junction”, is the worst truck bottleneck in the country according to a 2017 report. A traffic bottleneck is a section of street, road, or highway that creates a severe disruption to the flow of traffic. These highly congested areas can lead to frequent motor-vehicle accidents.
With large population growth, a lack of funding for transportation projects, and a booming ground freight industry, trucking accidents in the Peach State are inevitable. A typical large truck that is fully loaded can weigh up to 80,000lbs. Given the sheer size and weight of a commercial truck, in the event of a collision, passenger vehicle occupants are most likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries.
In 2015, there were 87,000 large trucks involved in trucking accidents resulting in injury and 4,050 involved in accidents resulting in a fatality in the U.S. The frequency of these accidents may not be changing anytime soon as the freighting industry continues to grow and our nation’s highways become more and more congested. It’s important for any driver in Atlanta, or across the state of Georgia, to know who may be found liable in the event of a trucking accident resulting in injury or death.
Who may be found liable?
Suing for a truck accident in Georgia is similar to suing for a car accident. The key difference is working with a truck accident lawyer to decide who you will actually sue. It’s typical in a car accident case to sue the driver who hit you, but in a truck accident case, it may be more appropriate to sue the trucking company itself. If the driver who hit you is working as an independent contractor, he or she may be solely responsible for damages, but if they are a full-time employee, it’s more likely that you’ll sue the trucking company.
Another possible liable party is the actual owner of the truck involved in the accident. Oftentimes the truck will be owned by a company, leased to the trucking company, and then driven by an employee or independent contractor.
The person you sue will be determined greatly by how the accident occurred. If the driver was texting and veered into your lane, the driver may be at fault. If the driver fell asleep at the wheel, the employer could be found at fault for pushing the driver to work longer hours than is safe. If the accident was caused by a mechanical errors, the owner of the vehicle may be found liable for damages by putting a poorly maintained commercial truck on the road. Each scenario points to a different person or entity so it’s best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney for guidance when choosing who to sue in your truck accident case.
Why is it so important to choose the right party to sue?
Proving responsibility can be difficult in a personal injury case. Since commercial trucks are large with substantial blind spots and slow brake times, a passenger vehicle driver can sometimes be found at fault. An example may be if the driver of the vehicle cut off the semi-truck and then quickly hit the brakes. A commercial truck needs a 40% longer window to come to a stop than a passenger vehicle. Therefore even if the driver and vehicle did exactly as they should, they still may not have been able to avoid a collision.
Choosing the right person or entity to sue could make or break your case. Sometimes the employer isn’t actually the responsible party, but instead the owner of the vehicle. In this instance, suing the employer may get you nowhere, but suing the owner of the vehicle could prove fault or negligence. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, nearly 1 out of every 4 trucks inspected on our roadways is put out of service. Working with a skilled truck accident lawyer who knows the industry and the law can help you make right decision on who to sue in your case.