Large truck and commercial truck accidents are some of the most devastating accidents we see across the United States and in Georgia. In Georgia, specifically, the I-285 around Atlanta is one of the deadliest interstate highways in the entire U.S. In 2013, in fact, the I-285 was found to be the number one deadliest interstate nationwide. Many of these deadly crashes are between two or more passenger cars. Many others, however, are between commercial trucks and other vehicles.
Comparatively, an accident between a large truck and a passenger vehicle will usually result in more devastation than a regular car accident between two smaller vehicles. When a truck spins out of control or topples over, there’s a good chance more than one car will be affected. Any collisions with the truck will also result in major destruction. This is because commercial trucks carry an immense amount of force and weight in their tractor trailers.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a semi-truck collision in the state of Georgia, you should know that you may have legal options. An Atlanta truck accident lawyer can help you pay for your family’s medical bills and find the road to recovery. First, let’s go over some facts about large semi accidents.
Truck Accident Statistics
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4,213 large trucks were in fatal crashes during the year 2016. 61 percent of fatal truck accidents occurred in rural areas and 27 percent occurred on interstate highways. There were 475,000 police-reported crashes where trucks were involved.
These numbers are astounding during an era where our cars, trucks, and other motorized vehicles come equipped with tools and devices that feature the technology to help keep drivers and their passengers safe. A.I.-assisted mechanisms, motion and sight-detective radar, automatic brakes and airbags, and guided GPS systems are all available in commercial truck models worldwide.
Unfortunately, most U.S. trucking corporations fall behind in regard to technology and do not take advantage of these options. Most companies choose to prioritize profit over safety technology; and since U.S. commercial truck regulations do not require trucking corporations to outfit their vehicles with the latest technology, most choose not to.
Dangerous Highways for Truck Accidents in Atlanta
Atlanta is a city with highways that stretch across many lanes, meaning that those lanes can be packed with all kinds of drivers at any time. When trucks are on those roads, it can be even more intimidating for other drivers because the size and weight difference can cause deadly collisions. Let’s take a look at the most dangerous highways in our city and surrounding area that truck accidents frequently occur on so that you can avoid collisions as best as possible.
Here are some of the most dangerous highways in Atlanta:
- I-285. As mentioned above, I-285 was found to be the deadliest interstate in the country. This roadway is often congested, and the speed limit is high, which can easily lead to collisions between vehicles. Large trucks travel this interstate frequently because it’s a major roadway through the city. This means that accidents between trucks and vehicles frequently happen as well, which are more dangerous with the volumes of vehicles on this road and the high speeds they’re all traveling at.
- I-75. This interchange is a main source of congestion in the city during rush hours. Any type of congestion is dangerous for vehicles on the road with trucks because commercial trucks take longer to come to a stop and sudden congestion doesn’t provide a trucker with a lot of room to brake. If truck drivers are attempting to avoid the traffic on the road, they could be swerving and end up colliding with smaller vehicles.
- I-20. This highway goes directly through Atlanta from East to West, and the speed limits vary. When speed limits change between higher and lower unexpectedly and back and forth, it can be hard for truckers to navigate, especially if they’re also dealing with smaller vehicles around them who are trying to adjust their speeds as well. Much like the other roadways listed, congestion and speed lead to many truck accidents and I-20 is no different.
- Buford Highway. Also known as the DeKalb International Corridor, this road is frequented by large trucks because it serves as a Northeast entrance to the city. Compared to the eight-lane stretches of highway in our city, this more rural, two-lane roadway can still be dangerous for truckers and regular vehicles alike.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Frequently the first or last leg of a trucker’s route, this roadway can be dangerous for drivers because of fatigue. Additionally, many accidents happen on this road because of drunk drivers. Even though driving under the influence is illegal, truckers and other motorists alike sometimes make poor decisions and get into accidents because they are drunk behind the wheel.
Any roadway can be dangerous for its own reasons, but these listed are nationally and regionally ranked as some of the most deadly or accident-prone highways and interstates. When traffic, fatigue, and speed is involved, accidents can happen.
When a truck driver caused an accident with you on any of these highways, or any other road in Atlanta or the surrounding area, you could use the help of a lawyer. Our Atlanta truck accident attorney can help you get the justice you deserve for your injuries and damages that a negligent trucker or trucking company caused you.
State and Federal Trucking Guidelines
Both the state and the country have guidelines that truckers have to follow when hauling goods across the country. Federally, these rules are made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Let’s take a look at some of those regulations to better understand what is expected of truck drivers and how they can better avoid accidents by following the rules diligently:
- Hours of Service. To avoid driver fatigue and ensure that truckers are resting enough while hauling across the state or country, there are federal hours of service regulations. For property carrying drivers, they can drive a maximum of 11 hours after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours. However, those 11 hours cannot be completely consecutive. After 8 hours, the driver must take a 30-minute break off duty. Alternatively, a driver cannot drive more than 60 hours in 7 days, or 70 hours in 8 days. This window can be restarted at any time by taking 34 consecutive hours off.
- Drugs and Alcohol. Truck drivers with a Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) must follow drug and alcohol protocols set in place by the FMCSA. According to these regulations, drivers must be drug and alcohol free while behind the wheel and are subject to testing. A failed drug test, refused drug test, or breathalyzer over .04 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will result in the immediate removal from driving and will likely require drug or alcohol abuse counseling before you can return to driving.
- Maintenance. Drivers are expected to keep their rigs safe and updated. This means inspecting, repairing, and providing maintenance on their trucks as needed, and ensuring that all parts are safe. According to regulations, pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door marking lights must be inspected at least every 90 days.
- Weight and Other Limits. Trucks can only be so big and carry so much weight in their trailers. In Georgia specifically, a single axle truck can carry up to 20,340 pounds if they have low pressure tires, or 18,080 pounds if the tires are high pressure. For tandem axle, the weight limit is 34,000 pounds, or 40,680 pounds on non-interstate highways. The gross weight limit for trucks is 80,000 pounds but could be lower.
While these are some of the most important regulations that truckers need to follow, it’s important for them to know all of the guidelines for driving before getting behind the wheel. CDL drivers can’t just jump in a truck and go—they have extensive training and many rules to follow. When they don’t follow the guidelines, that’s when safety is compromised, and accidents happen.
When there’s been a collision that was a result of a breach of regulations, you likely will want to take action against the driver, company, or manufacturer who didn’t take the proper precautions. An Atlanta truck accident lawyer from Bey & Associates will support you through your claim and ensure your rights are protected.
Common Causes of Truck Collisions in Georgia
While a truck collision can happen for a number of reasons, it’s usually because of someone acting negligently. All it takes is for someone to not pay attention or ignore an issue for one moment. When they do this, they’re endangering the lives and wellbeing of others. Below is a list of some of the most common causes of Georgia truck wrecks:
Truck drivers are often pushed to drive long and hard hours to reach their destinations quicker. This can cause them to fall asleep at the wheel or make mistakes due to fatigue.
Most trucking companies have guidelines set in place regarding how often a driver must sleep or take a break, but drivers do not always follow them since the guidelines don’t consider how new a driver is to an area or if there were delays. U.S. truck drivers are also not usually monitored in any way, making it easy for them to bend the guidelines and get behind the wheel when fatigued.
When a driver is tired, they will respond more slowly to situations on the road. They could even forget to do essential things like using their turn signals. Sometimes, drivers fall asleep at the wheel and swerve into the lane next to them or run off the road. You may not know if the truck driver next to you is starting fresh or if they’ve been driving all day and the previous day. It’s best to always exercise caution when driving near big rigs.
Trucks that are made cheaply or not properly maintained sometimes have defects that can cost lives when driven on a busy highway. Proper maintenance helps trucking agencies notice and fix defects before they become dangerous.
Trucking companies are responsible for making sure their vehicles are safe. They shouldn’t cut corners or ignore the maintenance portion of their business. Negligent trucking companies that knowingly put unchecked vehicles on the road are putting their drivers and others at risk.
Manufacturing companies may sell defective products that break down over time. A driver may suddenly find that their brakes or steering don’t work or experience a problem with the engine. These problems can be deadly on the road.
No matter the reason, Bey & Associates will find out what went wrong and hold the right party accountable for their actions.
Trucks that Aren’t Equipped for Maximum Safety
U.S. truck drivers must adhere to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines; however, these guidelines don’t force truck manufacturers and carriers to keep their vehicles upgraded technologically. As mentioned above, trucking agencies could prevent a large percentage of accidents if they enforced these standards and/or gave corporations an incentive to upgrade their vehicles to include the latest safety devices.
Tractor trailers often have weight limits for what the vehicle can safely transport. The cargo needs to be within this weight limit and must be distributed so the truck’s axles can bear it evenly. Failing to follow these steps could lead to the driver losing control of the vehicle or part of the truck breaking down.
Unsafe Driving Techniques
Truck crashes caused by unsafe driving techniques come in two forms. A truck driver who’s in a hurry, for instance, may drive too fast and cause an accident. They may also neglect posted traffic signs or load their cargo too heavy. A driver of a passenger vehicle can also drive too quickly, follow a truck too closely, or drive in a truck’s blind spots. These instances can all cause an accident.
A big rig needs more time and distance to slow down before they make a turn or need to switch lanes because of how heavy they are and how fast they’re going. Drivers that don’t allot for this time or warn other vehicles through turn signals are at risk of causing an accident.
Newer truck drives may not be aware of their truck’s blind spots. The front and rear of the truck have blind spots. So if you’re driving right in front of a truck or are tailgating one, it’s likely that the driver doesn’t know you’re there. The lanes to the left and right of the truck also have blind spots. It’s unsafe to assume that just because you’re next to a truck, they know you’re there. A good way to check is with the driver’s mirrors. If you can see yourself, then they probably can’t see you. When driving near a truck, it may be best to pass them safely and efficiently.
Speeding is dangerous for any vehicle, but tractor trailers are at a specific risk of causing a devastating collision if they’re going too quickly. When traveling at high speeds, the trailer can swing around and form a 90-degree angle next to the tractor. This phenomenon is called jackknifing, and drivers can’t control what happens when they lose control of the trailer.
Other forms of negligence such as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol or driving too quickly for highway and/or weather conditions can additionally lead to a disastrous accident. As you can see from the above list, negligent or reckless actions cause most commercial truck accidents. When a driver drives recklessly or fails to follow the rules of traffic, that driver can be charged with negligence in a Georgia courtroom.
Negligent truck drivers deserve to be held accountable for their actions. The same can be said for trucking corporations that fail to properly maintain or upgrade their vehicles or that insist their employees drive for too many hours without taking a break. Under the U.S. legal system, fortunately, we can hold guilty truck drivers and companies liable for the accidents they cause.
Truck Accident Injuries
A truck wreck has the potential to cause horrible injuries that need immediate medical care for a long period of time. Many of these injuries could cause chronic issues or make a change that drastically alters the person’s life.
- Traumatic Brain Injury. Also known as TBI, traumatic brain injuries can have long-lasting effects on cognitive ability like memory or communication.
- Neck and Spinal Cord Injuries. Injuries to the neck and spine can be painful and have devastating consequences like paralysis. While a permanent injury may not occur, someone who suffered from a spine injury could have mobility complications in the future.
- Loss of Limb. A big rig accident may cause someone to lose their arm or leg in the accident, or the limb suffers so much damage the doctors have to amputate.
- Broken Bones. The force of the crash can shatter bones that require casts and a lot of time to recover.
Some of these injuries can affect a person for the rest of their life. Their injury could prevent them from returning to their job or even affect their ability to get one. A truck injury could potentially require intense medical care after the initial accident, but some people may need medical equipment and treatment for the rest of their lives. These sudden changes are difficult to deal with physically, emotionally, and financially. That’s why Bey & Associates will do everything possible to get you the compensation you deserve.
When you don’t have to worry about affording medical expenses or what’s going to happen because you can’t work, you’re able to focus on your recovery. Much of that will also be adjusting to your new normal if you have to. We want to provide a way for you to do this without the stress of dealing with all the expenses by yourself.
Get Help from Bey & Associates Today
By filing a truck wreck lawsuit, you and your family can hold the guilty individual and/or corporation responsible while ensuring you get the financial compensation you need to move forward with your lives. Tractor trailer accident claims are incredibly difficult to win in court, but with the help of an experienced lawyer your claim can make a difference.
At Bey & Associates, we have the proven experience you need to win your 18-wheeler or semi-truck accident lawsuit. Our process includes four steps: investigation, claim processing, negotiation, and litigation. Many law firms skim over the first step, investigation, but we have found that this step is paramount to any commercial truck claim.
During the investigative process, we can help determine whether a trucking corporation or manufacturer was at fault for your accident and determine if driver or company negligence played a role by using the following techniques:
- Reviewing vehicle maintenance logs
- Investigating driver credentials and licensing
- Determining if all traffic laws were followed
- Analyzing the scene of the accident, police reports, photographs, and witness statements
- Identifying potential manufacturing defects
After we complete our investigation, we will proceed to process your claim and prepare for the negotiation and litigation phases of your case. Most truck collision lawsuits take a considerable amount of time to complete, but if the truck driver or corporation is indeed found negligent, you will be thankful you reached out to us.
For more information or for a free, no-obligation case consultation, contact us today. Together we can fight for your future.