Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Georgia
Most motor vehicle accidents are the result of driver error and simple carelessness, and truck accidents are no different. Many truck accidents are caused by the following:
- Unsafe lane changes
- Failing to adjust for weather or traffic conditions
- Distracted driving
- Driving while intoxicated
- Failure to pay attention
In addition to these causes, there are other potential causes that are unique to truck drivers:
- Lack of experience or inadequate training. Safely operating a large truck requires specific skills and extensive experience. Many trucking companies cut costs by hiring inexperienced drivers and fail to ensure that they receive the proper training.
- Mechanical failures. Large trucks are on the road for an incredible number of hours and hundreds of thousands of miles each year. If the driver or the trucking company fails to make necessary repairs or doesn’t perform routine maintenance, the truck can become unsafe. Brake failures, worn tires, steering problems, and other mechanical failures can result in catastrophic accidents.
- Driving while drowsy. Due to long hours behind the wheel, truck drivers are especially susceptible to the dangers of driving while fatigued. Driving while fatigued can result in delayed reaction times, poor decision making, and loss of attention. A truck driver who is falling asleep behind the wheel can be deadly for other drivers on the road.
Your accident may be the result of a single cause, or there may be multiple factors. However, it may not be easy to identify the cause of your accident, even if you are certain that it was the truck driver’s fault. An experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer can review the facts of your case and identify the likely causes.
Breaking Down the Type of Trucks and Big Rigs in Atlanta Accidents
When we think about truck accidents, we’re usually thinking about the massive multi-vehicle pile-ups on the freeways that are caused, at least in part, by commercial semi-trucks and tractor-trailer trucks. However, our Alpharetta, Atlanta and Cumming truck accident lawyers see accidents come in many shapes and sizes.
Accidents involving any type of large trucks typically have a few things in common:
- Because of the size and weight of these trucks, vehicle damage and injuries tend to be more severe.
- Their size and weight also make stopping and maneuvering more difficult for the drivers, leading to more accidents.
- There are often many different parties that may share liability, such as owners, leasing companies, multiple service technicians, and drivers, to name a few.
Tanker Truck Accidents
Tanker trucks are easily identifiable: they are trucks the size of commercial semi-trucks or tractor-trailers but have a cylindrical tank. They are commonly used to transport a variety of liquids, such as chemicals, liquids, gases, beverages, and dry goods. They can be used for heavy haul purposes, especially when transporting hazardous materials.
Accidents with tanker trucks can be particularly damaging, depending on what type of material is being transported. Spilling fuel, oil, and various types of toxic and hazardous materials can not only affect those involved in the accidents but can also be severe enough to shut down highways, surrounding areas, and even entire communities.
Accidents in Atlanta Involving Dump Trucks
Dump trucks are used for moving large loads of materials such as sand, gravel, or demolition waste for construction. A typical dump truck has an open-box bed, which is hinged at the rear and equipped with hydraulic rams to lift the front of the bed, allowing the material in the bed to be deposited, or “dumped,” on the ground behind the truck at the site of delivery.
As discussed above, dump truck accidents pose a unique set of challenges because of the number of parties that may share liability, from the driver up to the manufacturer of the truck.
Atlanta Accident Attorneys for Garbage Truck Collisions
As U.S. citizens become more environmentally aware, the number of accidents involving garbage and/or recycling trucks increases accordingly. Garbage disposal and recycling are industries on the rise and are generally recession-proof since people always need their waste removed.
Along with some of the issues surrounding all truck accidents, waste trucks accidents are particularly damaging because:
- These trucks stop and start frequently.
- They are often out very early in the morning when the streets are still dark.
- To save time, drivers often stop in the middle of the road rather than pulling over to the side.
Flatbed Trucks Accidents
Flatbed trucks are common because they can transport large and awkward items, like logs and telephone poles, huge pipes, manufactured homes, and heavy machinery. Unfortunately, flatbed trucks don’t have walls or sides to safely hold their cargo in place.
If the truck’s cargo is secured improperly, it may move around, making the truck unstable and sometimes uncontrollable. This can lead to jackknife and rollover accidents, or even loose cargo falling onto the roadway, striking other vehicles without warning.
Our Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney Explains State and Federal Trucking Laws
Another factor that makes truck accidents unique is that truck drivers and commercial trucking companies are subject to complex laws and regulations designed to promote safe trucking practices and protect the general public. There are both state and federal laws and regulations that govern the following:
- The transportation of hazardous materials
- Weight limits on cargo
- Limitations on the number of hours drivers can be behind the wheel per day and per week
- Licensing requirements for drivers
- Maintenance standards
- Regulations on how cargo is loaded
- Sleeping requirements for drivers
Every other motorist on the road is put at risk when a driver or trucking company violates any one of these regulations. A knowledgeable Atlanta truck accident attorney will be able to identify potential violations and demonstrate how they contributed to your accident.
Identifying the At-Fault Party with an Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney
Another challenge specific to truck accident cases is identifying who should be held accountable for your injuries. Unlike accidents involving private passenger vehicles, there may be multiple entities that share responsibility for the accident.
- The driver. Many truck drivers are independent contractors and not employees of the trucking company. If the accident was caused solely by the driver’s negligence, you may have to pursue the truck driver individually.
- The trucking company. As mentioned above, the trucking company is responsible for ensuring that the trucks are safe and operated by qualified, well-trained drivers. When they fail to maintain their trucks or provide adequate supervision and training for their drivers, they may be held liable for any accidents that result.
- The insurance company. Truck accidents often involve a complicated web of insurers. The driver may have his or her own coverage while the company is insured by a different company. Sometimes trucking companies will self-insure but go to great lengths to hide that fact. Sorting out which insurance company you need to pursue can be quite complicated.
- Other third-party contractors. Some trucking companies will have various aspects of their business handled by different entities. For example, the truck may be owned and maintained by one company while the drivers are employed and managed by another. A different company may be responsible for loading the trucks. These may be independent entities or companies created by the trucking company for the sole purpose of shielding themselves from liability.
Determining who should be held accountable is one of the most important steps in pursuing a claim. A knowledgeable Atlanta truck accident attorney will be able to identify the various potential defendants and make sure they cannot avoid their responsibility.
About Oversized Truck Accidents in Atlanta
Federal and state laws have been established regarding the movement of oversized loads, but many shipping companies will either ignore these rules or follow them to the bare minimum if they think they can get away with it. Serious injury and even death may be the result when oversized trucks are not operating according to the rules of the road. The Atlanta truck attorneys at Gilormo Injury Law can help determine whether any laws have been violated.
Even experienced drivers have trouble controlling their overloaded trucks, even at slow speeds. Common causes for overloaded truck accidents include inattentive drivers, clipping overpasses or roadside barriers, and improper flagging.
Accident Investigation After a Trucking Accident
Because truck accidents are often complex, astute accident investigation is required. The police report will only provide a very basic recitation of what happened. It might assign fault, but it will not provide the level of detail that you need to prove your claim.
Truck accident victims should be aware that many trucks now use cameras, GPS units, and other devices to monitor their drivers. An Atlanta truck accident attorney will be able to get access to the data they record in order to learn exactly what happened. They may also be able to obtain footage from traffic and other cameras that recorded your accident. These can be incredibly powerful sources of evidence that can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
A Gilormo Injury Law Atlanta truck accident attorney will also be able to use their experience in order to recreate the accident based on the facts available. In addition, we have working relationships with accident reconstruction experts who can provide compelling testimony that supports your case and overcomes the opposing party’s refusal to accept responsibility.
Factors that Make Truck Accidents More Serious Than Car Wrecks
Due to their size and weight, accidents involving large trucks require special consideration. Depending on the type of truck, it can weigh anywhere from 25,000 to 80,000 pounds and can legally haul up to 34,000 pounds. Considering that the average passenger vehicle weighs just over 4,000 pounds, you can begin to understand the unique hazards that large trucks present in the event of an accident. Large trucks require longer distances to stop, have more significant blind spots, and are less maneuverable than smaller vehicles, all of which means that they are less likely to avoid an accident.
The cargo that trucks haul can also present additional dangers. In the event of an accident, heavy materials can break loose and result in additional damage or injuries. Loads that haven’t been properly secured can cause the driver to lose control and result in an accident. Some trucks transport hazardous materials that are incredibly flammable or otherwise dangerous when spilled.