Car Accidents with Trucks – Should You Get a Lawyer?

Posted in Car Accidents on June 19, 2020

If you’re involved in a car accident with a truck, you might think that you can handle it on your own, especially if you’ve been in an auto accident before. But truck accidents are quite different from regular auto accidents. Speaking with a knowledgeable Atlanta truck accident lawyer GA residents trust really does matter.

Why A Car Accident with a Truck is Legally Distinct

“Trucks” in the sense of semi-trucks or the like are often affected by different legal consequences whenever they are involved in an auto accident. This is because semi-trucks and vehicles like them are considered covered under multiple insurance policies. These policies can be held by their commercial business operators, their drivers, or even the owners of the cargo they may be carrying.

As a result, anyone involved in a car accident with a truck faces an incredibly complex legal case if they want to press a claim for a personal injury or other damages.

How Trucking is Regulated

As part of the broader transportation industry, trucking is governed by state and federal government laws collected under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, or “FMCSR”. These regulations outline all kinds of rules that truck drivers need to follow and their employing organizations need to be aware of. They include specific guidelines involving:

  • the logbooks of the drivers
  • driver qualifications
  • inspection schedules
  • maintenance routines and maintenance schedules

There are many rules governing how truck drivers can and cannot drive, and these can be used be skilled legal experts to prove driver mismanagement or maintenance incompetence.

For instance, FMCSA code 6.3.1 states that drivers, “may not operate, nor shall a motor carrier require or permit a driver to operate, a CMV if they are too tired or sick to drive safely”. In other words, either the driver or their carrier is responsible if they get into an accident because they were too tired or sick to drive.

Further, the FMCSA code 5.2.2 states that any, “driver who receives a roadside inspection report is required to deliver it to the motor carrier within 24 hours”. This means that, if there’s a problem, someone was aware of it at some point in most cases. Such negligence may be grounds for a personal injury case.

How Truck Accidents Can Occur

Truck accidents can occur for a wide variety of reasons. However, according to the FMCSA’s 2017 statistics, the majority of vehicle violations for semi-trucks involve lighting, vehicle effects, and brakes that were out of adjustment. For instance, a truck driver who fails to inspect his brakes before driving can later cause an accident if he’s ever required to make a sudden stop or handle a particular turn.

Accidents can also occur for reasons other than mechanical failures. Driver negligence can affect truck drivers just as it affects the drivers of other automobiles. In these cases, it’s primarily the fault of the driver rather than the vehicle that the accident occurred. This opens the driver open to personal injury claims. With a good truck accident lawyer, you can make the most of this opportunity.

Even the FMCSA details the most common violations that are associated with driving a commercial motor vehicle, or CMV. According to section 6.3.12, most drivers commit, “moving violations, such as speeding, following too closely, improperly and changes, reckless driving, improper turns, failure to yield to right-of-way, railroad grade crossing violations, failure to obey a traffic control device”.

Investigating a Car Accident with a Truck

Regular auto accidents are far from cut and dry, and car accidents with trucks are even more complex. That’s in part because it can take lots of time and effort to determine who or what is at fault for an accident, in part because of some of the factors described above. For instance, a truck accident might seem like it was the fault of the driver.

According to the FMCSA in section 4.4.2, carrier companies are supposed to, “maintain a register of all crashes that occurred in the past three years”. This information is supposed to contain several relevant crash details that can potentially point out a history of poor driving or bad maintenance.

But truck companies often try and obfuscate the truth by hiring supposed ‘experts’ to shift blame on something else.

It might be the fault of someone in a carrier company’s maintenance crew who was ultimately responsible rather than a driver.  Or it may be driver error, plain and simple.

Ultimately, investigation – thorough investigation – is required to get to the bottom of a truck accident case. But who do you hire, and how can you tell what evidence is worthwhile?

Handling all of these complexities yourself can be incredibly difficult and challenging, especially if you are injured or recovering in other ways from the accident. A skilled Atlanta truck accident lawyer who GA residents trust will give you an even playing field with the insurance company.

What About Insurance?

The insurance policies for semi-trucks are quite different from those that affect most car drivers. Whenever there’s a regular auto accident, personal injury or other claims are usually handled between the drivers’ insurance companies. For instance, in “no-fault” states, insurance companies simply pay the claim costs instead of going through the legal process of proving who had more negligence in an accident.

Trucks have multiple layers of insurance that may or may not apply in any given truck accident case. For instance, trucks usually have insurance from the company that hired them. But they also might have insurance that covers the cargo they carry. The driver himself or herself may have their own personal insurance. Or the truck itself might have separate insurance, especially if the driver owns the vehicle.

As such, it can be tough for anyone pressing a claim to know whose insurance to contact. Truck accident attorneys are well-versed in all the legal loopholes and complexities described above. They can help you navigate the intricacies inherent in these cases and help you put together a claim that makes sense. With a knowledgeable Atlanta-based truck accident lawyer, you stand a good chance of getting the compensation you deserve.

Rest assured, there is some insurance that can help you get the payout you need to recover. According to the FMCSA in section 4.2, there are “minimum levels of financial responsibility that passenger and property motor carriers must maintain”. With the help of a good truck accident lawyer, you can find out who’ll pay for you recovery.

What Damage or Injuries Can Be Sustained During a Car Accident with a Truck?

Because they’re so massive, trucks can cause catastrophic levels of damage or terrible injuries whenever they are involved in an auto accident. Truck accidents can cause:

  • car damage or total loss of the vehicle
  • concussions or other traumatic brain injuries
  • flesh or skin damage like road rash
  • broken bones
  • limb paralysis
  • organ damage
  • spinal damage
  • much more

Pressing a claim often involves getting into the nitty-gritty details of the injuries you suffered and how they relate to the truck accident. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer can point out to a jury exactly how your injuries matter and how they could’ve been avoided if the truck driver or company had taken different actions.

What Compensation Can You Receive?

The costs for car repair or replacement and medical bills can be truly staggering for anyone to try to pay it by themselves. Pressing a personal injury claim against those responsible for a car accident with a truck is one way to receive compensation to recover quickly and fully. In a successful truck accident case, you can receive compensation for:

  • past and future medical expenses
  • ongoing medical expenses
  • cost to repair or replace your vehicle
  • pain-and-suffering damages to cover mental and physical trauma
  • costs for future loss of income or past loss of income

However, the only way to receive the compensation you need to recover is to win a case. Having a good Atlanta truck accident lawyer GA residents trust is the best way to stack the deck in your favor.

Truck and Auto Accident Lawyers in Georgia

There’s one team you should call when you’re involved in a car accident with a truck: ours. When it comes to knowing the ins and outs of truck accident law, and knowing how to beat trucking companies of their own game, there’s no one better. We have years of experience under our belts and a team of skilled attorneys ready and waiting for your call. We can help you put together a solid case and we offer a free consultation, so contact us today!

Citations

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Motor Carrier Safety Planner, 5.2.2, Roadside Inspection Reports, 396.9

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Motor Carrier Safety Planner, 6.3.1 Illness or Fatigue, 392.3

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Motor Carrier Safety Planner, 6.3.12 Common Violations, 392.2

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Motor Carrier Safety Planner, 4.4.2 Accident Recordkeeping, 390.15

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Motor Carrier Safety Planner, 4.2 Insurance: Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility