Johns Creek Truck Accident Attorney
Skilled Truck Accident Lawyer Serving Johns Creek, Georgia
Truck drivers and the companies they drive for are required to follow important safety regulations established by the federal government. Yet despite the federal regulations that always require safety procedures to be followed, the number of truck accidents continues to rise. The fact that truck accidents in Georgia continue to rise is especially curious since truck drivers are supposed to have specialized training, and because new trucks are equipped with automatic emergency braking, rear-view cameras, lane departure warnings, and electronic logging systems. If you have been injured due to an accident involving an 18-wheeler, commercial truck, or another large vehicle, contact a Johns Creek Truck Accident Attorney today. We’re here to help 24/7.
Most Common Causes of Johns Creek Trucking Accidents
Accidents continue to happen because truckers and trucking companies violate regulations on rest and operational hours and take shortcuts to bypass the numerous regulations designed to protect consumers, including other motorists. Most truck accidents are caused by the following factors:
- Alcohol or drug use
- Poor road conditions
- Poor visibility
- Excessive speed
- Loss of control (tire blowout, steering or brake malfunction)
- Improperly secured cargo causing it to shift
- Other equipment violations
- Lane encroachment from another vehicle
- Distracted driving
- Inexperience and poor training
The pressure to get truck drivers on the road who are often ill-trained or have poor driving records, and to cut costs by overloading vehicles, skipping inspections and maintenance, along with the monotony of driving are the hidden hazards of truck driving.
Because of the complexity of trucking accident claims, it is essential to retain a highly experienced attorney in Johns Creek.
A Higher Duty of Care
All motorists have a duty to exercise ordinary care when driving. However, truck drivers and the companies that hire truck drivers are commercial carriers and are held to a higher standard of care. For instance, trucks engaged in interstate commerce are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Any violation, such as those regarding hours of rest and operation, speed, or how drivers are hired can lead to a court finding of negligence per se, exposing the company to liability without further proof.
Examples of Trucking Negligence
Hours of Operation
Fatigue is a major factor in accidents. Under 49 CFR § 395.3, a truck driver can only drive for up to 11 continuous hours within a maximum 14-hour workday. The time between working shifts can be no less than 10 hours. In a 7-day period, trucks can be on the road for up to 77 hours. In an 8-day period, it can be for up to 88 hours. After an interim of 2 ½ days, the workweek can begin at zero. The hours can be electronically recorded, though many companies use paper logs. In too many cases, records are falsified or are not consistent with other records that track a driver’s hours, miles, and times.
Commercial drivers are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is 0.04%, or half of that for non-commercial drivers as per OCGA § 40-6-391(i) as well as 49 CFR § 391.15. Federal regulations bar companies from retaining a driver with a BAC at this level or who refused to test. Similarly, any driver with a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which includes marijuana, that is found in their system following a blood test is banned from driving for one year for a first offense.
A trucking company is held liable for the actions of its drivers through vicarious liability principles, though it must have had actual knowledge that its driver was using alcohol while driving to be penalized under 49 C.F.R. § 382.205. It is the hiring of someone with a history of impaired driving that can expose it to liability, however.
In any trucking accident with injuries, a skilled Johns Creek personal injury attorney should be retained to handle your claim from the outset, or you risk losing valuable evidence that can jeopardize your claim.
Maintenance and Service Failure
Truckers are required to conduct extensive pre-trip and post-trip inspections of their vehicles, and to log in their findings. Regular and systematic servicing or maintenance is another regulatory requirement under 49 CFR § 396.3. Post-accident inspections of a truck involved in an accident can reveal issues with brakes, steering, lighting, tires, or other areas that should have been found and repaired if a proper pre-trip inspection had been conducted.
Negligent Hiring Practices
The FMCSA has strict and comprehensive hiring guidelines that trucking companies commonly violate. Companies are required to research and document for their prospective drivers:
- Previous driver’s licenses
- Previous experience
- Accidents in the past 3-years and injuries caused
- Traffic tickets over the past 3-years
- Any license suspensions
- Previous employers over the past 3-years
- If a driver has a history of alcohol and/or drug issues
Drivers must undergo a medical examination before hiring and the results documented if the individual is hired. Employers are expected to annually update each driver’s qualifications
A failure to perform their due diligence in an accident where the company’s truck driver was found to have had prior DUI or drug convictions or a history of accidents can lead to a cause of action for negligent hiring since the company chose to ignore warning signs of an unsafe driver or knew or should have known of the driver’s incompetence. Smith v. Tommy Roberts Trucking Co. 209 Ga. App. 826, 829 (1993); O.C.G.A. § 34-7-20.
Trucks in Georgia are permitted to travel 70 mph on rural interstates, 55 mph on urban interstates, and 65 mph on other limited-access roads. Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180, no vehicle can travel…” at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions…” This would occur under poor weather conditions or where hazards on the roadway dictate slower speeds in the interest of safety. Since trucks have a much longer stopping time than passenger vehicles, an accident that might have been avoided in a smaller vehicle can result in a tragic accident.
Currently, the FMCSA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are recommending new regulations that would require trucks of at least 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiting devices that would set the limit to certain specified speeds, with a means of recording the truck’s current speed setting and its two previous speed settings as well as the time and date the settings were changed. The regulation will hopefully significantly reduce the incidence of fatal crashes and serious injuries.
Damages in Trucking Accidents
Even with a finding of negligence per se, your Johns Creek truck lawyer still must present and prove your damages. Typical damages include:
- Past and present medical expenses
- Past and present income loss
- Lost earning capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Speak to a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. The reason is you want to make sure you send what is called a “spoliation letter” to the truck company and the truck company’s insurance company instructing them to save all evidence. A spoliation letter is the preservation of evidence letter and it can ensure that valuable evidence is preserved and that your right to reasonable compensation is protected.
Get Help From an Experienced Johns Creek Truck Accident Attorney
If you were injured in a semi-truck accident, or if a loved one lost their life, contact Tobin Injury Law. We are available to you 24/7 and we offer free consultations. Let us give you the answers you need about seeking justice and obtaining the maximum compensation for your injuries, future medical treatment, lost wages, and more. Call (678) 566-4006, email us, or fill out the online contact form below.