Accidents involving tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, and other heavy trucks can change victims’ lives in the blink of an eye. The tragedy of these accidents is worsened by the fact that, in many cases, they can – and should – be avoided.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident, it is critical that you speak with an experienced attorney about protecting your legal rights. If the trucker, the trucking company, or someone else is to blame for what happened, you could have a claim for significant financial compensation.
When Can You Seek Financial Compensation After a Truck Accident?
There are many situations in which truck accident victims and their families can claim financial compensation for their losses. We can break these situations down into three categories:
- Accidents Caused by Truck Drivers
- Accidents Caused by Trucks
- Accidents Caused by Trucking Companies and Other Third Parties
1. Common Truck Driver-Related Accident Causes
Just like any other type of vehicle collision, in trucking accidents, driver error is frequently to blame. When it comes to trucking accidents in Georgia, some of the most common driver-related causes include the following:
- Alcohol Impairment – The dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol are amplified when the drunk driver is behind the wheel of a semi truck or tractor trailer.
- Drug Impairment – Abuse of illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter drugs is a known issue among many truck drivers.
- Distracted Driving – Distracted driving is an all-too-common problem as well. Truck drivers who are texting, calling dispatch, or watching movies on their mobile devices put themselves and others in serious danger.
- Driver Fatigue and Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel – Fatigue is another common problem among many truck drivers. Truckers who log long hours put themselves at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Driver Inexperience or Lack of Training – Driving a heavy commercial truck is not easy. It takes specific training and experience. Truck drivers who are not equipped to respond to dangerous situations will often be to blame when accidents occur.
- Speeding (Including Driving Too Fast for Weather or Road Conditions) – When a truck driver is speeding, his or her stopping distance increases substantially, and his or her ability to maneuver in an emergency situation is greatly reduced.
- Failure to Check Blind Spots – Sideswipes and merging accidents are commonly the result of a truck driver failing to check his or her blind spots.
- Other Forms of Driver Negligence – There are numerous other forms of truck driver error that can lead to accidents as well. Learn about some other examples of common truck driver errors.
2. Common Truck-Related Accident Causes
In some accidents, the truck itself may be to blame. Commercial trucks are extremely complex (and heavy) pieces of machinery and, as a result, even simple issues can cause truck drivers to lose control or lose their cargo on the road. For example, the following are all common issues that can lead to serious and fatal accidents:
- Tire Blowouts
- Defective Brakes
- Engine and Transmission Issues
- Other Truck Defects
3. Other Common Causes of Heavy Truck Accidents
There are numerous other issues that can lead to dangerous accidents as well, and this is one of the main reasons why it is critical for you to hire an experienced attorney. To make sure you pursue maximum compensation, you need someone who knows how to conduct a thorough investigation and identify all of the issues that may have contributed to your injuries or your loved one’s death. Along with truck driver negligence and truck defects, some of the other common reasons for truck accidents include:
- Trucking Company Negligence (Hiring an Untrained or Unlicensed Driver, or Forcing a Driver to Spend Too Many Hours Behind the Wheel)
- Inadequate Truck Maintenance
- Cargo Loading Errors
- Negligence By Other Drivers
Who is Responsible for Your Truck Accident Injuries?
Once you know what happened, then you can determine who is responsible for your injuries. In a typical accident resulting from truck driver negligence, it will be the truck driver and his or her employer (employers are generally liable for the on-the-job acts of their employees). If a truck defect (like faulty brakes) caused the accident, the truck manufacturer and dealership could be responsible. In other situations, trucking companies, shipping companies, maintenance and repair shops, and even certain government agencies can all face liability for victims’ truck accident injuries and losses.
Learn more in: Who is Responsible for Losses Due to Trucking Accidents?
18-Wheeler Crash Statistics
Commercial truck accidents are far more common than most people would like to believe. Did you know that, on average, there are more than 10 fatal truck accidents in the United States every single day? While this number is concerning enough on its own, other truck accident statistics provide a clear picture of the risks that unsuspecting drivers and passengers face on a daily basis:
- The rate of truck accidents resulting in injuries has increased each year since 2009. The latest data show that we are currently seeing the highest rate of truck accidents we’ve seen in a decade.
- Over the most-recent five-year reporting period, truck accidents resulting in injuries have increased by 55 percent.
- In the latest year for which data are available, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that truck accidents resulting injuries increased by 21 percent, from 73,000 to 88,000 accidents.
- Despite these significant increases in the number of injurious truck accidents, the number of vehicle miles traveled by large trucks has increased by just 1.5 percent. This means that the increase in accidents is not solely attributable to there being more trucks on the road.
- While fatal truck accident figures have dropped significantly from 10 years ago, they started climbing again in 2011.
- According to an article published in the New York Times, if the current truck accident trends continue, “[m]ore people will be killed in traffic accidents involving trucks [in a] year than have died in all of the domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years.”
These are alarming statistics, and ones that could very well get worse before they get better. Despite these data suggesting that truck accidents are on the rise, Congress has recently pursued a number of legislative changes designed to increase the number of hours truck drivers can spend behind the wheel and eliminate a requirement for truck drivers to take a significant break between weekly shifts. These proposed changes come at the behest of the trucking companies, which claim that the changes are necessary in order to support a growing shipping industry. However, as noted above, the rate of increase in accidents is already far outpacing the rate of increase in miles covered – even as safety technologies are improving.
Learn More about Truck Accidents and Your Right to Financial Compensation
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a truck accident in Georgia, it is critical that you stand up for your right to seek just compensation. The accident will most likely affect your life in ways you could not have previously imagined, and there is a strong chance that you will continue to face physical, financial, and emotional consequences for years to come. We encourage you to use these free resources to learn more about your rights:
- Different Kinds of Trucking Accidents – Learn about jackknifes, rollovers, and other common types of commercial truck accidents.
- Understanding Tractor-Trailer Jackknife Accidents – Find out exactly what happens when a truck driver loses control of a heavily loaded trailer.
- Rollover Truck Accidents in Georgia – Find out about the most common driver mistakes that lead to rollover accidents.
- Maintenance Problems Can Lead to Trucking Accidents – See six of the most common truck maintenance issues and find out who is responsible when these issues lead to dangerous accidents.
- Commercial Driver DUIs and Truck Accidents – Learn more about the dangers of drinking and using drugs behind the wheel.
- The Link Between Truck Accidents and Driver Fatigue – Just how dangerous is it for a truck driver to be drowsy behind the wheel? See some specific examples of the risks of truck driver fatigue.
- Semi-trucks and Blind Spots – Learn about commercial trucks’ “no zones” and truck drivers’ responsibility to watch for approaching vehicles.
- Personal Injury FAQs – Our FAQs provide important information for dealing with the insurance companies after a commercial truck accident in Georgia.
For advice specific to your personal circumstances, we invite you to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. The consultation is completely free, and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have about your claim. In addition, since our firm handles all truck accident cases on a contingency-fee basis, you never have to worry about legal fees. We only retain a portion of your award if we are successful in helping you secure financial compensation.
Have You Been Injured or Lost a Loved One in a Truck Accident? Schedule a Free Consultation Today.
To find out if you have a claim for a truck accident in Georgia, contact Van Sant Law LLC and request your free, no-obligation consultation. Call (404) 991-5950, send us a request online, or chat with a live representative now and get started on the road to recovery today.