Our team approach to truck accident cases means our clients have a diverse and talented group of legal professionals analyzing their claim from every angle. In fact, our personal injury law firm limits the number of cases we accept so we can focus our combined strengths to our clients’ advantage.
Trucking companies are well known for moving fast to deflect blame and/or make low-ball settlement offers to trusting crash victims. If you need compensation for a serious injury, you shouldn’t try to negotiate with a large corporation on your own. Let our aggressive Savannah truck accident attorneys fight for you.
Please contact us for a free consultation today. Our team is available to meet with you at any time. We can visit you at home, in the hospital, or anywhere else that is convenient. Our law firm will not charge any fees upfront to start work on your personal injury claim, and we do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you.
How Our Attorneys Investigate Truck Accidents in Georgia
Truck accident cases are often complex because there are many potentially liable parties involved. In addition, the trucking industry is governed by numerous technical regulations. Not to mention that large commercial trucks are complex machines, so understanding what caused the crash can be complicated.
Our Savannah truck accident attorneys will act quickly after a wreck to secure physical evidence before it deteriorates or disappears. We will also interview potential witnesses while their memories are still fresh and untainted.
Some of the steps our team will take to investigate your truck accident claim include:
- Seeking a court order to compel the trucking company to preserve and make available such records as:
- Hours of Service (HOS) logs of the truck driver’s drive and rest times, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all truck drivers to keep. Fatigued and drowsy driving are factors in many truck wrecks.
- Personnel records to confirm the truck driver’s employment, licensing, work, and performance records, etc.
- Dispatch records of the truck’s route, departure and arrival times, communications, etc.
- Bills of lading, which detail the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried, as well as the handlers of a truck’s cargo. In some cases, third-party service providers own and/or load a truck’s cargo, and they may be held liable in a truck accident.
- Truck maintenance records, which may show neglected work or suggest a mechanical problem that could have contributed to the accident.
- Truck-cab video, which may be available if the trucking company has installed video systems in cabs to monitor driver activity. Such footage may depict a fatigued driver nodding off, or a trucker engaging in distracted driving activities.
- Demanding immediate access to the crashed truck and its event data recorder (EDR). These “black box” devices begin to record data when they sense problems in the engine or a sudden change in wheel speed. The EDR download from a wrecked truck can show data from the moments before and after a collision, including:
- Vehicle speed
- Engine speed
- Throttle (gas pedal) position
- Brake status
- Clutch status
- Cruise control status
- Steering angle
- Forward-collision warnings
- Lane-departure warnings
- Sudden deceleration/acceleration
- Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) warnings of data outside normal values in multiple truck systems
- GPS-based positional data
- Documenting accident scene evidence, such as skid marks and other debris, infrastructure damage, etc.
- Examining your vehicle, which helps to determine speed and angle of vehicles at impact, as well as the extent of damage done.
- Searching for and obtaining surveillance video from public or private sources, such as stoplight cameras or store security cameras. Depending on where the truck traveled and where the accident occurred, there may be footage that captured the crash or that shows the truck on the road prior to the accident.
- Collecting statements from the trucker, other motor carrier employees, and third-party employees, such as cargo handlers.
- Obtaining the truck driver’s cellphone records, which may show negligent activity (i.e., distracted driving) at the time of the crash.
- Searching truck and/or truck component recall databases, which could indicate that a trucking company negligently put an unsafe vehicle on the road. In some cases, we may determine that a defective auto part caused your accident.
Our dedicated Savannah car accident attorneys also work with accident reconstruction engineers who use advanced forensic investigation techniques to determine how and why a crash happened. These specialists prepare detailed reports that serve as evidence in a claim. If we must take a personal injury claim to court, our certified expert witnesses are prepared to make detailed multimedia presentations as part of testimony before a judge and jury.
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Why Truck Accidents Are More Complicated
There are many factors that must be taken into consideration in a truck accident case, including the truck driver, the truck itself, the trucking company, and the cargo being transported. Some of the elements that may make a truck accident claim more complicated include:
- A trucking company (motor carrier) is legally responsible for the truckers and the trucks it puts on the road. However, some motor carriers will claim their drivers are independent contractors, and therefore the company is not responsible for their negligence that led to an accident.
- Motor carriers sometimes force their employees to enter into “lease-to-own” contracts so the company may disavow ownership of trucks, though such deals are typically structured so the trucker never actually assumes ownership.
- There are legal differences between independent contractors and employees, and trucking company personnel and dispatch records can show that a driver has been treated as an employee. (This is why we want to secure trucking company records as soon as possible after an accident.)
- Every aspect of the trucking industry is regulated by the FMCSA, with rules and regulations for truck drivers; trucking companies; cargo transport; and mechanical requirements for all commercial motor vehicles, from tractor-trailers and other “big rigs” to tankers and dump trucks. This makes it critical for accident investigators to have a comprehensive understanding of FMCSA regulations and violations.
- The multiple parties involved in a truck wreck often point fingers at each other. At the same time, the carrier, driver, cargo owner or loader, etc., may each have their own insurer and team of lawyers protecting them.
At the Spiva Law Group, our talented team of Georgia truck accident lawyers has the experience, dedication, and resources necessary to tackle complicated personal injury claims. We know our clients have a lot at stake, and we fight fiercely for the compensation they deserve.
Who May Be Held Responsible for a Georgia Truck Accident?
Our investigation into your truck wreck may indicate that one or more parties contributed to the crash that injured you. Depending on the circumstances of your crash, your case may require multiple claims against separate individuals and/or companies and their insurers.
- Truck Driver: The “trucker” may have acted negligently or recklessly, leading to your crash. Truck accident statistics show that the most likely forms of trucker negligence in an accident are:
- Speeding, including driving too fast for conditions (i.e., bad weather or congested traffic)
- Fatigued or drowsy driving, including falling asleep behind the wheel
- Distracted driving, most often illegal use of hand-held cellphones
- Driving while impaired (DWI or DUI), particularly drugged driving
- Illegal or unsafe maneuvers in traffic
- Trucking Company: Motor carriers are responsible for the actions of their employees and for ensuring that the trucks they own and put on the road are safe. But it is not uncommon to find that a trucking firm has violated FMCSA regulations to save money, such as by forgoing maintenance on a truck, pushing a fatigued driver to keep moving in violation of HOS rules to make a delivery on time, or employing unlicensed or untrained drivers who will work for less money.
- Truck and Truck Parts Manufacturers: If the failure of a truck or its parts or components contributed to an accident and we can determine they were faulty from the start, we may pursue a product liability claim. The manufacturers and/or distributors of faulty and dangerous systems or components, like brakes, tires, couplings, steering, lighting, etc., can be held liable for the harm their negligence has caused.
- Cargo Handlers: Cargo in tractor-trailers must be correctly loaded and secured, or a sudden cargo shift may be enough to change the vehicle’s center of gravity and make the driver lose control or tip the truck into a rollover crash. If cargo spills, it creates hazards for oncoming motorists. A hazardous materials spill can cause environmental damage as well as personal injury. FMCSA rules require the motor carrier and trucker to inspect a truck’s cargo, but a third-party service vendor or the cargo owner may also be held responsible if their negligence led to a cargo shift or spill that injured someone.
- Local Governments and/or Contractors: Sometimes external factors contribute to commercial trucking accidents. If a roadway has not been maintained or its faulty design or construction contributes to a crash, the governmental entity that is responsible for it and/or contractors it hired may be held liable. Local entities and contractors are also responsible for highway work zones, where motorists and workers are vulnerable to injury. Proper work zone design includes barriers and space to keep traffic safely separated from workers, machinery, equipment, etc., and adequate warning and space for motorists to slow down.
The Spiva Law Group has extensive experience holding large companies of all kinds accountable for negligence. We negotiate aggressively with insurers based on solid evidence, and our team is able to reach satisfactory settlements in many truck accident claims. However, our seasoned litigators will be ready to take your case to court if the insurance company(s) involved refuse to do what’s right.
Compensation Available in Georgia Truck Accident Claims
As we investigate your truck accident, we will also gather and analyze evidence of your injuries and their costs. Full and fair compensation should mean you have no unsatisfied debt now or in the future because of the injuries you have suffered, and that you are able to maintain the financial standard of living you had prior to the accident.
Under Georgia personal injury law, you may seek damages (compensation) that reimburses you for economic costs and losses and that compensates you for noneconomic loss. This includes damages for:
- All medical treatment connected to the injury suffered in the accident
- Lost income, including continued losses due to reduced earning capacity
- Damage to or loss of use of property
- Loss of consortium (loss of services of your spouse, including companionship, income, child care, etc.)
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Injury to reputation (such as from not being able to meet financial obligations due to lost income)
Additionally, you may be able to pursue punitive damages, which are awarded in extreme cases as punishment for the defendant’s egregious behavior.
In cases of permanent disability, we consult with life care planners who analyze your medical records and prognosis to project treatment and care needs over the course of your anticipated lifetime. Similarly, economic consultants help us to project the costs of lost earning capacity, which, depending on your education, experience, and prior occupation, should account for the value of unrealized wages, benefits, perks, and anticipated promotion or other career advancement.
Are Damages Capped in Georgia Truck Accident Injury Claims?
In years past, Georgia capped, or limited, the amount of damages available in personal injury cases. But in 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that damages caps violate the right to a jury trial established in the state constitution.
However, Georgia continues to abide by the principle of comparative fault, which reduces or precludes damages for plaintiffs found to be partly or mostly at fault for an accident. For example, if you were speeding when you entered an intersection where you were hit by a truck, the defense would argue that you would not have been hit if you had been traveling at a proper speed. The jury would decide how much you contributed to the accident and how much of a role the defendant’s negligence played, each expressed as a percentage.
Your final award would be reduced accordingly, e.g., 10 percent, 20 percent, etc. If you were found to have 50 percent (half) or more of the responsibility for the accident, you would not receive compensation.
Our work for you will include rebutting or mitigating any evidence or allegations of your responsibility for the accident, whether made in negotiations or court. We will seek the maximum amount of damages for you in each claim we file on your behalf.
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Contact Our Savannah Georgia Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is coping with a serious injury after a crash, contact our Georgia truck accident attorneys today. We will thoroughly investigate your accident and injuries, and our team will fight insurance companies that try to deny or minimize the compensation you deserve.
Schedule a free consultation today to learn why truck accident victims have been counting on our Savannah personal injury law firm for more than three decades. We do not charge anything to start working on your claim, and we only get paid if we recover money for you. Contact us now.
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