Vehicle Accidents -
How Does a Truck Accident Differ From a Typical Auto Accident in Georgia?
Georgia roads are busy places, with endless traffic moving through Atlanta alone every day. With such a major city in the heart of the state, there is going to be a heavy flow of commercial trucks. There are also bound to be a lot of accidents, of every variety. But what exactly is the difference between a wreck involving a taxi and one involving a semi-truck? What exactly makes one worse than the other?
Some may seem obvious, but there are a few factors that separate a car accident from a truck accident. An auto accident lawyer can better help you understand the differences, and why trucking accident attorneys are a separate category. If you have been involved in such a dangerous situation, knowing the difference could seriously help your case.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
Almost every commercial truck is covered in warnings, making it clear how dangerous they are and how you need to drive around them. What you may not understand is exactly what makes them so hazardous. These vehicles are heavily regulated and a lot of care is put into who can drive them and how, as any accident can turn deadly when such a large vehicle is involved.
There are a few key reasons for this caution, which can make a difference in a truck accident case. Understanding these factors can help you better understand them and exercise more caution when dealing with one on the road.
The most obvious difference between a truck and other automobiles is their size. Commercial trucks, especially semi-trucks, are much larger than your average car. Depending on their hauling capacity, they can be huge. With that size comes an increased weight, which is multiplied by how much cargo is packed in the back.
In an accident, that full size and weight is going to make any damage to smaller, less dense vehicles that much worse. A knocked-over truck can block the entire road, causing pile-ups behind them. They are more difficult to maneuver and have wide blind spots, so it is crucial to exercise caution when driving behind one on the road.
Trucks are one of the most common methods of moving cargo and are used for a wide variety of materials. Cars, products, building materials, and various substances are packed onto thousands of trucks daily and shipped around the country. While these things are packaged safely, in the event of an accident, they can spill out onto the road.
No matter what the truck is carrying, a spill can cause major hazards to other drivers. Boxes of commercial goods litter the road, making it extremely difficult to safely pass. There is always the chance of cars or lumber propelled off of the back, hitting the vehicles around the truck. Dangerous waste and toxic substances can infect the area, potentially affecting the entire community.
Because of these concerns, truck drivers carry a heavy responsibility. They also have to do their jobs. The average commercial truck operator has to drive for long hours, for days at a time. While there are regulations on how long they are allowed to go in one stint, their schedule would fatigue anyone.
Sometimes, a driver will exceed these limits anyway. While it is against the rules, their employer may be pushing them, or they may feel pressured to keep to a short schedule. Anyone under these conditions would be more likely to cause an accident, and some of these drivers turn to dangerous substances to stay alert. Luckily, there are ways your attorney can discover these conditions, building your case accordingly.
Licenses and Regulations May Be Different for Truck Accidents
Given the dangers these trucks present, special training and regulations are kept for truck drivers. To operate one of these vehicles one has to carry a commercial driver’s license, which carries tighter restrictions and stricter limits than the average license. They also have special insurance intended to cover the costs of one of these accidents.
Because of these regulations and special rules, a truck accident case can be just as complicated and confusing as the accident itself. This is why a truck accident law firm is necessary to untangle the details and negotiate with every party involved.
Determining Liability in Truck Accident Claims
One of the most complicated pieces of a truck accident case involves liability. A truck driver is not like your average motorist, they are driving on behalf of another party. A company hires them to deliver their cargo, for a set amount of time. This means that the driver involved in the accident may not be the one held liable.
Oftentimes, it is the employer who has to pay out the settlement. Even if the driver was somehow negligent or driving under the influence, it can be found that the employer influenced this. However, this can be a murky area, and sometimes the company will do all it can to avoid taking responsibility. This is where your truck accident lawyer comes in handy the most, determining which party is responsible and ensuring they pay the compensation they owe.
Compensation for a Truck Accident
As a truck accident is a serious occurrence, the settlements are almost certainly going to be larger than any other auto accident. Compensation is more than just a set number, and each accident is going to be different.
There are three main categories of damages that factor into your settlement, and a lawyer can help you better understand what to expect.
Economic damages refer to the money you lost because of the accident. The damage to your vehicle, the amount spent on medical care, wages lost from missing work, and any other losses you suffered in the crash. In the event of a death, the funeral and burial expenses are also covered.
Sometimes the extent of the damage is not immediately apparent. Injuries may only worsen over time, meaning you need medical care down the line. It is important to gather as much information as you can and keep your lawyer in the loop so that everything can be taken into consideration.
Not all damage from a wreck is strictly related to your bank account. Your pain and suffering are factored in, especially in cases of extreme duress and injury. To be involved in a truck accident is a traumatizing event, and it very easily could leave your life changed. A judge can take that into consideration, increasing your settlement accordingly.
As truck accidents are often deadly, it is not uncommon for a close family member to be suing on behalf of their dead loved one. While this accounts for the death expenses, it also entails a large payment for the loss of that person.
Punitive damages are not as common as compensatory damages, but you may still be eligible. These are fees added to the settlement in the case of extreme negligence or intent to harm. In a truck accident case, this would usually be a company knowingly pushing their drivers past the legal limit, or a driver operating under the influence.
These can be difficult to prove, so working closely with a law firm is your best bet. One must be very careful what they claim, so consult with your lawyer before pursuing punitive damages.
Talk to a Truck Accident Lawyer About the Differences
If you have been involved in a truck accident, or have any questions regarding them, reaching out to a Georgia truck accident attorney is your best choice. They will help you through the entire process, with a strong understanding of Georgia auto accident law and a willingness to help with whatever legal matters you may need.
T. Madden and Associates, PC is a trusted, black-owned law firm serving Georgia. We are firmly committed to gaining our clients the highest possible settlement and helping them recover in comfort. Reach out today with any questions you may have.Back to Blog