As experienced tractor-trailer accident lawyers, we are aware of the legal distinctions and differences in the way that truck crashes are handled versus typical car accident cases. However, it might surprise those who have never been involved in a personal injury case involving a truck crash that these types of collisions are distinctly different from common car accidents.
Generally, in a car accident injury case, the only defendant in the case is the driver. This is not the situation with truck accident cases in Georgia. When a truck is at fault in a collision, there are quite often multiple potential defendants (i.e. the driver, the owner of the vehicle, the transport company, et cetera). The following is a breakdown of the potential defendants and the corresponding theories of liability associated with each one beyond just the truck driver him or herself:
Employer Directly at Fault:
This could exist in a situation where the driver is a company employee. Particularly if the company required the driver to do something that led to the accident. Most often we see employer/trucking company liable in the situations where the company itself had a long history of trucking regulation violations; failed to properly maintain the tractor and/or trailer involved in the wreck; or was negligent in the hiring and retention of the truck driver because of his or her poor driving history. For instance, if a trucking company hired a driver out of Atlanta, but overlooked the fact that he served time in DeKalb County for vehicular manslaughter, and his license had been revoked, they would have a tough time beating a negligent hiring claim in a Georgia court.
This occurs when a company leases a truck and the driver is a known operator/leasee. The leasing company could potentially be partial liability for the truck crash.
A middleman works with the shipper and the driver to coordinate a shipment for hire. The broker could be shown to be liable by an effective personal injury lawyer.
If a load is packed improperly, and that improper packing results in an accident, the company that prepared the load would be liable. There are several other ways the shipping company itself could be partially at fault for the accident.
The fact that there are so many potential defendants in each and every tractor-trailer accident case in Georgia makes these cases much more difficult than your traditional car accident case. Another good example of the complicated nature of these cases can be found in the number of ways the truck driver him or herself can be found to be liable for the accident.
For example, driver fatigue is an often cited reason for tractor-trailer accidents in Georgia. So much so that the State of Georgia and the Federal Government have set strict limits on how many hours a commercial truck driver can operate his or her vehicle in a given period. Truck drivers are actually required to log these hours. If the logbook shows that the driver has exceeded those hours, the plaintiff’s attorney may make a case based upon this theory of liability alone.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck crash around Atlanta or anywhere else in Georgia, you should contact an experienced, reputable personal injury attorney—one who handles truck crash claims in Georgia.