Georgia has the 4th largest number of traffic fatalities in the nation according to 2017 statistics. Georgie has the 8th largest population in the country, so accident numbers are high in rural areas.
In 2019 there were 1,005 fatal occupational injuries in the U.S. for positions as a driver, sales worker, and truck driver. That is the highest number of fatal injuries for people who sit behind the wheel for work since statistics began in 2003.
Chances are good that at some point in your life you will be in an accident that involves commercial vehicles. This includes accidents involving everything from an 18-wheeler to a taxi cab. Even what seems to be a minor car accident can result in serious injuries.
What many people do not understand is that circumstances are different from most other truck crashes and accidents with other vehicles when you are in an accident with a commercial vehicle.
What Vehicle Designation Makes It a Commercial Accident?
Any vehicle that’s main purpose is transporting passengers or commercial products is a commercial vehicle. This includes busses nearby cars, delivery vehicles, semi-trucks tractor trailers, taxi services, construction vehicles tractor trailers, and more.
If you are in a vehicle side accident involving oncoming traffic and believe the other vehicle is large truck used for commercial purposes, you need to contact a commercial truck accident attorney. They will answer your questions and evaluate your case.
1. Determination of Liability
When you are in a collision with a commercial truck’s trailer or vehicle, that commercial truck collisions driver is often employed by a trucking company or other organization. The employer may be legally responsible for the actions of the trucking accidents or its driver.
Your accident attorney will conduct an investigation into the fatal crashes that happened during the vehicle accident. When gathering evidence they will look at all aspects of the incident.
They will determine whether the truck driver himself will be the only defendant. It is possible facts may show there are others who share responsibility for the same accident scene.
The driver of a tractor trailer or large truck, the vehicle must exercise safe driving. This defensive driving extends beyond obeying speed limits, traffic signals, and lane usage. A semi-truck driver must also make sure that their vehicle is in good operating condition and their load is safely secured before going on public roadways.
Carriers have a responsibility for making sure their truck drivers have proper training. They must also make sure trucks are properly maintained and all necessary repairs are made.
If the carrier is working under contract transporting cargo for another company, the rules are different. If the cargo is in a sealed container when the driver picks up the load, your attorney will review whether the company where the cargo originated has any liability in the accident. This includes not the insurance company or only the cargo company but those responsible for loading the trucking industry shipment.
When it appears the vehicle accident was due to a mechanical failure of passenger vehicle, including brake failure or a tire blowout, this could be the first injury crashes a result of defective parts. If this is the case, there may be a product liability claim against the manufacturer and/or distributor of those parts and that company is partially responsible for your personal injury claim.
If the accident is the result of broken pavement, the way a work zone is set up, or other unsafe roadway maintenance conditions, then a state or local government may be partially responsible for your injuries.
2. Difference in Size and Cargo
Many large commercial trucks weigh between 26,000 to 80,000 pounds. When in a collision with these large vehicles or a large truck crashes into a standard passenger vehicle that weighs between 3,000 to 12,000 pounds, the difference in vehicle, property damage, and personal injuries is no surprise.
Your truck accident lawyer will know the rules that apply to both automobile law and personal injury law to negotiate the best possible settlement or if necessary take the matter to trial.
3. Extent of Injuries
When a car collides with a large commercial truck the risk of death or serious life-altering injury to vehicle occupants increases significantly. Automobile drivers and passengers in large truck accidents, are likely to suffer catastrophic injuries: paralysis, loss of limbs, high-degree burns, damage to internal organs, and permanent traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The medical bills compound with lost wages and the inability to work, leaving the injured truck accident victims and their family members in severe financial distress. Damages your own truck accident victims’ attorney will seek include wage loss, medical bills, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. Permanent life-altering injuries result in a much higher settlement than lesser injuries.
4. Commercial Driver’s Licensing Rules
To obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Georgia the resident must be a minimum of 18 years old to work within the state, and over 21 years of age to do interstate driving. Not all commercial driving jobs require a CDL.
The requirements are for vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds, carry hazardous materials, or transport a total of 15 or more people. The requirements include taking both a written exam and a road test.
Even without a CDL, drivers of commercial vehicles may have specific requirements they need to meet. For example, requirements to be a taxi driver in Georgia include meeting residency requirements of at least 12 months, be a U.S. citizen or registered legal alien, be proficient in English, undergo fingerprinting, and complete a driver’s training course.
Other vehicles, commercial vehicles and large trucks may have no licensing requirements but still hold responsibility under the law.
5. Georgia Law Regarding Commercial Vehicles
George uses both state and federal laws to regulate both intrastate tanker trucks, large truck accidents and interstate commercial vehicles. An intrastate commercial vehicle and truck accident also operates only within the state of Georgia and includes:
- Vans for elderly or disabled
- Garbage trucks
- Logging vehicles
- Construction vehicles
- Cement trucks
- Dump trucks
- Fire trucks
- School buses
- Municipal vehicles
An interstate vehicle is any time of commercial vehicle that drives through two or more states. These usually include:
- Private charter buses
- Department store semis
- Highway trucks
- FedEx trucks
- UPS trucks
- Other cross-country delivery services
Georgia uses the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) for intrastate commercial vehicles.
This means that in commercial truck accidents even short-haul drivers are only allowed to drive for eleven hours and must have a minimum of ten hours off between shifts. Their employers must maintain records for commercial truck accident to attorneys a minimum of six months. If a person incurs injuries due to an accident with a commercial vehicle and the employer does not have proper records, that may be an indication of failure to comply with the rest/drive requirement.
Georgia also requires all commercial and passenger vehicles, to undergo regular inspections to make sure there are no defects that may lead to accidents. This includes windshield wipers, brakes, wheels, rims, and tires, steering columns, lights, and reflectors.
Schedule a Consultation With a Commercial Vehicles Accident Attorney
When you suffer injuries as the result of an accident with commercial vehicles, you need an attorney who has the experience and knowledge to review the facts completely. This includes laws surrounding common and truck accident statistics and factors in commercial vehicle side accidents involving large trucks such as exceeding service limitation hours, failing to keep time records, no annual inspection record, drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving, and poor training.
The attorney will also be familiar with the rules surrounding negligent entrustment of commercial drivers, which requires an employer to be knowledgeable about a driver’s inexperience or incompetence. Any violation of a state law or regulation by other drivers may lead to a finding of negligence.
If you suffer injuries in an accident with a commercial vehicle, contact Georgia Auto Law for a free case evaluation. There is never any cost to you until we settle your case. We offer live support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Contact us today!
FAQs for Circumstances Different for Commercial Vehicles in Car Accidents:
- What qualifies as a commercial vehicle in a car accident?
Any vehicle primarily used for transporting passengers or commercial products, such nearby vehicles such as buses, delivery vehicles, semi-trucks, tractor trailers, taxi services, and construction vehicles, is considered a commercial vehicle in the context of car accidents.
- How does determination of liability work in commercial vehicle accidents?
In commercial vehicle accidents, the driver is often employed by a trucking company or organization, and the employer may be legally responsible for the driver’s actions. An investigation will be conducted to gather evidence and determine liability, which may involve assessing the actions of the driver, the maintenance of the vehicle, the training provided by the trucking accidents or the carrier, the cargo company’s involvement, and the condition of the roadway.
- What are the differences in size and cargo between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles?
Commercial trucks are significantly larger and heavier than standard passenger vehicles. While passenger vehicles typically weigh between 3,000 to 12,000 pounds, commercial trucks can weigh anywhere from 26,000 to 80,000 pounds. This difference in size and weight often leads to more severe property damage and personal injuries in accidents involving passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
- How do the extent of injuries differ in accidents involving commercial vehicles?
Accidents with commercial trucks pose a higher risk of severe injuries or fatalities compared to accidents between standard passenger vehicles and large trucks. The occupants of passenger vehicles involved in commercial truck accidents are more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries, including paralysis, limb loss, burns, internal organ damage, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The medical expenses, lost wages, and long-term consequences can result in severe financial distress for the victims and their families.
- What are the licensing rules for commercial drivers and how do they affect accidents?
Commercial truck drivers will often require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate certain types of vehicles, especially those weighing over 26,000 pounds, carrying hazardous materials, or transporting a certain number of passengers. However, even without a CDL, drivers of commercial vehicles may still have specific requirements to fulfill. Non-compliance with licensing regulations can impact liability and potential claims in commercial vehicle accidents.
- How does Georgia law regulate commercial vehicles in accidents?
Georgia uses both state and federal laws to regulate intrastate and interstate commercial vehicles involved in accidents. Intrastate commercial vehicles operate within Georgia and include vehicles like vans for the elderly or disabled, limousines, garbage trucks, construction vehicles, and more. Interstate commercial vehicles drive through multiple states and can include private charter buses, semis from department stores, and delivery trucks from companies like FedEx and UPS. Georgia employs the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) to enforce regulations and safety standards for commercial vehicles.
- What should I do if I’m involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle?
If you’re involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, it’s essential to seek legal assistance from a commercial vehicle accident attorney. They can provide guidance, answer your questions, evaluate your case, and help you navigate the legal complexities associated with commercial vehicle accidents. It’s crucial to gather evidence, document injuries, and ensure you receive appropriate compensation for damages.
- How can I schedule a consultation with a commercial vehicle accident attorney?
To schedule a consultation with a commercial vehicle accident attorney, you can contact a law firm specializing in personal injury cases, particularly those with experience in commercial vehicle accidents. They can provide a free case evaluation and offer support throughout the legal process. Reach out to the attorney or law firm to initiate the consultation and discuss the details of your case.