In this guide, our truck accident lawyers have summarized the top 10 most important things to know if you or a loved has been involved in a trucking accident in Georgia.
Feel free to contact us to speak with one of our trucking accident lawyers at (404) 948-4614. We are available to answer all of your questions, and the advice is completely free.
The 10 important things to know about about trucking accidents:
- If you delay in contacting an experienced truck accident lawyer, important evidence will be destroyed by the trucking company.
- Your lawyer should file a lawsuit in your case as soon as possible.
- Your truck accident lawyer needs to know how to handle a serious trucking case.
- Be ready for surveillance.
- The stakes are very high in Georgia trucking accident cases.
- Be ready for an Insurance Services Office (ISO) search
- Your truck accident lawyer must know all of the rules that apply to your case.
- The truck involved should never have been out on the road.
- Settlement amounts for trucking accident cases are often higher than normal car accident cases.
- The truck driver involved should not have been behind the wheel.
If you delay in contacting an experienced truck accident lawyer, important evidence will be destroyed by the trucking company.
In the trucking industry, there is something called “document retention.” This means that trucking companies are required to retain certain documents after an accident for a certain period of time. But, once that time period has passed, the trucking company will most likely destroy the evidence.
Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, for example, truck driver hours–driving time–logs are subject to a retention requirement of 6 months. That means that the logs containing hours of truck driver driving time can be destroyed after 6 months.
This means that if a truck driver was too tired to be driving, and caused an accident, the key evidence in that case would be the driver hours of service logs for that driver. Those logs would show that the driver was likely violating federal regulations on driving time. But, you can guarantee that the trucking company’s lawyers will destroy those logs exactly six months after the accident.
But, if the accident victim retains a truck accident lawyer quickly, then we can prevent the destruction of this critical evidence. To do this, we send something called a “spoliation letter” that prevents the trucking company from destroying critical evidence.
Your lawyer should file a lawsuit in your case as soon as possible.
In some personal injury cases, lawyers tend to “wait and see” how their client’s injuries are progressing before deciding whether to file a lawsuit in the case. But, when it comes to serious truck accident cases, this is extremely harmful to the case.
A truck accident lawyer simply can not wait to see how severe his or her client’s injuries end up being–they must file a lawsuit immediately to protect the critical evidence in the case. But, what about settling the case without having to go to trial? Well, you can settle a case at any time. So, the best thing a truck accident lawyer can do is go ahead and file a lawsuit, and then the option to settle will always be available.
But, like we discussed above, a trucking company is able to legally destroy important evidence very shortly after the truck crash. It does not matter how serious the injuries are–or even if someone was killed–if a lawsuit is not filed, and the trucking company has not received a legal order to keep the records, they can dispose of the evidence.
This is not only “allowed” but it is common practice in the trucking industry. So, one of the most important pieces of advice our trucking accident attorneys teach other lawyers at legal seminars is to file a lawsuit as soon as possible. Otherwise, the mistake could cost millions of dollars for the client
Call (404) 662-4949 to speak with a truck accident lawyer about your case. We give free legal advice and there is absolutely no obligation.
Your truck accident lawyer needs to know how to handle a serious trucking case.
There are many personal injury lawyers out there. However, handling a serious truck accident case is a different ballgame. There are many regulations that have to be reviewed, and the defense lawyers are much stronger in truck accident cases.
You need to search for a lawyer that specializes in truck accident cases so that you know that you have a true expert handling your case. Many law firms advertise that they handle all types of cases such as auto accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, dog bites, product liability, and the list goes on and on.
However, at Georgia Auto Law, we only take on cases that we know we do best. Just look at the “practice areas” section of our website and you will only see auto accidents. We only take on car, truck, and motorcycle accidents because we only focus on what we do best. Therefore, your Georgia Auto Law truck accident lawyer is a true expert in truck accident cases.
Be ready for surveillance.
You should also expect that the defense lawyers hired by the insurance company and trucking company will be conducting surveillance on you throughout the case. This is so that they can try to “catch” you doing something that can hurt your case.
Because the stakes are so high in Georgia trucking accident cases, defense lawyers try to get any bit of “dirt” or advantage that they can. For example, if a victim is claiming that he or she can no longer walk due to the truck crash but, that same victim is out running marathons, then they will want to document that.
Therefore, you should always be alert and expect that the defense lawyers will be conducting surveillance on you during the case.
The stakes are very high in Georgia trucking accident cases.
What many normal personal injury lawyers do not understand is that a truck accident case is very different than a car accident case. Commercial trucks are more regulated than normal cars because they are much more dangerous. Trucks are heavier, bigger, and take much longer to stop in the event of a problem. Therefore, trucks cause much more serious injuries and more fatalities than car accidents.
Truck companies often carry much higher insurance policies because of this higher risk of injury. Therefore, the quality or caliber of the defense lawyers they use is often much better. This means that a “normal” personal injury lawyer will not be able to go “toe to toe” with these well-known defense lawyers. The stakes are high, so you need a truck accident lawyer that knows how to litigate high stakes cases.
Be ready for an Insurance Services Office (ISO) search
It is well known that insurance companies all collaborate together and pool data from off of their thousands of past insurance claims. They combine all of this information–and share it with each other–in order to try to pay as little as possible to compensate injured victims.
An ISO search is where the insurance companies–and defense lawyers–access all of the details and information regarding any claim you have ever made. Whether the claim was an auto accident, slip and fall, work injury, etc. They will be able to get all of the information about any prior insurance claim you have ever been a part of.
The defense lawyers representing the trucking company will run an ISO search early in the case, so they will already know all of this information when it comes time for your deposition. So, we always advise anyone involved in the litigation of a trucking accident case to tell the truth and assume the defense lawyer knows everything. Therefore, you should tell your own lawyer about your prior claim history and past medical history as well.
This will allow your truck accident lawyer to properly handle the case and answer the defense lawyer’s questions as best as possible.
Your truck accident lawyer must know all of the rules that apply to your case.
The federal regulations that apply to trucking accident cases are called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. These regulations are extremely complicated, and there are over 1,000 regulations that apply to trucking companies.
These laws are so important because they are what we use to show that the trucking company should be liable in a truck accident. The regulations are the “keys” to your trucking accident case, and they can control the amount of money available as well as the evidence needed to win your case.
A lawyer who is not experienced in actually litigating truck accident cases simply does not have the background needed to provide the best result for a client. A serious truck accident case can not be handed like other personal injury cases, so you need truck accident lawyer who knows the regulations inside and out.
The truck involved should never have been out on the road.
Even in the most “clear cut” trucking accident case, you should expect that the defense lawyers will do everything they possibly can to try to deny responsibility for the crash. Don’t let this scare you.
When these defense lawyers try to argue that the truck driver and trucking company are not liable, we always ask our trucking accident clients the following question:
What is the easiest way for a trucking company to avoid a truck crash?
The answer is simple: the easiest way to avoid a truck crash is to not put an unsafe truck out on the road in the first place.
Studies show that 1 in every 4 trucks on the road has a serious safety violation which would deem it unfit to be in use if the safety violation was discovered. Remember above when we were talking about the importance of the federal trucking regulations? Well, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulation 396.7 states that a truck driver shall not operate a truck in a condition likely to cause an accident or break down.
In many cases, a defective truck was the cause of the accident. This means that the truck that likely caused your accident could have had a serious defect that the trucking company should have discovered and fixed–but failed to do so.
Settlement amounts for trucking accident cases are often higher than normal car accident cases.
Because of the danger posed by large trucks, federal regulations require trucking companies to carry much higher insurance amounts. Many of the minimum limits for trucking company start at $500,000 and go up to millions of dollars.
This means that the settlement amounts in trucking accident cases are much higher because of the available insurance coverage.
The truck driver involved should not have been behind the wheel.
A U.S. Department of Transportation study showed that over 30,000 truck drivers test positive for illegal drugs and/or alcohol use in any given year. Keep in mind, that number is just the drivers who got caught.
The federal trucking laws have very strict safety regulations that apply to the operation of a commercial truck. We can not tell you how many times our trucking accident lawyers discover that the truck driver was in violation of these safety laws. Sometimes the drivers were under the influence of drugs or alcohol and caused the crash. Other times the truck driver has been driving for too long without sleeping and is fatigued while driving.
Truck drivers are prohibited from driving when sick, tired/fatigued, or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. So, when we investigate the case, this is one of the first areas we look at because it can have a substantial impact on the value of the case.
Get the help you need from a trucking accident attorney
Our truck accident lawyers provide completely free legal advice to truck crash victims. If you, or someone you love, has been involved in a truck accident, feel free to call us at (404) 662-4949. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. With our No Fee Pledge™ you can speak to one of our lawyers with absolutely no cost or obligation.