When you suffer a crash in Atlanta, GA, you can recover compensatory damages with the help of an Atlanta car accident lawyer. However, the actual process of filing a claim and seeking compensation can vary from one crash to another. An important factor that plays a role is whether the other vehicles involved in the crash are passenger vehicles, commercial trucks, or government-owned vehicles.
Filing a compensation claim and reaching a settlement is relatively straight-forward when the other vehicles are also passenger vehicles. However, if a commercial truck is involved in the incident, things get a bit more complicated. Determining fault in truck accidents can be tricky and you will typically need sound legal help before you can file a claim.
Vehicles That Qualify as Commercial Trucks
A wide range of large vehicles qualify as commercial trucks. Vehicles that are significantly larger than passenger vehicles and are being commercially operated are typically included in this list. In general, these include:
- Box trucks
- 18-wheeler vehicles
- Big rigs
- Tractor trailer
- Semi trailer
- Oil or gas supply truck
- Dump truck
- Tow Truck
- Refrigerated Truck
This list is not exhaustive, so other vehicles may also be deemed as commercial trucks depending on their size and use. On average, commercial trucks weigh above 60,000 pounds. An 18-wheeler weighs 35,000 pounds when empty and when loaded, its total weight can be as much as 80,000 pounds. As a result, they are around 10 to 30 times heavier than passenger vehicles. In a collision with a passenger vehicle, trucks can wreck havoc. This is why truck accidents often involve serious or even fatal injuries.
Who is Liable in a Commercial Truck Accident?
A number of parties can be held liable in an accident caused by a commercial truck, depending on the unique circumstances of the crash. In general, you can hold the following entities liable for any losses you suffer in a crash with a truck:
- The Trucking Company: The trucking company is the company that actually owns the truck. Such a company is typically responsible for the maintenance, repairs and upkeep of the truck. As a result, if a crash is caused by any lapses in the truck’s performance, such as failed brakes, the truck company can be directly held responsible for its failure to ensure truck safety.
- The Shipping or Freight Company: The shipping company may have leased the truck from the company that actually owns the vehicle. Drivers of commercial trucks are typically hired by the freight company. As such, the employer who has hired the truck driver is responsible for ensuring that the driver is not overworked and drives no more than the prescribed hours. If a driver slept on the wheel due to working extra hours, or didn’t have the requisite qualifications to operate the vehicle in the first place, the freight company can be held liable. Failure to ensure proper hiring or supervision is basis for a claim against the company that has hired the driver.
- The Manufacturer: A truck accident can be caused by a mechanical failure which could not have been prevented through timely maintenance or repairs. Such a failure is typically the fault of the truck manufacturer, and the fault lies with the manufacturer in such a case.
- The Driver: Many accidents involving trucks are also the result of the truck driver’s mistake. A driver may be under the influence of alcohol, driving recklessly or carelessly, or breaking traffic rules when the crash occurred. This would make the driver the main liable party.
The employee status of a truck driver also plays a role in determining who is held at fault in a truck accident. If the driver is a full-time employee, for instance, the employer is more likely to be held liable. If the driver is a part-time employee or a subcontractor, your claim may be directed at the driver and not the employing company.
Hiring a Reliable Truck Accident Lawyer in Atlanta, GA
If you have suffered injuries or other losses in a truck accident in Atlanta, it is vital that you consult a reliable lawyer at the earliest. Here at the Greene Legal Group, we specialize in helping truck accident victims. Our aim is to help you identify the at fault party, chart up a fair estimate of damages, and then seek a fair amount of compensation. We also work with you to recover damages in lieu of pain and suffering, on which Georgia laws place no cap. Call us today to discuss your claim with our lawyers and see if we can help you.