Any Atlanta truck accident lawyer at Schneider Hammers will attest that according to studies, more than 3,900 people lost their lives in truck accidents throughout the United States in 2014. Nearly four percent of that group died specifically within the state of Georgia.
This may seem like a relatively small number in comparison. However, when you focus on the figures, it is an average of nearly three people each week. That does not even include the thousands of others who suffered injuries from truck accidents within the same state.
A Schneider Hammers’ truck accident attorney in Atlanta can help you if you have been injured in a truck accident nearby. If you were an injury victim of a negligent truck driver contact Schneider Hammers and ask to speak to one of our Atlanta 18 wheeler attorneys for a FREE consultation.
If you have recently suffered an injury from or experienced the loss of a family member in a truck accident, you should fight for justice for yourself or your loved one. You do not have to end up as another statistic in the list of Georgia road fatalities and casualties. Also, you may already be aware of the urgent need to retain an accident attorney in Atlanta to assist. However, there are six other things you must do to increase the chances of winning your case.
Seek the Consul of a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney Before You Speak
Shortly after the moment of impact, you are likely to be eager to speak, shout or even scream. Surviving a major truck accident (or surviving a relative who died in one) may compel you to speak up.
However, discretion is imperative when you are working through the aftermath of a truck accident. If you have plans to take legal action, it is of the utmost importance to keep your mouth shut. Don’t say anything without having a truck accident attorney in Atlanta present to speak on your behalf. Even if you were potentially at-fault for the accident, discretion and silence are still cornerstones that you must apply. Your truck accident attorney in Atlanta will make this clear to you.
You may speak to the other driver, law enforcement officials or even the insurance company. Make sure that you do not say anything that could be classified as an admission of fault. Don’t use phrases like “I didn’t realize how fast I was driving” or “I never even saw the truck!”. It is not wise since those same statements could go against you in a court of law. It is also recommended to avoid apologizing even passively (i.e. “Wow, I’m so sorry!”). As mentioned, it is best to keep your public expressions to a minimum. This until you can have your truck accident attorney in Atlanta take care of everything for you.
What Should I do at the Scene of a Truck Accident?
It is always tough to do, but in the aftermath of an accident, it is essential to keep a cool head. Turn on your hazard lights and, if it is safe to do so, remain in your car as you call emergency services. Have yourself examined by the EMT and paramedics as they arrive. Even if you feel your injuries are very small, you should get a full medical inspection both for yourself and any passengers with you.
Do not under any circumstances, flee the scene of the accident before you have gotten all the information you need to pursue a case. This will include the names and contact information of everyone involved including eyewitnesses.
As the police officers arrive on the scene be sure to take note of their names and badge numbers. You will also need as many snapshots and photographic evidence of the incident. Take pictures of both vehicles from several wide angles around the cars. Then take some close up shots of the points of impact and any other aspects you feel might be important.
Don’t inadvertently take responsibility for the accident by saying anything seemingly innocuous like “sorry” and don’t discuss what you “believe” happened with anyone but the police officer and the insurance agent from your policy providers –– you aren’t obligated to speak with the insurance agents of the truck driver.
How Truck Accidents Are Different From Car Accidents?
Commercial semi-trucks, also called freight trucks or big-rigs, can weigh over 80,000 lbs. which is the combined weight of 20 regular passenger cars. While there are regulations that dictate the amount of time a driver of a commercial freight truck can drive in a day (10 hours) there are many financial reasons that a driver will exceed this limitation and impinge upon the safety of other motorists.
Larger Insurance Policies
Truck drivers have insurance policies in place to cover any accident, however, these policies are typically worth 50X the regular car accident policy and are often worth millions of dollars. For these reasons, insurance providers named in such a lawsuit will be meticulous and resourceful in avoiding liability. Seasoned insurance providers will use a variety of techniques to avoid a full payout. They may even offer you a considerably high settlement, but this is usually much less than what your case actually deserves. A trusted truck accident lawyer will help you see through the ploys and tactics of insurance carriers and make the entire process easier to understand.
Increased Property Damage
As mentioned, a commercial 18-wheeler freight truck represents a ponderous amount of matter in motion, far more than your usual vehicles. This, combined with the sheer size of a freight truck, will mean that damage to the surrounding area will be far greater than a collision between two regular-sized vehicles.
More Serious Injuries
Much in the same way, the injuries that would normally be sustained in a car accident will be far more severe if caused by a freight truck and possible require greater medical attention and recovery. From lacerations, whiplash, broken bones and fractures, the injuries sustained from a freight truck are always far greater and potentially life-threatening.
Much Larger Medical Bills
With a greater chance of serious injury, recovery from such accidents can involve longer stays in a hospital. A truck accident victim may also be unable to resume their regular work and this can have financial implications as well. Having a trusted truck accident attorney, like an experienced lawyer at Schneider|Hammers, means you will have a better idea of how much time, pain and suffering your ordeal is worth so your compensation will be commensurate.
Greater Chance of Death
Accidents involving large semi-trucks or big-rigs are also going to result in a higher fatality rate than your regular car accidents. According to statistics by the (FMCSA), truck accidents claim anywhere from 3000 to 5000 lives each year.
Considering this staggering statistic and the resources available to trucking companies and their insurers, a trusted truck accident attorney is really the only hope of getting a fair shake. A no-cost assessment of your case would be the important first step in choosing to retain the services of a lawyer or not.
How is Negligence Established Following a Truck Accident?
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you will need to establish negligence on behalf of the truck driver as well as any other parties you believe to be responsible. Your lawyer will prove that the driver was in breach of their duties and responsibilities and that negligence on the part of the driver was the true cause behind the catastrophe.
Some examples of negligence that apply to commercial truck drivers include speeding, driving while texting, running red lights and falling asleep at the wheel.
Because of the high-risk nature of commercial trucking, the FMCSA requires commercial drivers to follow these regulations:
- Maintain a logbook of driving hours
- Document all services performed and breaks taken
- Follow scheduled maintenance requirements
- Follow regulations for the proper loading of cargo and hazardous materials
- Abstain from alcohol and all other controlled substances while at work.
- Drive for no more than 10 hours in a day.
How Can Truck Accident Lawyers Come To Your Rescue?
Whether you decide to take the case to court or settle, it is always essential to hire an experienced and dedicated truck accident attorney. Many Georgia residents can’t think of anything else apart from their recovery time and their family after an accident. But, when you have a compassionate truck wreck lawyer helping you, you will not have to think about handling the legal side of things.
A truck accident layer has two important duties: perform a thorough investigation of the accident site after your first meeting and second, gathering information about the case to file your claim. Investigation for these cases is crucial because it helps during litigation and settlement procedures. The lawyer will try to find pieces of evidence that prove the negligence of the driver at fault. Your truck wreck lawyer in Atlanta, GA can go to the extent of doing the following things to collect proof against the offender:
- Hire experts who can reconstruct the scene of the accident.
- Investigate and identify the malfunctioning parts of the truck.
- Go through the photographs and police reports of the accident scene.
- Interview eyewitness if any.
- Research history and driving experience of the truck driver.
These pieces of evidence will help to tilt the case in your favor.
The lawyer also checks whether there are multiple parties involved in the accident and for your losses and injuries. He/she will also inspect the case in detail to determine if it was the driver, an accomplice, or someone else who was responsible for the accident.
Gather as Much Information as Possible Upfront for your Truck Accident Attorney in Atlanta
Another way to fortify your case is to gather as much information as possible. The longer you wait to gather information, the details of the accident will slip through the cracks of your mind. Make sure that you gather all relevant information within the first 24-48 hours. This will ensure you maintain an accurate account of the events leading to the accident and those that followed. A good Georgia truck accident lawyer will appreciate this.
For instance, it is highly recommended for you to gather such pertinent details as the:
- Name of the driver (first and last)
- Vehicle registration number
- Trucking company name (if applicable)
- Contact information for any available eyewitnesses
- Other valuable information found on the back of the truck
In addition to getting as much information in writing as you can, document the scene with quality pictures. You do not need a professional camera or photographer to handle this task for you. A basic smartphone camera will suffice. Your primary objective should be to capture as much on camera as possible. Include the scene of the accident, the visible streaks in the road, property damage and/or bodily injuries. It is imperative for you to capture photos of as much as you can without delay.
Take Photos for Evidence
After a few days have passed since your accident, the memories of the event will start to fade. The scene of the accident is cleaned and wiped away within just a few hours in most cases. This is especially if there were no major occurrences of bodily harm because of the accident. Capturing everything on camera allows you to maintain a visual record of everything (and everyone) related to the event. Damaged property will be repaired or even replaced. Injuries will heal or be repaired as time passes by. Photographs will allow a record of the accident to live on for many years. This longevity will serve as a quality tool during trials, courtroom appearances and settlement negotiations.
Advice from an Atlanta Truck Wreck Lawyer
You may feel “fine” moments after the truck accident has occurred. This is typically due to the adrenaline flowing through your body as your mind catches up with the accident. However, chances are that the soreness, pain and other physical symptoms will settle in before you realize it. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If police officers dispatched to the scene of the accident, they will request an ambulance. If you can check out by the responding paramedics and escort to the nearby hospital, you should go. Accepting a transport to a local hospital allows you to receive a thorough examination. You will receive all applicable tests based on your condition like X-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs.
Many people make the mistake of rejecting medical care at the accident scene based on the belief that they are “fine”. They may think they are just suffering from “minor bumps and bruises.” Sadly, an increasing number of cases have escalated from bad to worse without medical care. Very often, those “bumps and bruises” end up being telltale signs indicating the massive presence of internal bleeding. Your truck accident attorney in Atlanta sees this all the time.
Receiving a timely diagnosis and the necessary documentation is critical. It is essential to your physical and mental health and the success of any legal claims and lawsuits. Please remember to get everything in writing. That way you can keep your truck accident lawyer in Atlanta fully informed of the entire process.
Medical Attention is Priority Over Contacting a Truck Driver Lawyer
Let’s say you have received medical attention from a clinic, hospital or Urgent Care facility. You will be provided with follow-up instructions within your discharge paperwork. In most cases, after diagnosis, the doctor’s orders and prescriptions are filed away. A copy of the paperwork is given to the patient.
It would be in your best interest to follow the doctor’s orders cautiously and carefully. Never assume you can handle things on your own due to the severity, degree, and extent of the injuries.
Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe that you take several weeks off from work to recuperate. You will possibly get at least one week so you can rest and get a fresh start upon your return. He or she may suggest you follow a modified or reduced workload when you finally do return to your job. This is to minimize the chances of reinjuring yourself. Either way, you should make sure that you follow your doctor’s orders carefully and cautiously.
Failure to do so may compromise your case. You will be left open and vulnerable to the opposing counsel and insurance company. Think of this way. The opposing counsel will strive to essentially poke holes in your case and the corresponding legal argument. Therefore, anything that could possibly sway the judge to rule in their favor is “fair game”. This includes your apparent refusal to follow the doctor’s orders.
Not taking medication or not taking the time to recuperate can contribute to your own injuries. Insurance companies relish situations like this. Don’t play into their hands. Conversely, following the doctor’s orders closely will make it much easier for you to present a solid argument. You will have justified explanations for your condition from your medical physician during the trial.
A Truck Injury Lawyer (18 wheeler lawyer) Should be Familiar with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations
All trucking companies and their hired drivers must comply with the regulations in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations are enforced to keep truck drivers and the roads on which they travel safe. They are also aimed at reducing the likelihood of potential truck accidents.
These regulations cover a broad range of topics, including, but not limited to, the:
- Payment of transportation charges
- Transportation of goods via interstate commerce
- Motor carrier routing regulations
- Financial responsibility of motor carriers
- Parts and accessories required for safe vehicle operation
- Cooperative agreements with states
- Safety fitness procedures
There are even regulations that outline required service hours for drivers. There are also health and safety standards in place that must be followed by all employees. Many of these rules are listed on the FMCSA website. The driver of a property-carrying vehicle can only work 14 consecutive hours after spending 10 consecutive hours off duty. This is just one of the many regulations implemented. It is to ensure all truck drivers have ample resting periods in between shifts. This should drastically reduce the chances of falling asleep behind the wheel as they work.
However, just because the rules are in place does not mean that every truck driver or trucking company follows them. Your truck accident attorney in Atlanta will work to build a solid case against the at-fault driver and/or company. However, you should take the time to study and learn the rules and regulations that apply to your case. Make sure that the attorney you hire has a solid knowledge of these regulations as well. The lawyer should have a successful track record of referencing these regulations in court to effectively defend their clients.
Atlanta Truck Driver Attorneys Agree – Target the Truck Company, Not Just the Driver
If you are injured in a truck accident you should enlist the assistance of a car accident lawyer in Atlanta. Your best bet would be to target the truck company and not the individual driver. As mentioned, based on the rules and regulations, there may have been a slip-up somewhere along the way. The driver may have kept certain conditions and behavioral changes away from his or her company. Alternatively, the company strived to keep those things away from the rest of the management team. They may have hoped to figure it out on their own or correct the behavior.
You may want to target your truck accident courtroom filings towards a specific party. It is a good idea to target the company first – not the driver. The driver likely has a fraction of insurance coverage and overall protection compared to that possessed by his company. Let’s not forget his company’s insurance company. Aiming for the insurance company allows you to set the bar high. It may even seem as if it is impossibly high at this time.
You no doubt want to save time jumping over hurdles and through hoops. It is in your best interest to specifically target the trucking company that hired the truck driver who was behind wheel. Perhaps he or she did not follow the resting period protocol during a busy week or weekend. On the other hand, the driver may have already admitted fault. He may be a few steps ahead of you already when it comes to figuring out how to save the company.
Do Your Research Before Selecting an Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney
The aftermath of a truck accident can quickly become as traumatic, stressful and shocking as the actual accident itself! At times, it may seem unbearable and impossible to survive. You should be able to depend on your trucking lawyer to provide you with insight and to help keep your expectations in a proper perspective.
This is especially if there is an intense and heated courtroom battle at stake. The circumstances can vary. Your best bet is to still trust in the expertise and insight of your personal injury attorney in Atlanta. Do your research and feel confident in your selection that you have chosen a professional Atlanta truck accident lawyer for your situation and follow your lawyer’s instructions. It is a surprise by how relatively smoothly your courtroom battle will become as you fight for justice.