Large truck accidents are a significant problem in the US. In 2020, 4,842 trucks were involved in collisions. This figure accounted for 9% of all motor vehicle crashes that year. But how is truck accident liability determined in these cases?
Georgia also has its fair share of truck crashes. Fortunately, a Smyrna truck accident attorney can help you. They can exploit the many truck collision liability laws to get compensation for your losses. So, this article explains the federal and state laws that guide truck accident liability in Smyrna, GA.
Georgia’s Fault-Based Truck Accident Laws
The most important law regarding truck accident liability in Smyrna is Georgia’s fault-based rules. This means that the negligent truck driver will bear the consequences of the crash. Furthermore, their liability will cover your personal injuries and property losses.
Consequently, you have three options. You can:
- File a claim with your insurance company, and it’ll proceed against the at-fault driver’s insurer,
- File a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or
- Institute a truck accident lawsuit in court against the careless driver.
You’ll have to prove the trucker’s negligence to recover any compensation.
Smyrna Truck Collision Lawyer Explains the Comparative Fault Rule in Truck Accident Liability
Sometimes, truck accident victims are partly responsible for their injuries. In such cases, Georgia’s modified comparative fault rule kicks in. This principle reduces your compensation because of your contribution to the crash.
The reduction is proportionate to the percentage of your involvement in the accident. For example, suppose you’re 40% responsible for a crash that caused you $10,000 damages.
Then, you’ll be eligible for only 60% of your losses, equalling $6,000. The modified comparative negligence rule applies to truck accident lawsuits and insurance negotiations.
Hours of Service Rules
Driver fatigue is a significant cause of truck crashes. It occurs when the driver stays on the road for several consecutive hours. Consequently, such truckers wouldn’t have gotten adequate sleep and contribute to truck accident liability.
A tired trucker can sleep off behind the wheel and cause accidents. That’s why there are the Hours of Service Rules. These Rules provide for the maximum hours a driver can be on duty.
It also regulates sleep and rest periods to ensure truckers stay agile while driving. Crucial provisions of the Rules include:
- 11 hours maximum driving limit, only after ten continuous hours off-duty
- Compulsory 30 minutes break after eight consecutive hours of driving
- 60 hours driving limit in 7 days
- 70 hours operating limit in 8 days
- Extension of the 11 hours maximum driving limit by up to 2 hours because of adverse driving conditions
Negligence Flowing From the Hours of Service Rules
The Hours of Service Rules are federal regulations that apply to truck drivers. So, suppose a trucker causes an accident because of fatigue. Then, you can investigate whether the driver complied with the Hours of Service Rules.
Disregarding the Rules can help you prove their liability for the collision. Unfortunately, trucking companies condone and encourage this attitude in drivers. This is because it increases their profits. So, you can also file a claim against the careless truck company.
Smyrna Truck Accident Attorney Explains the Statute of Limitations
Suppose you want to file a truck accident claim in Smyrna. Then, you have to consider the Statute of Limitations. This is a law that regulates when you can file a civil lawsuit.
You only have two years to initiate litigation for a Smyrna truck collision. After that, your time starts counting from the accident date. So, suppose you miss this statutory deadline.
Then, the fault driver only has to notify the court. Consequently, the court may throw out your case. There’s also a Statute of Limitations for wrongful deaths from a truck crash.
In such cases, you also have two years to file your claim. However, the statutory period doesn’t count from the accident date. Instead, the clock starts ticking from when the victim died. Finally, you have four years to file for vehicular damage.
Who Can Be Liable in a Smyrna, GA, Truck Accident?
Knowing the relevant federal and state truck accident laws is crucial. However, you must also know who you can sue after a truck collision. Crashes involving large trucks are different from those with passenger vehicles.
This is because there are many other possible liable parties. The facts and circumstances of your case determine who you can sue, though. So, we explain the different responsible parties below.
The Truck Driver
The trucker is the first suspect following an accident. This is because they were in control of the truck at the time of the collision. So, your attorney will need to investigate whether the driver was careless or reckless.
An excellent lawyer will look for details such as:
- Drunk driving
- Improper lane changes
- Overlooking the truck’s blindspots
Any of these factors can form the basis for a negligence lawsuit.
The Trucking Company
Trucking companies also have a duty of care when hiring drivers. They must ensure that they only employ suitable individuals to avoid truck accident liability. Therefore, truckers must have a clean driving record and sufficient truck driving skills.
So, suppose a company hires drivers with a history of reckless driving. Then, they can be responsible for any collision such truckers cause while in their employment. This will also be the case where a trucking company doesn’t properly maintain its fleet, and a crash consequently occurs.
The Truck Manufacturer
Some truck accidents flow from defective truck parts. Unfortunately, the manufacturer didn’t notice these defects before releasing the trucks for purchase. Typical examples include faulty brake pads and engine problems.
Therefore, you can sue the negligent truck manufacturer in such cases. But, first, you’ll have to link the vehicle’s defect to the manufacturing process.
Truck Cargo Loaders
Improperly loaded cargo can also cause truck crashes. For example, inadequately secured loads can spill over and hurt other road users. Overloading and uneven truck cargo distribution are also responsible for some truck accidents.
So, in both instances, you can also sue the cargo loaders or shippers. Where several parties are available for truck collisions, you can proceed against all of them.
Get the Best Compensation for Your Smyrna Truck Accident Case!
Did you survive a Smyrna truck collision? Or have you lost a loved one to a negligent truck driver? If you answer these questions in the affirmative, you may be eligible for financial compensation.
First, however, you need the best Smyrna injury lawyers. At Jamie Ballard Law, we have spent years helping Smyrna’s personal injury victims and won several favorable settlements and judgments. Therefore, we can win your case, and you do not have to pay upfront costs. So, call us today for a FREE initial consultation.