What to Do When You Are in a Truck Accident in Atlanta
Commercial trucks are important transportation vehicles that are vital to our everyday lives. Trucks across the country deliver food, gas, oil, building materials, furniture, and much more. According to TruckInfo.net, there are over 15.5 million trucks operating in the United States. These trucks will traverse the country making necessary stops and drop offs.
While commercial trucks are critical to the nation as a whole, these massive vehicles carry the risk of serious accidents. If you are involved in a truck accident, you could face severe injuries that can potentially impact your future. The United States Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports (the NHTSA link will download the report to your desktop.) that over 104,000 people were injured in large truck accidents in the year 2012. Moreover, close to 4,000 were tragically killed.
The truck accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, hope you are never involved in a truck accident. If, however, you or a loved one is hit by a truck, we want you to be prepared. Follow the steps below, among others, if you are in a truck accident in the greater Atlanta area:
- Seek medical help — large trucks pack considerable force. If you are involved in a truck accident and believe you have been injured, call 911 right away. You will need to receive a proper medical evaluation and treatment, if needed, to ensure your injuries do not become more severe.
- Move your vehicle to a safe location — in the aftermath of the crash, you will want to move your vehicle out of the roadway (if you can) so that another vehicle does not hit you. The nearest soft shoulder is usually the safest spot.
- Report the accident — you will want to call 911 or otherwise report the accident to the police or highway patrol so that an accident report is generated. Talk to the police to ensure they have all the information needed to file the report, but never discuss issues of fault.
- Take photographs of the scene and your injuries — photographs can prove important later on for re-creating the accident and determining vital issues of fault. If able, use your smartphone or another camera to take pictures of your car, the truck, any skid marks or other physical evidence left behind in the crash, and your injuries.
- Talk to witnesses — if there were potential witnesses to the crash, you would want to approach them and obtain their contact information. Jot down their names, phone numbers, addresses, and even email. If you do not have a pen and paper, you could use your cell phone. Most importantly, be sure to transcribe the information to a safe place later on.
- Call a truck accident attorney right away — as discussed more fully below, truck accident victims will benefit from having the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney who understands federal trucking regulations, issues of fault and damages, and more.
The scene after a truck accident is chaotic and you may be seriously injured. This list is merely a set of ideal steps you should take. If you were not able to complete any of these actions, do not panic, as you may well still have a viable claim against the trucking company. Consult with your attorney for more information about your options.
Catastrophic Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents
Commercial trucks regularly weigh in at a whopping 10,000 pounds. When a vehicle of this size slams into your car, pickup truck, or SUV, the results can be devastating. A catastrophic injury is one that results in such severe injury that the accident victim cannot resume the life they led before the accident. Catastrophic injuries have long-lasting and permanent effects.
Potential catastrophic injuries stemming from a truck accident include, among others:
- Loss of hearing or vision
- Traumatic brain injuries that impact memory, emotion, and/or bodily functions
- Spinal cord injuries causing partial or complete paralysis
- Severe burns that result in permanent scarring, disfigurement, or loss of range of motion
- Damage to internal organs necessitating ongoing medical care
Catastrophic injuries are sadly not injuries that will heal after a short hospital stay. These injuries will continue to impact your life for years to come. Recovering from catastrophic injuries is unique due to their long term nature. If you have sustained a catastrophic injury in a truck accident because of another person or party, your truck accident attorney should be able to assist you in obtaining damages that could include ongoing medical expenses, permanent disability, continued pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more.
Black Box and Related Evidence in Truck Accident Cases
There are several crucial pieces of evidence that can be of importance to your potential truck accident case. The first is the black box. Black box recorders should be installed in all commercial trucks. These devices, also known as electronic data recorders, provide extensive information about the truck and any accidents.
Black Box Recorders
Black box recorders are usually equipped with a GPS. This provides data as to where the truck has been and where it was at the moment of the crash. These devices also house information about the truck driver's speed, number of hours driven, following distance, use of emergency brakes, communication between the truck driver and trucking company, vehicle maintenance, and more. Moreover, the information contained within the black box could point to negligence on the part of the truck driver, such as driver fatigue, poor maintenance, speeding, tailgating, and other improper conduct.
Following a truck accident, your truck accident lawyer will take steps to secure the black box evidence. This could involve issuing a spoliation letter, which notifies the trucking company that black box and other data must be preserved. The trucking company cannot alter or tamper with the black box.
Driver Qualification File
Another important piece of evidence that your truck accident attorney will obtain is the driver qualification file or DQF. This file, held by the trucking company in most instances, is mandated by federal trucking regulations. It includes:
- Copies of drivers licenses
- The driver's employment application
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Alcohol and blood test results
- Employment records
- Driving records
- Accident records
- Road test information
Your attorney can subpoena this file to help with investigations. It could reveal important evidence of negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company, such as failed drug screens, a lengthy accident record, lack of truck maintenance, and more.
Hours of Service Logs
Federal regulations require that truckers and trucking companies maintain records of the driver's hours spent on duty and specifically on the road. Hours of service are federally mandated and exceeding these hours can result in fines. A negligent driver who does not abide by hours of service rules could contribute to the basis of liability in your truck accident case. The hours of service logs will contain information as to when the truck driver left, when the driver stopped and slept, weigh-ins, and more.
Truck Maintenance Records
You and your lawyer will want to examine complete records as to maintenance completed on the truck involved in the accident. Commercial trucks must be meticulously maintained to prevent accidents. Routine maintenance must be conducted on the tires, brakes, head and other lights, fuel and oil levels, and much more. If poor maintenance causes a truck accident, the truck driver or trucking company should be held accountable.
Should You Retain a Truck Accident Attorney?
Each accident is unique, and the decision as to whether to retain a truck accident lawyer following your accident is entirely yours to make. There are several ways in which a truck accident attorney can offer vital assistance to your potential case. The following is a look at some of the reasons you should strongly consider hiring a truck accident lawyer:
- Serious injuries — truck accidents are some of the most severe accidents. Those injured in a truck accident will often sustain far more serious injuries than car accident victims due to the sheer size of the trucks involved. If you have endured a considerable injury, you will likely have more damages than a less seriously injured accident victim. With stakes this high, it is advisable to consult with a truck accident attorney with extensive knowledge in the field.
- Federal law — truck accident cases will involve federal laws and regulations. There are a plethora of federal regulations that truck drivers must follow. Violation of these regulations can be crucial to building your truck accident case. Knowledge of these federal laws and regulations is, therefore, essential to presenting a strong and winning accident case.
- Negotiation and courtroom experience — any truck accident case will involve communicating and negotiating with the insurance companies. This is often considered a form of art by those in the industry. Your best chance of obtaining a strong settlement is with the help of an experienced truck accident attorney who will present your case in a compelling manner and negotiate effectively for your rights. Your case can also involve time in the courtroom. Courtrooms can be intimidating for those unfamiliar with them. You must follow strict rules of evidence and procedure. A lawyer is the most knowledgeable and informed person to represent you in the courtroom.
- Advocacy — the defendants in your truck accident case will have a powerful law firm behind them. You, as the plaintiff, need equally as strong representation. By retaining the help of a truck accident lawyer in your area, your case will be zealously pursued, and you will have a stronger chance of obtaining a full recovery.
- Representation you can afford — some people are afraid of hiring a lawyer because they feel they cannot afford to do so. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will not have to pay attorney fees unless your lawyer recovers for you. For most people, a contingency fee arrangement makes hiring a top notch attorney affordable.
The decision whether or not to retain an attorney is an extremely important one that can greatly impact your case. Weigh all of your options and make an informed decision that is best for you and your family.
Put Our Law Firm's Over 35 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Case!
Being involved in a truck accident can be a harrowing experience. The Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, offer caring and personalized representation for the victims of truck accidents. For over 35 years, our firm has represented accident victims across Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
No matter where you are located, our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.