Accidents involving commercial trucks are much more complicated than a typical car accident claim. In a commercial truck accident, you will probably be able to file claims against more people and companies, including: truck driver, truck driver’s employer, owner of the truck. Contact Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC today at (470) 268-5802 If you have been involved in a commercial vehicle accident.
Atlanta Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer
Atlanta Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer: Driver and Company Liability for Commercial Truck Accidents.
After a truck accident, is the driver on the legal hook or is an employer or business financially responsible? When you have been injured in an accident involving a big rig, semi-trailer, or commercial truck, the most important thing after seeking medical attention is to partner with an experienced, professional, reliable and dedicated Atlanta commercial vehicle accident lawyer to protect your rights.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 5,000 people were killed and an estimated 159,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks in 2019. Many large trucks are commercial trucks, including delivery trucks, 18-wheelers, big rigs, and tanker trucks.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, you need to know:
- the truck driver’s employer and others might be on the hook for your losses, and
- state and federal regulations might help you prove the driver was at fault for the accident.
Who Is Legally Responsible for a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
Accidents involving commercial trucks are much more complicated than a typical car accident claim. In a typical two-car accident case, you might be able to sue the at-fault driver and file a claim with an insurance company.
In a commercial truck accident, you will probably be able to file claims against more people and companies, including:
- truck driver
- truck driver’s employer
- owner of the truck
- cargo owner and loader, and
- truck maintenance company.
Not all commercial truck accidents involve all of these entities. For example, some truck drivers are independent contractors who own their own big rigs.
Truck Driver Liability
Commercial truck accidents happen for all kinds of reasons. Some accidents are caused by driver errors, some occur due to bad weather conditions or faulty road designs, and others are caused by equipment failures.
For example, a truck driver might speed to get to the next truck stop, make an unsafe lane change, or rear-end a car stopped in traffic. Drivers who are tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol are more likely to make mistakes and cause accidents.
If the trucker who hit you was negligent (careless), you can bring an injury-related insurance claim or lawsuit against the driver after the accident. You will also want to look into other potentially liable parties, like the truck driver’s employer.
Is the Truck Driver’s Employer Liable?
A truck driver’s employer can be responsible for an accident caused by a truck driver under a legal theory called respondeat superior, meaning “let the master answer.”
Under this theory, an employer can be liable for an employee’s actions if the employee was working at the time of the accident for the employer’s benefit. But trucking companies often try to avoid liability by arguing that the driver is an independent contractor and not an employee or that the driver wasn’t working at the time of the accident.
Therefore, you need an experienced Atlanta commercial vehicle accident lawyer to help you gather enough evidence to build a strong case to hold a truck driver’s employer liable.
Let’s now take a closer look at these arguments
Is the Driver an Employee or Independent Contractor?
Laws vary from state to state, but to show that a driver is an employee of the trucking company and not an owner-operator of a rig, you will need to focus on how much control the company has over the trucker’s schedule and ability to enter into contracts with other trucking companies.
You will also want to look at how the trucking company pays the driver and who is responsible for paying for the truck’s registration, permit, and insurance.
Courts and insurance companies will ask these questions and more to decide how much liability to assign to the driver and the trucking company.
For example, if a truck driver uses his own truck, pays for his own liability insurance coverage, buys his own gas, assumes the cost of maintenance and repairs, gets paid on a “per route” basis, and receives no benefits from the trucking company, the driver is probably an independent contractor.
However, if the trucking company leases the truck from the driver, controls the driver’s routes, and obtains the necessary permits, the company will probably be responsible for accidents involving the truck.
When Are Drivers Acting Within the Scope of Employment?
For a trucking company to be liable, the truck driver must be an employee who was working at the time of an accident for the employer’s benefit (or “acting within the scope of employment”). Courts tend to look at:
- the nature, time, and place of the employee’s conduct
- the intent of the employee at the time of the accident
- the type of work the employee was hired to do
- the amount of freedom an employee typically has in performing duties, and
- the incidental acts the employer should reasonably expect an employee to do.
For example, if a truck driver rear-ends you while making a delivery, the driver’s employer will probably be liable for your accident-related losses because the truck driver was acting “within the scope of employment” at the time of the accident.
But let’s say a truck driver leaves work early to go to a basketball game and hits you outside of the stadium. Here, the driver’s employer will argue that the company isn’t liable for the driver’s negligence because the driver was not acting “within the scope of employment” at the time of the accident.
How Do Multiple Defendants Affect a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
When you (the “plaintiff”) file a personal injury lawsuit against more than one party or entity (the “defendants”), the defendants might be equally responsible for your losses (damages), or they might only be responsible for the portion of your damages they caused.
For example, a tired truck driver might share partial responsibility for an accident, along with the manufacturer of faulty tires. You can sue the driver (or the driver’s employer), as well as the tire manufacturer.
The defendants will have to sort out their share of fault to reach a settlement or let the jury decide at trial. You should consult an experienced Atlanta commercial vehicle accident lawyer to help you identify all potential defendants in your lawsuit.
What If the Driver’s Acts Were Intentional?
Generally, employers aren’t liable for intentional torts (like assaults) committed by employees. Employees are typically not acting “within the scope of employment” when they steal credit card information, for example, or punch customers in the face.
So, if a truck driver slams into you because you are sleeping with the truck driver’s spouse, the trucking company probably isn’t liable for the truck driver’s actions.
State and Federal Trucking Regulations
Truck drivers, owners, and manufacturers must comply with state and federal regulations. Regulators control how long a driver can go without rest, how much weight a rig can haul, and many other aspects of the trucking industry.
When a commercial truck is involved in an accident, there is a good chance that a state, federal, or local law was violated. Proving a violation of law greatly increases an injured person’s chances of winning an insurance settlement or in court.
State and federal regulations typically require truck drivers and owners to have more insurance than non-commercial drivers. Defendants who have higher insurance policy limits have deeper pockets are more likely to be able to compensate you for the full value of your claim.
Talk to a Lawyer
Commercial truck accidents are more complicated than the average car accident case. You might be able to handle your case yourself, but you might short-change yourself if you do.
Learn more about commercial truck accident claims/lawsuits, and talk to a lawyer. An experienced Atlanta commercial vehicle accident lawyer can help you make an insurance claim, negotiate a settlement, and represent you in court.
Atlanta Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer
If you have been involved in a commercial vehicle accident, contact Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC today to talk to an attorney with vast experience handling commercial vehicle accident cases. Call us now at (470) 268-5802 or contact us online to schedule a FREE, no-obligation case review/ consultation.
Atlanta Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer
You should look for an attorney who is well versed in state and national transportation laws, can deal with insurance and healthcare companies, and knows how to prepare and settle a claim or case effectively. Call Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC today at (470) 268-5802 you can trust Atlanta vehicle accident lawyers.
Loading and transporting freight- Truck drivers have a responsibility to load and secure freight properly. Georgia drivers must comply with regulations governed by the Georgia DDS and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Call us at (470) 268-5802 to get an attorney who will help you navigate the aspects of a criminal and civil trial and/or settlement as quickly as possible.
Loading and transporting freight- Truck drivers have a responsibility to load and secure freight properly. Georgia drivers must comply with regulations governed by the Georgia DDS and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Contact Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC at (470) 268-5802 to get an attorney who will help you navigate the aspects of a criminal and civil trial.
It’s essential to have a basic understanding of what it takes to build a strong case, and an experienced commercial vehicle accident lawyer will help educate you during your initial consultation and case review. Call us at (470) 268-5802 to get an attorney who will help you navigate the aspects of a criminal and civil trial and/or settlement as quickly as possible.
Any serious accident can leave you feeling extremely vulnerable with a huge financial burden. You can count on our attorneys to take on large and powerful corporate defendants on your behalf. Contact Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC at (470) 268-5802 to get an attorney who will help you navigate the aspects of a criminal and civil trial and/or settlement as quickly as possible.
Commercial Vehicle Accidents lawyer
Pursuing justice and compensation after a truck accident is a daunting process. There may be more than one defendant, and large trucking companies with commercial insurance policies will have their own legal representation to look after their interests. An Atlanta commercial vehicle accidents lawyer at Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC is ready to help you pursue compensation for your injuries and damages. You can count on our attorneys to take on large and powerful corporate defendants on your behalf.
Any serious accident can leave you feeling extremely vulnerable with a huge financial burden. You may be suffering from severe physical pain and emotional trauma, and on top of it all, you are probably wondering how much it’ll cost you and how you will pay for it.
It is normal to be uncertain about what steps you should be taking to ensure you’re protecting yourself from being taken advantage of and to make sure that you are getting the medical care you need to put your life back together.
However, when you have been hit by a commercial vehicle, the period immediately following the accident can be a particularly distressing and confusing time. The decisions you make, such as, if and how you communicate with insurance companies and whether you seek immediate medical care, can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case.
Initial Consultation and Review
It’s essential to have a basic understanding of what it takes to build a strong case, and an experienced commercial vehicle accident lawyer will help educate you during your initial consultation and case review.
A commercial vehicle can be defined as any motor vehicle used to transport goods or passengers – everything from semi-trucks and trailers, to pickup trucks and vans, to delivery service trucks and rideshares, to buses and taxis.
Generally, if a vehicle is owned by a company and used mainly for business transport, then it is classified as a commercial vehicle. Accidents involving these vehicles are usually more serious than those between two cars, owing to the weight and size of commercial trucks and the conditions under which professionals drivers work.
And while every driver has a responsibility to uphold the road safety rules and regulations and operate his or her vehicle safely, some special considerations may add complexity to a commercial vehicle accident case. Therefore, you need the help of a competent, experienced, and reputable Atlanta commercial vehicle accidents lawyer to successfully pursue compensation.
Here are some things to consider as you begin thinking about how to best handle your commercial vehicle accident case.
1) Loading and transporting freight
Truck drivers have a responsibility to load and secure freight properly. Georgia drivers must comply with regulations governed by the Georgia DDS and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, including weight and size limits, safe loading and unloading practices, and proper securing of freight. When a vehicle operator fails to abide by these rules and regulations, he or she can be held responsible for negligence. Our Atlanta attorneys are well conversant with both federal and state motor carrier regulations will be able to help you determine whether improper loading and unloading was a factor in your case.
2) Multiple insurance policies
Professional drivers and the companies that employ them often maintain separate insurance policies. This can complicate commercial vehicle accident cases since you’ll need to establish which party is responsible. Drivers may be independent contractors, or they may be direct employees of a single commercial vehicle motor carrier or business. The employee status of the driver will affect who’s responsible for paying for damages. Resolving a case like this also requires the claimant to communicate with multiple parties to obtain documentation detailing these relationships and the insurance policies of each party. An experienced commercial vehicle accident attorney Atlanta will take the reins throughout this process, managing communication and demanding the cooperation of insurance providers, drivers, and the businesses that hire them.
3) Driver fatigue
The professional driving industry is very demanding. Drivers are often asked to work long hours without adequate rest. Drowsy driving is a known cause of many accidents; in fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigued driving is responsible for about 100,000 accidents a year. Professional drivers, who’re usually on the road for several hours at a time without rest, and often at night, are at a much higher risk for drowsy driving collisions. To combat this, the departments that regulate commercial driving mandate documented rest periods for drivers. However, in some cases, negligent training and management practices can contribute to driver fatigue — and the accidents that occur as a result. When there’s documented evidence that these companies encourage or even force their drivers to operate commercial trucks without rest, they may be held responsible for your damages. Investigating and documenting these practices takes considerable effort and expertise, so it’s worth contacting an Atlanta commercial vehicle accidents lawyer if you think drowsy driving was a factor in your case.
4) Large vehicles and high damages
Many commercial trucks are very large and extremely heavy (for context, the gross weight limit in Georgia for trucks is 80,000 pounds). The impact of a collision with one of these vehicles can be extreme, often causing severe injuries and devastating losses as a result. Additionally, large, bulky trucks and trailers can be difficult to operate safely, which can also be a factor in accidents. Most large commercial vehicle collisions result in serious, life-threatening injuries or even fatalities, so it can require significant work and resources to properly prove the full extent of the injuries and damages caused by the collision. This can complicate your case since it’ll take more diligence on the part of your attorney to prove these losses and a greater willingness to fight to secure an exceptional outcome.
5) Vehicle malfunction
Drivers and the commercial truck carriers that hire them both play a role in maintaining vehicles. Drivers are responsible for reporting vehicle issues, while motor carriers must address these problems and complete regular maintenance of their fleet of vehicles. When either party fails to fulfill these obligations, it may be held responsible for the damage they cause.
6) Drug and alcohol use
Similarly, the demands of commercial carrying lead most truck drivers to alcohol and drug use, which can impair their ability to operate a truck safely. Studies have found that commercial vehicle drivers often abuse substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines. All these drugs significantly impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely — and, of course, driving while under the influence is illegal. The police will typically initiate a criminal investigation when substance abuse is a factor in your case. This can delay the process of seeking damages, since some evidence may not be available to you during the criminal process.
Contact Us Today!
Are you looking for an experienced, dedicated, and reliable Atlanta commercial vehicle accidents lawyer to help you file a claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries and damages?
Commercial Vehicle Accidents lawyer
Contact Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC to get an attorney who will help you navigate the aspects of a criminal and civil trial and/or settlement as quickly as possible.
Call us at (470) 268-5802 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a Free, No-Obligation Case Review.
Commercial Vehicle Accidents lawyer
You are likely to find a good lawyer if you consider the following things to make an informed decision: their experience, skill level, location, commitment, and fees. You should look for an attorney who is well versed in state and national transportation laws, can deal with insurance and healthcare companies. Call us today at (470) 268-5802 to stand between you and the insurance company, and protect you from their strong-arm or scare tactics.
After the accident, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible so that you can pursue compensation. In general, ensure you contact an attorney soonest after the accident – may be within a week or two – but before you accept any settlement offer from the insurance company. Call us today at (470) 268-5802 You can trust Atlanta vehicle accident lawyers.