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Shiver Hamilton Campbell Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer
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Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers

Tractor trailers can weigh 20-30 times more than a car and take as much as two football fields distance to come to a complete stop. Trucks are powerful, dangerous vehicles, yet they commonly share the Atlanta roads with automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians. When a truck is in an accident, the results can be devastating.

Moreover, the process of seeking recovery for injuries suffered in a truck accident is usually much more complicated than in the case of a car accident. Trucks are usually part of commercial enterprises, so the list of potentially liable parties could be complex and difficult to ascertain. In addition, trucks are often involved in interstate commerce, so federal transportation laws may enter the equation.

So, if you are suffering from an injury as the result of a truck accident, it may be a good idea to speak with an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer who understands all the unique aspects of these cases and could help you obtain the full amount of compensation you deserve.

Common Truck Accident Causes

Truck accidents can have a devastating impact on all those involved. While there are different causes for collisions, there are some common Atlanta truck accident causes. If you have been involved in a collision, contact an attorney immediately. An experienced truck accident lawyer could help you seek the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

Causes of Truck Accidents

There are a few common causes of truck accidents in Atlanta, however, most of them are related to phone use. The rise in the use of smartphones has had a devastating effect on truck crashes.

Anti – Cellphone Policies

The federal government makes it illegal for a truck driver or commercial motor vehicle operator to use a smartphone for texting or looking at apps, even at a stop sign. In addition, most trucking companies ban the use of cell phones.

Despite this, many trucking companies do not do enough to actually enforce the no-cell-phone policy. Cellphone records indicate that truck drivers are routinely making calls and sending and receiving texts while driving.

The Severity of Truck Accidents

While the causes of accidents may differ, the severity of crashes is consistent. Car drivers and their passengers often suffer severe injuries when hit by a tractor-trailer because trucks have more mass, so there is a greater potential for injury due to the enormous amount of energy being transferred onto to the passenger vehicle.

A truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when loaded. Comparatively, the average passenger car is only 2,000 to 4,000 pounds.

Common Injuries from Truck Accidents

The potential for injuries depends largely on whether it is a rear, frontal, or side impact. Though common Atlanta truck accident causes vary, most injuries from truck collisions create spine issues. Orthopedic injuries, shoulder traumas, and head traumas are also common in trucking accidents.

Is Atlanta a Contributory or Comparative Negligence Jurisdiction?

Atlanta is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that if the person bringing the claim forward is also at fault for the crash, they may not receive as much compensation as they would have if the accident was entirely the other driver’s fault.

Determining Comparative Negligence

The jury will analyze all the evidence, listen to witness testimonies, listen to the plaintiff and the defendant’s testimonies and use this information to determine the fault of each driver. If the plaintiff was less than fifty percent responsible, the claim can proceed. However, in Atlanta, when there is a truck wreck and the plaintiff is fifty percent or more at fault, they may not recover any compensation.

Proving Negligence in an Atlanta Truck Accident

To recover a monetary award for injuries suffered in an accident in Atlanta, a person must prove that the negligent actions of a person or company involved contributed to the cause of the accident.

Those using the public roads in Atlanta owe a duty of care to ensure that their actions do not cause undue risk of harm to others. When they fail to fulfill that duty, they may be legally liable.

There are many theories under which a driver, trucking company, manufacturer or other party may be liable for the consequences of a truck accident. Examples of negligent behavior include:

  • Improper maintenance of the truck
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Distracted driving
  • Allowing a driver to operate with insufficient training
  • Encouraging reckless behavior
  • Driving while impaired
  • Violating traffic regulations or trucking laws

An attorney could investigate to determine whether these or other factors contributed to the accident. This investigation may include a review of the driver’s credentials and driving history, an examination of the trucking company’s logs and policies, an analysis of police reports and photographs, interviews with accident witnesses, and consultations with accident reconstruction experts to help ascertain precisely what occurred during the accident.

Mistakes to Avoid After a Truck Accident in Atlanta

In the immediate aftermath of a devastating truck accident, those who may have been hurt may be unsure of what to do next and may make mistakes that could hurt their chance at recovering damages in court. There are numerous mistakes to avoid after a truck accident in Atlanta and a lawyer could help. A knowledgeable truck accident attorney could be your advocate not only in court but in the minutes and hours after an accident.

Is it a Mistake to Admit Fault at the Scene of an Accident?

Admitting fault at the scene of a truck accident in Atlanta is usually discouraged. Anything that either party says at the scene is admissible in evidence. Any evidence admitting fault could be damaging to the plaintiff’s case.

A person should be honest about the facts with law enforcement at the scene but it is important not to speculate or admit fault based on conjecture. An injured person should simply state what they saw without drawing conclusions about fault. An apology could be used as an admission and brought into evidence because there is a belief that they must have done something wrong to warrant the apology.

Should Someone Give Recorded Statements to Insurance Companies?

There is a danger in giving recorded statements to the defendant’s insurance company. They are not in the business of helping the injured party. They are trying to see if there is a way to deny the claim or minimize the amount paid. An injured person in Atlanta should consult with a lawyer before giving any statements to insurance companies.

If the person does receive a check from the company, it is critical that they do not cash it out. The injured party may not have calculated any future costs and could be denying themselves proper compensation if they take the early offer.

Refusing Treatment for a Truck Accident

Delaying treatment after a local truck accident is a mistake to avoid because the defense could use it to suggest there was no injury or that the harm was minor. It is imperative that injured people seek treatment as soon as possible and report the symptoms honestly so that the medical records provide accurate documentation.

Anyone injured in an accident should follow doctor’s orders or follow up with medical treatment. It is important that the person is able to document what their injuries were and show that treatment was warranted. If they do not follow the doctor’s advice, it raises the suggestion that the injury may not have been significant. The longer the treatment gap is, the more it fuels speculation from the defense that the injuries went away or were non-existent. The gap also makes it possible to argue that the injuries resulted from some other event that happened after the accident in question.

Failure to Call a Lawyer Following a Crash

It is important to call a lawyer immediately after a truck accident because a trucking company will have professionals reviewing the scene and documenting evidence. They may download important data from the vehicles that could show things like speed, braking, whether seatbelt restraints were used, and whether airbags deployed or not. They may have investigators talking to witnesses and trying to shape the facts as they come together. An Atlanta attorney could help even the playing field by informing someone who has never dealt with a truck collision claim before of the mistakes they should avoid.

While the claimant is recovering from their injuries, the lawyer could also gather evidence, including by preventing the damaged vehicle from being salvaged or recycled, which would save any needed evidence.

Monetary Recovery Can Cover Damages

Once someone proves negligence caused an accident involving a truck, those who suffered injuries may recover compensation to cover several losses due to the accident. They may recover money to compensate for added expenses such as medical bills and alterations to their home.

They may also recover compensation for income lost due to time off work both in the past and the future. If the accident affects a person’s future earning capacity, compensation for that may also be available. In addition, the individual suffering from the accident may receive compensation for consequences such as pain and suffering.

If the accident results in death, compensation may be available to the family for economic and emotional loss.

Atlanta Truck Accident Damages

Injuries sustained from a truck collision could prove to be very costly. A person could be hospitalized and face expensive medical bills. A person could also miss work and potentially miss out on making money to pay off bills. That is why it is so important to consult with a dedicated truck wreck attorney to learn more about receiving Atlanta truck accident damages.

Recoverable Economic Damages

When someone is out of work as a result of their injuries, that is an economic damage they can gather and assess. Future economic losses such as the inability to work permanently or partially into the future is another economic damage. An economist appraises and assesses those losses as calculating future income is not quite as simple as adding up the past wages.

They must make value judgments and estimates for the person’s projected future raises and increases in benefits. That calculation is established through the raise intervals based on their earnings history, the type of job, and data for that type of job.

They must also identify and calculate other economic Atlanta truck accident damages. For example, when a person suffers orthopedic injuries in a truck accident and must make modifications to their home or buy medical equipment, those are economic damages.

In Atlanta, a professional who can accurately calculate total expenses must analyze most medical expenses. It is not just the amount a person’s health insurance company paid for the expenses, it is the reasonable value of the services as measured by the gross amount of the bill before any reductions or adjustments the health insurance forced the provider to write off or what health insurance paid.

What are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic Atlanta truck accident damages include the full range of values, activities, and limitations associated with a truck accident other than paychecks and medical expenses. A truck accident lawyer adds value to a case by examining non-economic damages for what the injured person likes to do, used to do, dreamed of doing, or was trained to do. The lawyer evaluates how the family relationships are impacted by the person’s injuries. In addition, they look at the changes in daily living with pain or limitations in physical movement or cognition.

Anyone who deals with insurance companies quickly learns that they try to reduce the broad category of damages a jury evaluates to simple calculations. Insurance companies create a simple metric to compare the value of non-economic damages to the economic damages. However, nothing in the law identifies any of the metrics they create, still, they may tell a person that the total value of their case should be one to two or three times the medical expenses. That metric comes from insurance companies who underestimate the claim.

Deciding How Much a Person Can Recover

A damage cap is a legislatively enacted limit on the worth of a case in a specific category of damages. Atlanta currently has no hard damage caps. The system in Atlanta is policed by fair and impartial judges throughout the local judiciary. The trial judge can check or cap the amount of any verdict in a case if they believe that, based on the evidence presented, the result is a miscarriage of justice or is too high or too low.

The term for reducing the verdict is remittitur. The term additur is used when the court increases the jury award of damages when the amount is too low. Properly instructed juries decide what is fair and reasonable compensation for a case. The Seventh Amendment guarantees our citizens’ right to have juries decide the amount of compensation. That precious right is as old as America itself.

Juries work hard to agree to amounts that are fair and commensurate with the case. Georgia had a damage cap that applied to pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice cases, but the Georgia Supreme Court struck down that cap as a violation of the Georgia constitutional right that all citizens have the right to a trial by jury. If a person has a lawsuit against another person for monetary damages, a jury decides who won the lawsuit and the amount of compensation they deserve. As such, there is currently no legislative cap on Atlanta truck accident damages.

Calculating Truck Accident Damages

The standard for calculating truck collision damages is subject to the enlightened conscience of a fair and impartial jury. There is no set formula. An experienced truck wreck lawyer is able to explain to a jury how to put a monetary value on a lifetime of limitations, also known as pain and suffering. Speak with a lawyer to learn more about, or help in, calculating Atlanta truck accident damages.

Damages an Auto Insurance Typically Covers

One thing people may not understand or appreciate about truck accident cases in Atlanta is that 18-wheelers or tractor-trailers are not supposed to use the downtown connector to Atlanta unless they are making a downtown delivery. In other words, a long-haul truck driving through Metro Atlanta must go around downtown on I-285, which is the perimeter interstate that circles the metro area.

An experienced attorney can look through the documents, the bills of lading, and the other load documents that show the truck’s origin and destination. It is possible that the truck driver was prohibited from using the downtown connector and should not have been driving on it. This could affect the amount a person can recover after calculating Atlanta truck accident damages.

The injured person’s auto insurance covers at least three categories:

  • Medical payments
  • Property damage
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage

Medical Payments

Medical payments are available on most Georgia policies and generally covers somewhere between $5,000 and $50,000. The amount is stated on the person’s declaration page in their insurance policy and shows the available medical coverage.

This is non-fault coverage. In other words, it does not matter whether the person fell asleep, ran off the road and hit a tree, or if a truck was at fault for the accident. The plaintiff can use their own policy or MedPay coverage to pay deductibles, co-insurance, and ER visits that were not covered.

Calculating Atlanta truck accident damages could prove to be difficult at times, particularly when there is a dispute about the underlying fault for the crash. For example, if a truck that strikes a person accepts responsibility to some degree, the adjuster for the at-fault insurance company also accepts some responsibility. In these scenarios, the property damage may be directly paid by the trucking company’s insurance.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) Coverage

A large truck insurance policy provides at least $1,000,000 of coverage. When a person’s injuries are potentially worth more than that, they should contact a law firm to notify their own insurance company of a possible UM claim. If the value is inaccessible, regardless of the truck company policy, the person can look to their own policy to collect the excess value up to the limits of their UM insurance.

Determining Liability

Liability is proving that someone other than the injured person acted negligently and caused the crash and harm. Determining where the liability falls could prove to be important when calculating Atlanta truck accident damages. There are multiple layers of liability:

  • Rules of the road
  • Perception-reaction time
  • Medical causation

The first layer of liability is the rules of the road that pertain to trucks and truck drivers that go beyond the simple rules that apply to every other driver. These rules address how trucks are loaded, how long they are driven, driver fatigue, driver distraction, braking adjustments, whether the safety equipment on the truck is properly functioning, and analysis of the speed of the truck.

Perception-Reaction Time and Medical Causation

The second layer is an analysis of perception-reaction time, which is when a truck driver should have perceived the hazard and taken evasive action. The same rule applies to the driver of the other vehicle.

The third part of liability is medical causation. Truck accident lawyers spend a lot of time reviewing medical records and consulting with medical experts to analyze whether the person’s injuries and limitations were caused by the truck accident or were due to a pre-existing condition or aging.

Settlements in Atlanta Truck Accident Cases

Many personal injury lawsuits end up settling instead of going to a trial by jury. Agreeing on a certain amount of money early and avoiding a legal battle might seem appealing but an injured person could miss out on much-needed funds to pay for medical bills and lost wages as a result of their injury. If you require legal services, consider hiring an attorney to help with settlements in Atlanta truck accident cases. A compassionate truck accident lawyer could advise you on how to navigate the settlement process and avoid falling into the traps of the defendant’s insurance company.

Calculating Settlement Value

The settlement value is calculated by a jury and there is no official formula involved. Insurance companies have tried to reduce this to a formula, which they largely based on what lawyers accept for similar cases. The more lawyers there are who fight for fair settlements, the harder it is for companies to justify lowball offers. People should be aware that if they give the insurance company an indication of what settlement number they will take then the company will view that number as a ceiling for future negotiations.

The injured person should take into account their net recovery, which is what they will they get after they pay attorney’s fees, litigation expenses, and paying all debts related to the settlement. This includes outstanding medical bills or loans that they might have had to take out against the case in order to fund the medical needs or lost income.

Who Decides When to Accept a Settlement?

Ultimately, the client decides whether to settle or take a case to court. However, it is important to have a lawyer who has trial experience because they will be able to determine how much the case is worth.

Someone may want to accept a settlement offer if they believe the payment will be sufficient or if there is a significant risk of losing at a trial. Sometimes an attorney may be too timid to handle a trial and might suggest a settlement as a result, which is why it is important to find a firm that has a strong history of trying cases.

The choice to reject a settlement and go to trial ultimately comes down to the claimant’s personal risk tolerance and their trust in their attorney.

Receiving the Settlement Money in a Timely Manner

It is typical to expect 30 days between the agreement with the insurance company until the time funds are ready to be dispersed to the client. Someone can ensure they receive their settlement in a timely manner by making sure their medical documentation is thorough and up-to-date. If the claimant is still in pain and needs continuous medical treatment, they should not try to settle early. Therefore, it helps to have a lawyer in the city that is monitoring the truck crash settlement closely. They could have the staff and resources to quickly put the case into a posture for a settlement demand once medical caregivers can project how the injuries will impact the plaintiff’s capabilities in the future.

Ask an Experienced Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer Any Questions

Those involved in truck accidents often suffer serious injuries and their priority should be on working towards recovery. However, worries about added expenses and questions from attorneys and insurance companies can impede recovery efforts.

An Atlanta truck accident lawyer could begin providing advice right away to help you avoid making mistakes that could compromise your claim. A lawyer may be able to work to collect evidence and will serve as your representative during questioning and negotiations, working on your behalf to help you obtain the maximum amount for your claim. Call now for a free consultation to learn how an attorney’s experience could work for you.

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