El abogado de accidentes automovilísticos de Atlanta, Nathan Fitzpatrick, es un destacado abogado de lesiones personales de Atlanta. Especializado en accidentes automovilísticos y choques automovilísticos, es un abogado de accidentes automovilísticos de confianza entre los abogados de accidentes automovilísticos de Atlanta.

What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

Atlanta truck accident lawyer explains what does a truck accident lawyer do.
Collision of a semi truck with box trailer a passenger car on the highway road, as a result of which both cars were damaged, await the arrival of the police to draw up an accident report

The risks of truck accidents are disproportionately high. Although large commercial trucks account for only a tiny fraction of the motor vehicles in the United States, they are involved in almost one in 10 deadly accidents. Nathan Fitzpatrick is an Atlanta truck accident lawyer who has recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for his clients.

In this article, truck accident lawyer Mr. Fitzpatrick explains how the complexities of truck accident cases can be both a challenge and a benefit to those who suffer injury, loss or damage. He will also cover how having a knowledgeable truck accident attorney in your corner could greatly increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries.

Why Are Large Trucks So Dangerous?

Most drivers feel a little apprehensive when they find themselves near a semi-tractor trailer, and for good reason. Large commercial vehicles are dangerous because they weigh up to 40 tons, can be difficult to control in emergencies, and take much longer to stop than cars or SUVs. The blind spots, or No-Zones, for these vehicles are huge, too.

These No-Zones encompass large trucks' back, front, and sides. This aspect, coupled with the fact that trucks can't stop on a dime, leads many motorists to misjudge and interact dangerously with trucks. An example of this is merging too closely in front of the truck after passing, not allowing enough distance for the truck to come to a stop.

Another example is driving in and lingering too long on the truck's right side, its largest blind spot. This area can span three lanes and extend backward at an angle.

Common Road Designs in Atlanta Increase Risk

Serious truck accidents are particularly common in Atlanta because four interstate highways run through the city. Accidents involving tractor-trailers are far more likely to cause death or catastrophic injury, which means trucking companies and their insurers write much larger checks when negligence or recklessness is involved. Pursuing compensation after a truck accident can be a long and frustrating process.

Understanding Truck Accidents and Legal Recourse

When a person files a personal injury lawsuit, they must establish that they suffered injury loss or damage due to the defendant failing to meet a duty of care. This is fairly straightforward in most motor vehicle accident cases.

All road users are expected to do everything they reasonably can to prevent accidents, and negligent actions like speeding, getting behind the wheel after drinking, or running a red light make it clear that this duty of care was not met. Truck accidents are more complicated.

An injured road user's first challenge in an accident case is identifying the negligent party. In car accident cases, the defendant is almost always the driver of one of the vehicles involved. Still, the defendant in a truck accident case could be a truck driver, a trucking company, a commercial vehicle repair or maintenance facility, or a cargo loading company. The negligent party may not emerge until a thorough investigation has been completed, which sometimes takes months.

Most insurance companies require claims to be submitted within 30 days of an accident taking place, which means victims of truck accidents may not even know who was to blame when they complete and submit the paperwork.

Insurance claims are settled based on the amount of economic and non-economic damages that accident victims are entitled to, so not being sure about who acted negligently may not stop an offer from being made and a check from being cut.

However, if the facts are nebulous and the trucking company and truck driver maintain that they did nothing wrong. Insurance companies may want to wait until accident investigators have completed their work.

The Role of Truck Accident Lawyers in Personal Injury Cases

You could handle all the paperwork and negotiate yourself if injured in a truck accident. Unfortunately, you could leave a lot of money on the table if you do. Atlanta truck accident claims are often complicated, and sifting through accident reports, toxicology test results, hours of service records, and black box data can bewilder people who lack experience in these matters. This is why most people injured in commercial vehicle crashes hire truck accident attorneys to represent them. A lawyer could help you to:

  • Gather evidence: The logistics sector is heavily regulated, and records kept by agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration could be very useful in a truck accident lawsuit. An attorney could use subpoenas or obtain court orders to access this crucial evidence.
  • Calculate damages: If you are injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation to cover your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the negligent party acted egregiously, you could also seek punitive damages. An Atlanta truck accident attorney can ensure that you seek all of the compensation you are entitled to.
  • Negotiate with an insurance company: Insurance companies do not like writing large checks, so they hire experienced professionals to negotiate on their behalf. Without a shrewd negotiator on your side of the table, you will probably be at a disadvantage and walk away with less than you deserve.

Also, consider the fact that learning more about your legal options will probably not cost you anything. Most reputable Atlanta truck accident lawyers offer prospective clients a free consultation. They are often willing to work on a contingency basis, as well. This means they will be entitled to a percentage of the compensation you are awarded if you win your case, but you will pay them nothing if the defendant prevails.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents and How to Avoid Them

Most people believe truck accidents are usually caused by intoxicated, fatigued, or distracted commercial vehicle drivers or poorly maintained tractor-trailers because those crashes attract media attention. Official statistics paint a different picture.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 90% of the accidents involving large trucks and passenger vehicles are caused by car rather than tractor-trailer drivers. The data also shows that truck drivers who crash are far less likely to be impaired by drugs or alcohol than passenger vehicle drivers or motorcyclists.

This means that remaining vigilant and taking extra care when close to large commercial vehicles can greatly reduce your odds of being involved in an accident. To increase the chances of reaching your destination safely, you should:

  • Remember that trucks have large blind spots and may not be able to see you.
  • Avoid driving in the truck's blind spot. Move ahead or slow down so the trucker can see you.
  • Assume the driver can't see you if you can't see the trucker in their side mirror.
  • Bear in mind that trucks swing out before making sharp turns.
  • Give trucks plenty of space because they need more room to maneuver.
  • Maintain at least a two-second gap when traveling behind a tractor-trailer.
  • Stay focused and avoid distractions when traveling on roads used by large trucks.
  • Remain patient and resist the urge to cut in front of trucks when spaces open up.

Navigating the Aftermath of a Truck Accident

Being involved in a truck accident can be traumatizing, but you should try your best to remain calm and think clearly if you ever find yourself in this situation. You should be especially careful about what you say to the other road users involved, bystanders, or police officers. Georgia is an at-fault state, which means you could find pursuing compensation much more difficult if you admit you were to blame. Georgia also follows the modified comparative negligence doctrine, which means the compensation you receive will be reduced if you were partly to blame to reflect your degree of fault.

First Steps to Take Following a Truck Accident

If you are involved in a truck accident, you should first call 911 and ask the operator to dispatch police officers and paramedics to the scene. Reporting an accident that causes more than $500 in damage to the police is a legal duty in Georgia (O.C.G.A. 40-6-273: 2010). You are also legally obligated to report the accident to the police if injuries or deaths result from it.

When the emergency services arrive at the scene, you should get yourself checked out by EMTs even if you feel fine. Some serious truck accident injuries do not present symptoms immediately, and failing to seek medical attention could undermine your claim. If you tell medical professionals you do not need treatment, an insurance company could claim that your injuries are not accident-related.

In the aftermath of a truck accident, you should take photographs and gather names and contact information from any witnesses. Eyewitness testimony could be very powerful if you decide to sue, and photographs can establish the weather and road conditions during the crash.

You should also consider the moments leading up to the accident so you can answer police officers' questions clearly and concisely. Ensure you give the officers all pertinent facts, but do not embellish or say too much.

How an Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help Maximize Your Compensation

If you submit an insurance claim after being involved in a collision with a commercial vehicle, an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer could make sure that you seek all of the compensation you are entitled to. Insurance companies try to settle accident claims for as little as possible, so arriving at a fair figure will probably require a lot of negotiation. Before you accept a settlement offer, you should check that it compensates you for your:

  • Medical expenses: These expenses include your doctor and hospital bills and the cost of prescription medications.
  • Lost wages: The settlement offer should cover the wages you lost while you were recovering from your injuries and the time you lost when you had to leave your job to attend medical appointments.
  • Pain and suffering: A lawyer could advise you to keep a pain diary to track your discomfort. This diary could be useful when noneconomic damages are negotiated.
  • Property damage: These costs include car repair bills and expenses incurred when you replace items damaged in the accident.
  • Accident-related expenses: Towing fees, taxi or ride-sharing fares, and rental car costs are all accident-related expenses.
  • Punitive damages: If the truck driver who injured you was drunk or behind the wheel of an inadequately maintained commercial vehicle, you could be entitled to punitive damages.

The Importance of Evidence in Trucking Accident Claims

Evidence is crucial in truck accident cases because settling these claims can be expensive for insurance companies. Serious commercial vehicle accidents are investigated thoroughly by qualified and experienced professionals, so there is usually a lot of information available. Evidence that could help you to pursue compensation after a truck accident includes:

  • Official accident reports: Commercial vehicles that crash are inspected thoroughly for signs of inadequate maintenance and substandard repairs. Investigators also recreate accidents using advanced computer programs.
  • Hours of service records: All tractor-trailers have electronic logging devices that keep track of the hours of service of truck drivers. These records could show that a truck driver was likely fatigued when they crashed.
  • Toxicology test results: FMCSA regulations require trucking companies to perform toxicology tests on drivers who are involved in accidents that cause serious injury or death.
  • Wireless service records: If a truck driver did not brake or take evasive action before an accident, they may have been distracted. When presented with facts like these, a truck accident lawyer could use a subpoena to obtain the truck driver’s wireless service records.
  • Black box data: Modern commercial vehicles have data recorders that track vehicle speed and driver inputs. This information could shed light on what transpired in the moments before a collision.

One of the first things an experienced truck accident attorney may do after being hired is send spoliation letters to all of the parties involved. This letter informs parties about a potential claim and gives them a list of documents that must be preserved. These documents could include the driver’s employment records and the truck’s maintenance logs.

The Legal Process Explained

If you submit an insurance claim after a truck accident, the insurance adjuster assigned to the claim and you or your attorney will gather relevant facts to prepare for settlement negotiations. If you are unhappy with the settlement offer after negotiations have run their course, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party involved. If you do, the insurance company will likely hire the negligent party’s attorney.

Filing a Claim: What You Need to Know About Truck Accident Cases

The discovery phase of the lawsuit will begin shortly after the paperwork has been filed. This is when witnesses and experts are deposed, and evidence is exchanged. Settlement negotiations can begin at any time, and the judge assigned to the case may order you and the defendant to try mediation if settlement talks are unproductive. You will not have to accept the mediator’s recommendations, but you will be required to attend the sessions.

The case will go to trial if settlement negotiations and alternative dispute resolution methods do not lead to an amicable agreement. Court proceedings are expensive and unpredictable, which is why the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled at the negotiating table. If your case goes to trial, it will be decided based on the preponderance of the evidence. This means that you will not have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. You will only have to convince the jury that your arguments are more likely true than false.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies: A Lawyer's Role

Insurance adjusters are skilled professionals who are tasked with settling truck accident claims as quickly and inexpensively as possible. This means that you can expect to have all of your assertions questioned if you seek compensation after being injured by a commercial vehicle.

An insurance adjuster could try to justify a low settlement offer by accusing you of acting negligently, alleging that your injuries were preexisting, or claiming that you are exaggerating your pain and suffering. Experienced truck accident lawyers know all about these tactics, so it would be good to ask one to advocate on your behalf.

Special Considerations in Truck Accident Cases

Commercial vehicles that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds can cause catastrophic damage and severe injuries when they are involved in accidents. The insurance claims and lawsuits that stem from these crashes can cost six or even seven figures to settle. This is why cases involving truck accidents are so complex and contentious.

Trucking Regulations and Their Impact on Your Case

The FMCSA has strict rules regarding truck maintenance, commercial vehicle driver training, and cargo loading procedures. Trucking companies can be sanctioned when these regulations are not followed, and commercial vehicles can be ordered out of service.

The FMCSA maintains trucking company safety records, some of which can be accessed online. You or your attorney could use these records to establish a negligent or reckless behavior pattern.

Understanding the Complexity of Truck Accident Injuries

The adrenaline the human body releases in stressful situations can numb pain and mask injuries, and some of the most common types of truck accident trauma do not present symptoms for hours, days, or weeks later. Delayed symptoms are especially common when accident victims suffer brain, neck, or shoulder injuries. Forgetfulness could be a sign of a traumatic brain injury, and a painful twinge may be a symptom of an impinged shoulder. Seeking medical treatment after a truck accident is important because it could strengthen your claim and save your life.

Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer FAQs

The compensation you receive after a truck accident will be determined by the severity of your injuries and how much time they require you to take off work. You can also expect to be compensated for your property damage, accident-related expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

This question has no simple answer, as every accident case is different. In some cases, accident victims will not even know who was responsible until the investigation into the crash has been completed. You should not anticipate a swift resolution if your injuries are serious and you seek significant compensation. If you try to settle your claim as quickly as possible, you will probably walk away with less than you deserve.

You do not have to hire a truck accident lawyer to represent you, but you will probably be happier with the outcome if you do. Experienced truck accident attorneys are familiar with the tricks and tactics that insurance companies use to minimize settlements, and they are ethically and legally required to act in their client’s best interests at all times.

Protect Your Rights with a Truck Accident Lawyer from The Fitzpatrick Firm

Truck accident victims deserve to be compensated fairly, and the Fitzpatrick Firm works hard to see that they are. We have recovered millions of dollars for car and truck accident victims in the Atlanta area, and we are standing by to help you pursue compensation for your injuries. Contact the Fitzpatrick Firm today if you want an experienced attorney to fight for your rights. You can schedule a free consultation by calling us at  (678) 607-5550 or filling out our contact form below.