Experience Matters More in Trucking Cases

A selection of truck accident case results from 2014 through 2020

Truck accidents tend to be far more complex and involve more severe injuries than “regular” car accident claims. It is important that your lawyer knows what to do after an Atlanta or Georgia trucking accident.

Truck accidents are different

A truck accident is not just a larger car accident case. Trucking companies are monitored for safe operation via DOT Safety Ratings (SAFER) and required to comply with federal rules (FMCSA).

Trucking companies must keep proof of financial responsibility, hours of service records, hazardous materials records, driver qualification files, records of vehicle inspection and maintenance, drug and alcohol testing records, and more.

Handling a trucking case requires a truck accident lawyer and a firm that knows the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) and trucking industry standards. A trucking attorney should know how to properly investigate not just what happened, but also how and why the crash occurred.

Truck wrecks are not simply “accidents” they are system failures

Most truck accidents happen because of poor safety training, negligent maintenance, and bad driving habits.

However, the actual cause of a truck accident may be the trucking company itself. Was the driver sleepy due to overwork? Did the company fail to audit the driver’s logs? Was the truck properly and safely maintained in compliance with the FMCSA? Was the company taking steps to ensure its drivers were trained to operate safely?

These are all questions that an experienced truck accident lawyer should aim to prove.

What we have learned in over 29 years of suing trucking companies

After a serious wreck, the first thing a trucker usually does is call the dispatcher, risk manager, or owner of the company. The trucking company immediately responds, often by hiring a truck accident lawyer and investigators.

This defense team may claim that any investigation by the company is legally privileged information and, therefore, off-limits to you. They may ensure that the company’s books, records, and logs are in order and, if not, are corrected or updated.

How to prove and win your trucking case: First Steps

Truck Accident Compensation List

The company is likely to take steps to protect itself. Starting your own investigation as soon as possible is the best way to protect yourself. Knowing what evidence should exist, and in which formats, is critical to proving what caused the wreck.

Experienced investigators will obtain all reports and retain an accident reconstruction team. They will also take steps to preserve the trucking company’s GPS data, electronic communications, logs, daily inspection reports, and trip records.

Sending specific legal notices, called a spoliation letter, or filing suit is the best way to ensure evidence is preserved. This is key to your truck accident claim.

Your Right to Fair and Complete Compensation

When you are injured or worried about medical bills and lost pay. You have the right to bring a claim against the trucker, the trucking company, and the insurance company. If the accident was not your fault, Georgia allows you to recover medical bills and expenses, lost pay if you have been or will be unable to work, and compensation for past and future pain and suffering.

Trucking insurance and Georgia’s Direct Action Laws. Georgia trucking insurance works differently than car insurance. The State of Georgia has two statutes that apply to insurers of trucking companies.

These laws, O.C.G.A. 40-2-140 (registration) and 40-1-112 (insurance), allow an injured plaintiff to name a trucking insurance company as a defendant in a trucking lawsuit.

Learn more about what can happen when you sue a trucking insurance carrier directly.

When your vehicle has been damaged or totaled. You may make a claim for property damage to your vehicle and its contents. Compensable property damage may include the cost of repairs, a rental car, or – if the vehicle is totaled – its fair market value.

What Damages and Compensation Am I Entitled to Recover After an Atlanta Trucking Accident?

Georgia law allows you to be fully compensated for your harms and losses.

Damages and compensation you may recover in a personal injury claim include:

Economic Damages

  • Medical expenses and bills. This includes air and ground ambulance bills, emergency room care, hospitalization, doctor and clinic visits, surgery, and rehabilitation. You are entitled to recover all past and future medical costs.
  • Lost pay. You may be compensated for all of the time you miss from work while you recover from your injuries. In severe injury cases, you may not be able to work as much or at all in the future. If this happens, you may recover future lost earnings, which can be estimated by expert witnesses.
  • Vehicle or property damage. This includes property damage to your car, pickup, or SUV, as well as the contents.

Non-Economic Damages

  • Pain and suffering. You are entitled compensation for past, present, and future pain and discomfort caused by your injuries. In cases of serious or catastrophic injury, this can be a large amount of money.
  • Lost enjoyment of life. When your injuries mean you can no longer enjoy certain parts of your life, you may seek compensation for those losses. Injuries that may fall into this category are loss of vision, hearing, or mobility, or brain injuries.

Wrongful Death

  • The value of a life. The heirs of a person killed in a trucking or commercial vehicle accident may bring a wrongful death claim. The amount awarded is to represent the full value of the life lost. This can include future enjoyment of life and the money the victim would have earned in his or her life.

Learn more about Georgia Wrongful Death Claims.

Statistical graphic: in 2018 eleven-percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths occurred in large truck crashes

Cases Our Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers Handle

Semi-Truck or Tractor-Trailer Accidents:

Statistical graphic: in 2018 seventy-four-percent of deaths in large truck crashes involved tractor-trailer type trucks

Semi-trucks, also known as tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, or big-rigs, are the largest and most complex accident cases many lawyers handle.

Large trucks are regulated by federal and state Rules, primarily through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The State of Georgia regulates tractor-trailers and other commercial trucks through Volume 32 of the Georgia Code and the GA Department of Public Safety.

Manufacturers of large semi-tractors include Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt, International, Volvo, Mack, and Mercedes-Benz. Among these, Freightliner trucks are the most commonly involved in fatal truck accidents.

Claims Against Delivery Companies:

Our truck accident lawyers often have ongoing injury cases against large delivery companies, including UPS, FedEx, Amazon, Walmart, and others. Every day their trucks and drivers are involved in crashes that cause injuries.

Many of these companies have GPS trackers, electronic communication systems, and dash cameras. Who was at-fault in an accident with a large commercial delivery carrier can sometimes be proven by reviewing these data and recordings.

Additionally, many of the large delivery companies are registered and operate as motor common or contract carriers, with federal registration numbers, like UPS and FedEx Ground.

It is important to send proper notice demanding the trucking company preserves all electronic data, trip records, and camera recordings.

Dump Truck Accidents:

Most dump trucks are heavy open-box trucks that use hydraulic lifts to “dump” or unload material they’re hauling. Dump trucks also have certain features that can contribute to crashes.

Here are some of the common causes of dump truck accidents

  • Dump trucks take longer to stop. Because dump trucks are designed to haul heavy loads, even unloaded, they take longer than passenger vehicles to stop.
  • Increased risk of tipping over. Dump trucks can tip over, especially when heavily loaded or when the truck bed is in the raised position.
  • Driving in tandem. It is not unusual to see dump trucks traveling in a line. This is well-known to contribute to chain-reaction collisions.
  • Falling objects and debris. Because dump trucks are usually open on top, accidents are often caused by materials and debris flying out of the top of the truck’s bed. Negligent failure to properly cover the open truck bed can cause objects to fall out of the truck, causing accidents.
  • Improper dump truck loading. Failing to balance or cover a load can cause instability and items to fall from the dump truck. If material, like sand or gravel, is not distributed properly on the truck, this can increase the potential for an accident or cause more injury after impact.
  • Negligent backing up. Dump trucks have limited rearward visibility. This means truck drivers might negligently back into traffic, other vehicles, or pedestrians and cause an accident. Dump truck operators are required to have special training to prevent these accidents.

Garbage Truck Accidents:

Statistical graphic: in 2018 sixty-two-percent of large truck occupants killed in multi-vehicle crashes, were in that collision with at least one other large truck

Garbage or trash trucks are similar to dump trucks but are not necessarily the same thing. These trucks transport garbage and debris to landfills and transfer stations. In Georgia, one of the largest private garbage truck operators is Waste Management, Inc.

Garbage trucks cause accidents by losing items out of the back due to negligent loading. O.C.G.A. 40-6-254 requires any person hauling a load to ensure it is adequately secured to prevent dropping or shifting. Other garbage truck accidents occur due to accidental opening or release because of mistakes or mechanical failure.

Box Truck Accidents:

Box trucks are everywhere on the roads and highways around Atlanta. A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required to drive a box truck that weighs more than 26,001 pounds. Poorly trained drivers or negligently maintained box trucks are the cause of many crashes and accidents.

  • Box truck rear-end crashes. Brake failures and distracted or tired drivers may cause rear-end collisions. These trucks weigh up to 33,000 pounds and are harder to stop than small trucks. After a wreck involving a box truck, always request the brake maintenance records, phone and GPS records, and delivery route logs.
  • Box truck rollovers. Due to their size and height, box truck rollover accidents are extremely common. The most frequent cause of rollover is driver error or a poorly trained or unqualified truck driver. Rollovers are often caused by swerving or making a sharp turn without slowing down enough.
  • Loading and unloading incidents. Box trucks are one of the most popular ways to move cargo locally. Therefore, many on-the-job injuries occur during the loading and unloading process. Employees of the trucking or shipping company or warehouse may be found to be at-fault in such accidents.

Refrigerator Truck Accidents:

Refrigerator trucks, also known as reefer trucks, tend to be larger and heavier than other trucks. This is because they consist of refrigerated cargo boxes, requiring more equipment.

  • Accidents caused by negligent maintenance. Refrigerator trucks usually require more inspection than many other trucks of similar size. These trucks are heavier than most other box trucks. Therefore, their brakes need to be in better shape.
  • Refrigerated semi-trucks. Many long-haul refrigerated trucks are heavily loaded semi-trailers. Long-haul reefer truck drivers are often on a tight schedule because they are carrying perishable food. After an accident with a refrigerated truck, always request the manifests, delivery schedule, and driving logs. The truck driver may be in violation of hours of service or weight requirements.

Tow Truck Accidents:

Tow trucks may also be called wreckers or car haulers. Negligent or improper loading of these trucks is often the cause of accidents that cause severe injuries. Tow vehicle accidents are also caused by pulling overweight loads. Some accidents are due to equipment breaks to chains or winches used to fasten loads.

Special care and training are required to secure cars or pickup trucks properly. This is to prevent vehicles from detaching from a wrecker or falling or rolling from the hauler. A company that fails to provide this training to drivers may be negligent or at-fault for an injury.

In Georgia, tow trucks qualify as a commercial motor vehicle under state O.C.G.A. 40-1-1 and federal law 49 CFR 390.5.. A tow truck hauling a car usually weighs more than 10,000 pounds. Additionally, a commercial driver’s license is required to drive a tow truck in Georgia.

Tank Truck Accidents:

Tanker truck accidents may be caused by a truck that is overweight or liquids shifting or “sloshing” inside the tank. Drivers or companies may accidentally overload a tanker by failing to realize that some liquids weigh more than others. This results in the truck becoming unstable or taking longer to stop.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the highest percentage of fatal truck accidents involves tanker trucks and tractor-trailers (38%).

Truck drivers carrying flammable and hazardous materials, such as fuel and gasoline, are also required to pass specialized training and requirements.

Mobile Crane Accidents:

Cranes are complex machines that require specific training and maintenance. Crane accidents on highways or construction sites happen due to tip-overs, negligent loading and lifting, and maintenance issues.

According to the federal government, the most frequent causes of crane accidents are unsecured loads, exceeding load capacity, and operating on ground that is too soft or not level.

Mobile cranes are prone to boom collapses and falling over when loads exceed capacity, or when the crane is not rigged correctly.

Additionally, cranes have frequently caused electrocutions when they touch power lines. Other catastrophic crane injuries occur from booms striking workers or during the assembly and disassembly process.

A company operating cranes without fully training its workers or regularly and adequately maintaining its equipment may be liable when an injury happens.

Cherry Picker, Boom Truck and Bucket-Truck Accidents:

Accidents and falls from cherry pickers, bucket trucks, and other boom-supported machinery are generally due to falls or improper vehicle operation. In some instances, booms and aerial lifts have failed or collapsed due to mechanical failure or the removal of safety devices.

Deaths from cherry pickers and aerial lift from falls and tip-overs happen for many reasons. These accidents are often found to have been caused by impact with objects close to the boom or bucket, by operating on unstable ground, and by over-extending the arms.

Sadly, many injuries and wrongful deaths from cherry pickers could have been prevented if workers were wearing proper fall protection harnesses.

Large Passenger Van Accidents:

Commercial passenger vans are large 12 and 15 person vans. They are operated frequently by tour companies, park and ride services, and taxi and limo companies. Churches and colleges may also operate these vehicles.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, these large vans are cumbersome vehicles that present a safety risk to inexperienced drivers and their passengers.

The risk of passenger van accidents can be lowered by avoiding overloading, checking tire pressure, not placing cargo on the roof, and simply a cautious driver. Passenger vans are generally not as stable as smaller cars and vans. Control is more easily lost when a van driver is speeding, drowsy, or runs one or more tires off the road.

Logging Truck Accidents:

In Georgia, logging trucks cause some of the most horrific and catastrophic accidents. Unfortunately, there are many reasons for this, including unsophisticated and underfunded “trucking companies” who fail to put safety first.

On Georgia’s interstate highways, log trucks are limited to 80,000 pounds, which is lower than the usual tractor-trailer weight limit.

  • Lowered safety requirements. In Georgia, federal safety regulations do not govern most logging trucks. This means that our lawyers find that log trucks are often negligently maintained, operated by unqualified drivers, or both.
  • Negligent loading and overloading. Unlike other products hauled by trucks, logs usually overhang the end of the truck bed. Logs are also uneven in size and diameter. These trucks also frequently lack the required safety lights and warning flags. This makes log trucks uniquely difficult to see at night and in dim lighting.

Flatbed and Lowboy Truck Accidents:

A flatbed truck has a bed that attaches directly to the cab or pulled behind the tractor as a trailer. Loads on larger trucks are usually secured by straps hooked around the edges of the flatbed. Flatbed car haulers are commonly used as tow trucks.

Here are examples of common causes of these accidents.

  • Shifting and falling loads. One major risk and cause of accidents is negligent loading. This is why semi-flatbed trucks have largely been replaced by container trucks or pallet loads. A negligently secured load may shift or fall off the truck, causing serious accidents. Cars may be hit by tumbling debris, and chain-reaction pile-ups can occur if many vehicles slam on their brakes.
  • Items falling from low trailer beds. Objects tumbling from flatbed trailers can be incredibly dangerous. As a result, the FMCSA enacted more stringent rules and regulations for securing cargo. Trucking and shipping companies must ensure cargo is firmly secured by structures of adequate strength, and packed with loose materials or bags, shoring bars, tie-downs, or a combination of these things.

Concrete Mixer Accidents:

Concrete trucks, also known as cement trucks, are large, heavy, and difficult to maneuver.

  • Rear-end crashes and failures to stop. Under federal law, concrete trucks are limited to 48,000 pounds on interstate highways. But, more often, cement trucks traveling on state highways and roads weigh even more. Heavily weighted concrete trucks cannot stop quickly in an emergency. This can be dangerous around a sharp bend or if a car pulls out of a driveway just over a hillcrest.
  • Speeding and driver error. Cement truck drivers are often under enormous time constraints. They must get their loads to job sites while the concrete is still useable. This means truck drivers may be tempted to speed. After a cement truck accident, it is important to find out where the truck was loaded and the location of the job site. This information can help determine if the driver was speeding to get there on time.
  • Other cement truck accidents. According to OSHA, some of the most common job site cement mixer accidents include being crushed in the cement mixer, being caught in the gate and chute of the mixer, or being injured by the rotating drum.

Forklift Accidents:

The U.S. Department of Labor defines forklifts as powered industrial trucks. These accidents are most often caused by negligent driving and operation of the forklift on job sites or warehouse environments. OSHA has special standards governing forklifts and powered industrial trucks.

  • Negligent forklift driving accidents. Improper or quick turns, excessive speed in crowded areas, poor visibility in workplaces, and inexperience cause most accidents.
  • Lack of proper safety equipment. In most buildings, loading docks, or job sites, forklifts are required to have flashing safety lights and audible alarms. However, negligent companies or operators may fail to maintain the equipment, resulting in collisions with pedestrians and other vehicles.
  • Dropped payload accidents. Injuries caused by objects or falling loads usually happen when a load is lifted to heights above the operator or victim’s head. A counterbalanced forklift is more likely to have a falling load incident than a hand truck because it can lift a much higher load. The majority of these incidents result in injury to pedestrians or the forklift operator.

Rental Truck Accidents:

Rental trucks are box trucks owned by a rental company, such as U-Haul or Penske. But large hardware stores and other businesses may rent these trucks as well.

  • Inexperienced drivers cause rental truck accidents. According to a 2014 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, around 40% of rental truck crashes were the driver’s fault. Less than 6% of crashes were due to a defect with the rental truck itself.
  • Why are so many rental truck accidents the fault of the rental driver? In a word, inexperience. Even the smallest rental truck is typically larger than the average car or pickup truck. The size, wider turning radius, and longer stopping distance make driving these trucks very dangerous for the casual renter.
  • Insurance and rental trucks. Rental companies offer add-on insurance that may cover your accident with a rental truck. The driver’s personal automobile policy may cover the driver as well. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage may also be available to cover your injury or property damage claim.

Other Commercial Vehicle Cases Our Truck Accident Lawyers Handle:

What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?  Both Georgia Law and the Federal Government define a commercial motor vehicle (or CMV) as a vehicle that can be self-propelled or towed and has an actual weight or weight-rating equal to or greater than 10,001 lbs.  Georgia has adopted this part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules for intra-state transportation.

Our law firm has handled a variety of other trucking accident cases involving:

  • Alcohol delivery trucks
  • U.S. Postal Service (USPS) cases
  • Sam’s Club
  • Costco
  • Grocery stores (Kroger, Publix, Flash Foods, and more)
  • Moving companies/moving vans
  • Catering and food trucks
  • Fuel trucks
  • Movie production trucks
  • Service vans (such as AT&T and cable companies)
  • Coke and Pepsi delivery trucks
  • Pest control trucks and vans
  • Big-box store trucks and vans
  • Bread trucks

Holding Negligent Trucking and Delivery Companies Accountable

Negligent operators (companies) are often the cause of serious crashes:

While driver-error is almost always a factor, many commercial truck, bus, and van accidents happen because of trucking company negligence. In many cases, the owner or operator negligently allows certain violations to occur. These “associated factors” in large truck crashes include negligently or intentionally allowing drivers to drive longer than the maximum allowable hours by law, brake problems, and poorly supervised drivers. Broken rules are among the most common underlying causes of truck accidents.

Use federal regulations and driving manuals to prove your case against a trucking company:

Federal safety regulations (FMCSA) apply to commercial trucks and vehicles that weigh at least 10,000 pounds and transport people or property from one state to another (known as interstate commerce).

Finding negligence through the FMCSR:

In almost every trucking accident case, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations should be examined. This can help determine whether the trucker or company complied with these critical safety rules. Some courts have found that violations of the FMCSR can be used to prove negligence.

Additionally, the driver’s personnel file, commercial driver’s license, and trucking company driving manuals should be examined. It is important to establish if a trucker violated any standards. It should also be verified that basic driving skills and knowledge requirements were met under state and federal law.

Negligent maintenance causes many truck accidents:

Trucking companies and drivers are required to keep inspection and maintenance records. Worn and defective brakes, poorly maintained tractors or trailers, and worn-out tires cause hundreds of truck and commercial vehicle wrecks each year. It is not uncommon for an investigation to determine that the cause of a large-truck accident was poor vehicle maintenance. These issues include brake failures, bald tires, or other safety or equipment failures. It is, therefore, important to have the truck inspected by an expert. They can determine the mechanical condition of the truck.

Trucking company records should also be reviewed:

Negligence can be discovered by carefully reviewing driver and maintenance logs. In one case, even though the tires mysteriously disappeared, our firm was able to determine from company records that the truck’s 50,000-mile tires had not been replaced for over 85,000 miles. This supported a Georgia state patrol report indicating that the tires were bald.

Failure to train and supervise drivers:

Trucking companies are required by law to hire only properly qualified and trained truck drivers. Carriers must maintain a driver qualification file showing that drivers have been trained and tested on how to operate their vehicles safely.

Negligent failure to monitor truckers’ driving logs. Trucking supervisors and safety directors are required to monitor and audit driving logs. This ensures that drivers are not routinely speeding or exceeding the legally-allowed driving hours for safe operation. Failure to monitor driving practices is surprisingly common. An unsupervised driver may be tempted to ignore safety rules and protocols.

Statistical graphic: in 2018 thirty-one-percent of occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes with a large truck were in vehicles struck head-on by the truck

Investigation and Building a Strong Trucking Accident Case

Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer

An investigation should begin as soon as possible:

Investigations into the cause of a commercial truck or tractor-trailer crash should begin as soon as possible. Atlanta truck accident lawyers can be hired within hours.

If lawyers are hired shortly after an accident involving a serious catastrophic injury or death, the firm can immediately send highly qualified experts to the scene. These experts are usually retired law-enforcement officers who take measurements and photographs and preserve available physical evidence.

Infographic: Examples of medical expenses that are important to document if you incur them after a motor vehicle accident

Gather and preserve proper documentation:

In all serious trucking, bus, and large commercial vehicle cases, it is important to review law enforcement records, interview witnesses, inspect the vehicles (when available), and send notices to the owners and operators to save and turn-over records. Failing to request that truckers and their companies preserve records could result in loss or destruction of crucial evidence.

Trucking expert review and investigation:

In almost all serious trucking cases, our firm has the trucks and other involved vehicles examined by a traffic collision or accident reconstruction expert. Additionally, data from GPS, communication devices, and dash cameras or recorders are reviewed.

Receipts, manifests, and other records are gathered to verify information. This can help determine if the driving logs match what the driver is saying regarding where he/she was before the wreck. Other contributing factors, such as fatigue, truck inspections, and driver training, are all examined.

Trucking company safety record:

A carrier’s safety ratings should be reviewed.

What is the company or carrier’s Safety Measurement Score (SMS)? Did the company know of a history of accidents or reckless driving? Does the company have a history of failing safety inspections or operating improperly loaded or overweight trucks?

Negotiation and Settlement of Trucking Cases

An elegantly decorated and inviting legal office at The Millar Law Firm

Negotiation, settlement, or trial:

Fair compensation in your trucking case can usually only be determined once all the facts and your final medical condition are known. Although some cases can be settled, it is important that the defense be presented with a strong demand package. They should know your willingness to file a lawsuit and take the case to trial, if necessary. Showing how serious you are can help you obtain the best settlement.

When we consult with our clients or their families, a demand presentation is usually prepared and sent to the company and its insurance carrier. Attempts will be made to settle for a fair amount, and only with your consent. If negotiation is not successful, the case may be filed or prepared for trial.

Rules and Regulations Controlling Atlanta Area Truck Accident Cases

Who regulates trucks in and around Atlanta?

The large tractor-trailers you see on Atlanta’s roads are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA publishes a Field Operators Training Manual and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Interstate trucking on public roads is also overseen by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Truck operations on private property are generally controlled by the employer or operator.

A few common terms used in trucking cases and the industry:

Motor carrier: This is the person or company being paid to transport goods or passengers for compensation. FMCSA 390.5, Definitions.

The State of Georgia defines a motor carrier as any carrier operating a commercial motor vehicle except school buses; federal, state, and local government vehicles; and ambulances, fire, and rescue vehicles.

Freight broker: A freight broker is a company or person, other than the motor carrier, that arranges for and assigns transportation of property to a motor carrier. In some cases, the freight broker may have liability or an additional layer of insurance coverage. FMCSA 371.2.

US DOT: The U.S. Department of Transportation.

Commercial truck or vehicle: A commercial truck is a motor vehicle used for interstate commerce. These vehicles weigh more than 10,000 pounds or are used to transport more than eight passengers for pay or more than 15 people for any reason. FMCSA 390.5, Definitions.

Interstate commerce: This means trade, transportation, or traffic that crosses state lines or the United States border. FMCSA 390.5, Definitions.

Truck tractor: A commercial vehicle designed or used mainly for pulling other vehicles. FMCSA 390.5, Definitions.

Semi-trailer: A trailer designed so that some part of its weight sits upon the tow vehicle. FMCSA 390.5, Definitions.

Truck: Georgia law defines a “truck” as a vehicle with more than six wheels. Exceptions are buses or motor-coach. O.C.G.A. 40-6-52.

Truck operating lanes: Under Georgia law, a truck must drive in one of the two right lanes on any road, highway, or street with three or more lanes in the same direction. Trucks should only use the left-most lane when making or preparing to turn left or when passing (overtaking) another car, truck, or bus. O.C.G.A. 40-6-52.

Atlanta Trucking, Bus, and Commercial Vehicle Laws

The City of Atlanta has certain laws (municipal ordinances) that relate to trucks and other commercial motor vehicles. These include:

  • Atlanta truck traffic is not allowed inside the I-285 perimeter – C.G.A. 40-6-51. By Georgia law, trucks traveling on interstates 75, 85, and I-20 must take I-285 around Atlanta unless making a pickup or delivery inside Interstate 285, going to a repair shop, or the driver is going to or from his or her home. O.C.G.A. 40-6-51.
  • Stopping, standing, or parking on a sidewalk or public right of way – Sec. 150-99. A vehicle with a trailer or semi-trailer with two axles or six or more tires with a gross weight of 36,000 pounds or more may not be stopped or parked, even attended, on any part of a sidewalk or public right of way except to comply with law enforcement. Atl. Sec. 150-99.
  • Trucks prohibited on some streets – Atlanta Sec. 150-240. A truck tractor or semi-trailer truck may not be operated on streets with signs prohibiting trucks, except when making a delivery or picking up cargo and by traveling the most direct route to and from the location. Atlanta Sec. 150-240.
  • Restrictions for trucks, buses – Sec. 150-97(a). A truck or other freight-carrying vehicle larger than one-half ton may not park on a public street or highway for longer than one hour during the day. Atl. Sec. 150-97 (a).
  • Attendant required – Sec. 150-97(b). A truck or bus more than eight feet wide or 10 feet tall must have a driver or attendant present while stopped on any street or public place. Atl. Sec. 150-97(b).

When is a Commercial Driver’s License or CDL Required in Georgia?

There is no requirement that a driver have a CDL to operate a commercial vehicle that weighs less than 26,000 pounds, unless the vehicle is designed to transport 16 or more persons or is a hazmat truck.  To learn more, you may want to review FMCSR at 49 C.F.R. Part 383, which controls CDL standards.  Georgia law matches the federal standards and can be found at O.C.G.A. 40-5-142 and O.C.G.A. 40-5-146.

Common Causes of Truck Driving Accidents In and Near Atlanta

Around the Georgia area, the most common causes of commercial vehicle accidents include following too closely, driving too fast for conditions, and brake failures.

Factors associated with large truck crashes: The US government studied hundreds of factors related to big truck accidents. Here are the top 10 causes that were found:

  • Brake issues
  • Traffic congestion from slow-downs and earlier crashes
  • Prescription drugs
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Drivers who were not familiar with the road or highway being driven
  • Defects with the road surface
  • Failure to stop for a traffic light or crosswalk
  • Taking over the counter drugs
  • Failing to pay attention
  • Drowsy driving
The Millar Law Firm, representing people harmed by negligent commercial truckers

Distracted and speeding truck drivers: Hundreds of semi-truck accidents happen due to truck drivers distracted by eating, texting, or streaming videos or other media instead of paying attention to traffic. Anyone who has driven on I-285, I-85, I-75, I-20, and other state roads and interstates around Atlanta knows that traffic frequently slows and stops. When drivers are not paying attention, these sudden stops can cause rear-end crashes and pile-ups. This is also the case when drivers are speeding and cannot stop in time.

Truck driver behaviors, such as distracted driving or speeding, can be proven using cell phone records and onboard electronic data recorders.

Texting truckers: State and federal law prohibit commercial truck and bus drivers from texting. Violators may be fined up to $2,750.

Blind spots: Most trucks are massive, heavy vehicles that have larger blind spots than passenger cars and trucks. Inexperienced, unqualified, tired truckers or drivers under pressure to deliver faster may neglect to change lanes carefully. This can lead to pinching, wrecking, or crushing a smaller car or truck.

Prescription and over-the-counter drug use: Both prescription and other legal drugs can affect a driver’s perception, reaction, and judgment. Bad reactions to even over-the-counter medications can lead to dangerous driving situations.

Certain prescription and non-prescription drugs are prohibited under the FMCSA and will disqualify a commercial motor vehicle driver. These include amphetamines, narcotics, and anti-seizure medications. See also 21 CFR 1308.11 (391.42(b)(12).

Truckers driving too fast for conditions: As “professional drivers,” some truckers over-estimate their skills. Under federal safety rules, even a highly experienced trucker must reduce speed in inclement weather, such as rain, fog, or icy conditions. Unfortunately, due to over-confidence, being in a hurry, or improper training, some truck drivers do not slow down. This can cause otherwise avoidable collisions.

Speeding truckers: Truckers are notoriously running-late. This results in accidents caused by risky and aggressive driving and speeding.

The speed of a tractor-trailer truck at and just before a crash can often be determined by downloading data from onboard computer systems. These “black box” or Event Data Recorder (EDR) systems are found in trucks and most modern cars. The black box can be a silent witness in court. It can provide information including speed before impact, engine RPMs, exactly how many seconds or milliseconds before the crash the driver hit the brakes, and other important information.

Driver awareness and fatigue: A trucker’s in-service hours are strictly regulated by the FMCSA. This is because it is well known that sleepy and tired truckers are a leading cause of wrecks. Government studies show that truck drivers who are fatigued suffer from slower reaction times, difficulty paying attention, and poor judgment.

It is essential to examine a trucker’s electronic and paper logs, as well as dispatch and other records. These reports can determine if the company complied with federal regulations. A driver who is exceeding the hours of service regulations is far more likely to be drowsy or fall asleep behind the wheel.

Truck driver health issues: A 2015 report by the CDC found that many long-haul truck drivers, those whose routes require them to sleep away from home, have serious health issues. Research showed that over two-thirds of truckers were obese and that nearly half are at risk of heart disease, sleep apnea, and other health conditions.

Other studies have found there is a link between a trucker’s health and an increased risk of a truck crash.

Improper cargo loading and over-sized loads: Overweight trucks take longer to stop. This means they may not be able to stop in time to avoid striking another vehicle stopped in traffic. Overloaded and overweight violations often go hand-in-hand with truck accidents.

In some cases, the cargo has not been properly secured and shifts, causing the truck driver to lose control. Sometimes the cargo even falls off the truck, causing other traffic to crash. Industry experts or engineers can help determine if negligent loading was the cause of an accident.

Aggressive driving and following too closely: In and around Atlanta, many truckers drive aggressively, get frustrated with slow-moving traffic, and follow too close. Because of the truck size and weight, they are often unable to stop when traffic suddenly slows.

Aggressive driving intended to intimidate another motorist may be considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor under GA ST §40-6-397(a), (b).

Truckers may try to blame you or other cars for suddenly slamming on brakes. However, truckers have a duty to follow at a distance that allows them to stop safely, even if you or other traffic slows in front of them. The speed of truckers compared to other traffic can sometimes be proven by downloading information from the electronic control module (ECM) in the vehicle.

Truckers required medical exam: Truck drivers are required to pass periodic fit for duty medical examinations, known as a DOT physical. A trucker’s driving file can be examined to determine whether a physical exam was completed.

Specific health issues can disqualify a trucker from continuing to drive. These conditions include certain heart problems, epilepsy or conditions that can cause loss of consciousness, vertigo, Meniere’s disease, and vision or hearing loss. At a doctor’s discretion, other medical concerns can also disqualify a driver.

Brake and tire failure: When trucks are unable to stop, or they lose control, factors other than driver error should be examined. A trucking operator or company is required to keep the truck, especially tractor-trailers, in a proper and safe condition.

Insufficient maintenance and service: Repair, general maintenance, and inspection records should be requested and examined. A good accident reconstruction expert may also be able to determine whether tire or brake issues were the proximate (primary) cause of the crash.

Statistical graphic: in 2018 twenty-two-percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes occurred in crashes with large trucks

Underride collisions: This is a specific type of accident that involves a car sliding under a large truck, often a semi- or tractor-trailer. The DOT requires trailers to have an under-ride guard, which is a safety bar. However, these are not currently required to be inspected.

Injuries in these crashes are often severe, sometimes involving death by decapitation. The victims usually do not see the truck until the last moment, if at all. The critical evidence is usually whether the truck had proper reflective taping, safety lights, and reflectors.

Atlanta Resources After a Truck Accident

One of the first things that your truck accident lawyer and law firm will do is obtain the police report and other investigative records. You can also do some of this on your own. To help you, here is a list of useful legal resources:

How to request and obtain an Atlanta truck accident report. If you’ve been involved in a crash with a truck in Atlanta or anywhere in Georgia, state law allows you to request and receive a motor vehicle accident report if:

  • You have a personal or business connection to the accident
  • You’re an owner or have an interest in the property damaged
  • You were injured or a witness to the accident
  • You are an insurance company or law enforcement officer

O.C.G.A. 50-18-72 (a)(5).

BuyCrash.com: The BuyCrash website allows you to request truck and van accident reports from many Atlanta areas and counties. There’s no need to go through your local law enforcement agency. Not all reports are available on BuyCrash.com, but it is a good place to start.

Fulton County police reports for trucking cases: Fulton County’s Records and Reports Office is located at 141 Pryor Street SW, Atlanta, GA, 30303. The telephone number is 404-613-5700.

Truck accident reports from the Atlanta Police Department: The APD Central Records Unit is where all traffic and incident reports created by Atlanta’s police officers are maintained. Police reports can be requested and received at Atlanta Public Safety Annex, 3493 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy NW, Atlanta, GA, 30331. The telephone number is 404-546-7461.

Georgia State Patrol (GSP) tractor-trailer crash reports: When your accident was investigated by a Georgia State Trooper (aka State Patrol), you may request a crash report from Georgia Department of Public Safety, Open Records Unit, P.O. Box 1456, Atlanta, GA, 30371. The telephone number is 404-624-7591.

Georgia State Patrol Offices Near Atlanta: Georgia has 52 GSP Troop and Post locations across the state. We won’t list them all here. Post 48 services Atlanta inside of I-285 and Clayton, Dekalb, Cobb, and Fulton Counties. It is located at 4005 Fulton Industrial Blvd, Atlanta, GA, 30336. Phone number: 404-699-4368.

Statistical graphic: in 2018 nearly all, ninety-six-percent, of vehicle occupants killed in crashes that involved a passenger vehicle and a large truck were occupants of the passenger vehicle

Georgia’s specialized collision reconstruction team of Atlanta: After a fatal trucking accident (wrongful death), the GA State Patrol sends a group of highly trained officers known as the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT) to investigate the accident scene. It is important to get the full report any time that the SCRT team is involved in an accident investigation. SCRT reports can be obtained through the GA State Patrol using the Georgia Open Records Act.

How to Choose the Best Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney

How to choose the best Atlanta truck accident lawyer for your truck accident case: It is important to carefully screen your truck accident lawyer to make sure he or she has actual experience handling tractor-trailer truck crash cases.

Trucking case experience matters: Some truck accident lawyers may lack experience in commercial truck cases. Therefore, they may not know all the steps to take to find and preserve the evidence needed to prove all parts of the case. They may settle every claim out of court.

Ask the right questions: Has your attorney or law firm settled every trucking case without filing suit? Or has he or she filed suit, gone through discovery, and taken a trucking case to trial?

Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer and Law Firm That Specializes in Commercial Vehicle Accidents

There is a big difference between a rear-end crash caused by a trucker who was not paying attention and one caused by a big-rig brake failure due to improper maintenance. Make sure your personal injury lawyer knows the difference.

Are you hiring a Georgia law firm? Some law firms that advertise heavily on TV and along the interstate highways in Atlanta are not even based in Georgia. Many of the cases they take on are simply farmed out to local truck accident lawyers or settled for less-than-full value.

Please do not choose an attorney at random or based solely on television advertisements. Read online reviews and ask your friends, family, and other lawyers who they would recommend.

Does your firm have a reputation for litigating trucking cases?

Truck insurance defense attornies and commercial trucking companies know which law firms file suits and take cases to trial. They’re also aware of which lawyers refer out cases or settle for less-than-full value.

The Millar Law Firm has been litigating trucking cases and achieving top results for a quarter-century.

Our attorneys have special training and experience in large truck, van, bus, and other commercial vehicle cases. We do not handle non-injury cases such as criminal, bankruptcy, or family law.

We believe in specialization. This is why year after year, we attend cutting-edge trial and injury-case legal seminars. We also hire the best medical, accident reconstruction, and economic experts to achieve top results.

View from outside The Millar Law Firm building

Put Our Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers to Work for You

Your truck accident case is too important to be left to chance. Hiring a law firm that is unfamiliar with Georgia or the metro Atlanta area could put you at a strategic disadvantage. You are likely to be faced with insurance adjusters or truck accident defense lawyers who are familiar with the judges and jury pools in the Atlanta area.

No Attorney’s Fees Will Be Charged Unless We Recover Money

Trucking cases can be expensive due to the need to investigate and hire the best experts. At The Millar Law Firm, we do not charge any attorneys’ fees unless your truck injury case results in a recovery of money for you.

Truck Accident Injuries We Have Handled in the Atlanta Area

Walking up to The Millar Law Firm entrance

We handle a number of tractor-trailer and commercial truck accident cases each year. Here are just a few examples of some of the recent truck accident injury claims we’ve handled in metro-Atlanta.

Hand injury to a delivery-room nurse: One of our clients was a delightful young nurse who worked in the hospital delivery ward. When she was hit by a truck, she suffered an unfortunate hand injury, which left her unable to hold new-born infants safely. Our law firm was able to recover the trucking company’s policy limits, which allowed her to seek re-training for a new nursing position.

Wrongful death of a local firefighter: A local firefighter was killed when a large pickup truck owned by a manufacturing company hydroplaned and struck his car head-on. The investigation determined that the truck had bald tires and had been driven 30,000-40,000 miles beyond the recommended distance. The firm recovered several million dollars for the client’s family.

Ivory Roberson, Esq. working at the computer

Neck disk-replacement surgery, truck under-ride collision: In this case, a tanker-truck pulled out of a business entrance in front of our client’s small truck. The trucking company tried to blame our client for failing to stop. However, investigation determined the tanker-truck was missing important safety reflective tape. Our client underwent disk-replacement surgery at C4-5. Shortly before trial, the case settled for several hundred thousand dollars.

Rear-end tractor-trailer crash on I-285: Our firm was able to use the truck’s forward-pointing and cabin cams to prove that the trucker was distracted. The trucker was eating lunch and did not stop when traffic suddenly slowed in front of him. Our client suffered a broken leg. The firm was able to recover the trucking company’s insurance limits.

These are just a few examples of our successful cases. Feel free to ask us more about our experience.

Examples of Recent Truck Accidents in and near Atlanta

  1. I-85 South ramp to I-285 West shut down after tractor trailer overturns in Dekalb County, Georgia
  2. Dashcam records semi-truck running a red light, flipping over, and landing on top of a police car at the intersection of Windy Hill Road and Atlanta Road near Smyrna, Georgia.
  3. Driver killed in accident involving an SUV and trash truck on Washington Road, Georgia Highway 10, in McDuffie County, Georgia.