Experience Matters More in Trucking Cases

Commercial trucks typically weigh many tons more than a standard car or passenger vehicle, and this extra size can create high-force collisions even at relatively low speeds, which often means more damages for victims. In addition, different legal and evidentiary issues and safety standards come into play when an accident involves a professional driver working for a trucking company. Thus, truck accidents tend to be far more complex and involve more severe injuries than “regular” car accident claims. what to do after an Atlanta or Georgia trucking accident. 

Truck accidents are different

In the event of a car accident, it is often easy for one party (the injured) to pursue legal action against another who may have been responsible in some way. With commercial truck accidents however there can be numerous parties negligent including not just drivers and their respective companies but also manufacturers/ownership groups as well cargo haulers with their own insurer(ies). This makes pursuing damages more difficult on behalf of those individuals suffering physical injuries or property damage because they must prove each individual actor’s negligence when dealing strictly with mass-scale events rather than focusing only personal Injury claims like what typically happens during typical auto collisions where an attorney will specialize solely.

In addition, there are extensive federal and state rules and regulations governing how commercial trucks are operated and maintained, and violations of these rules may help show liability. Trucking companies are monitored for safe operation via Department of Transportation (DOT) Safety Ratings (SAFER) and required to comply with federal rules established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Under these rules, trucking companies must keep proof of financial responsibility, hours of service recordshazardous materials recordsdriver qualification filesrecords of vehicle inspection and maintenancedrug and alcohol testing records, and more, and a skilled attorney knows what to look for and how to get that information.

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.

Many  commercial trucks have GPS trackers, electronic communication systems, and dash cameras that may prove what happened, though trucking companies may not turn over this information without a court order. Our attorneys know how to get this evidence from the company and hire experts to review these data and recordings to prove who was at fault in an accident with a large commercial carrier. 

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

Through our many years of experience handling injury cases, our attorneys have learned that most truck accidents happen because of poor safety training, negligent maintenance, and bad driving habits. 

However, we have found that some truck accidents may be caused by 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 FMCSR? 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 seek answers to when building a strong liability claim against the trucking company. 

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 sending a truck accident lawyer and investigators to the scene of the crash. At the scene, they will collect evidence, examine the truck, interview witnesses, take photos and videos, and more.

The investigation team will also review electronic data and prepare an extensive report detailing all the information they find to help determine the cause of the accident and whether any safety rules or protocols were violated. The defense attorney or investigation team may claim that any information or evidence found by the company is legally 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.

While the data or information they uncover during the investigation may belong to the trucking company, however, a skilled truck accident lawyer can force the company to turn over its records during the discovery process once a lawsuit is filed.

How to prove and win your trucking case: First Steps

After an accident, the trucking company will take steps to protect itself and begin investigating immediately. The best way for you to protect yourself is having your own attorney start investigating your claim as soon as possible. Having an attorney who knows what evidence should exist, and in which formats, is critical to proving what caused the wreck.

Experienced attorneys will obtain all reports and retain an  expert to determine what happened. They will also take steps to preserve the trucking company’s GPS data, electronic communications, logs, daily inspection reports, and trip records. 

Because the trucking company’s records and investigative report can provide the best evidence of causation, it’s  important that your attorney sends proper notice demanding that the trucking company preserves all electronic data, trip records, and recordings. This type of information belongs to the trucking company, so it will often refuse to turn it over voluntarily.

Your attorney can obtain these records through discovery if you file a lawsuit, but valuable information may be lost, destroyed, or altered in the meantime if the trucking company is not quickly put on notice that it must be preserved. Sending specific legal notices, called a spoliation letter, is the best way to ensure evidence is preserved while you and your attorney are building your case. Making sure you have access to all the evidence is key to proving your truck accident claim.

Your Right to Fair and Complete Compensation

If you have been hurt in a truck accident, you have the legal right to bring a claim against the trucker, the trucking company, the insurance company, or any other responsible party. If the accident was not your fault, Georgia allows you to recover expenses such as medical treatment, lost pay if you have been or will be unable to work, and compensation for past and future pain and suffering. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you calculate all the economic and noneconomic damages you are entitled to recover.

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

Under Georgia law, victims are allowed to recover full compensation for losses caused by an accident up to the trucking company’s insurance policy limits. A truck accident lawyer can help you recover the following damages in a personal injury claim compensation you may recover in a personal injury claim:

Economic Damages

  • 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.
  • 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 hired by your attorney.
  • This includes property damage to your car, pickup, or SUV, as well as the contents. Compensable property damage may include the cost of repairs, a rental car, or—if the vehicle is totaled—its fair market value.

Noneconomic Damages

  • You are entitled to compensation for past, present, and future pain and suffering caused by your injuries. In cases of serious or catastrophic injury, this can be a large amount of money.
  • 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.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not automatic in a Georgia truck accident claim and typically require evidence that proves some level of gross negligence, such as intoxicated or reckless driving. Punitive damages can also be awarded for road rage incidents, hit-and-runs, or intentionally caused accidents. To recover punitive damages, you and your attorney are responsible for proving that the driver acted in a malicious, violent, oppressive, wanton, or willfully indifferent manner.

When a truck driver makes a grossly negligent decision, like drunk driving, punitive damages may be presumed. Police reports, officer and patrol car videos, eyewitness testimony, and recorded conversations with dispatch are excellent sources of evidence to prove punitive damages. Driving records and safety history can also demonstrate whether the at-fault truck driver is a repeat offender and whether the trucking company had knowledge.

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 should represent the full value of the life lost. This can include future enjoyment of life and the money the victim would have earned in their life.

Cases Our Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers Handle

At The Millar Law Firm, our attorneys handle truck accident cases involving a large variety of commercial vehicles. In these types of claims, attorneys must analyze applicable federal and state regulations, including operation, weight, and licensing requirements.

Semi-Truck or Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Semi-trucks, also known as tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, or big-rigs, are the largest and most complex accident cases our lawyers handle because they may involve extensive damage, severe injuries, and multiple victims.

Claims against Delivery Companies

Our truck accident lawyers often have ongoing injury cases against large delivery companies, including UPS, FedEx, Amazon, Walmart, and others.  

Dump Truck Accidents

Some of the most common dump truck accident cases our attorneys handle are caused by falling debris, improper loading, driving in tandem, negligent backing up, difficulty stopping, and the truck tipping over.

Garbage Truck Accidents

Box Truck Accidents

 Refrigerator Truck Accidents

Refrigerator trucks, also known as reefer trucks, tend to be larger and heavier than other trucks because they contain refrigerated cargo boxes that require extra equipment. Many refrigerator truck accidents we handle involve negligent maintenance and violations of hours of service or weight requirements. 

Tow Truck Accidents

Negligent or improper loading of tow  trucks, also called wreckers or car haulers, is often the cause of accidents involving severe injuries in cases we handle.

 Tank Truck Accidents

Some tanker truck accidents we handle may be caused by liquids shifting or “sloshing” inside the tank. Drivers or companies may also accidentally overload a tanker by failing to realize that some liquids weigh more than others, which results in the truck becoming unstable or taking longer to stop. 

Mobile Crane Accidents

Crane accidents on highways or construction sites happen due to tip-overs, negligent loading and lifting, and maintenance issues. Our attorneys gather evidence to prove liability when a company causes someone injury by failing to adequately train its workers or maintain its equipment.

Cherry Picker, Boom Truck, and Bucket Truck Accidents

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

Large Passenger Van Accidents

Commercial passenger vans are large 12 and 15 person vans that are operated frequently by tour companies, park and ride services, taxi and limo companies, churches, and colleges. Our attorneys represent victims who have been injured because passenger vans were operated or maintained in a negligent manner.

 Logging Truck Accidents

Unfortunately, federal safety regulations do not govern most logging trucks, and many unsophisticated and underfunded trucking companies fail to put safety first. That means our lawyers often find these trucks are negligently maintained, loaded, and operated by unqualified drivers.

Flatbed and Lowboy Truck Accidents

A flatbed truck has a bed that attaches directly to the cab or is pulled behind the tractor as a trailer.  Our attorneys typically find that accidents involving these types of trucks are caused by negligent loading and unsecured cargo.

 Concrete Mixer Accidents

Concrete trucks, or cement trucks, are large, heavy, and difficult to maneuver. In most concrete truck cases we handle, accidents are caused by rear-end collisions, speeding, and other driver error.

Forklift Accidents

Forklifts are powered industrial trucks governed by special standards under OSHA. Our lawyers find that forklift accidents are most often caused by negligent driving and operation on job sites or warehouse environments, which may include speeding, quick turns, dropped payloads and lack of proper safety equipment.

 Rental Truck Accidents

Rental trucks are box trucks owned by a rental company, such as U-Haul or Penske.  In the cases our attorneys have handled, inexperienced drivers are usually at fault for causing the accident, given that the truck’s size, turning radius, and longer stopping distance can make driving more dangerous than the average car or SUV. 

Other Commercial Vehicle Cases Our Truck Accident Lawyers Handle

At The Millar Law Firm, we have extensive experience with many other types of commercial motor vehicle accidents.  Both Georgia law and the federal government define a 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.   

Each of the following cases our firm has handled meet this criteria:

  • cases
  • 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 our firm handles are caused by 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, maintenance problems, and poorly supervised drivers. If trucking company negligence was a factor in your accident, you and your attorney can hold the company liable for damages.

Use federal regulations, state laws, and local ordinancesto prove your case against a trucking company

Federal safety regulations 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). If you and your attorney can prove these regulations were violated, it can go a long way toward proving negligence in your injury case.

In addition, Georgia has its own set of laws that govern commercial vehicles, as does the city of Atlanta, and your truck accident attorney should be familiar with them. These state laws and local ordinances impose additional restrictions on commercial vehicles that go beyond federal regulations.

Negligent maintenance causes many truck accidents

Trucking companies and drivers are required to keep inspection and maintenance records, which our attorneys carefully examine during the investigation. Worn and defective brakes, poorly maintained tractors or trailers, and worn-out tires cause hundreds of truck and commercial vehicle wrecks each year.

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

By law, trucking companies must hire only properly qualified and trained truck drivers who meet basic driving skills and knowledge requirements. Carriers must maintain a driver qualification file showing that drivers are licensed and have been trained and tested on how to operate their vehicles safely.

Trucking supervisors and safety directors are also required to monitor and audit driving logs to ensure that drivers are not routinely speeding or exceeding the legally allowed driving hours for safe operation . Failure to monitor driving practices is surprisingly common in the cases we handle, and unsupervised drivers may be tempted to ignore safety rules and protocols.

Investigation and Building a Strong Trucking Accident Case

An investigation should begin as soon as possible

After an accident, the trucking company’s team goes to the scene immediately to investigate and collect evidence, giving it the upper hand in defending a claim. That is why it’s critical that your team’s investigation  into the cause of a 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.

Gather and preserve proper documentation

In all serious truck, bus, and other commercial vehicle cases, our attorneys 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.

Additionally, we hire experts to retrieve and review data from GPS, communication devices, and dash cameras or recorders. Our investigation team may be able to determine the speed of a truck before impact, engine RPMs, whether the driver braked, and other data by downloading data from onboard computer systems. This “black box” information is found in commercial trucks and most modern cars and can be crucial evidence at trial.

Our attorneys also gather receipts, manifests, and other records to verify information. This evidence can help determine whether the driving logs match what the driver is saying regarding where he/she was before the wreck. In addition, we examine other contributing factors, such as fatigue, truck inspections, and driver training.

Seek a medical evaluation immediately

Accidents involving commercial trucks often cause serious or catastrophic injuries to victims. However, not all serious injuries are evident in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Sometimes, it can take days or weeks for symptoms to develop or worsen, and victims may delay getting a medical evaluation or treatment. Unfortunately, the trucking company’s lawyer may use this delay as a reason to deny or reduce your compensation, arguing that your injuries were not serious or not caused by the accident.

Documenting your injuries and presenting medical records in your demand package is crucial. Well-prepared and well-documented cases where the victim received prompt medical treatment can usually be settled by an attorney without a lawsuit.

Trucking company safety record

An experienced truck accident attorney should always review the carrier’s safety ratings. If the company has a history of accidents and reckless driving, that evidence can help prove negligence in an injury case. A history of failing safety inspections or operating improperly loaded/overweight trucks can also support a negligence claim.

Negotiation and Settlement of Trucking Cases

Negotiation, settlement, or trial

Once all the facts and full extent of your medical condition is known, our attorneys can help determine fair compensation for your trucking case injuries. ir compensation. Although most cases can be settled out of court, it’s important that your attorneys present a good demand package to the trucking company representatives. They should know that your case is strong and you are willing to file a lawsuit and go to trial, if necessary.

Even when your attorney must file a lawsuit, very few cases actually make it to trial. With the right preparation and aggressive litigation, your suit is likely to settle once the trucking/insurance company makes a large enough offer.

How long does a typical truck accident case take in Atlanta?

Your attorney should avoid settling your truck accident injury claim until your medical care is complete or until your future condition and needs are known. The extent of your recovery, the amount of insurance available, and the facts of your case will all impact your compensation.

It takes time for your attorney to investigate your claim, gain access to the trucking company’s accident file, and evaluate which parties can be held liable for damages. Once liability is clear and the extent of your injuries is known, your attorney can make a settlement demand.

If the facts of your case are in dispute or the company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, a lawsuit may be necessary. Civil suits in the Atlanta area usually take one to two years after filing before they are called to trial. Once settlement is reached, cases are typically paid within weeks or months after a release is signed.

Common Causes of Truck Driving Accidents in and near Atlanta

Around the Atlanta area, the most common causes of commercial vehicle accidents our attorneys handle include the following:

  • Distracted driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Lane changes or blind spots
  • Driver health problems
  • Improper cargo loading and oversized loads
  • Aggressive driving/following too close
  • Insufficient maintenance or service
  • Faulty underride guard

Atlanta Resources after a Truck Accident

One of the first things that your truck accident lawyer will do is obtain the police report and other investigative records for you. You can also do some of this on your own if you’re not represented by an attorney. To help you, here is a list of useful legal resources:

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

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

BuyCrash.com: The BuyCrash website allows you or your attorney to request truck and van accident reports from many Atlanta areas and counties.

Fulton County police reports for trucking cases: Fulton County’s Records and Reports Office is located at 141 Pryor Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303. Phone number: 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. You or your attorney can request and receive a police report at Atlanta Public Safety Annex, 3493 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy NW, Atlanta, GA 30331. Phone number: 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 or your attorney may request a crash report from Georgia Department of Public Safety, Open Records Unit, P.O. Box 1456, Atlanta, GA 30371. Phone Number: 404-624-7591.

GSP offices near Atlanta: Georgia has 52 GSP troop and post locations across the state that you or your attorney can request records from. Post 48 services Atlanta inside of I-285 and Clayton, Dekalb, Cobb, and Fulton Counties and is located at 4005 Fulton Industrial Blvd, Atlanta, GA 30336. Phone number: 404-699-4368.

Georgia’s specialized collision reconstruction team: After a fatal trucking accident , the GSP sends a group of highly trained officers known as the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT) to investigate the accident scene. You or your attorney can obtain SCRT reports using the Georgia Open Records Act.

How to Choose the Best Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney

There are hundreds of truck accident lawyers advertising in Atlanta (and around Georgia) for your injury case. To narrow your search, consider the following:

Good law firms specialize. Some truck accident lawyers may lack experience and not know all the steps necessary to take to find and preserve the evidence needed to prove all parts of the case. 

Local Atlanta truck accident attorneys who know your area, the local court system, and the applicable state laws and local ordinances can give you an advantage.

Be wary of “discount fee” injury lawyers. Some lawyers advertise cheap or discounted rates, which often means they are high-volume firms or are inexperienced lawyers with few staff or resources.

Be sure to ask how many trials the firm has had recently. Has the attorney or law firm settled every trucking case without filing suit? Most strong truck accident firms go to trial regularly.

Check out the firm’s online reviews (we have dozens of 5-star reviews), AVVO ratings (ours is a perfect 10), and Better Business Bureau rating (The Millar Law Firm is rated “A+”).

Truck Accident Injuries We Have Handled in the Atlanta Area

We handle numerous tractor-trailer and commercial truck accident cases each year, and some clients have received very significant compensation in their cases. Here are some examples of recent truck accident injury claims we have 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 newborn 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. Our investigation uncovered 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. 

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, causing him severe injuries that required disk-replacement surgery. The trucking company tried to blame our client for failing to stop. However, our investigators found the tanker truck was missing important safety reflective tape. 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, and 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.

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

There’s 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.

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 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.

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. 

Does Your Firm Have a Reputation for Litigating Trucking Cases?

Trucking and insurance companies are notorious for offering quick, lowball settlements in accident cases or using delay tactics to avoid payment. If your attorney doesn’t understand the full value of your claim or isn’t willing/able to put in the time and effort necessary to build a strong claim, you will likely receive less compensation than you deserve.

To make sure you recover maximum compensation for your truck accident, you need an attorney who knows how to properly investigate your case, collect all necessary evidence, and fight against unfair trucking and insurance company tactics during settlement negotiations. If necessary, your lawyer should be fully prepared and willing to go to trial for you.

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’re likely to face insurance adjusters or truck accident defense lawyers who are familiar with the judges and jury pools in the Atlanta area.

The Millar Law Firm has been handling truck accident cases in the Atlanta area for almost three decades. We know federal, state, and local laws, the local legal system, and local roadways and highways. Just as importantly, we know how to combat the tactics of insurance companies and trucking carriers.

Our firm has been independently rated among the best lawyers in Atlanta. Please take a look at the 100+ five-star reviews posted to this website and Google My Business for the firm’s Atlanta and South Atlanta office locations. Our firm and attorneys have also been awarded top “AV” and SuperLawyer ratings, which are established through anonymous surveys of other lawyers to ensure unbiased results. 

Free Consultations for Trucking Accident Cases

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, whether through settlement, a jury verdict, or judgment.

If you have questions or are interviewing Atlanta truck accident lawyers for your truck accident case, call and speak with us free of charge.

When you call us you will speak with an attorney committed to helping you recover full compensation for your injury claim.

If you want to find out how much your truck, van, or bus accident case could be worth, and win, contact us today at 770-400-0000.