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Flying Debris – Trucking Accidents without Collisions

Published November 7, 2018 by Bruce Millar

The fact is, sharing the roadway with big rigs can be scary. You don’t need to have had a collision with an 18-wheeler to recognize their potential for creating a calamity. All you need to do is look at one of them racing down the highway at speed and you understand that if one of them hits you – or one of their tires comes apart and flying debris causes you to lose control of our car – you or your family could be seriously hurt or killed. If you’ve ever had an accident with a big rig, you already know how terrifying it can be.

If you have been involved in an accident with a truck, you may have questions about what to do next. In this article we will answer some of the common questions regarding truck accidents – how and why they happen, and what steps you should take to protect you and your passengers from the consequences an accident with a truck can cause. We’ll give you an example of such an accident and offer some advice about what to look for in a lawyer who can represent you.

What if the truck’s tire hits my car and damages it?

Who is to blame when truck tires fail?

If I lose control of my car because a truck swerved into my lane, am I to blame for the wreck?

Who can I sue to be sure my injuries are covered?

How much should I ask for in my claim?

What if someone else was in the car and was injured?

How do I find a lawyer?

What if the truck’s tire hits my car and damages it?

Trucking is a business. Usually trucks and their drivers get paid by the mile. Every mile a truck travels has value. It also has a cost associated with it. In order to make a truck pay for itself, the truck needs to be working constantly and it cannot cost its owner more than it earns.

For this reason, many truck owners buy re-tread tires to outfit their trucks. These are used tires with worn tread that are re-fitted with a new tread layer. These re-treads sell for less and are used because they can save a trucking company money.

These tires occasionally fail when a manufacturing flaw along with the constant travel, the weight of the truck, and the weather cause the tread layer to separate from the tire itself. This is why you see parts of tires alongside the highway everywhere you go.

You may wonder why the driver doesn’t hear or feel the tire giving way the way you would notice an impending flat. The reason is, on a truck there are usually 17 other tires doing their jobs. On your vehicle when ¼ of your contact with the highway fails, it’s obvious. The truck driver is very likely to feel or hear nothing, making these tire failures even more dangerous because truck drivers often continue to drive at highway speeds while chunks and sections of their tires fly off the truck.

Who is to blame when truck tires fail?

An investigation must be performed. The driver of the truck has a responsibility to inspect the tires (and other parts of the truck during his or her pre-trip inspection), but may not be the only person or company to blame when a faulty tire falls apart. Very often, when a truck picks up a trailer, it has been maintained and loaded by some other person or company entirely.

When you are involved in any sort of accident with a truck, you are wise to consult with a trucking expert or specialist attorney who has experience with these kinds of accidents. He or she will know and understand how and why the accident happened and who is to blame.

If I lose control of my car because a truck swerved into my lane, am I to blame for the wreck?

Probably not.

Truckers are bound by the same rules as any other driver on the highway. However, because theirs is a commercial enterprise, they have another layer of duty to the motoring public. They are professionals and should exercise every option to keep their rig under control and the other highway users safe.
When a truck suffers a mechanical failure causing the driver to temporarily lose his ability to steer, the truck and can swerve into your lane as they attempt to slow down and re-gain control. Remember, though. These big rigs are operated by experienced, highly trained, professional drivers. You have every right to expect them to be responsible for their truck at all times and under any circumstance.
In other words, when you’re in an accident with a truck, you may have a claim against the truck owner, the truck driver, or other parties responsible for maintaining or loading the truck who may be responsible to pay for your injuries and any damage sustained in the accident.

A Trucking Case Example: Scotty’s Story

Arnie Scott’s friends call him Scotty. He is a 29-year-old single construction worker.
One afternoon, Scotty is on his way to a nearby lumber yard to order the delivery of a load of sheetrock for the home his company is building in Marietta, Georgia. He is in the second lane of traffic from the left when a semi-truck ahead and to his right begins to spin off layers of tire tread. One large chunk of the retread hits his windshield and shatters it. The tread comes to rest in the cab of the pickup truck.

Scotty tries to maintain control of his Toyota pickup and move to the left lane, but he is blinded (literally,) by the shattered safety-glass in his eyes. He hears squealing tires behind him and feels the impact as he’s hit from behind by a third vehicle, causing his vehicle to be spun around and tipped onto its side. When Scotty’s vehicle finally comes to a stop he is terrified by the fact that he cannot see and his left arm – which was resting on the open driver-side window when he lost control – feels mushy, wet, and painful.

The trucker with the tire problem doesn’t stop at the scene but is picked up down the highway after witnesses identify the logo on the truck’s trailer. He is ticketed for leaving the scene of an accident.

At the hospital, Scotty undergoes X-rays on his arm, and a long and painful debridement of that injury. He will need a skin graft to replace the flesh that was ground away by the pavement. The arm isn’t broken. Upon examination, the doctors hold cautious optimism that Scotty’s sight will resolve itself when the swelling subsides and the scratches and abrasions to his cornea heal. Because there is nobody at home to care for the injured man, Scotty is kept in the hospital for three days and arrangements are then made for a home-health nurse to care for him in his apartment until he can care for himself.
Scotty asks his boss to recommend a lawyer who understands claims involving trucking accidents. The lawyer meets with Scotty in his home just one week after the wreck.

Who can I sue to be sure my injuries are covered?

There seems to possibly be more than one party responsible for Scotty’s injuries. The truck owner and/or the driver of the truck have a responsibility to meet a very high level of safety standards. In this case, though, it was one of the tires on the trailer that failed causing the accident. The trucks owner was not the trailer’s owner, but he does share some responsibility.

Scotty’s lawyer suggests that all parties, including the owner of the trailer, may be at fault. Immediate steps are taken to begin investigating the accident.

The law firm obtains the police report, contact information for witnesses, then contacts each of the defendants to get truck and trailer maintenance reports, tire maintenance records, and the recorded “black box” information from the truck. Employee training materials are collected for examination as well as specific information about who was responsible for training the driver of this particular truck. If these persons and companies do not voluntarily produce the information to Scotty’s lawyer, a lawsuit will be filed to compel production of the records, using the Court’s discovery and subpoena power.

With these bits of information, it will be possible for Scotty to prove that the defendants were negligent in their maintenance of the truck’s tires. Perhaps the trailer owner was negligent in maintaining the tires or the driver was negligent in not examining the tires carefully enough before taking the load off the lot, and for failing to notice Scotty’s accident in his rear-view mirrors. The truck owner or trucking company may have been negligent in training or qualifying the driver to properly operate a big-rog or to recognize poor quality or damaged tires.

How much should I ask for in my claim?

Lawyers for the plaintiffs will ask for payment of ambulance and medical bills including treatments and care including any home-health care that is deemed necessary.

Additionally, Scotty is entitled to ask for the money lost because he was unable to work for several months, following the accident. The cost for a replacement vehicle will also be part of the settlement.
There will also be a separate request for damages for pain and suffering. In Scotty’s case, the pain and trauma of the injury and his recovery.

What if someone else was in the car and was injured?

If there were passengers in Scotty’s vehicle, those individuals would also have claims against the defendants for all the same reasons.

How do I find a lawyer?

Any time you seek to recover from injuries and damages caused by somebody else’s negligence, you are wise to seek the help of a personal injury lawyer.

Lawyers who specialize in situations where people fall victims to negligence are constantly focused on the intricate details of Georgia’s laws relating to personal injuries. This gives them a special edge. If you were to retain, say, a divorce lawyer to represent you in a trucking case, the chances of success may be lower. Not all lawyers are trained to handle everything. You want a specialist with all the experience necessary to handle all the surprises that can come up in such a case.
At the Millar Law Firm, we specialize in trucking accident cases. We begin with a free case evaluation. This gives us the opportunity to examine and evaluate the details and the facts around your damages. Once we’ve reviewed the facts we explain the law and your options and allow you to make an educated decision about how to proceed.

If you or somebody you know has been hurt in a truck accident, you owe it to your own sense of justice to hire an experienced law firm. Call our office today and find out how we can help you.

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