Atlanta Underride Truck Accidents Lawyer
Atlanta residents who have been injured in a catastrophic accident with a large truck have rights.
Underride crashes with semi-trucks can cause life-changing injuries. Scholle Law can help.
When a car, pickup or SUV crashes into an 18-wheeler semi-truck, it’s not an even match. Large commercial trucks are MUCH bigger and heavier than a family vehicle, and they’re also higher off the ground. As a result, drivers who have the misfortune to crash with a tractor-trailer can end up with their vehicle pinned under the back or side of the truck. This is called an “underride” truck accident, and it can completely tear off the roof of the smaller vehicle or crush it — often killing occupants or leaving them with severe disabilities.
Unsurprisingly, underride truck accidents are one of the most devastating and deadly collisions involving big rig trucks and smaller motor vehicles. A 2017 NBC News story found that roughly 200 Americans are killed each year in side underride accidents.
Because of the physics and nature of underride collisions, these accidents can be particularly devastating for victims and their families. In addition to dealing with high medical bills and not enough insurance coverage to pay those bills, the victims may feel overwhelmed about how to file a wrongful death or catastrophic injury claim before the statute of limitations expires.
Perhaps a truck accident victim who was killed happened to be a breadwinner for the family, meaning their surviving loved ones have lost that income permanently — on top of their grief.
Unfortunately, because trucking companies know underride truck accidents result in costly claims, they often harass the family about signing papers or admitting fault to reduce their liability and pressure them into settling for a lower amount.
If this sounds all too familiar, consider contacting the knowledgeable Atlanta truck accident attorneys at Scholle Law to discuss your situation and your legal options. We have over 2 decades of experience representing victims of catastrophic accidents, so we know how to help victims protect their rights. Our consultations are completely free, and we have 4 offices conveniently located in Atlanta, Duluth and Decatur.
Common causes of underride trucking crashes
Head-on crashes don’t generally cause underride accidents with tractor-trailers because the cab of the truck is lower to the ground than the trailer.
Underride accidents are more common when the front or side of the smaller vehicle collides with the side or back of the tractor-trailer. This can be due to driver error on the part of the passenger vehicle driver, or by the carelessness of the truck driver or trucking company.
Other common causes of underride collisions are when road conditions are poor and visibility is obscured, or when truck drivers make a lane change without seeing a smaller vehicle in the lane.
Underride accidents can even take place in multi-car pile-ups when a truck stops suddenly and 1 or more smaller vehicles are pushed under the truck by other collisions.
Additional reasons why underride truck accidents happen include:
- Trucker changes lanes without signaling or looking
- Truck driver backs up without checking carefully
- Truck driver parks in the road or on the shoulder with inadequate lights or reflectors
- Equipment problems like a tire blowout, brake failure or no working lights
- Trucker fails to follow traffic laws or yield
- Truck driver is speeding
- Truck doesn’t have a legally required underride guard
Any of these factors can mean that the truck driver and their trucking company are legally responsible for the property damage and personal injuries caused by the accident. Trucking companies are responsible for properly equipping and training its drivers. But in Georgia, trucking companies are also legally responsible for the actions of their employees, as long as those actions were part of the employee’s ordinary job.
Determining liability for underride trucking accident injuries in Atlanta
Underride accidents are frequently fatal. The eye-level height of the trailer relative to the occupants of the smaller car creates a strong likelihood that injuries will be to the occupants’ heads. Especially if the collision happens at a high speed, victims may suffer death, traumatic brain damage or other permanent injuries.
Right after this kind of crash, many families aren’t ready to think about who’s to blame. But as the bills for medical care, lost wages and a funeral pile up, the surviving spouse or family may be forced to put their grief temporarily on hold and figure out how they’re going to pay the bills. This can be an especially difficult dilemma if the family is no longer getting income from the deceased. The victim’s own auto insurance or workers’ compensation (if they qualify) may not cover the accident at all, or not provide enough money to cover all the financial losses.
If the truck driver or trucking company is responsible for the crash, Georgia families may be able to claim compensation from the trucking company’s insurance coverage.
In a personal injury lawsuit, they may be able to get compensated for:
- Burial and funeral costs
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Future care (including therapy and institutional care for a severely injured person)
- Pain and suffering (emotional distress)
- Loss of consortium
Our experienced Georgia truck accident lawyers can help you sort out what’s appropriate in your situation and help you understand your rights as you deal with the aftermath of the crash.
Truck underride guards and safety regulations
Trucking companies are regulated both by the federal government and Georgia law. Trucking companies must meet strict safety requirements and take the proper precautions to keep their trucks safe and properly train their drivers in order to protect all those on the road.
The Department of Transportation requires trailers to have a rear safety bar—known as an “underride guard”—that is capable of withstanding a crash, but it doesn’t require them to be inspected. Trucks must also be equipped with reflectors or reflective tape to protect and warn other vehicles from underride and other types of tractor-trailer accidents.
Congress has tried to pass federal underride guard laws requiring all trucks to be equipped with side and rear safety bars. However, such legislation has yet to be passed.
Contact our Atlanta truck accident lawyers today for a free consultation
If you or your family’s future has been derailed by a serious underride truck accident involving an 18-wheeler, big rig or tractor-trailer, don’t hesitate to contact Scholle Law for your free consultation. We aren’t the only ones who understand that these crashes can be particularly serious and costly. Insurance companies for the trucking companies often pressure families to sign or record statements before they fully understand what’s happening. These statements are designed to limit the insurance company’s liability and reduce your compensation.
No matter what, we want you to know your rights and explain how to avoid signing them away by accident. We understand these tricks because we’ve handled these cases for more than 20 years, and we’re proud to say we have a strong record of results in Georgia truck crash cases.
To set up a consultation meeting at any of our 4 Metro Atlanta offices, contact us online or give us a call.