Rollover truck wrecks can cause serious accidents, injuries and even death.
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Atlanta has some of the worst traffic in the country. In fact, according to one report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it actually has some of the worst traffic in the world. A major contributor to Atlanta’s traffic problem is the 4 major interstates that run through it: Interstate 85, Interstate 75, Interstate 20, and Auxiliary Interstate 285.
The abundance of important interstate highways has helped Atlanta to become a transportation hub over the years, leading to more and more large commercial trucks on the road.
Whenever there’s an accident involving one of these large trucks—whether it be an 18-wheeler, a semi-truck, a tractor-trailer or a big rig—the accident can be quite serious or even fatal. And it’s not just the truck driver whose life and health is at risk, but often the occupants of other vehicles involved as well. This is because other vehicles involved in truck accidents are no match for the sheer size and weight of a large commercial truck.
Scholle Law has represented victims of serious trucking accidents in Metro Atlanta for more than 20 years and built a strong record of results. If you’d like to talk to the experts about your truck accident at a free, no-obligation consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us.
We’ve recovered over $75 million for our clients
As Atlanta continues to grow, it’s crucial to know what may lead to a deadly truck accident and how these accidents may be preventable. Rollovers are one of the most common types of truck wrecks.
“Rollovers” occur when a vehicle’s wheels lose contact with the road. This can cause the vehicle to end up on its side, or even upside-down. Jackknife accidents, which occur when a truck’s trailer swings around independently of the truck, forming a V shape, can often end in rollovers. SUVs and large trucks are similarly prone to this type of accident because they have such a high center of gravity and may carry loads that leave them unbalanced.
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Back on the Road
What to do after a serious semi, tractor trailer or truck accident in Georgia
Guidebook for people who suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one after a bad accident with a large commercial truck
Common cause of rollover truck accidents
Driver error, reckless driving and negligence
More often than not, rollover accidents occur because of driver error. It’s common for a truck driver’s negligent actions to be a contributing factor in a truck rollover accident. For instance, if the truck driver ignores speed limits and chooses to drive at unsafe speeds, especially given the weather conditions or terrain, this can be an example of negligent driving.
Georgia law (49 CFR § 392.14) states that “extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.”
Unfortunately, truck drivers are often traveling for work and pressured to meet their deadlines, even in icy or rainy conditions. If they don’t, they may not get paid or may be subject to penalties for late deliveries. This can lead to drivers who are speeding or handling poor road conditions with disregard. The faster a vehicle is traveling, the longer it takes for that vehicle to stop. In addition, the heavier the truck, and the load that the truck is hauling is, the longer it takes for the vehicle to come to a stop.
Further, any abrupt changes in steering, such as trying to avoid another vehicle, can cause a commercial truck to roll over due to its high center of gravity.
Bad weather conditions
In addition to ice, snow and rain, another weather condition that highly affects large trucks is strong winds. Because of a truck’s large silhouette, high winds can easily unbalance it and cause it to roll over.
Driver error also includes distracted driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 9 people are killed each day in the United States and more than a thousand people are injured in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver.
Georgia’s distracted driving law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241) states that a driver shall exercise due care when operating a motor vehicle on all Georgia highways and shall avoid engaging in any activities which are distracting in nature from the safe operation of his or her vehicle.
Distracted driving is essentially any activity that could take the driver’s eyes and attention away from the road or their hands off the steering wheel. This can include a multitude of different types of distractions:
- Auditory/visual distractions are when a driver looks at anything other than the road. This includes the most common distraction people have in their cars today—their cell phones—but it could also be as innocent as an insect buzzing around the car.
- Manual distractions occur when a driver manipulates something other than the steering wheel, such as eating or drinking or reaching for the radio or to grab something.
- Cognitive distractions are when a driver’s attention or mind is not on the act of driving, but rather focused elsewhere.
All of these distractions can have serious consequences—not just for drivers, but also for passengers and anyone else who shares the road. In an attempt to cut down on distracted driving accidents in the state, lawmakers in Georgia have passed statutes making it illegal to drive while using any hand-held cell phones, iPads, laptops, computers, and other devices.
In 2018, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the Hands-Free Georgia Act (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241). Commonly known as the “Distracted Driving Law” or the “Hands-Free Law,” House Bill 673 requires all drivers to use hands-free technology when they are behind the wheel. In fact, it is now illegal to read a text, instant message, email, look at a website, watch, record or broadcast a video or movie, or use any other internet data while operating a vehicle in Georgia. This includes being a driver who is stopped at a red light.
Drowsy driving is another common cause of truck accidents in and around Atlanta. Truck drivers often travel long distances for extended periods of time. This can lead to fatigue and falling asleep behind the wheel, which creates a higher risk of causing a rollover accident.
Insufficient vehicle maintenance
Lack of proper truck maintenance can also lead to disaster on the roadways. Studies show that brake failure and defects are a major cause of truck crashes. Before trips, truck drivers are expected to conduct a thorough safety inspection of their vehicle, checking the many important features such as brakes, tires, steering, rearview mirrors, windshield wipers, lights, and other emergency equipment—just to name a few.
In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) set forth minimum standards for those involved with the operation of commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce, in order to cover all people and entities involved in the interstate operation of these trucks. If a driver or trucking company fails to carry out a pre-trip inspection, there can be an increased risk of a truck rollover or other accident.
How to avoid being in a rollover truck accident
If you are commuting to and from work in Atlanta, you may have little choice about sharing the road with large trucks. While you can’t always prevent an accident from happening (especially one that isn’t your fault), there are some steps that you can take that will help decrease the risk of your being involved in a truck rollover accident.
- Always pay attention to your surroundings. If highway conditions are bad, such as if there are steep hills, sharp curves, potholes, or road debris, it can make it more difficult for the truck driver to navigate.
- Be mindful of blind spots. If you can’t see the driver in the truck’s mirrors, then that driver cannot see you. Georgia tractor-trailers must often follow a lower speed limit than that of passenger car drivers. While it is often tempting to try to zip around a large truck, high rates of speed and blind spots can contribute to an accident.
- Give truck drivers room to make their turns. The reason why taking turns can lead to rollover accidents is because, in order to safely negotiate a curve, the truck driver needs to consider the height and load of their truck, as well as the road conditions and the configuration of the curve. This decision can be even more difficult for the truck driver to make if the other drivers around them don’t give them ample space to safely make the turn.
What to do after a rollover truck wreck
No matter how careful you may be, you cannot account for other drivers on the road.
So, what should you do if you are involved in a rollover accident with a large truck?
Step 1: Call the police
The first thing to remember is that no matter how minimal the property damage appears to be on the outside, the police should be called and a report should be written. Unless you need to seek immediate medical attention, remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive and can take your statement of what happened in the collision.
It doesn’t matter if you are on public or private property, or if you don’t believe there are any serious injuries. There should always be a police report filed. When there’s not, it leaves the case open to interpretation. Stories can be changed after the fact.
For example, while at the scene, the at-fault party may have admitted fault to you and seemed apologetic. But if a police report isn’t filed and the at-fault party tells their insurance company a different story from what really happened, then the at-fault driver’s insurance company could deny payment to you.
Even worse, if you are later wrongfully found liable for the accident, then your own insurance company could raise your insurance premiums believing you were at fault. You can alleviate all of these problems and more by insisting that the police are called and a report is written.
Step 2: Gather evidence and information
If you can safely move around the scene of the accident, it may be beneficial to collect any and all evidence that you can. Take photographs of the scene and the property damage as this might be used later to support any claims you may file against the at-fault driver. In addition, if there were any witnesses at the scene, be sure to write down their names and contact information.
Step 3: Notify your insurance company
Soon after the wreck, in the following days or even the same day, you should contact your auto insurance provider and inform them that you were involved in a collision with a truck. Do not agree to give a recorded statement until you’ve spoken with a lawyer, and do not admit fault for the crash (even if you think you were fully or partly responsible). Simply stick to the facts. Let the adjuster determine what happened based on the police report.
Step 4: Get a medical evaluation
Any impact involving a large truck could do major damage to your body. For this reason, it is very important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, even if you think that your injuries are minor or non-existent.
It is common for people to mistakenly believe that their injuries are insignificant immediately following an accident. Typically, your adrenaline is pumping, and you might not feel symptoms until hours or even days following the initial impact. But the longer you wait to see a doctor following any motor vehicle accident, the easier it will be for the at-fault party or their insurance company to argue that the injuries you are claiming from the accident were caused by something else due to the delay in obtaining medical treatment.
Further, any symptoms that you experience from a truck accident must be documented by medical professionals or the insurance company may not believe you. Medical records are the primary way to prove your pain and suffering. You can attempt to explain your pain to the insurance company as many times as you’d like, but if it is not mirrored in your medical records, they will have a hard time believing you.
When to consult an experienced Georgia truck accident attorney
Being involved in an accident with a large tractor-trailer or commercial semi-truck is a frightening situation, especially since it has so much potential for harm. Beyond the numerous ways a large truck can cause physical injuries and damage, the mental vision of a huge truck sliding down a highway on a collision course with your vehicle isn’t a sight that is easily forgotten. It could cause years, or even a lifetime, of fear and emotional distress.
Unfortunately, you don’t have a lifetime—or even years—to pursue compensation.
When it comes to truck accidents, it’s important to understand that the injuries and property damage are often much more severe, and there can be multiple parties involved—including trucking companies and other businesses. In addition, complex federal regulations and state transportation laws might apply.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries because you were involved in an accident with a large truck, you should know that working with an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney could help provide you the relief you need.
Contact an experienced Georgia truck accident attorney at Scholle Law to discuss your options as soon as possible. Schedule your free consultation today.