Since 2011, the number of serious large truck crashes has increased 33 percent. Persistent supply chain issues since 2020 have accelerated this upward trend. Federal regulators have repeatedly watered down key safety rules. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has relaxed the HOS (hours of service) requirement several times, thus allowing more drowsy truck drivers on the road. More on that below.
Large trucks carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo, not to mention hundreds of gallons of explosive diesel fuel. As a result, the victims of these crashes often sustain catastrophic, such as serious burns, shattered bones, head injuries, and internal wounds. These injuries are so severe that the victim often doesn’t survive or is completely disabled.
The medical bills after such a wreck often exceed $100,000. Most health insurance companies don’t cover injury-related medical expenses. Unless a Marietta personal injury attorney works hard and obtains maximum compensation, these families face financial disaster. Attorneys also obtain compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. This additional money helps victims move forward with the rest of their lives after a serious accident.
At first contact, most truck crash victims are hurt and confused. A Marietta personal injury attorney’s first job is to address that hurt and confusion.
As mentioned, most of these victims have catastrophic injuries. They face mounting medical bills and, since they usually aren’t working, they have no way to pay these bills. The added financial stress makes it much harder to recover from their injuries. This recovery is difficult enough as it is. Many truck crash-related injuries are difficult to diagnose and treat.
To revere this downward spiral, a Marietta personal injury lawyer connects victims with top-notch doctors who usually don’t charge anything upfront. Therefore, victims get the treatment they need, as opposed to the treatment they can afford.
Your initial case evaluation also includes a legal review. At this early point, not much evidence is available. In many cases, investigators don’t even publish an accident report for several days, or even several weeks. Furthermore, as outlined below, additional evidence that surfaces later often supplements or contradicts the police accident report.
Nevertheless, a good lawyer can usually outline a truck crash case, using the ordinary negligence doctrine or the negligence per se rule. Some other legal theories are usually applicable as well. More on that below as well.
Supplemental Evidence Collection
We mentioned possible police accident report inaccuracies above. These inaccuracies are especially common in freeway truck wrecks. Very few witnesses stop what they’re doing and voluntarily come forward at the scene. Additionally, these wrecks are extremely destructive, so little visible physical evidence remains.
Attorneys start by tracking down additional eyewitnesses. This type of evidence is often the key to obtaining maximum compensation. Something almost mystical occurs when disinterested witnesses take the stand and tell jurors what they saw.
Electronic evidence is very useful as well. Plus, this hearty evidence usually survives even the most catastrophic crash. A large truck’s Event Data Recorder usually contains a treasure trove of potential evidence. These gadgets usually measure and record information like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Brake application, and
- Engine RPM.
Sometimes, a Marietta personal injury attorney works with an accident reconstruction engineer in these situations. Even if there’s little physical evidence at the scene, a professional puts these bits of proof together and clearly recreates the moments leading up to the wreck.
Those pre-wreck moments usually help an attorney determine if the truck driver was negligence. Ordinary negligence, which is basically a lack of care, has four components in Georgia:
- Duty: Most truck driver and other commercial operators in Georgia have a duty of utmost care. They must anticipate accidents and avoid them. For example, before truck drivers go through green lights, they must slow down and ensure the intersection is clear.
- Breach: Because of this high duty of care, almost any driving mistake is negligence, or a lack of care. If noncommercial drivers speed about 5mph over the limit, that’s probably not negligence. If truck driver speed 5mph over the limit, that’s probably negligence.
- Cause: A Marietta personal injury attorney must connect the breach, which was discussed above, with the damages, which are discussed below. Additionally, the injury must be a foreseeable (possible) consequence of the wreck.
- Damage: Generally, victims must sustain a physical injury, or suffer some property loss, to file legal claims. Some more exotic legal theories, like negligent infliction of emotional distress, might be available in some cases.
Speaking of legal theories, the negligence per se rule might be available as well. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) might be liable for damages as a matter of law if they violate safety laws and those violations substantially cause injuries.
We’ll put the next two steps together (procedural motions and discovery) because not every truck crash case involves both steps.
When these cases go to court, sometimes insurance companies fold faster than Superman on laundry day. Other times, they file procedural motions and try to get the victim/plaintiff’s claim dismissed before a court addresses its merits.
A motion for summary judgment basically claims that the victim/plaintiff has so little evidence that no reasonable juror could possibly conclude that the tortfeasor caused the crash. If an attorney works hard in the aforementioned evidence collection process , these motions almost always fail. If a lawyer took shortcuts, the victim/plaintiff could be in trouble.
If a case makes it past that point and it hasn’t settled, discovery comes next. During this information exchange process, both sides lay all their cards face-up on the table. As claims and defenses crystalize, settlement becomes more likely.
Sometimes, the two sides need a little push to fully resolve their differences. Most Cobb County judges appoint mediators in these situations.
Mediation is about 90 percent successful, partially because the trial date is coming up fast, and almost everyone wants to settle cases rather than risk trials. Additionally, during mediation, each side has a legal duty to negotiate in good faith. “My way or the highway” is not a good faith negotiation position.
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Marietta personal injury attorney, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.