Accidents Involving 18-Wheelers are Complex
By Casey W. Stevens
When you are involved in an automobile accident with a passenger car or truck, your case typically involves you and the other driver. But when you are injured in an accident with a tractor trailer, or “big rig”, the responsibility may lie with the driver, the owner of the truck, the company that they represent, and the company that hired them to transport the load that they are carrying. The shared liability of all of these different parties make these cases very complex, and a personal injury attorney is needed to help guide you through the process of recovering compensation for your injuries.
Many accident victims falsely believe that the liability begins and ends with the truck’s driver. Although trucking companies have attempted this line of defense in years past by hiring “independent owner/operators” to haul their loads, the federal government put a stop to that argument. The drivers, even if they are independent, were chosen and hired by the trucking company, and therefore they share some of the liability for their actions when the drivers that they contracted are hauling cargo for the company.
Federal and state laws strictly govern the operation of tractor trailers in order to keep other drivers on the roadways as safe as possible. In fact, when a “big rig” is involved in an accident, federal law dictates that a certified truck inspector come to the scene and perform a thorough inspection of the 18-wheeler involved before it can be moved. Your personal injury attorney will obtain a copy of the certified truck inspector’s report, and investigate whether or not a company or driver has failed to adhere to federal and state safety laws, thereby putting others at risk. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes a book of their rules every year, and the rules are extensive. Investigating the company and driver’s compliance with these rules, as well as their service records, history of past violations, past accidents or other instances, etc. can reveal patterns of violations and can also help your attorney establish liability as well as determine the percentage of liability for each party involved.
In addition to reviewing the report from the certified truck inspector and researching the history of the truck, the driver, and the companies involved, most 18-wheeler’s have an on-board computer located in their dash that records everything from speed, to brake usage, to rest periods for the operation of that vehicle. These computers are sometimes referred to as the “black box” of the truck because they record exactly what happened before and during an accident just like a flight recorded in an airplane. Law enforcement officers and accident reconstruction specialists can use the data to determine what happened during and just prior to a crash; and attorneys can utilize the information on the recorder to establish patterns of speeding or other unsafe practices that may have been a pattern for the driver involved. However, law only requires that this data only be kept for a minimum of 6 months, so it is imperative that the information from the on-board computer be requested prior to it being deleted by the driver or the owner of the truck.
Casey W. Stevens is an Experienced Georgia Trucking Accident Lawyer
Trucking accidents can be devastating and recovering the compensation that you deserve is complex. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident with a tractor trailer, you need a personal injury attorney with a history of success in trucking accident cases here in Georgia. Casey W. Stevens has successfully represented hundreds of clients. Contact our offices today for a free, no obligation, case evaluation today to see how Mr. Stevens can help you receive the settlement that you deserve.
The Law Offices of Casey W. Stevens: 770-408-6364