Cedartown Truck Accident Lawyer
There's no way around it - tractor collisions are scary and often deadly. Your first focus should be removing some of the fear and uncertainty you're experiencing. Here is what we suggest:
First, review this page and understand that tractor trailer cases can be complex and need skilled representation.
Next, visit our frequently ask questions to bring some clarity on what the future may look like.
Finally, take advantage of our free consultation to speak with an experienced Cedartown truck accident attorney to answer some questions you may have. No commitments. We're here to help.
Commercial Truck Cases are Complex.
You Deserve Experienced Representation.
Truck accidents are much more complex than regular car accident cases for a number of reasons including:
Federal and State Regulations: These regulations govern a multitude of areas, including hiring regulations, licensing regulations, hours of service regulations, maintenance, repair, and inspection regulations, weight limit regulations, and insurance requirements.
Investigation and Preservation: Records, data, and information is tracked differently for commercial motor vehicles, and knowing how to identify and preserve that data is important.
Potentially Responsible Parties: Georgia statutes as well as recognized legal theories allow different parties to be held legally responsible for your injuries. Knowing who is responsible is important to a successful resolution.
Types of Commercial Trucks: Different types of commercial motor vehicles can affect the regulation requirements, as well as influence the cause of the collision.
Truck Accident Causes: Knowing how the trucking industry operates and the common pitfalls that companies overlook or the corners they cut is important to understanding potential causes of the collision.
Trucking Expert Witnesses: Identifying and hiring an expert soon after the collision to investigate the scene can be crucial to your case.
Industry Terms and Lingo: Having an attorney that can speak and understand the language is important.
Startling Statistics: Georgia has some startling statistics that help shed light on how dangerous commercial motor vehicles can be.
To learn more about each of these areas, scroll down this page where they are discussed more in-depth. Or, simply click on each link, which will take you to those sections.
TOWING AND WRECKERS
Severe Injury and Loss of Life
Unfortunately, commercial truck collisions seldom result in minor injuries. Severe injuries can often include:
Permanent brain injury.
Worst case scenario, you've lost a loved one as a result of the collision. In that case, visit our Wrongful Death page for helpful guidance on navigating that process and how we can help.
Either way, Wheale Law Firm is familiar with these unfortunate results and can help develop a life care plan that meets your needs, in consultation with your doctors.
Why hire Wheale Law Firm for your Cedartown truck accident case?
Wheale Law Firm focuses exclusively on complex personal injury cases, like truck accident, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death cases.
Wheale Law Firm has experience with the complex truck accident regulations and knows how to identify - and work with - appropriate experts. We know how to investigate these cases to protect your rights. And, our results prove it.
Case loads are kept small so that we can give you the attention you deserve and are accessible when you need us.
What does it cost to hire Cedartown's commercial truck accident attorney?
Wheale law firm does not work on a retainer. Meaning, there are no upfront costs. Instead, our commercial truck accident attorney is compensated strictly on a contingency fee.
The contingency fee is only collected after the case has successfully resolved. It is collected as a portion of the final settlement. But, if your case does not resolve for one reason or another, you owe nothing.
We are betting on our skill and experience by taking on the risk that we can successfully pursue your claim - and for maximum compensation to you.
High-risk truck accident locations in Cedartown
Cedartown, Georgia has historically been the seat of government and industry in Polk County. And, when Highway 27 was built decades ago, Cedartown became the beneficiary of the increased traffic and business.
As an incidental result of this increased traffic, Cedartown experiences much more tractor trailer traffic than ever before. The big rigs are traveling from I-20 to industries in northwest Georgia - and vice versa. It's easy to see how Cedartown has also experienced an increase in collisions with these big trucks.
Sadly, Polk County has experienced its unfair share of fatalities from motor vehicle and truck accidents, which has averaged about 7 fatalities a year since 2015. The traffic in Cedartown has played a role in those statistics, especially at:
Highway 278 (also known as Nathan Dean Parkway, Cedartown Highway, and Rockmart Highway), particularly near the on, and exit, ramps near Cedartown High School
Stop sign at the intersection of Highway 278 and Prior Station Road (near the Silver Comet trailhead and Cedartown Feed & Seed)
Highway 27 (also known as Rome Highway or Martha Berry Highway)
Intersection of Highway 27 and N. Main Street/Davis Road (near Wal-Mart and Home Depot)
Take advantage of the FREE consultation. No Committments.
For a free case consultation, give Wheale Law a call at (678) 580-8936. Alternatively, send an email.
Unlike most attorneys in Polk County, Patrick J. Wheale only represents victims of personal injury or wrongful death. He has nearly six years of experience of refining these skills in downtown Atlanta.
Wheale Law provides legal services exclusively on a contingent fee basis. In other words, you pay no upfront costs. Wheale Law only collects attorney's fees if your case successfully resolves.
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Truck Accident Settlement
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Federal and State Regulations
Commercial motor vehicles are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for all interstate commerce. For commerce within the Georgia's borders, they are further regulated by Georgia statutes. Some of the most important areas of regulations for a collision case include the following:
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What steps can be taken to immediately investigate my truck accident and preserve evidence?
The steps taken immediately after the collision are important to proving your case.
First, an accident reconstructionist and/or trucking expert may need to be identified to immediately begin documenting the scene, final resting positions of the vehicles, yaw marks and other road damage, and other physical evidence that may help them reverse engineer the collision.
Second, records are preserved by sending a preservation letter to the driver, his employer, and any other responsible party, directing them not to destroy any information related to the collision, including:
Driver Qualification File;
Hours of Service Records;
Maintenance, Repair, and Inspection Records;
Black Box Records;
Cargo Loading Records;
Truck Camera Footage
Next, inspections of the vehicles involved, including the tractor and/or trailer, may need to be performed to inspect the cargo load, conspicuity tape, lights, brakes, and other areas of potential failure.
Finally, investigating the commercial motor carrier their safety record at the time of the collision is important, which is available via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Who can potentially be responsible for my truck accident injuries?
There may be various responsible parties in a trucking accident, depending on the cause of the collision. Potentially responsible parties could include:
Truck driver: Truck drivers are almost always a contributing – if not the main – cause for big rig collisions. For instance, a fatigued driver who has exceeded their hours of service, broken a rule of the road, or failed to properly inspect their truck and its load can lead to a truck accident;
Motor carrier: Truck drivers almost always operate under a motor carrier’s DOT authority – i.e. Dept. of Transportation authorization to operate 18-wheelers on the roadway. Truck drivers are often employees for the carrier, and the carrier can also be responsible for vetting, hiring, training, and supervising their drivers and their loads.
Cargo shipper and/or loader: Under certain circumstances, cargo shippers and/or loaders can be held responsible. For instance, the federal regulations were updated several years ago to provide intermodal equipment providers liability for collisions involving intermodal equipment. Intermodal equipment providers are often owned or contracted by the cargo shippers. Improper and imbalanced loads that does not comply with regulations can also contribute to a collision.
Truck and/or parts manufacturer: In rarer scenarios, tractors, trailers, and intermodal equipment manufacturers who design or manufacturer defective equipment can contribute to a roadway collision.
Government agencies and/or contractors: Finally, government agencies who fail to properly enforce trucking regulations or, more likely, negligently design and maintain parts of a roadway can also lead to foreseeable collision involving tractor trailers.
Under Georgia’s direct action statute, the tractor trailer’s insurance carrier is also a named party in any lawsuit as well.
What are the different types of commercial motor vehicles?
There are a wide-range of commercial motor vehicles that are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, including:
Tractors and Trailers (i.e. Big Rigs, Semi-Trucks, etc.)
Flatbed Trucks (i.e. Straight Trucks)
Dump Trucks / Garbage Trucks
Delivery Truck / Box Trucks
These vehicles, their weights, and their purposes can determine which regulations apply, as the standards can vary.
What are common causes of truck accidents?
The most common causes of commercial motor vehicle collisions include the following:
Driver Fatigue: overworked drivers, pushed to meet tight deadlines, is most often the cause of trucking collisions;
Driver Impairment: consumption of alcohol or drugs. Or, they are no longer medically qualified to drive due to a medical impairment (i.e. vision).
Violation of the Rules of the Road: i.e. speeding, improper lane change, failing to yield the right of way, etc.;
Inadequate Training or Supervision: unfamiliarity with the truck, trailer, route, cargo loading, transportation procedures, or changes in safety regulations can often result in collisions;
Road Conditions: poor road conditions due either to weather, road maintenance, or both;
Mechanical Failure: usually, this results from poor maintenance, repair, and inspection of the tractor and/or trailer.
Who are trucking experts and why are they important?
Typically, these experts are former troopers with the Georgia State Patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team who have experience reconstructing hundreds, if not thousands, of motor vehicle collisions, including commercial motor vehicles.
Knowing which experts to identify - and when - is important to proving your case. Many times, this means having the expert visit the scene as soon as possible. The expert uses cutting-edge technology to spot and document important data points that will be important to their analysis.
Incidentally, commercial motor vehicle regulations are enforced by the Georgia State Patrol. So, these experts are also qualified in providing opinions as to what regulations were violated, and why.
What are some common terms and lingo used by truck drivers?
Tractor trailer drivers and dispatchers have developed their own language over the years. Being able to speak their language is important to understanding what - or who - the driver is blaming for the collision. Some common terms include:
G.O.A.L. (get out and look before reversing)
LTL (less than truckload - small shipments)
OTR (over the road)
POC (point of contact)
POD (point of delivery)
Bear (law enforcement officer)
Full Grown Bear (state trooper)
Chicken Coop (weigh station)
Comic Book (driver's log book)
Barn Yard (company yard)
Back Door (behind the truck)
Bobtail (tractor without a trailer)
Deadhead (empty trailer)
Freight Shaker (freightliner)
Skateboard (flatbed trailer)
Hazmat (hazardous material)
Jackknife (truck turning in on itself)
There are some startling statistics and data that help to emphasize the importance of driver safety involving commercial motor vehicles:
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
In 2018, on average, there were 1.12 fatalities in fatal crashes involving large trucks. In 90 percent of those crashes, there was only one fatality. The majority, 82 percent, of fatalities were not occupants of the large truck.
Approximately 57 percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas;
Thirty-six percent of all fatal crashes and 23 percent of all injury crashes, and 19 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks occurred at night (6:00 pm to 6:00 am).
In 2018, 30 percent of work zone fatal crashes and 10 percent of work zone injury crashes involved at least one large truck.
In 2018, 8,189 of the 51,490 drivers of all vehicles in fatal crashes (16 percent) tested positive for at least one drug, although 50 percent of them were not tested.
And, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, Georgia experienced 1,377 fatal crashes in 2019, resulting in 1,491 deaths. Georgia ranked fourth in the nation even though Georgia is only the eighth most populous state.
According to Georgia Department of Public Health, motor vehicle traffic deaths were the leading cause of injury deaths for children and adults between ages 5-24.
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Common Questions and Answers
These are commonly asked questions we receive after individuals have been in a vehicle collision:
What is a commercial motor vehicle?
Commercial motor vehicles is a broad term that defines a class of vehicles used for a commercial - or business - purpose. Not all commercial motor vehicles are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations nor do they all require special licensing. Only those commercial motor vehicles that meet certain weight requirements are subject to special licensing requirements.
What is a motor carrier?
At it's most basic definition, a motor carrier is a person or entity that transports passengers or property for compensation. Legally, they are recognized as any person or entity who owns, controls, operates, manages, or leases a commercial motor vehicle.
Who regulates commercial motor vehicles and motor carriers?
As an starting point, the United States Department of Transportation develops nationwide regulations through the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration. These set the minimum standard for regulating motor carriers and their commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. The states can adopt these regulations in full. Alternatively, states can develop their own, stricter guidelines to regulate heavy trucks on the roadway.
What does FMCSA and FMCSR mean?
"FMCSA" is an acronym used to identify the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In turn, the FMCSA is part of the United States Department of Transportation. The FMCSA is charged with putting together safety regulations designed to be enforceable against certain classes of commercial motor vehicles. These regulations are known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, or "FMCSR."
Who enforces commercial motor vehicle regulations in Georgia?
In Georgia, commercial motor vehicle regulations and statutes are enforced by the Motor Carrier Compliance Division of the Georgia Department of Transportation.
What is the difference between interstate and intrastate?
Interstate commerce is when goods are being transported across state lines. When a motor carrier is engaged in intrastate commerce, the goods are being transported solely within one state's boundaries. The FMCSR regulates all interstate commerce being transported by qualifying commercial motor vehicles. The states are left to define the regulations for intrastate commerce by qualifying commercial motor vehicles.
When does a SCRT Report become available (i.e. Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team Report)?
A SCRT Report is the product of an exhaustive and highly technical process, so it can take several months to complete. As a rule of thumb, don't expect the report to be completed until atleast three months after the collision.
Where can I obtain a summary of a motor carrier's safety record?
The FMCSA makes motor carrier safety data available via its Safer Web website. If you know either the motor carrier's DOT Number, MC/MX Number, or legal name, you can get a "Company Snapshot," including a safety rating, out-of-service inspection summary, and crash information.
How long do I have to pursue a truck accident claim?
In Georgia, the general rule is that you have two years from the date of incident to file a truck accident case in court. This is known as the statute of of limitations that apply to personal injury cases, and there may be nuances that apply. So, it's important to consult with an attorney sooner rather than later.