Georgia Truck Accident Attorney

Rockmart Truck Accident Lawyer

Georgia Tractor Trailer Accident Attorne

Rockmart 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 Rockmart 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.

  • 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.

Severe Injury and Loss of Life

Unfortunately, commercial truck collisions seldom result in minor injuries.  Severe injuries can often include:

  • Broken bones;

  • Permanent scarring;

  • Disfigurement;

  • Amputations;

  • 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 Rockmart truck accident case?

Rockmart

Resources

LAW ENFORCEMENT:

Polk County Sheriff's Department

(770) 749-2900

Polk County Police Department

(770) 748-7331

Rockmart Police Department

(770) 684-6558

Georgia State Patrol - Post 3

(770) 387-4056

TOWING AND WRECKERS:

All-Star Towing

(678) 727-2222

3 Kings Towing

(678) 372-0073

5 STAR Towing

(770) 713-4949

Rockmart Auto and Towing

(678) 757-6029

MEDICAL TREATMENT:

Redmond EMS

(706) 291-0291

 

Polk Medical Center

(770) 748-2500

Floyd Urgent Care - Rockmart

(770) 684-6100

COURTHOUSES:

Polk County Superior Court

(770) 749-2114

 

Polk County Probate Court 

(Traffic Court)

(770) 749-2128

Rockmart Municipal Court

(770) 684-2352

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. 

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What does it cost to hire Rockmart'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 Rockmart

Rockmart, Georgia is at the intersection of two major traffic highways that connect businesses in Georgia.  Highway 278 connects manufacturers and distributors from Atlanta to northwest Georgia.  Similarly, Cartersville Highway makes Polk and Bartow Counties accessible for shippers via its connection with I-75. 

An unfortunate result of these main thoroughfares intersecting in Rockmart is that car accidents, especially those involving tractor trailers and commercial motor vehicles, become inevitable and result in personal injury or death. 

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 Rockmart has played a role in those statistics, especially at:

  • Highway 278 (also known as Nathan Dean Parkway, Cedartown Highway, and Rockmart Highway)

  • Highway 113 (also known as Cartersville Highway)

  • Intersection of Highways 101 and 278 (near Bojangles)

  • Intersection of Highways 278 and 113 (near Wal-Mart).

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. 

Rockmart Truck Accident Attorney
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RECENT CASE RESULTS

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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:

Key Regulations

Licensing Regulations


To simply apply for a basic Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is a complex process with stringent requirements:

  • 18 y/o or older;
  • Valid Class C Georgia driver's license;
  • Complete and application;
  • Pass a vision examination;
  • Possess an Instructional Permit for atleast 14 days;
  • Pass written knowledge exams;
  • Pass the Road Skills Test
  • Certify the driving category;
  • Provide a Medical Certification.
Once a basic CDL is obtained, there are even more requirements in order to drive different commercial motor vehicles. In Georgia, these are divided in to three differing classes:
  1. Class A: Truck and trailer with a combined weight exceeding 26,000 lbs. (but with a trailer weight exceeding 10,000 lbs.)
  2. Class B: Single vehicle whose weight alone exceeds 26,000 lbs. (and trailer weighs less than 10,000 lbs.)
  3. Class C: Vechile is designed to transport 16 or more passengers.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. Different requirements and endorsements are required for transporting hazardous material, school buses and children, etc.




Hiring Regulations


Before a motor carrier can hire a licensed commercial motor vehicle driver, they must vet the driver to make sure they are qualified to safely operate commercial vehicles on public roadways. These include:

  • Requiring an application for employment;
  • Inquire in to driving record with prior employers for the previous 3 years;
  • Annually review their driving record;
  • Annually review their driving qualifications and certifications;
  • Obtain a copy of the driver's road test and certificate;
  • Maintain a copy of the driver's medical examiner's certificate




Hours of Service Regulations


Hours of service is the maximum amount of time a commercial driver is allowed to "on duty." This includes driving time. The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that drivers are awake and alert. These regulations were updated on June 1, 2020. Property-Carrying Drivers:

  • 11 Hour Driving Limit: May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14-Hour Limit: May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • 30-Minute Driving Break: Drivers must take a 30-minute break when they have driven for a period of 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption. The break may be satisfied by any non-driving period of 30 consecutive minutes (i.e., on-duty not driving, off-duty, sleeper berth, or any combination of these taken consecutively).
  • 60/70 Hour Limit: May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Sleeper Berth Provision: Drivers may split their required 10-hour off-duty period, as long as one off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least 2 hours long and the other involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. All sleeper berth pairings MUST add up to at least 10 hours. When used together, neither time period counts against the maximum 14- hour driving window.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions: Drivers are allowed to extend the 11-hour maximum driving limit and 14-hour driving window by up to 2 hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered
There are separate hours-of-service requirements for passenger-carrying drivers.




Maintenance, Repair, and Inspection Regulations


There are extensive regulations to make sure that commercial motor vehicles are not only safely maintained and repaired, but periodically inspected. The regulations impose some general guidelines that set the framework. The regulations explicitly require that all parts and accessories to a commercial motor vehicle (CMV's) and trailer be in a safe an proper condition. Drivers are further prohibited from driving CMV's if the vehicles are in a condition to likely cause an accident or a breakdown of the vehicle. In addition to these, the regulations impose specific requirements;

  • all emergency components must be inspected ever 90 days, including pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door markings.
  • pre-trip and post-trip inspections by the driver must be conducted with each trip;
  • annual inspections must be performed by a qualified inspector and in accodance with the Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards of as identified by the FMCSR.




Record Retention Regulations


There are various record retention timelines for different items. These record retention regulations are designed to make sure that the motor carriers can undergo an appropriate safety audit if an issue arises. Some record retention regulations may include:

  • Education/Training Materials for Drugs and Alcohol; 2 years
  • Certain Drug and Alcohol Test Records: 5 years
  • Convictions for Driving Violations: 3 years
  • Accident Registers with Accident Reports: 3 years
  • Driver Qualification File: 3 years
  • Hours of Service Records, Generally: 6 months
  • Vehicle Records, if Vehicle is Owned: 1 year
  • Driver Vehicle Inspection Report: 3 months




Weight Limit and Loading Regulations


The weight limits and loading procedures are designed to make sure that heavy loads are evenly and safely balanced. In Georgia, the maximum gross weight on a 5 axle big rig is 80,000 lbs. The weight limit decreases as the number of axles decrease. There are further requirements for the amount of weight that can be placed on each axle. Federal Regulations also impose cargo securement regulations to prevent shifting on or within, or falling from commercial motor vehicles. These regulations aim to reduce the number of commercial motor vehicle accidents caused by cargo shift and coming loose. For, instance and as a general matter, there must be:

  • one tiedown for cargo that is 5ft or less in length and 1,100 lbs or less in weight;
  • two tiedowns for cargo that is 5ft or less in length but more than 1,100 lbs in weight;
  • two tiedowns for cargo that is 5-10ft in length, regardless of weight.
These regulations change for different types of cargo, such as logs, metal coils, paper rolls, concrete pipe, intermodal containers, automobiles, heavy equipment, etc.




Insurance Requirements


Recognizing that commercial motor vehicles impose special dangers on the roadway, all states require varying levels of insurance requirements to protect innocent victims. The insurance requirements change based on the type of goods being trasnported. In Georgia, these requirements are:

  • $750,000 (general freight)
  • $1,000,000 (oil transport)
  • $5,000,000 (hazardous material)
  • $300,000 (household goods)





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;

  • Dispatch 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.)

  • Tanker Trucks

  • Flatbed Trucks (i.e. Straight Trucks)

  • Dump Trucks / Garbage Trucks

  • Tow Trucks

  • Delivery Truck / Box Trucks

  • Passenger Buses

  • Cement Mixer

  • Travel Trailers

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)

Startling Statistics

 

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 SafetyGeorgia 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

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.

(Back to Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions)

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.

(Back to Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions)

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.

(Back to Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions)

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."

(Back to Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions)

 

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.

(Back to Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions)

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.

(Back to Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions)

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.

(Back to Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions

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.

(Back to Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions)

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.

(Back to Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions)

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