Atlanta Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer

Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyers Serving Clients in Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta tracor-trailer accident attorneyWith offices spread across Georgia, Simon Bridgers Spires specializes in assisting families grappling with severe injuries and cases of wrongful death. Our approach revolves around attentive listening to ensure that we align our efforts with your objectives.

While numerous attorneys in Georgia profess to handle tractor-trailer accidents, discerning the right course of action demands genuine field expertise. With an extensive background defending semi-truck drivers post-crash, Mr. Simon brings eight years of experience representing trucking companies and their insurance providers. Over time, he has shifted 40% of his legal focus toward advocating for victims against these entities.

An adept Atlanta lawyer specializing in tractor-trailer accidents understands the imperative of initiating lawsuits for substantial cases. Such legal action is crucial as it grants access to discovery and subpoena powers, unveiling crucial operational records of the trucking companies. In litigating multimillion-dollar cases, the wisdom of retaining a former industry insider becomes apparent, as they possess the insight to unravel the fabric of deception hindering jury comprehension of the true practices of certain trucking companies.

Tractor-Trailer Accident Cases Are Different From Auto Accident Cases

Tractor-trailer accidents in Georgia present unique challenges, necessitating the expertise of an experienced lawyer to safeguard the value of a case. Atlanta’s semi-trucking incidents are notably intricate due to several factors. Firstly, interstate trucking companies operate under stringent regulations outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, encapsulated in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Mastery of these regulations demands years of study, as their violation can significantly impact liability cases, with courts potentially charging negligence per se. This legal doctrine holds that breaching safety regulations implicates the trucking company to a certain extent.

Moreover, modern semi-trucks are equipped with sophisticated computer systems akin to aircraft “black boxes,” alongside onboard radar and satellite tracking capabilities. These technological features provide objective insights into accident causation, countering any misleading narratives from drivers. Additionally, reconstructing tractor-trailer collisions mandates the expertise of engineers with specialized skills, typically accessible through seasoned tractor-trailer lawyers.

Furthermore, comprehensive legal representation entails deposing the driver and risk manager under oath, coupled with a meticulous review of operational documents before considering any settlement. Unlike typical car accident cases, handling trucking incidents in Georgia demands a lawyer well-versed in this complex arena.

At our firm, we prioritize understanding your concerns and ensuring you’re fully informed about your case’s options before reaching any decisions.

What Issues Should an Atlanta Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer be an Expert In?

Every personal injury lawyer will tell you they handle trucking cases because they are profitable cases, so in order to separate the wheat from the chafe, you need to understand some of the unique regulations that govern this field to enable you to ask detailed questions.

For example, how does it affect the case against the trucking company if the trucker had a radar detector?

Radar detectors are forbidden under 49 CFR §392.71. If you are in a crash with a trucker with a radar detector, that fact in conjunction with speeding can support punitive damages.

What role does an expert collision reconstructionist have immediately after the crash?

Because the trucking company will allow the tractor and the electronic control module to be destroyed if you don’t pin them down. We recently handling an inspection of a tractor trailer operated by Werner Enterprises. The client did not hire us until many months after the crash and by the time we inspected the tractor trailer, it had been completely cannibalized for parts. The electronic control module had been disconnected from many of the sensors which leads to significant error codes in the data dump. Half of the brake lines had been salvaged and in short there were serious pieces missing from the puzzle. Because the client hesitated in hiring counsel, we will be at the mercy of the trial court seeking a spoliation charge to hold the trucking company responsible for allowing evidence to disappear.

What Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations apply to Tractor Trailer Crashes?

These FederaL regulations govern 1) the hiring process and requirements, 2) annual safety reviews on the drivers, 3) Inspection and Maintenance requirements for the tractors and trailers, 4) the number of hours the driver can safely drive, 5) alcohol and drug use testing, 6) what safety equipment and procedures to use in the event of a break down and 7) how long the trucking company must retain their records.

Let’s discuss how each of these areas must be scrutinized when a client has been injured by a negligent Georgia truck driver.

I. The Hiring Process:

A trucking company is required under Section 391.21 to maintain a complex application called a driver qualification file. They are required to inquire as to:

  1. prior driver’s licenses;
  2. the applicant’s experience;
  3. A list of all crashes in the prior three years and any injuries it caused;
  4. A list of all traffic tickets for the past 3 years;
  5. A explanation of prior license suspension;
  6. A list of the prior employers for the last three years including the reason for leaving;

The trucking company is required to send out faxes to the prior employers to learn whether the driver had safety or substance abuse issues. In my experience, the smaller trucking companies tended to partially or completely ignore these safety requirements and the result is unsafe truckers driver 80,0000 b trucks.

The trucking company is required to send a request to the department of motor vehicles for a three year prior driving history and this request has to be refreshed every year on the anniversary of hiring. Many carriers either neglect this requirement completely or don’t bother looking at the results.

The trucking company is required to give the truck driver a medical exam to make sure his health does not pose a medical risk to the motoring public.

A number of trucking companies fail to conduct their annual reviews and leave drivers on the road that should be disqualified. For instance, below is a list of the infractions that will disqualify a trucker for at least a year, and yet every year we see ineligible drivers killing and maiming Georgia families in trucking crashes. The following offenses under Section 391.15 will prohibit a Georgia Trucking company from hiring or retaining a truck driver:

  1. Driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. They are excluded if the person’s alcohol concentration is 0.04% or above or if they refuse to undergo testing (what we call a less safe DUI in Georgia)
  2. Driving a commercial motor vehicle while on a Schedule I controlled substance (speed, cocaine etc) ;
  3. Transportation, possession, or use of a 21 CFR 1308.11 Schedule I drug.
  4. Leaving the scene of an accident while operating a commercial vehicle; or committing a felony while using a commercial vehicle.

Tractor Trailer drivers in Georgia are suspended for a period of 1 year for their first offense. Subsequent offenses will bar them for three years or longer.

II. Annual Safety Reviews

Under §391.25, the Georgia trucking company is required to make an annual review the trucker’s record including:

  1. Asking the DMV for the MVA for each driver;
  2. Every 12 months they have to sit down with the driver and review the driving record;
  3. The company should look at evidence that the driver has violated any laws especially speeding, reckless driving, and operating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. ( this is one of the areas we often explore to determine if this driver should have been on the road at all)

As you can imagine, with these type of administrative requirements, smaller trucking companies tend to miss these requirements and when those mistakes lead to putting unsafe truck drivers on Atlanta roads, the results can be devastating.

III. Inspection and Maintenance

Under §396.3, “…every motor carrier shall systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles…” The trucking company is also required to maintain a record of what was inspected, by whom and when for at least a year.

In addition to the company requirements, the driver has to conduct a pre-trip inspection before every trip and there are strict requirements post-trip as well. Under §396.11, the company shall require the Driver to prepare a report in writing at the completion of each day’s work on each vehicle operated. The report has to cover brakes, Steering, lighting and reflectors, tires, horn, windshield wipers, mirrors, Wheels and rims and Emergency equipment. .

IV. How Many Hours Can a Trucker Legally Drive?

Truck drivers in interstate commerce can only drive a limited number of hours per day and per week. These rules were promulgated to keep tired truck drivers off the road. Under section 395.3, truck drivers cannot legally drive more than 11 cumulative hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. They also cannot drive for any period after the end of the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty, In looking at the work week, the driver cannot drive if they have been on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days or having been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week. This provision does reset if there are 34 hours of consecutive rest. Truck drivers are required to record their hours of service every day. Some large trucking companies do this electronically, but most carriers still use paper logs. An experienced trucking lawyer will compare the logs to the dispatch records to see if the driver has a pattern of speeding or if they are faking their paperwork.

Advanced Crash Data Recorders and Third Party Tracking

Most truck engines manufactured within the past decade are equipped with an Electronic Control Module (ECM), tasked with recording various parameters such as average speed, RPM, time spent in gear, and more. Additionally, it captures data from instances of hard braking and crash events, providing engineers with precise details about the speed, braking, and shifting actions leading up to and during a collision. This empirical evidence can be invaluable in scenarios where a trucker disputes allegations of speeding. Furthermore, historical data can reveal patterns of excessive speed and can be cross-referenced with hours of service records to verify the timing of stops.

Commonly referred to as a “black box,” these electronic components aid law enforcement and legal professionals in accurately reconstructing the sequence of fatal trucking accidents. The extent of information retrievable following a trucking collision in Atlanta varies depending on the year, make, and model of the vehicle. For instance, a Caterpillar power plant may provide data on throttle position, speed, gear engagement, among other variables. While not the most sophisticated unit available, such data, especially regarding speed and throttle, proves crucial in deciphering the events leading to a trucking accident.

A representative example of this evidentiary resource is showcased in a video presentation utilized during a tractor-trailer crash mediation in Atlanta. In one particular case, our client received a citation after being rear-ended by a tractor-trailer driver, allegedly due to the absence of activated towing lights. Upon scrutiny, the truck driver’s testimony appeared increasingly dubious, especially when juxtaposed with the zoomed-in computer printout showcasing the ECM of DDEC data for the crash. This printout irrefutably demonstrated that the driver was overtaking on a wet road with cruise control engaged and did not apply brakes until a mere second before colliding with our truck.

In any significant trucking injury case, it is imperative for your expert to either extract the data in the presence of the vehicle owner or obtain the raw data from the tractor owner through a controlled exchange. Trucks equipped with Detroit Diesel engines dating back to December 1997 possess collision reconstruction information. Given that Mercedes-Benz acquired Detroit Diesel, similar data is accessible post-2003. Manufacturers like Volvo, Caterpillar, and others have integrated Electronic Control Modules into their engines since the early 1990s. Once the presence of data is confirmed, the next query pertains to its extent.

In Detroit power units from 1998 onward, typically, two types of events are recorded: Hard Brake records and Last Stop Records. A Hard Brake record is triggered when a tractor-trailer abruptly decelerates by over 7 mph within one second, storing one minute of data before the event and 15 seconds afterward. Conversely, a Last Stop Record is activated when the tractor comes to a halt, albeit it gets overwritten if the tractor resumes movement. Both events capture metrics like MPH, RPM, braking, clutch engagement, cruise control status, throttle position, and engine load.

Certain trucks are outfitted with Qualcomm or similar satellite data systems, configurable to perform functions like GPS location checks, speed reports, and in-cab email. A Federal Court ruling in Atlanta has mandated the preservation of Qualcomm data for six months, underscoring the importance of engaging seasoned legal counsel to secure such records.

Moreover, some trucks feature collision avoidance radar systems like the Eaton VORAD system, which detects nearby vehicles and alerts the driver of impending collisions or unsafe distances. This data can be instrumental in reconstructing pre-crash scenarios and determining vehicle speeds.

Collision Reconstruction Engineers

There are realistically probably only 8 qualified tractor trailer reconstructionists in the Southeast and retaining one for a serious trucking collision in Georgia is critical. These individuals are usually Physical Engineers with a background in crash investigation. They can estimate speed from crush damage and skid marks. They can develop a three dimensional reconstruction of how the crash occurred. They can inspect the brakes on the semi after the crash to determine if they were out of adjustment and the effect that would have on their braking power. In serious Georgia injury cases, a reconstructionist is essential.

While it is important to get legal advice from a Georgia Injury lawyer early in any serious case, this is never more true that with a trucking crash. It is essential that your lawyer send a Georgia spoliation letter to the trucking company in the first few days after the collision. Your lawyer should know to ask for at least the following items to be preserved:

  1. The Driver’s Employment Application;
  2. The Driver’s MVRs;
  3. The Driver’s Complete Qualification file including:
    1. The 3 Years of Written Employment references
    2. The DOT Drug Screen Results
    3. The Dot Physical and Certificate
    4. The Road Test Certification
    5. The Annual Driving Reviews
  4. The Driver’s Hours of Service logs for the 6 months previous to the collision;
  5. The Driver’s fuel card records and receipts for the 6 months previous to the collision;
  6. The company dispatch records for this driver for the 6 months previous to the collision;
  7. The Bill of Lading for the cargo the Driver was carrying at the time;
  8. The Driver’s post collision alcohol and drug testing;
  9. The pre and post trip inspections for this driver and for the tractor and trailer involved in the collision for the 6 months previous to the collision;
  10. The maintenance records for this tractor and trailer for the 6 months prior to the collision;
  11. Any satellite, GPS and/or Qualcomm data for the 6 months prior to and including the time of the collision;
  12. A complete download of the Electronic Control Module data from the tractor’s engine;
  13. A printout from any VORAD system on the tractor for the 6 months prior to and including the time of the collision.
  14. The tractor trailer in the same condition as it was at the time of the collision or in the alternative that you provide me with the opportunity to photograph the conspicuity markings on it and the trailer;

You can find a number of Georgia trucking collisions that are discussed in my blog where we will provide analysis and insight into how these crashes can be prevented.

Trucking companies that operate in Georgia

  • Adams Motor Express, INC.
  • Schneider National
  • Werner Enterprises
  • Swift Transportation
  • R and L Carriers
  • Gator Freightways
  • Atlantic Distribution Systems, INC.
  • Augusta Transportation, INC.
  • B-H Transfer Co.
  • Benton Express, INC.
  • Bestway Systems, INC
  • Bo-Mark Transport, INC.
  • Bulloch & Bulloch, INC.
  • C & A Transportation, INC.
  • Collins Industries
  • Colonial Cartage Corporation
  • D & D Transportation, INC.
  • Dahlonega Transport, INC.
  • Dennis Truck Lines, INC.
  • Diversified Trimodal, INC.
  • Energy Dispatch, LLC
  • F&W Transportation Co., INC
  • Fepco Container, INC.
  • Georgia Southern Transportations, INC.
  • Glenn – Lee Trucking, INC.
  • Great Southern Xpress, INC.
  • Hames Trucking, INC.
  • Hickman Transport Co., INC.
  • Howard Sheppard, INC.
  • Jackie B. Lovett Trucking Co., INC.
  • James Brown Contracting, INC.
  • Jenkins Transport, INC.
  • Jimmy Harris Trucking, INC.
  • Kennesaw Transportation, INC.
  • Lad Truck Lines, INC.
  • Lakeland Motor Freight, INC.
  • Lance Trucking Corp ( A Corp)
  • Langdale Forest Products Co.
  • Lumber Transport, INC.
  • Nationwide Southeast, INC.
  • Prime Time Transportation, INC.
  • R.E. Adams
  • Robert Bearden, INC.
  • Rosedale Transport, INC.
  • Run To Win Freight Lines, INC.
  • Sanders Truck Transportation Company, INC.
  • Sea-Mar, INC.
  • Southern Ag Carriers, INC.
  • Southern Freight, INC.
  • Starrete Trucking Company, INC.
  • Thom’s Transport Company, INC.
  • Transus Intermodal, LLC
  • United Parcel Service, INC., A New York Corp.
  • United Parcel Service, INC., An Ohio Corp.
  • Vaughan Transport, INC.
  • Williams Brothers Trucking, INC.
  • Zar Tran, INC.

Trucking Case Value Examples

Suit Alleging Wrongful Death as a Result of Tractor Trailer Crossing Center Line Prevails

A disputed liability case was settled for $2,000,000 in October 2015. The case involved a bobtail tractor trailer driver denying that he came across the center line, striking and killing the plaintiff. There was roadway evidence of skid marks originating in the tractor’s lane of travel into the oncoming lane. The defense hired a collision reconstruction expert to argue that the truck was responding to a sudden emergency.

The plaintiff was elderly and suffering from congestive heart failure. The defense likely gambled that with a somewhat grey liability case, they could keep damages down, the idea being a sickly person does not have the same life value as a healthy and hale one. The defense was also leaning heavily on the fact that the case would be tried in rural Worth County.

  • They treat each client with respect, compassion, and dignity, regardless of the size of the tractor-trailer accident case.
  • They provide outstanding customer service, communicating openly, and working swiftly to resolve the case.
  • They accept semi-truck accident claims on a contingency fee basis. He will not charge you anything in legal fees unless he wins your case.
  • They have years of experience with semi-truck and tractor-trailer litigation and knowledge of trucking laws and regulations.

Do You Need a Tractor-trailer Accident Attorney?

Large semi-truck collision survivors hire a truck accident lawyer in Atlanta to help defend their rights against major trucking corporations and their insurance companies. These corporations frequently employ tactics to evade compensating victims, such as unjustified claim delays or outright denials of valid claims. Engaging the expertise of an Atlanta tractor-trailer accident lawyer for settlement discussions can thwart any attempts by trucking companies to exploit your situation. By entrusting your claim to a seasoned attorney, you can direct your energy toward recuperation. Allow us to support you in battling the negligent party accountable for major semi-truck accidents.

Common Types of Semi-Truck Accidents in Atlanta, GA

The cause of a semi-trucking accident can determine how the vehicle crashes. For example, a driver locking up the brakes could cause the tractor-trailer to jackknife.

Examining the type of accident can help a victim understand what caused the collision, and who to blame for damages. One of the first steps we can take as your attorneys is to launch an investigation into the type of accident.

  • Jackknife: The trailer of an 18-wheeler swings out at an angle from the bed, like a jackknife. This makes it impossible for the driver to stop or steer the vehicle.
  • Wide turn accident: The driver does not give him or herself enough room to swing the semi-truck out before making a turn, colliding with or trapping other vehicles.
  • Rear-end collision: A drowsy, drunk, distracted, or drugged semi-truck driver may smash into the vehicle(s) in front of the truck, causing severe personal injuries.
  • No Zone accident: A semi-truck has significant No Zones, or blind spots, that truck drivers must check before turning or merging. Failure to check the No Zone could cause a sideswipe or merge accident: A number of small vehicles and motorcycle accidents in Atlanta are caused by semi-truck blind zones.
  • Rollover: A semi-truck could roll over and cause a crash if one of its tires blows out or if the driver engages in unsafe practices, such as speeding or jerking the wheel.

Other common Atlanta tractor-trailer accidents include lost cargo loads and underride accidents. If you do not know your accident type, one of our Atlanta tractor-trailer accident lawyers can review police reports, revisit the scene, and re-create the accident, if necessary. Our attorneys have the power to understand who or what caused your crash and to help you file a claim against that party.

Meet with a Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney in Atlanta Today

Accidents involving tractor-trailers or large company semi-trucks pose a significant risk of causing severe injuries or even fatalities. In Georgia, it is the responsibility of semi-truck drivers to ensure the safety of all vehicles on the roads. If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a semi-truck driver, an attorney can assist you in seeking fair compensation for your injuries.

The legal team at Simon Bridgers Spires and Christopher Simon possesses the expertise needed to navigate complex claims. As seasoned Atlanta tractor-trailer accident lawyers, they can assist you in gathering evidence and representing you in negotiations with major trucking companies. Take advantage of a complimentary initial consultation to address your concerns and questions. Schedule your consultation by calling (404) 259-7635 or by requesting a callback through Mr. Simon’s online contact form.