Few accidents in Athens can be as devastating as truck accidents. Fortunately, truck accident victims will likely have a few options to recover compensation from the liable parties.
If you were hurt in a truck accident in Athens, report the incident to the police and go to the nearest hospital for immediate medical attention. In many cases, the truck driver will not be the only party you can hold responsible for your injuries. Special legal rules allow many truck accident victims to pursue damages against the driver and their employer. However, reviewing your case could reveal additional parties that share the blame, like other drivers on the road. Once you have identified the party or parties responsible for your injuries, you can file a lawsuit. Doing so can allow you to recover compensation for various damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the defendant was grossly negligent in causing your injuries, you might be awarded punitive damages as well.
Our Athens, GA truck accident lawyers at Howe Law can provide you with a free case review when you call us at (844) 876-4357.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident in Athens, GA?
Truck accidents are often complicated cases since several parties usually need to be analyzed to determine where all the blame lies. Truck drivers are typically most responsible for the accident since they operate the vehicle. However, a trucking company that employs a negligent driver might also be held accountable. Our experienced attorneys can help you identify the responsible parties and help you recover compensation for your injuries in Athens.
The Truck Driver
Trucking accidents often occur because of the negligence of the truck driver. Negligence can take various forms, but distracted driving, driver fatigue, and speeding are among the most common causes. Sometimes, a trucker might be held accountable for violating state or federal trucking regulations, such as exceeding the maximum number of driving hours in a specified period. In addition to the driver, other parties might share the blame for your injuries.
The Truck Driver’s Employer
If a truck driver’s negligence caused a truck accident, it can result in the trucking company being held accountable under the legal doctrine of “vicarious liability.” This means that if an employee was performing their regular job functions when they caused an accident, their employer will usually be held liable for any resulting injuries. For example, if a truck driver violated the number of hours they were permitted to drive, the driver and the trucking company could be named in your lawsuit.
In addition, trucking companies could be held liable for their own negligence. Trucking companies must ensure that their drivers are properly trained for the trucks they are operating. They must also conduct background checks before hiring drivers so reckless drivers are not behind the wheel. Trucking companies must also comply with state and federal trucking regulations, including making regular inspections and maintaining their vehicles in a safe condition.
However, in cases where the truck driver is an independent contractor, the trucking company might not be held liable for injuries caused by the truck driver. This is because independent contractors are not considered typical employees. For example, Amazon delivery truck drivers typically work for a local delivery company, not Amazon itself. While Amazon would likely not be able to be sued, the contracting trucking company and the driver could still be held liable.
In other cases, another driver’s negligence may have caused your injuries. For example, if another failed to check for traffic before changing lanes, a truck driver might have to swerve to avoid the car illegally changing lanes. However, it is possible that the truck driver was also driving negligently. For example, if the truck driver was speeding when the other driver changed lanes, both drivers should be sued for damages.
In rarer cases, another company responsible for loading the truck’s cargo could be held liable if they loaded the cargo negligently and against regulations. Cargo must be loaded properly to prevent it from shifting during transport. This typically means placing it in direct contact with other cargo and using the appropriate straps to secure it.
Faulty or badly designed truck parts can also cause trucking accidents. If a defective truck system, such as the brakes or steering systems, fails and causes a truck accident, the manufacturer or designer of the part could be to blame for your injuries. Our truck accident lawyers can review your case to determine who should be held responsible for your damages in Athens.
How to Report a Truck Accident in Athens, GA
Despite being inadmissible in truck accident claims in Athens, police reports for these incidents can be invaluable to our lawyers when preparing your case. Because of that, it is necessary to report your truck accident to the authorities immediately after it occurs. In addition to calling the police, you should also begin getting the proper medical attention for your injuries right away.
Reporting to the Police
According to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-273, any motor vehicle accident that results in death, injury, or upwards of $500 in property damage has to be reported to the Athens Borough Police Department. You can do this by calling 911 and requesting that officers and emergency medical services be sent to the accident location. Do not assume that the truck driver or eyewitnesses will alert law enforcement officials of your accident.
When police officers arrive, tell them what happened to the best of your ability. At the very least, give officers your name and insurance information. If you are too injured to provide additional details, officers might be able to fill out the rest of the report themselves. Our lawyers can help you get in touch with police officers in the following days if you remember more information that should be included in the report.
Reporting to Medical Professionals
Victims have no legal obligation to seek medical attention after a truck accident in Athens. That said, if you do not get medical care, it will be infinitely harder to prove your injuries. Furthermore, if you have no provable medical damages to be compensated, you may not need to file a lawsuit in the eyes of the court. So, you should immediately report to the nearest hospital following an accident involving a truck in Athens. If you are offered help from emergency medical professionals at the accident scene, accept it. Ensuring that you receive the long-term care that you need will also be important.
Proving Your Truck Accident Case in Athens, GA
All injury cases based on negligence require evidence in order for victims to recover compensation successfully. All of the evidence our attorneys gather when building your case will be used to prove four crucial elements.
Duty of Care
The first element that must be present in any personal injury claim is that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. We can establish that by placing the negligent truck driver at the accident scene with eyewitness statements and security camera footage. By being a driver on the road, the truck driver owes you a duty of care to act responsibly and follow traffic laws.
Breach of Duty of Care
The second element that must be established is that the defendant breached their owed duty of care to the plaintiff. This is the way in which the defendant acted negligently. If you are suing the trucking company for negligence, we can subpoena hiring records and other information to see if they performed the necessary due diligence when hiring a driver.
Next, you will have to prove that the breach of duty of care is what caused your injuries. For example, suppose a third party was speeding through an intersection and caused a truck to veer away, resulting in your accident. In that case, we can present evidence of that fact in the form of witness testimony and surveillance footage.
Finally, you need to establish that you incurred real damages as a result of a truck accident in Athens. You can accomplish this by presenting proof of your financial and emotional damages.
Evidence does not last forever. As time passes, eyewitnesses might forget the exact sequence of events that led to your accident. Footage might be erased from surveillance cameras. Physical evidence might be lost. Because of this, it is important to be proactive and enlist our lawyers to begin gathering evidence to use in your case right away. If you are unable to gather sufficient evidence to establish the four elements necessary to meet the burden of proof and prove a defendant’s fault, you will be unable to recover compensation in Athens.
Damages that You Can Claim for a Truck Accident in Athens, GA
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Athens, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages. In Georgia, these damages are known as special and general damages and include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could also pursue punitive damages or file a wrongful death claim. Our truck accident lawyers can help get an accurate calculation of your damages so that you recover the compensation you deserve.
The bulk of your damages will likely be in medical expenses. These include emergency room costs, surgeries, prescription medications, and any other medical treatment related to the injuries that you sustained. Also, your future medical expenses can be claimed in addition to your current ones. Further, your medical records will serve as important evidence in your case when it comes time to prove your damages.
If you missed work because of your injuries, you can claim lost wages for the time your injuries caused you to miss out on. You can also claim losses you suffered if you had to take a new position with reduced wages or needed time off for doctor’s visits. Victims might also be able to recover compensation for future lost wages in Athens.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages, known as general damages in Georgia, can also be claimed. Damages for pain and suffering are awarded based on the subjective measure of how much your injuries have affected your life on a daily basis. This can include pain from your injuries, emotional trauma, humiliation, and many other losses. Importantly, Georgia does not cap the amount of pain and suffering damages you can be awarded in a successful lawsuit.
Punitive damages may be awarded if a party acted in a particularly egregious manner that caused harm to others. In general, punitive damages are not intended to compensate the injured party but rather serve as punishment for the wrongdoer. They are often awarded in cases where a defendant’s actions were especially reckless or malicious, like driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Our attorneys can help you determine the full range of damages that you can claim in your case and help you request punitive damages in your initial complaint.
Our Athens, GA Lawyers Can Help with Your Truck Accident Case
For a free case evaluation with our truck accident lawyers, contact Howe Law at (844) 876-4357 today.