Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Georgia Truck Accidents
Georgia Tractor Trailer & Trucking Accident FAQ’s
The truck driver apologized to me at the scene and admitted that the wreck was his fault, but when I got a copy of the accident report I noticed that the responding police officer did not give a citation to the truck driver. Is this normal? Yes. Immediately after the wreck, before trucking company risk managers and insurance investigators descend on the scene, truck drivers are often honest and admit mistakes. They acknowledge wrongdoing, admit they were speeding, admit they were inattentive, and admit that they changed lanes without looking. Later, when the commercial driver realizes that his license and/or employment status may be affected by the wreck, his story changes. Also, once trucking company employees and insurance adjusters “talk” with the truck driver, different versions of the wreck start to emerge. We have seen this scenario play out countless times. In fact, it is so common that we expect the truck drivers to do anything they can to deny liability at their depositions and throughout the claim.
Should I talk with a representative of the trucking company or their insurance company after my accident? No. Though they may say that they are “just trying to find out what happened” or they “have to get your statement” you should not talk with a person whose interests are adverse to yours, especially without a lawyer helping you. Often, truck company representatives and their insurance company’s agent will call within days (we have even seen calls within hours) of a tractor-trailer wreck. Why? From the moment that the truck collision occurs, these individuals are seeking to minimize the fault of the commercial driver and minimize the injured person’s legal claims. Generally, while an accident victim is still recovering from his injuries, these people will call (and record the entire conversation), asking leading questions which are designed to have the injured party basically acknowledge that they are not hurt or only suffered minor injuries. Later, if an injury claim is brought, the trucking and insurance companies will use the tape recording to try to discredit the injured person’s story, saying “you already told us that you were ok” or something similar. The best practice is to hire a trucking lawyer and let him decide whether (and when) to speak with these people before a claim is brought.
Should I talk with my insurance company after a wreck with a big truck driver? Yes, but after you hire a lawyer. Your own insurance company may want to talk with you about how the wreck occurred, what damage was done to your car, and learn about your injuries. In general, it is a good idea to have a lawyer present with you (by conference call) when you call your own insurance company. Why? Generally, these conversations are recorded. Therefore, you want to make sure you are organized, have thought about what you want to say, and are prepared to protect your rights. Sometimes, when underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage is involved, you and your own insurance company may actually have adverse interests. In these situations, you definitely need legal representation because the insurance company will often seek to minimize your injury claim.
I was given a traffic ticket as a result of the accident and the tractor-trailer driver was not – Do I still have a way to recover for my injuries? You may. Traffic citations are not admissible as evidence in civil, personal injury cases unless the cited individual pleads guilty. In other words, if you plead not guilty and a judge or jury determines that, legally, you are guilty, the mere fact that you received a traffic ticket does not harm you in an injury case. Traffic tickets are given based upon the responding police officer’s judgment after conducting some sort of investigation at the scene of the accident. Sometimes, officers “get it right” and sometimes they “get it wrong.” If you believe that a truck driver, not you, was at fault—or more at fault than you—it is worth the time to speak with a lawyer about whether you have a good case against the trucking company.
A Special Collision Reconstruction Team is investigating my truck wreck—who are they? These investigating officers, often called a SCRT team (Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team), are highly trained officials whose job it is to investigate major injury and fatality wrecks throughout the state of Georgia. At any given time, there are generally five SCRT teams spread out through the state and these officers respond quickly when major truck collisions occur. They gather evidence, speak with witnesses, photograph the wreck scene, take measurements, and mark the roadway. These actions are undertaken in an effort to reconstruct, as best they can, how and why the collision occurred. Often, law firm hired accident investigators conduct their own inquiry, utilizing many of the same technologies employed by the SCRT team.
For my truck injury case, do I need a lawyer who handles trucking injury lawsuits or can I just hire any attorney? You need someone who understands big truck lawsuits. Lawyers, like doctors, focus upon different areas. You would not go to an eye doctor to have your leg evaluated. So too, you should not go to just any “injury lawyer” for a tractor-trailer case. The distinctions between car and truck wrecks are too numerous to discuss in detail on a website page. Suffice it to say, big trucks, their drivers, and trucking companies are governed by far different rules than those regulations that apply to normal passenger cars. Truck drivers almost always have to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which requires many hours of training (and carries with it the responsibility to drive like a professional on the road). The mechanics of a wreck, stopping distance, impact zones, and injuries are usually different in truck wrecks. When seeking a lawyer to handle a tractor-trailer collision, consider asking:
- How many truck wreck cases have you handled?
- When was the last time you litigated a tractor-trailer case?
- Do you give presentations to other lawyers about big truck accidents?
- Do you have any references from past clients who were injured in truck wrecks?
- What tractor-trailer companies have you had claims against?
The Top Twenty-Five Trucking Companies
We have litigated injury cases in Georgia against many of these national tractor-trailer companies:
- Swift Transportation
- Schneider National
- Werner Enterprises
- Landstar System
- U.S. Xpress, Xpress Global Systems
- J.B. Hunt Transport
- C.R. England
- Crete Carrier Corp
- Greatwide Logistics
- CRST International
- Knight Transportation, Knight Refrigerated
- Ruan Transportation
- Covenant Transport division
- Ryder Systems
- Anderson Trucking
- Stevens Transport
- Martini Transportation
- Con-way Truckload
- Heartland Express
- Mercer Transportation
- Marten Transport
- NFI Industries
- Penske Logistics
- Interstate Distributor Co.
Atlanta, GA 30338
Phone: (404) 869-1580