At 80,000 pounds fully loaded, semi-trucks have enough power to devastate all types of sizes of smaller vehicles, causing catastrophic injuries to the occupants and changing the lives of everyone involved.
A skilled Athens truck accident attorney lawyer can help you understand your rights after being struck by a semi-truck and help you achieve justice and seek full and fair compensation for your losses. At Rafi Law Firm, our legal team of experienced Athens car accident lawyers fights hard for our clients, from our initial free consultation all the way to settlement negotiations or a trial. Contact us today at (706) 995-7547 to get started.
Our hard work pays off for clients
When you need a truck accident attorney, Athens has plenty to choose from. Only one firm has the resources necessary to pursue complex truck accident cases. In Athens, that’s Rafi Law Firm.
Our proven track record of success, including a recent $3 million award for a tractor-trailer accident victim, demonstrates our commitment to the best outcome for our clients.
Every member of our legal team, from tough attorneys to skilled paralegals and our expert witnesses, has deep knowledge of Georgia truck accident laws and both federal and state regulations for commercial drivers. Knowledge, tenacity, and compassion – that’s what you’ll get from our firm.
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident lawyer in Athens?
Each law firm sets its own rates, but for a truck accident, it’s not uncommon for attorneys to work on a contingency basis like we do at Rafi Law Firm. This means we get paid on the contingency of winning your case; if we don’t win, we don’t get paid. Your lawyer will address our payment structure at your initial consultation.
What should I do after being in a crash with a semi-truck?
You’re in pain, confused, and frightened, as you should be – you’ve just been hit by a truck. What you do in the hours, days, and weeks following the collision gives you the best chance of healing and protecting your possible case against the semi-truck driver.
1. Call 911 and ask for the police and an ambulance
EMS responders are trained to quickly diagnose and treat common, serious truck accident injuries, so when seconds count, immediate help makes a difference. When the police arrive, they compile the official accident report, including a narrative describing their impression of the accident’s cause and vital details about those involved, road and weather conditions, and witnesses.
2. Remove yourself from harm’s way
If you can get off the road, do so unless it’s unsafe. If you cannot move yourself or your car, turn your flashers on.
3. Gather evidence and witness contact information at the scene
Take down the names of any passengers or people who stopped to help.
4. Notify your insurance carrier
Even if you didn’t cause the wreck, your auto policy likely requires you to notify your carrier anyway.
5. Meet with an Athens truck accident attorney
Your attorney protects you the moment you hire them, talking to the driver’s lawyers, employer, and insurance company so you can focus on recovery in peace.
How long do I have to file a claim?
In Georgia, you only have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit for damages against the truck driver and any other party contributing to the collision.
What kinds of damages can I claim?
Georgia law permits truck accident victims to seek three types of damages: economic, non-economic (pain and suffering), and punitive.
Economic damages are your actual losses, including:
- Past, present, and future medical care like doctor’s visits or surgery
- Rehabilitative care, such as physical or occupational therapy
- Lost wages from missed time at work
- Loss of earning potential, if you are disabled to the point you cannot continue your current occupation
- Property damage, repairing or replacing your car
Non-economic (pain and suffering) damages
Although non-economic damages are intangible, they still have value, and you deserve to be compensated for your:
- Pain and suffering from your injuries
- Emotional trauma and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
Punitive damages are awarded when a defendant’s behavior is egregiously negligent. They aren’t uncommon in semi-truck accident claims. The defendant, such as the driver’s employer or another associated party, may be assessed punitive damages to punish their recklessness and set a precedent to deter others from similar behavior.
The trucking company has insurance – why do I need a lawyer?
Insurance companies are not in the business of handing out large settlements. The adjuster will fight tooth and nail to claim you caused the crash or that you aren’t hurt as badly as you say, thereby minimizing your claim. Your Athens truck accident attorney is also your professional negotiator and can argue for a settlement covering your claim’s full value.
Who else besides the driver could be liable for the crash?
Truck accident cases are often more complex than regular car accident claims, often because there are multiple defendants.
Trucking carriers are required to adhere to safety regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
If a trucking company fails to provide adequate oversight of drivers, encourages drivers to drive longer than is legally permissible, is negligent in hiring practices, or deliberately over-schedule drivers, they may share responsibility for permitting a dangerous driver on the road.
Cargo loading company
Poorly loaded cargo shifts during transit, throwing the truck off balance and potentially causing the driver to lose control.
Manufacturer of trucks or truck parts
A faulty design or errors in the truck or trailer manufacturing process means that either the designer or manufacturer released a fundamentally flawed product, leading to the wreck.
If a truck driver hits you because they were taking action to avoid a potential collision, then they may have been the initial cause of the crash.
How will my Athens truck accident attorney prove liability?
Proving the defendant(s) liable for the crash starts with your Athens truck accident attorneys showing negligence on the defendant’s part. It’s a four-pronged legal argument, and each one must be established.
1. Duty of care
The defendant owed you a duty of care, such as the obligation to drive safely and follow FMCSA regulations.
2. Breach of duty
The defendant breached that duty of care, like a trucking carrier that encouraged drivers to operate longer than FMCSA regulations permit.
The breach was the direct cause of the incident that resulted in your injuries and other damages.
Finally, your Athens truck accident attorney must prove that you suffered damages that have caused a real financial impact.
How long will my case take to settle?
Truck accident cases typically take longer than cases between non-commercial drivers. First, there may be multiple defendants, which means your lawyer must develop multiple cases.
Second, your injuries may be much more serious, and your attorney may be waiting for you to reach your maximum medical improvement or the point at which, even if you don’t make a complete recovery, further medical care wouldn’t make much of a difference in your outcome.
At that point, your lawyer has a more accurate idea of the cost of your medical care and what kind of compensation you may need for future services, like home modification or in-home health care.
What is a “black box” and how can it help my case?
Just like an airplane, commercial semi-trucks also have electronic logs tracking how long the rig operates, how fast it travels, and more. These devices are known as electronic logging devices (ELDs), commonly referred to as “black boxes.”
Your lawyer can use the recorded information to prove a trucker was speeding or was operating longer than federally permitted.
Common causes of truck accidents
Determining the right defendant or defendant usually starts with investigating the cause of the collision.
Even drivers who stay within the FMCSA’s stipulated operating hours (driving no more than 14 consecutive hours a day) can still get sleepy. Drowsy driving poses many of the same dangers as drunk driving.
A trucker may be using their cell phone, checking or programming their GPS, or eating and drinking while driving. Just a few seconds of inattention can cause a crash.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Commercial truck drivers must stay under a blood alcohol threshold of 0.04%. This is significantly less than Georgia’s legal limit of 0.08%.
Furthermore, truckers are forbidden from using drugs while driving, although it’s not unusual for truckers to use “uppers,” or amphetamines, to stay awake while driving.
Unsafe driving practices
Changing lanes without signaling, slamming on the brakes, or engaging in unsafe driving can all lead to a crash.
Types of semi-truck accidents
The type of truck accident you were in can help your attorney determine if other parties are also to blame besides the trucker.
Trucks have a higher center of gravity than other cars, making it more likely they will roll over in inclement weather.
A jackknife accident can cause the trailer to separate from the rig, sending the pieces of the truck in two directions.
A smaller vehicle can get trapped beneath the trailer, get stuck, or pass entirely beneath and shear off the roof. The point of impact is often the windshield, which means that the occupants aren’t protected by crumple zones or airbags.
Items falling off a commercial truck pose a danger to anyone behind the truck.
A driver who improperly merges or changes lanes can sideswipe one or more cars, crushing them or sending them into other lanes of traffic.
Common truck accident injuries
Truck accident victims may suffer multiple life-changing injuries, like:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Internal organ damage and internal bleeding
- Spinal cord damage, like partial or total paralysis
- Neck and back injuries, like a herniated disc
- Involuntary amputation
- Permanent disability
“Dos” and “don’ts” of dealing with insurance after a crash
The chief rule of dealing with an insurance company representing the trucker, their shipping carrier, or the other defendants is to refer them to your truck accident lawyer. Athens truck accident victims are under no obligation to give a statement about the accident to the other party’s insurance company, no matter their persistence or promise that they “just want a few words.”
“Do’s” when dealing with insurance
There are a few things to remember that can help you know what to say and when to stay silent.
Do answer their most basic questions to confirm who you are
You may state your name and give the other party’s insurance company your driver’s license number, proving that you were the person involved in the crash.
Do refer them to speak with your attorney
You are well within your rights to tell the insurance adjustor to direct all questions or concerns to your lawyer.
“Don’ts” when dealing with insurance
Insurance adjusters are savvy and will pounce on anything you give them that can possibly implicate you in the case. This could include accusing you of causing the crash or saying that you’re lying about being seriously injured to get more money.
Don’t post anything about the incident on social media
Stay silent about the accident, and don’t post any photos until the conclusion of the case.
Don’t give statements without an attorney
Your lawyer can speak for you or guide you when answering questions during a deposition or trial.
Avoid using the word “accident”
“Accident” implies that no one intended for it to happen. Whenever you must discuss the situation with the insurance company or anyone besides your attorney, it’s a good idea to refer to it as a “wreck,” “collision,” or “crash,” not an “accident.”
(H2) Why do I need to visit a doctor as soon as possible?
First, the quicker your injuries are diagnosed, the better your chances of recovering. Secondly, your medical records after the crash directly tie your injuries to the crash and not another cause.
Our Athens truck accident attorneys are here to help
Do you need an Athens truck accident attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve? We can help. Contact Rafi Law Firm today for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer.