Cohen & Sinowski are Cobb County 18-wheeler accident lawyers. From our office in Marietta we represent clients across the Atlanta-Metro area.
Trucking accidents are serious and often result in debilitating and fatal injuries. A fact sheet from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) emphasizes that large truck crashes frequently result in the deaths of passenger vehicle occupants due to the large size and weight of big rigs.
Indeed, these trucks tend to weight between 20 and 30 times as much as a smaller passenger vehicle, and they also have substantially more ground clearance. As a result, passenger vehicles can underride large trucks in a collision, leading to fatal injuries.
Large truck crashes can happen anywhere, but they frequently occur on highways such as I-75 or I-575 in and around Marietta, Georgia. To be sure, I-75 is a major throughway for large trucks, and with speed limits of 70 miles per hour, a collision with a smaller vehicle can cause significant damage and harm. Large truck accidents can also happen on other major roads around Marietta, as well.
If you or someone you love got hurt or sustained fatal injuries in an 18-wheeler crash in Cobb County, you should discuss your options with a Marietta trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Getting the Facts About Georgia Truck Crashes
How often do truck crashes happen in Georgia, and when and where are they most likely to occur? Furthermore, why do they happen? The IIHS and HLDI fact sheet provides some of the following statistics about truck crashes that occurred in 2016:
- Nearly 4,000 people sustained fatal injuries in truck crashes;
- 66 percent of all truck accident deaths were passenger vehicle occupants, while about 17 percent were truck occupants;
- 16 percent of all truck accident deaths were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists;
- Truck accident fatalities are on the rise, with a 27 percent increase in passenger vehicle occupant deaths and a 47 percent increase in truck occupant deaths between 2009 and 2016;
- About 60 percent of all fatal large truck accidents occurred on major roads, while about 32 percent happened on interstates and freeways;
- Highest percentage of large truck crashes occurred during daylight hours between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.;
- Majority of large truck crash deaths occur during weekdays, with only 16 percent occurring on Saturday and Sunday;
- Approximately 44 percent of fatal injury victims were wearing seat belts;
- More than 31 percent of deadly truck collisions with a passenger vehicle involved head-on collisions, while about 20 percent of fatal crashes involved the passenger vehicle striking the truck from the rear; and
- Fewer than 3 percent of all deadly trucking accidents involve a truck driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) beyond the legal limit.
Statute of Limitations in a Marietta Trucking Accident Claim
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a Marietta trucking accident, it is important to understand how the Georgia statute of limitations for personal injury cases could affect your case. The statute of limitations is a strict timeline within which you must file your lawsuit.
Under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, truck accident injury victims typically have two years from the date of the accident (the date on which you sustained the injuries) to file a claim for compensation. Failing to file a lawsuit within that two-year period can prevent the plaintiff from seeking compensation through a lawsuit. In the event that a truck crash results in the death of a loved one, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
The statute of limitations in most wrongful death cases is also two years under O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1, but the clock begins ticking at a different point. Instead of requiring that you file a claim within two years from the date of the accident in which the individual sustained injuries, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim requires that you file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the victim’s death.
Liability for a Truck Collision
Who is liable when a trucking collision results in serious or fatal injuries? Given that the trucking industry involves many different parties, a truck accident claim may be able to name numerous parties as defendants. We often think about driver error and the ways in which a trucker’s drowsy driving, aggressive driving, or distracted driving might have caused a crash.
Yet there are many different reasons for a collision beyond driver error, such as an improperly loaded vehicle, a failure to have the truck properly maintained, or an auto defect. The following parties may be liable in a trucking accident in Marietta:
- Truck driver;
- Owner of the truck;
- Company that leased the truck;
- Trucking company;
- Loader of the truck cargo;
- Company that employed the loader of the truck’s cargo;
- Manufacturer of the truck or its parts;
- Designer of the truck or its parts; and/or
- Mechanic who improperly serviced the truck or the trailer.
Contributory Negligence in a Trucking Accident Case
What happens when the plaintiff also may be partially responsible for the crash? In many cases, an injury victim can still be eligible to recover damages even if she is partially at fault for the collision. This is known as “comparative fault” or “contributory negligence.”
In other words, the terms refer to a situation in which the plaintiff’s own fault contributed to the accident or injury. Under O.C.G.A. § 51-11-7 and O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33, a plaintiff can recover damages as long as she is less than 50 percent liable. Then, her damages award will be offset by the percentage of her own fault. For example:
Imagine a plaintiff is determined to be 40 percent responsible for a truck crash in Marietta or in a surrounding area such as Acworth, Kennesaw, or Powder Springs. The jury initially awards her $100,000. However, because her own negligence contributed to the crash and to her injuries, that damage award is reduced by her own proportion of the negligence, which is 40 percent (or $40,000). As such, in this scenario she would recover $60,000. However, if the plaintiff were 50 percent or more responsible, she would be barred from any recovery.