Fulton County is both the most populous county in Georgia and the county with the highest number of fatal car accidents. According to the most recent statistics available from the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety, there were over 55,000 car crashes annually in Fulton County, resulting in over 14,000 injuries and 77 deaths.
The metro Atlanta area is also home to I-285, also known as "The Perimeter." I-285 may be less than 64 miles long, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that it has more fatal accidents per mile than any other highway in the country.
While truck accidents make up a relatively small portion of total vehicle accidents in the area, metro Atlanta truck accidents are more likely to result in catastrophic injuries or death, due to the sheer size of the vehicles involved.
Fulton County and Atlanta Trucking Statistics
With its many major highways—including I-20, I-75, I-85, I-285 and I-675—and its proximity to the busy Port of Savannah, metro Atlanta is a major distribution hub for cargo from around the world.
The Atlanta Regional Commission reported that more than 150 million tons of goods are transported through metro Atlanta each year, and 83% of that cargo is moved by tractor-trailers, semis, and big rig trucks. This means thousands of large trucks are traveling local roads every day.
When a passenger car or truck is involved in a crash with a large truck, occupants of the regular vehicle are much more likely to be killed than the truck driver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that just 22% of those who died in Georgia truck accidents were truck drivers. The vast majority of those who died were occupants of other vehicles.
Who is responsible for truck accidents in Fulton County?
Those involved in trucking activities have a duty to follow hundreds of strict state and federal truck safety regulations. These regulations dictate everything from the maximum amount of cargo that a truck can carry to the number of hours that a driver can work without taking a break. If a truck driver, trucking company, cargo loader, or other party violates those regulations, a devastating accident can occur.
Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Mechanical issues, such as improper repair and maintenance, brake problems, or tire problems
- Speeding or other violations of traffic laws
- Truck driver fatigue or failure to follow "hours of service" limits
- Drug or alcohol use
- Distracted driving
- Cargo problems, such as improper loading or exceeding weight limits
By filing a truck accident lawsuit, those who were injured in truck accidents may be able to hold a trucking employer, truck driver or other party financially responsible (liable) for the accident.
Most trucking accident lawsuits involve a claim of negligence. To successfully prove negligence in a Fulton County or Atlanta truck accident case, injured persons must demonstrate that the responsible party had a duty, that duty was breached, and that the breach of duty contributed to causing injuries.
Employer Truck Accident Negligence
There are different ways that a trucking employer can potentially be held liable for truck accident injuries. The first is through a direct negligence claim, where the employer's own negligence directly contributed to causing an accident.
Direct negligence claims against trucking employers include things like:
- Failure to follow regulations regarding hiring, training and monitoring truck driver activities. For example, if the trucking company failed to perform proper background checks on a driver and that driver caused an accident, the trucking employer could potentially be held responsible for the accident.
- Failure to follow regulations regarding inspection, maintenance, and repair of vehicles.
- Forcing truck drivers or other employees to violate state or federal trucking regulations, such as "hours of service" limits or maximum cargo size and weight.
In Georgia, a trucking employer can also potentially be held "vicariously liable" for the negligence of its employees in some circumstances. If the truck driver's negligence occurred in the course of his or her employment and the trucking company exercised "immediate direction and control" over the driver's activities, it may be possible to hold the trucking employer vicariously liable for accidents that result from its employees' negligence.
Truck Driver Negligence
Truck drivers can commit the same negligent acts as a regular driver. For example, truckers can drive too fast for road conditions, drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or simply be distracted while driving. However, when a truck driver is distracted, the potential consequences are much greater because of the size and weight of a large truck.
What kind of compensation can a Fulton County truck accident victim receive?
Someone who has been injured in an Atlanta or Fulton County truck accident can potentially receive financial compensation (known as "damages") for his or her injuries. Damages include things like payment for medical expenses and lost wages, as well as compensation for less tangible items such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
However, Georgia's comparative negligence laws can reduce or eliminate the amount of compensation an injured person may be eligible to receive. If the injured person was partially responsible for the accident that caused his or her injuries, the amount of damages will be reduced based on the person's percentage of fault. If the injured person is found to be 50% or more responsible, the injured person cannot recover damages in a truck accident case at all.
When faced with a truck accident lawsuit, the responsible party may try to prove that you were partially or wholly responsible for causing the accident, thereby reducing the amount of damages they may have to pay in your case.
Contact an Experienced Fulton County and Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney
To ensure you receive the full compensation you are due in a truck accident case, it is critically important to have knowledgeable legal representation. An experienced truck accident attorney will fight tirelessly to ensure that the responsible party pays you the full and fair compensation you are due for your injuries.
Attorney John Hadden began his career defending trucking companies against claims brought against them. Today he uses that knowledge and experience to fight for truck accident victims. If you have been injured in an Atlanta or Fulton County truck accident, contact The Hadden Law Firm as soon as possible.