Serious tractor-trailer accidents and accidents involving commercial motor vehicles can happen anywhere.
Glascock County is located about 40 miles south of Augusta, neighboring McDuffie, Warren, and Jefferson Counties in the CSRA, and contains the towns of Gibson, Mitchell, and Edgehill, along with hundreds of square miles of idyllic rural land. Despite being one of the smallest counties in Georgia, its highways are full of traffic, with commercial vehicles both traveling through the county and making pickups and deliveries to various businesses and farms in the area. As this traffic has increased in recent years, Glascock County's roadways have become increasingly hazardous to residents and visitors to the county.
Road hazards in Glascock County
Although Glascock County is not home to I-20 or other interstates like some surrounding areas in east Georgia, its roadways are busy places, increasingly filled with commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers carrying heavy cargo through the county, and to and from locations within the county. These vehicles can include log trucks and trucks carrying other wood and timber products, cargo-carrying tractor trailers, and trucks hauling livestock or crops.
These vehicles can present serious dangers on the road, due to their large size and weight, particularly if the driver experiences unusual or hazardous conditions, is driving distracted due to using a cell phone or eating, is not properly trained, or is driving while impaired due to lack of sleep or use of drugs or alcohol.
Laws, rules, and regulations governing commercial vehicles
The specific rules governing commercial vehicles, including tractor trailers, may be state or federal, or both, depending on a number of factors, including the type of cargo being carried, the weight of the vehicle, and the areas where the vehicle operates.
If a vehicle operates entirely within the boundaries of the state of Georgia, it may be considered an intrastate motor carrier, governed by Georgia rules specifically covering commercial vehicles as well as the general Georgia Rules of the Road set out in Title 40 of the Georgia Code.
Vehicles operating both in and out of Georgia will generally be covered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, established by the federal government. These regulations set out specific rules establishing limits on the time that commercial drivers can operate without a break, medical requirements, maintenance rules, and many other aspects of operating a tractor trailer. In some cases, violation of these rules may assist with establishing the negligence of a truck driver when involved in an accident. To a large extent, the Georgia motor carrier rules adopt the federal regulations, placing many of the same requirements on tractor trailers operating solely in Georgia as would be the case for interstate commercial vehicles.
Agricultural vehicles are exempted from a number of the rules that otherwise cover commercial vehicles and tractor trailers. Nevertheless, if an agricultural vehicle is involved in an accident, a number of regulations, and violations of those regulations, may be relevant to a personal injury lawsuit.
Georgia's insurance requirements for commercial vehicles do differ significantly from the federal regulations. In Georgia, with certain exceptions, commercial vehicles over 10,000 lbs. are required to carry a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance coverage for any one person, and $300,000 in coverage for any one wreck. Under the relevant federal regulations, the minimum liability required is usually $750,000. Under both state and federal regulations, the amounts are increased for certain commercial passenger vehicles as well as for vehicles carrying hazardous materials.
Ultimately, a large number of rules and regulations may apply to a tractor trailer driver, which may differ depending on the specifics of the motor carrier, and in the event of an accident it can be critical to determine which of the complex regulations apply to a particular case in order to best pursue a personal injury claim.
Injuries caused by tractor trailer and other commercial drivers in Glascock County, Georgia
Serious injuries may occur in any motor vehicle accident. But in a tractor trailer accident, due to the large size and weight of the commercial vehicle (which can weigh 80,000 lbs. or even more under some circumstances), injuries in collisions between tractor trailers and ordinary passenger cars, trucks, or other passenger vehicles can be far more severe. Common injuries include
- whiplash (strain/sprain injuries to the spine)
- injuries to internal organs
- traumatic brain injuries
- broken bones
In any case, it is important to obtain proper medical attention anytime a serious injury occurred. Although this is most important to ensure that serious injuries are promptly treated, it can also be critical to establishing causation, and obtaining compensation, in a personal injury claim following a tractor-trailer accident. Insurance companies, which are often responsible for handling claims (and, if a lawsuit is filed, hiring defense lawyers and directing the defense of a case), seek to minimize the damages they and commercial truck operators have to pay, and will often take advantage of any gap in treatment or any preexisting injury that a victim may have had.
Where are Glascock County commercial vehicle accident lawsuits filed?
Lawsuits against negligent drivers or companies are generally filed in the county where the negligent driver or company is considered a resident. Commercial vehicle accident cases, though, because of a special statute, can often be filed where the accident occurred. Tractor-trailer accidents in Glascock County could thus generally be filed in the Superior Court of Glascock County in Gibson. Smaller cases where the damages are $15,000 or less, might be filed in Magistrate Court, also in Gibson.
Where the plaintiff (victim) and defendant are from different states, personal injury lawsuits can sometimes be filed in federal court if the damages are greater than $75,000. Even if a lawsuit is filed in Superior Court, the case can sometimes be removed/transferred to federal court. Such cases would be litigated in the Southern District of the United States District Court in Augusta.
If a Glascock County resident was injured in a tractor-trailer accident outside of the county, the available venues for a lawsuit would usually include the location of the wreck and the residence of any defendant (generally, the driver and his or her employer). Other defendants, such as a broker or someone loading the vehicle, may open up other counties where the lawsuit could be filed.
Get help from an experienced Glascock County tractor-trailer accident attorney
John D. Hadden grew up in Glascock County on a small family farm outride Gibson. He has experience handing tractor-trailer accident cases in the CSRA and around the state. Contact The Hadden Law Firm if you or someone you love has been injured in a tractor trailer wreck in Glascock County or anywhere in the state.