June 18, 2013

Rise in Fatalities Highlights Risks Around Tractor-Trailers

Initial statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are that traffic fatalities were on the rise in 2012.
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Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand early estimates indicate more than 34,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes across the U.S. last year. If this bears true when the final numbers are tallied, this would represent a 5.3 percent increase as compared to the approximately 32,300 traffic deaths reported in 2011.

This would be the first annual increase of traffic deaths we've had since 2005 in this country. In the last six years, the number of people killed in traffic crashes had been dropping steadily. It dropped about 26 percent from 2005 to 2011.

It appears that traffic deaths increased the most during the first quarter of the year (about 12.5 percent), tapering off each quarter thereafter. In fact, that was one of the highest quarterly increases ever reported since the mid-1970s, when the NHTSA first began keeping track. The only time it was higher was the first quarter of 1979, when the fatality rate rose by more than 15 percent.

In the past, the tanking economy was at least partially cited as a factor in the years-long decrease. This made sense, considering the price of oil was up and people weren't getting raises or, worse, were getting laid off or couldn't find a job at all. That meant fewer people were driving, fewer truck companies were hiring and overall, there were less miles being traveled.

This last year, researchers say there has been a 0.3 percent increase in the number of vehicle miles traveled. That still doesn't line up with the 5.3 percent rise in traffic deaths.

When we compare the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, it's jumped from 1.10 in 2011 to 1.16 in 2012.

The one bit of good news, at least for Georgia, is that regionally, we didn't fare bad. There were many areas where the rate of fatalities soared as high as 9 and 10 percent. The region with the highest uptick was Region 6, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, where the rates rose by 10 percent. In region 3, which includes North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, it rose by 4 percent. It rose by 5 percent in Region 7, which includes Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

In our area, Region 4, the fatality rate rose by 2 percent. The region includes Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida.

On the one hand, it's good news that we're not the worst in the country. Still, a 2 percent increase, when we're talking about lives lost, is never something to become complacent about.

The NHTSA has thusfar declined to speculate on some of the possible reasons for this uptick until the final numbers are in.

We'll be closely following any developments. In the meantime, we urge everyone to do their best to practice safer driving habits this summer.

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June 6, 2013

Atlanta Truck Crashes a Heightened Risk Amid Summer Travel

A collision of two semi tractor-trailers on I-75 in Southern Georgia recently left one of those drivers dead. Authorities say one driver rear-ended another, causing the front of the first vehicle to be crushed completely. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
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As many families are gearing up for summer travel plans, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers want to urge extra caution, particularly while sharing the road with these large commercial vehicles. The risk of serious injury or death increases exponentially when one of these behemoths is involved in the wreck.

Many times, these crashes occur because the truck was overloaded or the driver was overworked and sleepy. Sometimes, the trucker is speeding because he or she is working to make up time or get ahead.

Obviously, as the driver of the smaller vehicle, you are in a vulnerable position. The sheer size and force of a semi truck will outmatch even the biggest sport utility vehicles.

Still, there are certain measures you can take - even before your trip - to heighten your level of safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises the following as you prepare for a road trip:

--Ensuring the regular maintenance of your vehicle is up to par. This includes actions such as battery checks, tire rotations, oil changes and tune-ups. If you know you haven't kept up on these things, have your vehicle undergo a mechanical check-up, just to be sure it's road-ready and in good condition for an extended drive.

--Have your tires checked. This goes along with the first recommendation, but it's something you want to keep an eye on throughout your trip. Another benefit of making sure your tires are properly inflated is that it will help to improve your gas mileage, and ultimately keep your fuel costs lower.

--Check your wiper blades. Note that they can be sensitive to summer heat, and this is not a function you want to be without if you're caught in a sudden storm. Install new ones before you go if yours aren't in top shape.

--Make sure your lights are all functional and bright. If you're hauling a boat or recreational vehicle, make sure the rear lights are working properly.

If you've done all this, you're in good shape.

The next thing to keep in mind is that when you're sharing the road with large trucks, you should familiarize yourself with where the trucker's blind spot may be and avoid those areas for any extended periods of time.

Additionally, take the following to heart:

--Don't crowd a tractor trailer. These vehicles tend to need more time to stop and pull other emergency maneuvers.

--Recognize that semi truck tire blow-outs are more common than you might think. As best you can, safely pass or avoid driving near trucks when possible.

--Pass on the left whenever possible, as there are more blind spots on the right. Hug the outside part of the lane as you do this.

--Understand that trucks make wide turns. Avoid cutting onto the side of trucks, particularly on the right.

Know that if you are involved in a serious truck accident in Georgia, you may be entitled to compensation and we are ready to help you get it.

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May 24, 2013

Steering Clear of Trucking Accidents through Memorial Day

A recent study conducted by the National Coalition for Safer Roads suggests that Memorial Day weekend is the most dangerous of the year. During this time, residents and visitors will be jumping in their vehicles and heading out for long weekend vacations.

Unfortunately, there will also be a lot of commercial vehicles out there trying to make their deadlines. When tractor-trailers share the roadways with our passenger vehicles, serious accidents occur. These commercial drivers will also be pushing hard to get home for the holidays, or setting out to make up for lost time after the weekend.
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According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were close to 4,000 people killed in traffic accidents that involve a large vehicle in 2011. These accidents have actually been on the rise in recent years. So, lookout! In addition to all of these fatalities, there were also another 90,000 people injured in these kinds of accidents.

Our Atlanta trucking accident lawyers understand that many of these accidents could have been prevented if drivers were more careful when sharing the road with these dangerous vehicles. Unfortunately, it's the occupants of passenger vehicles who are more likely to be injured and killed in the event of an accident with one of these larger vehicles. We stand virtually no chance against the size, weight and power of these commercial trucks.

According to the NHTSA, these large trucks accounted for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of all vehicles involved in injury and property-damage crashes. It's important for you to be ready and to know how to handle yourself around them. Check the following tips from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Tips for Driving Near Large Trucks,:

-Avoid cutting off these vehicles. When you pass a large truck, look for the front of the truck in your rearview mirror before you pull in front on it.

-Make sure you've always got your seat belt buckled -- properly. Seat belts are your number one defense against injury or death in the event of an accident.

-Avoid driving in a trucker's blind spots. These are the areas around the truck in which a driver cannot see. Your best bet is to remember that if you can't see the driver, then the driver cannot see you.

-Keep 100 percent of your attention on the road. Put down the cell phones and the text messaging devices when you're in the driver's seat. It only takes a split second for a fatal accident to happen, and you need every second you've got to avoid it.

-Avoid drinking and driving. These kinds of accidents account for about a third of all traffic fatalities recorded every year. And it's these accidents that are completely preventable. Stay sober and stay alive.

Continue reading "Steering Clear of Trucking Accidents through Memorial Day" »

May 9, 2013

Truck Crash Prevention Legislation Urged by Advocates

On the same day a tanker truck explosion in Mexico City killed at least 22 people and injured 36 others, families of U.S. truck crash victims spoke out to urge Congress to support legislation that would address truck weight and size limits.
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While our Atlanta truck accident lawyers have yet to learn the cause of the massive tragedy in Mexico, we do know that the natural gas tanker exploded after the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed on the highway, which was lined with dozens of homes. Authorities there say the death toll could rise, as several of the victims remain in critical condition.

We also know that the heavier one of these large trucks is, the more difficult it can be to control and the more prone it may be to crashes.

Mexico doesn't currently have the same kinds of weight and size regulations that the U.S. has implemented, but we need to ensure those regulations are protected from special interest groups who may work to pressure the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration. This proposed legislation is one way of doing it.

The Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act was re-introduced by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) after two previous failed attempts, the latest in 2011.

The measure would apply the current tractor-trailer truck weight limit of 80,000 pounds and a size limit of 53 feet to the entire national highway system, which would include both interstates as well as smaller highways. Certain exemptions, such as those for firefighting equipment, would be maintained under the bill.

As it now stands, those standard size and weight restrictions are already applicable to the 44,000-mile interstate system. This bill would extend most of those same restrictions to the larger 220,000-mile national highway system.

Additionally, this measure would expand the current halt of triple tractor trailer runs on interstates to the broader national system. It would also seal any loopholes that allow overweight trucks to remain in operation. Additionally, an enforcement program would be established to ensure that violators would have a clear chain of accountability.

Trucks that are heavier and bigger have a disproportionately high share of motor vehicle deaths, when we're looking at the statistics on a per-miles-traveled basis. These vehicles are known to be at increased risk for rollover, swaying and they also require longer distances to make a safe stop.

Lautenberg was quoted as saying that not only do these massive vehicles pose an immediate risk to motorists, they also take a toll on the integrity of our bridges and highways.

This measure is co-sponsored by other Democrats in New Jersey, California and Missouri. A companion bill in the House is also being sponsored by a Democrat from Massachusetts.

The Truck Safety Coalition reports that a new poll found overwhelming public support for truck weight limitations, with nearly 70 percent opposing heavier trucks and nearly 90 percent expressing a strong opposition to paying higher taxes for the infrastructure damage caused by heavier trucks.

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April 11, 2013

Distracted Truckers a Focus in Atlanta this April

According to Fleet Owner.com, Aegis Mobility has been conducting annual surveys on distracted driving among professional drivers for the past several years. This year, as they begin their third-annual survey on Workplace Distracted Driving, Aegis Mobility is targeting fleet operators and asking them to answer questions about distracted driving behaviors. 1104507_mobile_phone.jpg

The aim of the study conducted by Aegis Mobility is to develop a better understanding about employer attitudes regarding cell phone use and driver distraction. The results of the study can serve as a guide to help policymakers in the commercial trucking industry to make smart, safe policies and as a guide to help shed light on the dangers of distracted driving within the commercial trucking industry.

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys know that commercial drivers are not supposed to engage in dangerous behavior when they are driving. Unfortunately, driving while distracted is extremely dangerous and can significantly increase the chances of an accident happening.

Professional Drivers and Distracted Driving
There are a number of different behaviors that can be considered distracted driving, but perhaps the most dangerous behavior of all is texting and driving. This is why the Department of Transportation (DOT) has instituted a ban on texting for all commercial drivers including drivers of large trucks and drivers who transport passengers.

When the ban passed When the ban passed indicated that there were harsh penalties for any driver who failed to comply with the prohibition against texting behind the wheel. The civil and criminal penalties that a commercial driver could face if he was caught texting could total up to $2,750.

Such strict penalties are needed to create a strong deterrent against texting because a driver who texts puts himself and everyone else at a 23 times greater risk of becoming involved in a car accident. When the texting driver is a truck driver, this is a serious problem because trucks are so much larger than passenger cars and are thus much more likely to cause a fatal wreck.

Texting is not the only dangerous behavior, though, and laws don’t always get followed no matter how harsh the penalties are for non-compliance. Aegis Mobile’s new study aims to see whether commercial fleet operators, risk managers and safety professionals are really taking strong steps to make sure that their drivers are safe and not distracted by texting or any other distractions. This is why they are urging fleet operators to answer their 3-minute survey and even offering an incentive in the form of an entry to win a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.

Hopefully, many fleet operators will answer the survey in order to provide information on the actual practices related to distracted driving within the trucking industry. The results could encourage lawmakers to pass additional laws on distracted driving or to increase enforcement of the widespread ban that is in place on texting. The results could also show companies how important it is to take a strong stance on distracted driving so those that do not already have policies in place can make changes to better protect the public from the dangers of a distracted driver.

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April 3, 2013

Caffeine No Magic for Preventing Georgia Trucking Collisions

Truck drivers spend hours a day on the road moving goods from place to place. Unfortunately, the monotony of the trip coupled with long hours can result in drivers getting drowsy and even dozing off. This is extremely dangerous, as a truck driver who falls asleep behind the wheel could cause a serious or even deadly crash. 1402531_morning_coffee.jpg

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys know that there are rules in place intended to limit the number of hours drivers work in order to prevent accidents caused by fatigue. A new study also shows that something besides simply limiting drive time could play an important role in preventing truck accidents.

Coffee To Fight Fatigue
It should come as no surprise that coffee keeps people awake and that caffeine is a stimulant. However, it may be surprising to some to realize just how big of an impact caffeine can make on preventing truck accidents that occur due to fatigue.

According to Edmunds.com, a new study was conducted by an Australian researcher named Lisa Sharwood who works at the George Institute for Global Health. Sharwood’s study revealed that consuming a drink with caffeine in it could reduce the risk of a long-haul truck driving crash by as much as 63 percent.

This is obviously a dramatic decrease in the accident risk for a truck driver who is traveling long-distances. As a result of the major decrease, Sharwood indicates that the use of caffeine should be part of a wider strategy. Caffeine alone is not a “silver-bullet” solution to keeping the roads safe, but it can work in conjunction with drive-time limits in order to help ensure that drivers don’t dose off as they are operating their vehicles.

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving Crashes
Drive time limits that set the maximum number of hours a trucker can drive are one part of the effort to curb drowsy driving crashes but these limits alone are not enough. Even a driver who takes sufficient breaks could still become tired, especially if he didn’t get a good night sleep on his rest period for whatever reason.

Any efforts to stop drivers from falling asleep should be considered because a drowsy driving crash can have such serious consequences. A driver who doses off for even a second could veer into the wrong lane and cause a head-on crash. The driver could also drive off the side of the road or into cars that are traveling next to him. A sleep driver is also less likely to slow down, which would at least reduce the force of impact.

But relying on coffee instead of common sense and a good night's rest is a real good way to increase the risk of a crash. These vehicles are already a risk to other drivers forced to share the road. Ensuring a well-rested, professional driver is at the wheel is the minimum that should be expected when it comes to safety.

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March 31, 2013

HAZMAT Safety Rules Protect the Public From Deadly Truck Crashes

The term HAZMAT refers to hazardous materials and items. There are a huge variety of items classified as Hazmat, from various chemical products to biological waste products. Hazmat products must be transported in many cases and they are often moved on trucks. 1190919_dangerous_goods_labels.jpg

Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know that a crash involving a truck carrying Hazmat material can be devastating. Not only could the truck accident cause injury to the parties involved but the release of hazardous materials could do widespread and lasting damage. To protect the public and to ensure that the transport of hazardous materials is as safe as possible, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict rules for Hazmat transportations.

FMCSA Hazmat Rules Aim to Ensure Safety

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes regulations and requirements on truck drivers throughout the United States. They address Hazmat Transportations in sections 385-397 of their regulations.

These regulations address safety fitness procedures; rules of practice for companies and drivers transporting hazardous material; general regulations; and driving and parking rules for those engaged in the transportation of hazardous materials.

Some of the requirements and provisions found within these regulations include:


  • Methods of determining a safety rating. The FMCSA will conduct a compliance review of companies transporting hazardous goods and, within 30 days, will issue a safety rating following the Safety Fitness Rating Methodology. Motor carriers who receive an unsatisfactory safety rating will be prohibited from operating any type of commercial motor vehicle.

  • Rules mandating that commercial motor vehicles containing certain types of hazardous materials are prohibited from parking within five feet of the traveled portion of a public street or highway. They are also prohibited from parking on private property or within 300 feet of bridges, workplaces, tunnels or dwellings unless it is necessary to park there for a brief period to perform required operations.

  • A requirement that motor carriers carrying hazardous materials use a placard or have sufficient markings.

  • A requirement that motor carriers with certain hazardous materials arrange a route that avoids heavily populated areas, places with large crowds, alleys and narrow streets unless it is an emergency or unless there is no practical alternative.

  • A mandate that drivers of vehicles carrying hazardous materials must inspect the tires of the vehicle when beginning each trip and whenever the vehicle is parked. If the inspection reveals that there is a problem, then repair of the defect is required and should be performed at the nearest safe location.

These are just a few of the many requirements that FMCSA has proposed in order to ensure that drivers are as safe as possible in transporting hazardous goods. The regulations address maintenance of the trucks, driver behavior, and routes in oder to ensure that safety is the number one priority from the start to the end of the trip.

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March 13, 2013

Atlanta Accident Victims Now Aided By WreckCheck App

Hundreds of traffic accidents happen every day here in Georgia.

In fact, one out of every four people will be involved in a traffic accident at some point in their lives - some of those more than once.
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In light of this, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers were troubled to learn that many people had no idea what information they were supposed to exchange in the aftermath of a crash. A survey conducted last year by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found that many people aren't aware of the basic steps they need to take after a crash, what information they need from the other driver or what information they are obligated to share.

That's why the Georgia Insurance Commissioner is recommending drivers download an App, created by NAIC, called WreckCheck, that will give you a step-by-step walk-through of what you need to do.Absent this, many people end up opening themselves up to the risk of identity theft - something that strikes an estimated 9 million Americans annually.

Among the most common misconceptions, according to the survey:

--Almost 40 percent said they believed they were supposed to show the other driver their license, with about 20 percent saying they would allow the other driver to photograph their ID. Problem is, many retailers accept driver's license information as a way to verify who you are in over-the-phone transactions.

--About a quarter of drivers said they would share their home addresses. The problem with this is that it gives potential identity thieves the physical location of your junk mail or garbage, which is the best place to look for financial or personal information.

--About a third of drivers think they are mandated to give their phone numbers. This is not true.

--About 20 percent believed they were only supposed to call police if someone was hurt. But in fact, filing a police report can help you in facilitating your insurance claim.

Among the information provided by WreckCheck is information on staying calm, safe and smart. It advises you to call an ambulance if needed and always call police. Be wary of traffic, debris, weather and fire that could pose continued risk. It also reminds you to be courteous of the other driver, but don't admit fault and bear in mind that protecting your identity is important.

If you have your mobile camera phone or even a regular camera, it advises you to photograph both license plates, damage to both vehicles, landmarks, street signs or address markers and damage to any nearby property or objects.

WreckCheck also reminds you that the only information you need to give to the other driver is your name and vehicle insurance information. That's all you need from other drivers too, but absent that, you may ask for driver's license information.

The app will also ask you to answer very specific questions that may become relevant to the officers who arrive on scene to investigate. It will help to jot these down while still fresh in your mind. These include the basics (date/time/location), as well as the weather conditions, a general description of the accident, any injuries to you, your passengers or other bystanders and damage to your vehicle.

There is one thing the app doesn't include, and that is the reminder that if you are injured, one of your first calls should be to an experienced accident lawyer.

Continue reading "Atlanta Accident Victims Now Aided By WreckCheck App" »

March 5, 2013

Truck Crashes in Construction Zones a Concern for Georgia Workers, Motorists

Last spring, a devastating crash in a construction zone left one worker and one semi truck driver dead. constructionsign.jpg

The truck reportedly struck a line of cars that had been stopped in a construction zone in Colorado, causing the tractor trailer to flip, throwing the driver, crushing the worker and spilling a load of 40-foot poles all over the road.

Several years ago and a bit closer to home, when a 59-year-old driver was killed after struck by a logging truck that was speeding through a construction zone.

Incidents like this don't need to happen.

Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know that with spring approaching, work crews are going to be out in full force to repair the roads damaged by freeze-and-thaw cycles. It is critical that everyone driving through a construction zone follow all posted signs, keep their speed lowered and avoid all obvious distractions.

About a decade ago, Georgia was ranked No. 3 in terms of work zone fatalities. As of 2009, we ranked 4th, so we haven't made much progress. That year, the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearing House reported that Georgia had 32 work zone fatalities. We were just behind California, Florida and Texas. Considering that population figures in each of these other states is far higher than our own, these statistics are abysmal.

In 2005 alone, we lost more than 60 people due to work zone crashes.

Across the country, approximately 40,000 people are injured each year in construction zone accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that a work zone injury happens once every nine minutes (160 daily) and a fatality occurs every 8.2 hours (three every day).

But these crashes are virtually 100 percent preventable with actions taken by either the workers, the truck drivers or the general public motorists.

For construction crews, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration recommends:

--A traffic control plan for the movement of vehicles in areas where workers are conducting other tasks, with drivers, workers and pedestrians able to clearly see and understand the routes they are to follow;
--Appropriate work zone protections so that construction material and debris won't unnecessarily intrude on drivers;
--Adequate training for those working as flaggers, equipment operators and drivers in highway work zones.

For both commercial drivers and truck drivers, the DOT recommends:

--Slowing your speed, as this is one of the most common causes of work zone crashes;
--Avoid tailgating other vehicles;
--Obey road crew flaggers.
--Remain sober and alert.
--Read all the signs. If you find you are traveling too fast to read the signs, you need to slow down anyway.
--Expect that you will likely encounter the unexpected. There may be lane shifts, reduced speeds and active work crews that may cause you to quickly re-adjust your route or speed.

Drivers in Georgia may also want to check out the state DOT's regular updates on active road projects and potential detours or delays. For example, this month in the Metro Atlanta area, there are six major road projects being spear-headed by the DOT, including resurfacing on I-285 and the road widening project at Johnson Ferry/Abernathy Road. Knowing ahead of time that you may face delays will allow you to plan accordingly and reduce the risks to others.

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February 27, 2013

Georgia Truck Accidents May Be Caused by Road Debris

As a winter storm swept through Georgia late last month, piles of storm-related debris on the highways caused numerous accidents and caused the roadways to be closed for hours-long stretches. tire.jpg

Snapped tree branches, downed power lines and random vehicle parts all pose significant hazards on the road during winter storms, and our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know we can likely expect more of this inclement weather in the coming weeks.

Highway debris is more than just an eyesore - it's a potentially fatal hazard. It's not just winter storms. Tractor-trailer trucks account for a huge amount of road debris every year. A study in California found that unsecure loads in that state alone account for approximately 140,000 cubic yards of road debris annually - enough to fill more than 8,750 garbage trucks.

Where we used to see a lot of "deliberate" litter on our highways - that is, the blatantly-tossed fast-food cup - we're now seeing more litter that could be categorized as "negligent," having fallen off as a result of insecure loads.

In Georgia, state officials conducted a study in 2007 that showed some 66 percent of road debris is comprised of unintentional litter, mostly from loads that weren't properly secured.

In 2004, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study that found some 25,000 accidents can be attributed to road debris that is either dumped or falls out of vehicles.

As a result, some places have toughened penalties for drivers and companies that fail to properly secure their loads. In Washington State, for example, legislators increased unsecured load citations from a traffic citation and a $200 fine to a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $5,000 fine. That was after a young woman was blinded and disfigured by a piece of debris that came flying off a trailer and into her windshield.

While some of these incidents can be attributed to simple overloading, another major factor contributing to road debris is aggressive driving. When drivers engage in actions such as speeding, tailgating or frequent lane changes, it increases the likelihood that the load or portions of it are going to fly off and land in the road or directly into nearby vehicles.

A few years ago, the construction boom here in Georgia contributed a great deal to the amount of road debris we saw on the highways, according to state officials. That's tapered off somewhat with the economic crash. But we continue to see incidents of negligent commercial drivers and companies that overload trucks, don't properly secure them or don't drive in a manner that would be required to keep the load safe.

So while government does share some responsibility in clearing the roads for safe travel, particularly when the cause is a natural event such as a storm, truck companies also share a responsibility to ensure their cargo is secure and their drivers are operating safely. When they don't, it's negligence.

Continue reading "Georgia Truck Accidents May Be Caused by Road Debris" »

February 14, 2013

Fatal Georgia Truck Accident Involves 27 Vehicles, 7 Commercial

Four people have died after a tanker truck caught fire amid a 27-car pileup involving seven commercial vehicles in back-to-back crashes on Interstate 16 in Laurens Count, GA.foginmountain.jpg

Our Georgia truck accident lawyers are deeply saddened by the news of this loss, and along with many, are anxious to find out what happened - so that we can take steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Georgia state troopers are reporting there were actually ten different accidents with a total of seven commercial vehicles involved. We know at this point that one of those killed was a FedEx driver, but we haven't been told much about the other fatalities.

Investigators are working to determine whether heavy fog played a major role in the crashes. If this is the case, it would bear eerie similarities to the massive "super-fog" incident on a Florida highway last year that involved numerous vehicles and ultimately resulted in 10 deaths.

In our case, we know that firefighters from multiple agencies were called to put out blazes that broke out on the roadway, including one stemming from a tanker truck. Witnesses said that fire had spread to the cars that had been in front and behind it. Some reported hearing an explosion.

All of this resulted in a seven-mile, overnight shut down of the highway, about 40 miles outside of Macon, as crews continued clean up.

In addition to the four people killed, we know that nine were seriously injured.

Emergency workers said they had encountered a fog as they arrived at the site, but it wasn't yet clear whether that was the reason so many vehicles had crashed at once. The state Department of Transportation had reportedly sent out a crew to set up metal warning signs about the fog when news of the crash came in.

Local meteorologists report some areas had less than a quarter-mile of visibility. Some drivers also reported seeing smoke in the area, and it was later confirmed that the forestry division had been conducting a controlled burn nearby. (It's noteworthy that the "super-fog" in Florida was a result of both fog and a nearby wildfire.)

While no one can control the weather, we can absolutely control our reaction to it. With that in mind, we hope Georgia truckers and other motorists will keep the following in mind if they encounter a serious fog:

--Drive with your lights on low beam, as high beam lights will be reflected back to you and could hamper your visibility even more;

--Slow down and look at your speedometer. Fog actually creates an illusion of slow motion, even when you are going fast.

--Turn your music off, stop talking and focus. Roll down your window and listen for traffic you may not be able to see.

--Use the right edge of the road or the painted markings as your guide.

--Pull over if you need to. Your appointment can wait. Better late than never at all.

Continue reading "Fatal Georgia Truck Accident Involves 27 Vehicles, 7 Commercial" »

January 23, 2013

Georgia Trucking Accidents To Be Reduced By Map-21 Act Initiatives

Every year in this country, motor vehicle accidents cost us anywhere from $230 billion to $300 billion to cover property damage, emergency services, hospitalization, lost wages and disability. dangeroustruck.jpg

In Georgia alone, we shell out more than $7.8 billion.

It's not clear how much of that can be directly attributed to truck-related accidents, but our Atlanta injury lawyers do know that crashes involving tractor-trailers tend to result in far more significant injuries.

In a newly-released annual report by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, we learn that many states - including our own - have been slow to enact traffic safety laws across-the-board, including tighter trucking standards. This is despite the fact that billions of federal dollars were made available as incentives last year and this year through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

With specific regard to the trucking industry, MAP-21 did make several strides in the key areas to enhance driver safety, stronger oversight, road safety and stronger registration requirements. By handling some of these key points at the federal level, we're prevented from having to potentially deal with a patchwork of laws, particularly because these vehicles routinely travel interstate routes.

The enhanced driver safety measures include the requirement of electronic on board recorders on all commercial motor vehicles in order to improve compliance with rules regarding hours of service. The hope is that this rule, slated to be implemented by this summer, will reduce driver fatigue. Additionally, the MAP-21 law requires yearly checks of commercial driver's licenses and would implement a national notification database if a driver's license status has changed. There will also be a minimum amount of training required for every commercial vehicle driver before they are deemed road-worthy. Foreign commercial drivers operating in the U.S. would have to go through a background check process that would turn up any prior convictions. Safety violations would disqualify them from being able to drive commercial vehicles. And finally, if a commercial driver doesn't pay a civil penalty, the U.S. Department of Transportation would have the authority to revoke his or her operating authority.

With regard to better oversight, the MAP-21 law will expand USDOT authority to limit the entry or revoke the registration of "reincarnated carriers," or those that were shut down for previous bad practices and then try to open under a new name. Plus, USDOT would be required to revoke the registration of any carriers that were deemed unsafe. Penalties for operating without registration would be increased, and USDOT would be able to order an entire fleet shut down for non-compliance.

To improve road safety, the law would maintain the current 80,000 pound limit for large trucks, but it would require an extensive, two-year study regarding weight and truck size. The research would produce data revealing the impact of large trucks on our roadway infrastructure safety. Additionally, there will be a study looking out how safe are large rental trucks used by the public.

Tighter registration restrictions include safety reviews for new registrants within 1 year of receiving their license. For motorcoach companies, the safety review would occur within four months. Additionally, USDOT will have the authority to deny registration to a company if the officials there have a common ownership or family relationship with people who have been found unfit or unable to comply with the registration requirements.

All of that will be on federal regulators. As for what Georgia state officials need to do to improve road safety, researchers recommend tighter restrictions for teen drivers and a mandated ignition interlock device for all drivers convicted of DUI.

Continue reading "Georgia Trucking Accidents To Be Reduced By Map-21 Act Initiatives" »

December 24, 2012

Atlanta Trucking Accident Attorneys: Don't Drink and Drive this Holiday Season

In 2011, there were 277 drunk-driving related deaths in Georgia according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Drunk driving deaths can happen at any time someone gets behind the wheel after having had too much to drink. However, there are certain times of the year when a drunk driving crash is more likely to occur. Sadly, many of the riskiest days are over the holiday, including the Wednesday immediately prior to Thanksgiving as well as New Years Eve. 1209276_cold_beer_glass_isolated_on_white.jpg

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys remind all drivers that drunk driving is not just illegal but also extremely dangerous.

Staying Sober and Safe This Holiday
When you go out and have a drink over the holidays, you should be very cautious not to ever get behind the wheel when you are drunk. If you plan on going out to drink, appoint a designated driver in advance and be sure that the designated driver stays sober for the entire night. Having a backup plan, like a taxi cab’s phone number saved on your phone, is also a wise move as is keeping an eye on what your friends and relatives are doing to make sure they are also making smart choices about holiday drinking and driving. This is especially important on New Years Eve, one of the most dangerous DUI-days of the year.

Unfortunately, refraining from drinking and driving isn’t, by itself, enough to protect you from the risk of a serious or even fatal crash. Your safety also depends upon other drivers also making smart choices, not drinking and driving and practicing safe driving rules. As such, it is important to pay attention to what other drivers are doing.

This is especially true when you are traveling near large trucks. Large trucks present a very significant risk in the event that they are involved in a crash, since their sheer size means they are likely to do major damage. Compounding the risk is the fact that large trucks may jackknife, may roll over in a crash, and may be involved in underside wrecks where a car slides right underneath the truck.

Over the holidays, the chances of becoming involved in a large truck crash may increase. Drivers may be going too fast in an effort to get back on the road or pick up time after days off to celebrate. Truck drivers may also decide to celebrate themselves and have too much to drink.

When a truck driver makes the choice to drink and drive, the results are often absolutely disastrous as a result of all of the added risks. The extreme dangers that are inherent in a truck driver being drunk have led to strict DUI laws, including laws mandating that a truck driver who has a BAC of .04 or higher is considered over-the-limit and potentially is at risk for losing his or her commercial driver’s license.

Truck drivers need to be aware of how risky drunk driving is, as well as of the strict laws that expand the definition of DUI to those with a lower blood alcohol content. Other drivers, as well, should steer clear of trucks on the road whenever possible and especially if the trucker is exhibiting erratic behavior that may be an indication of intoxication.

Continue reading "Atlanta Trucking Accident Attorneys: Don't Drink and Drive this Holiday Season" »

December 15, 2012

Number of Truck Accidents On the Rise

Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released traffic crash data for the 2011 calendar year. While their press release touts that highway deaths are at their lowest in six decades after a decline in traffic fatalities of nearly two percent, a closer look at the numbers shows that the news isn’t all good across the board.

In fact, the data shows that there was a higher percentage of deaths among occupants of large trucks than in prior years.865173_tunnel.jpg


Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys want truck drivers and others on the roads to be aware of the increased number of fatalities involving large trucks. We also want to take a look at one of the possible causes of the increase in deaths.

NHTSA Data Shows Bump In Truck Accident Deaths
According to the analysis of the 2011 data provided by NHTSA:


    Fatalities among occupants of large trucks increased 20 percent in 2011.
    Fatalities declined by 4.6 percent involving occupants of passenger vehicles and light trucks. Light trucks can include SUVs as well as pick-up trucks and mini vans.

A 20 percent increase in the number of fatalities involving large truck occupants is startling, especially when there was a decline in fatalities among those in regular cars and light trucks. NHTSA has indicated that they are looking into why there were so many more large truck deaths in 2011. In their press releasing announcing the statistics, they reported that they would be working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to try to determine the reason for the increase.

Why Are Truck Accidents Increasing?
While there may be a multitude of factors that could explain why truck accidents increased so much in 2011, there is one factor that stands out as being a very important potential explanation. That factor is the increasing shortage of qualified truck drivers who are able to drive the trucks on the road.

While it may come as a surprise in a time of high unemployment, the fact is that the trucking industry simply cannot find enough experienced and qualified drivers to fill the jobs they need to fill. In fact, a July 2012 New York Times article reported that there was an excess of 300,000 open and unfilled positions for truck drivers. The jobs weren’t being filled because, according to one trucking company district manager, there weren’t enough people who had the requisite experience and qualifications.

Driving a truck, of course, is complex. Drivers must have a commercial license but typically also must have two years of experience with commercial driving to be hired and to be capable of managing a large truck safely.

Unfortunately, things are only likely to get worse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is expected to be a 21 percent growth in the demand for truck drivers by 2020. Since trucking companies already cannot fill all of their jobs, the need for more truck drivers may lead to even more driver shortages, which in turn can lead to inexperienced drivers on the road and even more trucking accidents.

Inexperienced truck drivers put themselves and others at risk.

Continue reading "Number of Truck Accidents On the Rise" »

November 28, 2012

Georgia Truck Accidents a Danger This Holiday Season

In Georgia and throughout the U.S., trucks share the roadways with passenger cars and other motor vehicles every day. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, trucks account for 10 percent of the total vehicle miles traveled throughout the U.S.

While cars and trucks often share the road without incident, accidents do happen. Unfortunately, many of these accidents happen during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years.

The holiday season is a risky time for all drivers for many reasons. One factor is that there are simply more cars and trucks on the road since people travel and go on vacation and demand for goods (and transportation of those goods) rises steadily during the holiday season. People may also be more likely to drive when they are drunk or tired. 1329363_a_truck.jpg

Regardless of the reason for the increase in accidents, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers urge motorists to be careful this holiday season, especially around large trucks. A crash involving a truck is more likely to be deadly or to cause serious injury due to the vehicle size, and drivers need to be aware of the risk and practice safe driving.

The Dangers of Truck Accidents This Holiday Season
According to Access North GA.com, there were 19 fatal crashes in the state of Georgia over the Thanksgiving weekend. These accidents occurred during the 102 hours designated as the holiday weekend, which began at 6 PM on Wednesday evening and ended on Sunday night. State troopers have investigated eleven of the traffic deaths thus far and suspect that alcohol was a contributing factor in four of the fatal wrecks.

In addition to the fatal crashes, Access North GA also reports that there were a total of 622 crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In these crashes, 263 people suffered injury.

The tragedies of these accidents underscore the importance of safe driving and illustrate the risk that exists during this season. Most experts believe that the elevated risk of accidents extends from Thanksgiving through to New Years Eve, with the greatest risk on the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years weekends so drivers need to be extra cautious during these times.

Avoiding Large Truck Accidents
Avoiding accidents in any situation is critical, but it is especially important to be careful around large trucks this winter. One notable truck accident made headlines already this November and shows that trucks present risks that other types of vehicles don’t. The accident, reported in the New York Daily News on November 20, involved a trailer with eight circus animals, which overturned on a Georgia interstate.

The driver of the truck lost control of his vehicle, causing the trailer to overturn with the animals trapped inside. The highway was closed for four hours as a result of the crash. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured and the animals were extracted from the vehicle using the jaws of life.

While this accident thankfully did not result in tragedy, the crash serves as a reminder that trucks create a special risk. Because of their low-center of gravity and the potential for trailers to jackknife, there is a high risk of roll-over incidents when a truck is involved in a crash. These rollover incidents can be deadly if there are other cars nearby. Drivers need to remember this and to steer clear of trucks this holiday season, making sure to be extra cautious when large trailers and commercial vehicles are around.

Continue reading "Georgia Truck Accidents a Danger This Holiday Season" »

November 14, 2012

Tractor-Trailer Crashes in Georgia & The Risk of Sleepy Truckers

This week, as safety advocates push awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving, perhaps it's the professional drivers, train operators and pilots who deserve special attention.

Our Georgia tractor-trailer accident attorneys recently reported driver fatigue is a leading cause of commercial driving accidents. While the National Sleep Foundation has declared Nov. 12-18 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, a study published by the foundation this summer reveals it's the nation's transportation workers who may be most at risk. 1243926_sleeping.jpg

One-fourth of train operators and pilots admitted that sleepiness affects their performance on the job at least once a week! Even more troubling, 1 in 5 pilots and 1 in 6 truck drivers and train operators say they've made a serious error or been involved in a "near miss" because of fatigue.

Transportation workers are also at six times higher risk of being involved in an accident while commuting to and from work! And about half report dissatisfaction with sleep, saying they rarely or never get a good night's sleep.

“We should all be concerned that pilots and train operators report car crashes due to sleepiness at a rate that is six times greater than that of other workers," said Dr. Sanjay Patel, of Harvard Medical School.

It's really no surprise such workers would be at increased risk. Many transportation professionals find themselves on strange shifts, or working through the night. In this study, nearly half of such workers reported problems in getting enough sleep were created by their work schedule.

“The margin of error in these professions is extremely small," noted David Cloud, CEO of the NSF. "Transportation professionals need to manage sleep to perform at their best."

About half these transportation workers report taking regular naps -- a rate twice that of non-transportation workers and further evidence that the impact of such interruption in sleep cycles should not be disregarded. And, as we reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, truckers diagnosed with sleep apnea or other health conditions also face increased risks.

Fatigued transportation workers are more prone to making mistakes and are about three times more likely to have performance problems at work.

Drowsy Driving Prevention - Tips for the Pros

-Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day if at all possible.

-Use bright lights to help manage body clock.

-Use a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as a warm bath.

-Don't remain in bed longer than necessary. And reserve the bedroom for a place of sleep.

-Create a warm, quiet, dark bedroom environment conducive to sleep.

-Get medical help for excessive snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness or other signs a sleep disorder may be impacting your ability to get proper rest.

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Of course, that doesn't mean the rest of us are immune from the risks, particularly as we head into the busy holiday shopping and travel season. Young drivers under the age of 25 continue to be at particularly high risk -- accounting for about half of all drowsy driving crashes. Talk to your friends and family this week about the risks. With early dark, we all need to do our part to stay safe on the roads.

Continue reading "Tractor-Trailer Crashes in Georgia & The Risk of Sleepy Truckers" »

November 7, 2012

Common Causes of Georgia Trucking Accidents - Driver Often to Blame

The number of trucking accidents is expected to continue to increase along with the demand for long-haul truckers. In the last decade, the number of trucks on the road has increased by nearly 50 percent -- from fewer than 8 million to almost 11 million.

How those truckers are trained will be critical when it comes to ensuring motorist safety. According to government data, it's the driver who is often to blame for an accident.

The results from the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The study looked into the causes for serious commercial truck accidents. Officials looked at more than 100,000 large truck accidents that happened from April of 2001 through December of 2003. In each of these accidents, one large truck was involved and at least one person died.
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Our Atlanta trucking accident lawyers understand that in many of these accidents there are fatalities -- fatalities that could have been prevented. The power and the strength of these large vehicles isn't something that our passenger vehicles are likely to stand up against in a motor vehicle accident. That's why it's usually the occupants of the passenger cars involved who are killed in these accidents. In a sample of the LTCCS, officials looked at roughly 950 crashes. In these crashes, there were more than 1,100 trucks involved, more than 950 other vehicles involved, close to 250 people who were killed and another 1,655 people who were injured. Of the trucks involved, roughly 75 percent were tractors that were pulling a semi and another 5 percent were carrying hazardous materials. About three-fourths of these accidents involved a commercial vehicle/large truck colliding with at least one other vehicle.

What are the main causes of these accidents?

-The condition of the driver. Many of the drivers involved in these accidents were drowsy, were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or had another condition which made them unsuitable to drive.

-The time of the day. Many of these accidents are likely to happen during the evening hours when drivers are not fully alert behind the wheel or during rush-hour times when drivers are packed into tight quarters.

-The weather conditions. In inclement weather, drivers don't always adjust their driving habits. When it's rainy, foggy or snowing, it's important for drivers to slow it down, increase following distances and pay more attention behind the wheel.

-The speed of the vehicles. Accidents are more likely to occur when a driver is exceeding the speed limit. Speeding increases your risks for an accident because it decreases your reaction time.

How do these accidents happen?

According to the recent study, there were three ways that these accidents were most likely to happen. The first, and most common (accounting for about a third of all trucking accidents) happened when a truck ran out of its lane and into the lane of another vehicle or off the road completely.

The second most common cause was when a driver lost control of their vehicle because they were driving too fast for the current driving conditions. These incidents accounted for about 30 percent of all fatal trucking accidents.

The third most common cause for these accidents (accounting for more than 20 percent) resulted from a rear-end collision.

Continue reading "Common Causes of Georgia Trucking Accidents - Driver Often to Blame" »

October 31, 2012

A Wish List for Reducing Commercial Trucking Accidents in Georgia

MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, was signed in July by President Obama and authorizes $105 billion in transportation improvements for the 2013-14 fiscal year. It is the first long-term highway authorization since 2005.

We reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyer Blog about some of the safety improvements likely to lead to a reduction in serious and fatal tractor-trailer accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere. Safety initiatives in the bill include electronic logging of drive time, a review of minimum insurance levels, improved driver's education requirements, and creation of databases for drug testing results and approved certified medical examiners. 230578_hospital_6.jpg


"In the trucking industry itself, the mandate for electronic logging of drive time for commercial trucks and the updating of minimal financial requirements for truck companies are huge steps toward safer highways," said Steve Owings, co-founder of RoadSafe America. "These rules, along with the new drug and alcohol database, will go a long way towards reducing truck/car fatalities in America."

The organization celebrated the victory with nearly 200 donors last month. The event was held at Atlanta's Piedmont Driving Club.

Still, there is much work that remains. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports more than 3,600 motorists a year are killed in accidents with commercial trucks. Another 80,000 are injured. While this year's transportation bill makes several steps in the right direction, it hardly fulfills the wish list of safety advocates.

Sleep disorder screening: We've reported here about the risks of sleep apnea and other impacts of sleep abnormalities on a driver's safety behind the wheel. However, the federal government has yet to tackle the issue in any real, meaningful way.

Hair Follicle Testing: Could make it much harder for truckers to beat drug screenings, which right now are not difficult to falsify, according to a review by the Government Accountability Office.

Prescribed Narcotics Stop permitting commercial drivers to obtain exemptions for powerful narcotics.

Adaptive Cruise Control:
Should be required of all trucks and would automatically slow a tractor-trailer as it approaches slower traffic.

Shipper & Receiver Liability: The owners of the freight must ultimately share in the responsibility in order to better improve safety industry wide.

Safe Pay Paying truckers by the mile continues to cause a safety disconnect, thereby encouraging truckers to disobey the rules in an effort to make time. Paying by the hour would improve safety and reduce pressure on drivers.

Collision Avoidance: Not nearly enough emphasis is being put on incorporating the next-generation of safety technologies into these large commercial vehicles with which the rest of us are forced to share the road.

Each of these improvements represents a chance to save lives. The nation's roads are only expected to get busier in the coming years. In the past decade, the number of registered commercial trucks on the nation's roads has increased from about 7 million to nearly 11 million. Presently, there is a shortage of about 25,000 truckers, according to the American Trucker's Association, and that number is expected to continue to grow as demand once again doubles the number of tractor-trailers on our nation's roads.

Continue reading "A Wish List for Reducing Commercial Trucking Accidents in Georgia" »

October 22, 2012

Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accidents & Coming Safety Improvements

Trucking safety advocates are hailing this year's federal transportation bill, (MAP-21) as a step in the right direction when it comes to reducing tractor-trailer accident in Georgia and elsewhere in the nation.

"Through two Administrations and numerous changes in legislative lead- ership we have promoted a consistent message: America needs common-sense safety rules for heavy commercial vehicles," said RoadSafe America, which was founded by Susan and Steve Owings after their son was killed in an accident with a semi truck. "The headlines about the Bill focused on the creation of jobs and the new highways and bridges likely to be built, but buried within the 1,676 pages are numerous truck safety changes that are certain to reduce truck crashes, save lives, and prevent injuries." 490062_night_traffic.jpg


Electronic Logging of Drive Time: The bill mandates the use of electronic recorders to better ensure federal hours-of-service regulations are obeyed. Paper logs have long been manipulated, turning work limits into a joke while significantly increasing the risks faced by the motoring public.

Minimum Insurance Levels:
The new bill will require a review of current commercial truck insurance levels, which have not been raised in more than 30 years.

Improved Truck Driver Education: The bill requires significant on-the-road training before a driver can obtain his commercial license. Previously it had been possible to obtain a trucker's license without spending any time behind the wheel of a big rig!

Additional Trucker Rest: The Hours-of-Service Rules require routine rest for truckers and the bill provides funding for more rest areas to be built.

Drug Testing Clearinghouse: Recently we wrote about problems associated with drivers dodging drug tests. MAP-21 will create a national database that aims to track truckers and their drug-test results from job to job.

National Registry of Certified Examiners: Too often, unscrupulous health care providers have provided truckers with passing physical exams in exchange for money. The new bill requires examiners to be certified by DOT before performing annual physical examinations on commercial drivers.

"The mandate for electronic logging of drive time for commercial trucks and the updating of minimal financial requirements for truck companies are huge steps toward safer highways," said Steve Owings. "These rules, along with the new drug and alcohol database, will go a long way towards reducing truck/car fatalities in America."

Owings testified before Congress in September regarding the ongoing effectiveness of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Truck and Bus Safety Program and the agency's Compliance Safety Accountability program. Trucking advocates continue to argue against counting an accident involving a trucker against his safety score through DOT in cases where the trucker was not at fault in the accident.

However, fault is often difficult to determine, especially in cases where the occupants of a passenger vehicle do not survive. And, as Owings noted, crash history, regardless of fault, has been shown to be a prime indicator of a driver's risk for future accidents.

Continue reading "Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accidents & Coming Safety Improvements " »

October 19, 2012

Georgia Trucking Accidents: Pre-Employment Screening No Substitute for Adequate Drug Testing

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced an expanded version of its Pre-Employment Screening Program, which aims to give employers more information on a driver's safety record during the hiring process.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys applaud the effort but realize it's a baby step in the right direction. These records will only be available with driver consent. A Pre-Employment Screening (PSP) record will show a three-year crash history and a five-year roadside inspection history for the driver in question. 1157750_optical_microscope_1.jpg


Unfortunately, PSP is a voluntary program; motor carriers are not even required to check the system before hiring a driver. Nor does the system contain a driver's record through the State Department of Motor Vehicles. This means violations in a private car, and perhaps even violations while driving commercially, may not show up in the database.

The system also does not permit employers to check the status of current drivers; the database is limited to pre-employment screening purposes and requires the written consent of the applicant.

We see already that the rights of the commercial driverseem to be the priority. Organizations like RoadSafe America have long pushed for a drug-testing database and other moves that would prevent bad truckers from jumping from job to job. Unfortunately, this program falls woefully short of that goal.

The American Trucking Association estimates more than 3.5 million truckers deliver 80 percent of all goods delivered to U.S. communities. There is currently a shortage of 30,000 drivers as that demand continues to expand. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the number of registered trucks on the road has increased in the last decade, from 7.8 million to nearly 11 million.

More than 3,600 people a year are killed and 80,000 are seriously injured in accidents with large trucks -- in 75 percent of those cases the victim is a passenger of another vehicle involved in a crash with a large commercial truck or is a non-occupant, such as a bicyclist or pedestrian.

An investigation by NBC News several years ago found it's surprisingly easy to beat drug testing established to ensure drivers are not behind the wheel of a big rig while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), that's the watchdog arm of the federal government which routinely comes out with unflattering reports about Congress and other government programs, found that 75 percent of testing sites were unsecured. The agency used bogus truckers to gain access and often found easy access to water, soap, air freshner and other substances that could be used to dilute a urine sample.

The agency also bought drug-masking products over the Internet and was able to use them without getting caught at collection sites.

“Every drug masking product went undetected by the drug screening labs,” the GAO report said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation frequently reports that less than 2 percent of commercial drivers test positive each year for a controlled substance during a random federal drug test. However, a random enforcement effort conducted in Oregon found nearly 10 percent of truckers testing positive.

And even the government's 2 percent amounts to 30,000 tractor-trailer drivers who are testing positive each year.

Continue reading "Georgia Trucking Accidents: Pre-Employment Screening No Substitute for Adequate Drug Testing" »

October 4, 2012

Commercial Tractor-Trailer Safety in Georgia an Investment for Trucking Companies

"Safety is Good Business -- Crashes Hurt the Bottom Line"

That's the message to trucking companies from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as the federal watchdog makes a pocketbook appeal aimed at reducing the risk of semi accidents in Georgia and throughout the country. 1042539_truck_delivery-1.jpg


Safety is good business because crashes result in injuries, fatalities, considerable financial costs, loss of reputation and goodwill. A poor safety record also hinders a trucking company's ability to attract and retain safe and experienced commercial drivers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports more than 3,600 motorists were killed in accidents with large trucks in 2010. Another 80,000 people were seriously injured. The government estimates a fatal trucking accident costs more than $3.5 million while a crash with injuries costs about $200,000.

Nationwide, the cost of each commercial trucking accident is about $100,000.

Georgia trucking accident attorneys understand other motorists on the road are most at risk. More than 3,100 of the 3,600 killed were occupants of passenger cars or non-occupants, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Companies that invest in robust safety programs, adequate maintenance and continuing education and training for drivers, experience less loss associated with motor-vehicle accidents. Promoting safety by linking it to a company's bottom line should help companies large and small see these programs as an investment rather than a cost to be contained.

FMCSA reports many of these accidents can be avoided:

-In one year examined, 22 percent of fatal large truck accidents involved at least one vehicle that was speeding.

-More than 5 percent of all fatal trucking crashes are caused by driver fatigue.

-Driver turnover rate has been shown to impact a company's rate of crash involvement.

-Use of alcohol and controlled substances continue to be involved in too many trucking accidents.

-As recently as 2006, a study found commercial truck driver seat-belt use was less than 60 percent, and lags behind the rate of seat-belt use among passenger-vehicle occupants.

USDOT offers companies a host of safety programs and initiatives:

-CMV Driver Seat Belt Program
-Defensive Driver Program
-Drug and Alcohol Program
-Fatigue Management
-Sharing the Road Safely
-Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection Procedures

The number of large commercial trucks on the road has increased significantly in recent years -- from fewer than 8 million in 2001 to nearly 11 million last year. The number of vehicle miles traveled has climbed to nearly 300 billion -- an increase of almost 50 percent in a decade.

Not all trucking companies are created equally. Some are safety conscious; others are concerned only about their bottom line. When a trucking accident occurs, all of the factors must be taken into consideration. That includes a driver's record, a truck's maintenance records, and a company's accident history. These are complex cases involving state and federal regulations, out-of-state trucking and insurance companies, and commercial truck and trailer manufacturers. Consulting an experienced trucking accident law firm is critical to ensuring your rights are protected in the wake of a serious or fatal accident.

Continue reading "Commercial Tractor-Trailer Safety in Georgia an Investment for Trucking Companies" »

September 30, 2012

Georgia Semi Accidents & the Concern over Sleep Apnea Among Truckers

Drowsy Driving is a risk we all share on the road. But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has become increasingly concerned about tired truckers -- particularly those who may be suffering from sleep apnea.

And with good reason. Atlanta tractor-trailer accident attorneys understand truckers share most of the common risk factors associated with drowsy driving -- including long hours of shift work and off-peak drive time. Pay structure that continues to reward drivers for miles traveled (rather than hours work), combined with Hours-of-Service regulations that are easily skirted, further exacerbate the issue. 1243926_sleeping.jpg

But now an increasing body of research is showing that truckers may be particularly susceptible to sleep apnea, a potentially deadly sleep disorder that often results in daytime drowsiness. Naturally, this should be news of concern for all motorists who are forced to share the road with these 80,000-pound tractor-trailers.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the upper airways close while a person is sleeping, causing repeated disturbances and poor sleep quality. Risk factors include snoring, being overweight, family history, smoking and alcohol use. Those over the age of 40 are most at risk.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates as many as 28 percent (or nearly 3 in 10) truckers suffer from sleep apnea. Part of the problem in determining concrete numbers (to say nothing of treating the condition) is that being diagnosed with sleep apnea is a disqualifying medical condition that can cost a trucker his commercial driver's license. The end result is that far too many of these cases go undiagnosed and untreated. A motor carrier is also forbidden from allowing a driver with diagnosed sleep apnea to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Truckers routinely work in shifts, at odd hours, and through the night -- which are all known risk factors for drowsy driving. Three-quarters of all adults experience some sleep disorder several nights a week. And more than one-third say they are so tired during the day that they often have trouble completing routine tasks, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Drowsy driving has become an issue of growing concern among all motorists. From 1998 to 2005, the percentage of motorists who admitted to driving drowsy in the last year increased from 57 to 60 percent. Most alarmingly, the percentage of those who admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at some point in the last year increased from 23 percent to 37 percent.

"Staying Awake Means Staying Alive," was the slogan of the sleep apnea study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the American Trucking Associations. It found 17.6 percent of truckers had mild sleep apnea. Another 5.8 percent had moderate sleep apnea and 4.7 had a severe form of the condition.

Common symptoms include loud snoring, morning headaches and nausea, gasping during sleep, lost of sex drive, disturbed sleep, daytime sleepiness, frequent nighttime urination and problems with concentration or memory.

FMCSA's news Spotlight on Sleep Apnea webpage offers truckers a number of resources, including a drowsy-driving quiz, sleep apnea fact sheets, and PDFs about shoring, high blood pressure and talking with your doctor.

Continue reading "Georgia Semi Accidents & the Concern over Sleep Apnea Among Truckers" »

September 27, 2012

Gwinnett County Tractor-Trailer Accident Snarls Atlanta Commute

A serious tractor-trailer accident in Gwinnett County has shut down the westbound lanes of Ga. 316 this morning after a car collided with a tractor-trailer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting.

Based on the photo of the crash, the car passed under the trailer of the truck between the rear axles and the underride guard.1192536_truck.jpg


Earlier this month we reported on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog about the shortcomings of these rear guards, meant to prevent a passenger vehicle from passing beneath the semi trailer in the event of a collision. These accidents can be particularly deadly and account for more than 500 motorist deaths and 5,000 injuries every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Current safety standards often don't prevent failure of these guards in the event of a rear-end collision. And, as apparently occurred in this case, passenger vehicles too often hit the guard at an angle, or miss it entirely in the gap between the guard and rear axles.

Authorities report a westbound car slammed into the eastbound tractor-trailer as the semi was turning left onto Hurricane Trail. The Nissan Maxima passed beneath the trailer, where it came to rest.

Tests continue to show even 5-star safety-rated vehicles perform poorly in such accidents. And the risk of decapitation often makes them fatal. The Gwinnett fire department's Technical Rescue Team used air bags and timbers to raise the trailer and free the Nissan. The team then cut the driver out of the vehicle. The driver was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center in critical condition.

Westbound Ga. 316 was shutdown, causing huge traffic headaches heading into downtown Atlanta during the morning commute Thursday.

A turning semi is one of the road's greatest mysteries to the average driver. Never try to cut a tractor-trailer off on a turn or sneak by on the inside. In general, trucks make wide turns -- wider to the right than to the left because of reduced visibility and the inside tracking of the trailer wheels.

While making a tight right turn, a driver's right mirror is completely obstructed (and the others are useless). Thus, judging distance is made more difficult using the right convex mirror. The driver must make sure the turn is wide enough so that the trailing trailer wheels clear the curb, traffic signs, utility poles, pedestrians and other obstructions to the inside of the turn.

Turns to the left are very much the same, except the driver has benefit of looking out his window through the inside of the turn. So, while often much wider than the turns a standard passenger vehicle would make, turns to the left may be more exact and thus not quite as wide as those to the right. Making sure of a truck driver's intentions at an intersection is critical to staying safe. You might have the right-of-way. But that will matter very little in the event of an accident. About 80 percent of those killed in accidents with tractor-trailers are the occupants of passenger vehicles.

Continue reading "Gwinnett County Tractor-Trailer Accident Snarls Atlanta Commute " »

September 19, 2012

Tractor-Trailer Accidents: Stay Safe as Fall Travel Season Begins!

Trucks are all over our roadways. They got products to deliver and they're running on a time schedule. Unfortunately, these large commercial vehicles come with some serious threats for motorists who are forced to share the road.

Drivers are reminded to be safe and alert behind the wheel when traveling among these large vehicles. The risks for serious or fatal injury are extremely high when a passenger vehicle is involved in an accident with a large commercial vehicle.
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Our Atlanta trucking accident lawyers have seen the headlines. It's happening all over the state, trucks are crashing into other vehicles, they're running off of the road and they're overturning. It's important that you travel safely around these vehicles and have a thorough understanding of their operation. Never linger near them. They operate much differently than our passenger vehicles and they need to be treated with respect.

Tractor-trailer runs off road and flips:

A trucker from Georgia is facing charges of having defective equipment following a trucking accident in which the truck sped off of the roadway, slammed into a guard rail and flipped over. Luckily, no one was injured in the crash. The 65-year-old driver was not wearing a seat belt when the accident happened, according to authorties. Traffic was backed up for hours on a six-mile stretch of road near the accident, according to WDBJ.

Tractor-trailer flips in construction zone:

On U.S. 52, a tractor-trailer's load shifted while traveling through a construction zone. The accident happened just before 11:00 p.m. The truck ended up on its side. The driver was injured, but was treated at the scene of the accident. No other vehicles were involved luckily. Lanes of traffic were delayed for a few hours, according to MyFOX8.

Tractor-trailer driver dies in fiery accident in Fulton County:

The driver of a tractor-trailer fell asleep behind the wheel at roughly 5:30 a.m. on Camp Creed Parkway and neglected to see the curve in the road. The truck flew off of the road, slammed into a cement pillar and went up in flames. Officials have not been able to identify the driver, according to the Examiner.

Each and every year, there are thousands of people who are killed in accidents with these large vehicles. It's important to be safe around them. Never follow too closely. You never want to cut one off either. It's also important that you never linger alongside a tractor-trailer. If you're passing, do it and get it over with. One of the most important things that you want to remember is to stay out of these drivers' blind spots. Remember that if you can't see the driver, then the driver cannot see you!

You can help to prevent these kinds of accidents and help to keep you and your passengers safe.

Continue reading "Tractor-Trailer Accidents: Stay Safe as Fall Travel Season Begins! " »

September 11, 2012

Beware Traveling Behind Tractor-Trailers: Rear-End Accidents Often Deadly

Typically, we feel most at risk of an accident with a large truck while passing a tractor-trailer, or when a big rig is coming up fast from behind.

However, our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys know a significant number of serious and fatal accidents involving tractor-trailers result from a motorist slamming into a truck from behind. Traveling behind a truck often blocks the view of traffic, as well as traffic signals. A truck's large size also makes it difficult to determine how quickly it is slowing. 1192523_truck.jpg


And the risk to motorists is often exacerbated by poorly designed underride guards. These guards are meant to keep a passenger vehicle from traveling beneath a trailer. When they fail, even most 5-star crash tested vehicles perform poorly -- leading to decapitation risks for motor-vehicle occupants.

A report released last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found these guards often fail even in low-speed accidents -- particularly when a vehicle strikes at an angle. Guards that meet Canada's more rigorous safety standards did better, but still too often failed to keep a passenger vehicle from traveling beneath the rear of a trailer.

It's a critical safety issue because more than 70 percent of all fatality victims in accidents involving large trucks are the occupants of passenger vehicles. Unfortunately, underride safety issues are not new. IIHS has been reporting on the risks since the 1970s, but so far federal regulators have failed to act.

In a recent study of 115 crashes involving passenger vehicles striking tractor-trailers in the rear, only 22 percent experienced no underride. In 23 of 28 fatal accident cases examined, severe or catastrophic underride damage was present in 23 of the crashes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates nearly 500 motorists are killed each year and more than 5,000 are injured after rear-ending a large commercial truck. In some cases, these guards are missing. But in many cases the guards simply fail to perform as designed. In still other cases, the guards do not extend across the entire rear of the trailer, making crashes at an angle particularly deadly.

Consulting a law firm experienced in handling Georgia trucking accidents is vital in the wake of such a crash. Typically, a motorist who causes a rear-end crash is found at fault. So a thorough review of the facts and circumstances surrounding your accident will be critical. Proving an underride guard was defective may permit you to collect damages from a trucking company, which might otherwise be unavailable for a motorist found at fault in an accident.

And, when following a tractor-trailer, remember to do so at a safe distance. If you cannot see a truck driver's side mirrors, he cannot see you. Riding far enough behind a truck to still see traffic signals and intersection traffic is one way to help prevent these devastating accidents.

Continue reading "Beware Traveling Behind Tractor-Trailers: Rear-End Accidents Often Deadly" »

August 31, 2012

Georgia Trucking Accident Attorneys Wish you a Safe Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day is a holiday intended to honor the hard workers of this country, but it often has semi-truck drivers working harder. oldtruck.jpg

Atlanta accident lawyers know that Labor Day is one of the most dangerous holidays for travel.

With regard to trucking accidents, the reasons are varied. First, you have truckers who are racing to complete their deliveries and hurry home to their families so they can enjoy the holiday. Then you have truckers pushing to make up for lost time, either just before or right after the holiday. In addition to the potential this creates for speed and overloading, drivers are also more likely to be more sleep-deprived than usual - which, when behind the wheel, has proven to be just as dangerous as consuming alcohol.

Trucking accidents overall are on the rise. Back in 2009, there were about 3,200 deaths nationwide resulting from large truck crashes. By the following year, that number had shot up to 5,000 fatalities, with another 100,000 people suffering serious injuries. That same year, we had about 500,000 commercial trucks on the road. Now, that figure has increased by 20 percent.

A recent example was a 54-year-old truck driver in Virginia, who was cited for reckless driving after overturning his tanker on the highway because he was speeding. Although it created an awful mess for clean-up crews, thankfully no one was hurt.

The sheer size and sometimes hazardous materials hauled by these vehicles make that a rarity.

The National Safety council reports that the average number of overall traffic deaths shoots up by almost 16 percent on Labor Day weekend, as opposed to other weekends throughout the year.

While drunk driving checkpoints will be stationed throughout Georgia and the country this weekend, those efforts mostly target non-commercial drivers. However, truckers aren't immune from this either. While they may not intentionally get behind the wheel drunk, they may have had less time to sleep it off than someone who works a normal 9 to 5.

It may surprise you to learn that it is actually legal for a truck driver to have alcohol in his or her system behind the wheel. While private drivers are considered drunk if their blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or higher, truck drivers are considered over the legal limit if their BAC is 0.04 percent.

It may also surprise you to know that a prior DUI doesn't necessarily bar a truck driver from finding work.

To be on the safe side, consider the following tips when sharing the road with large trucks this Labor Day:

--Pay extra attention to the road when you are approaching a large truck, as they do maneuver differently than a smaller vehicle;

--Do not cut in front of a larger vehicle, as they do require more time to stop;

--Don't pass a truck on the right if the truck is turning right.

--Don't cut off a truck in highway traffic in order to reach your exit.

--If you notice a truck driver erratically or unsafely driving, call authorities.

Continue reading "Georgia Trucking Accident Attorneys Wish you a Safe Labor Day Weekend " »

August 20, 2012

Millions Offered to State's with Distracted Driving Laws

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working to help to get motorists, especially truckers, put down cell phones behind the wheel. They're offering more than $17 million to states who step up their legal game.

States that have laws banning texting behind the wheel during the 2013 fiscal year will be eligible to receive some of these funds, according to TruckingInfo.com. In 2010, there were more than 3,000 people who died in distracted driving car accidents. These kinds of incident resulted in more than 415,000 people injured.
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"This new grant program will provide states that have distracted driving laws with important resources to help save lives and prevent injuries," said the Secretary of the USDOT, Ray LaHood.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that these kinds of accidents are completely preventable. Officials are hoping that more enforcement efforts will help to get drivers to put down the phones when they're behind the wheel. The $17.5 million that has been made available comes through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. If a state wants to get its hands on some of these funds, all it has to do is make sure that there are laws in the books during the 2013 fiscal year that prohibit drivers from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. These laws have to be primary enforcement, meaning that an officer needs no other reason to pull over a driver.

States that have secondary laws against these actions -- meaning that an officer has to observe a driver breaking another law before they can pull them over -- are not eligible for the money. Congress wants to make sure that these laws are strong and that they're being enforced. That's why there offering these funds to states primary enforcement--to help them fund the manpower needed to enforce the rules of the road.

In addition, lawmakers have freed up another $5 million for use by the NHTSA to create and push advertising to supports enforcement at the state level. Awareness and driver education is such an important issue in these kinds of campaigns, whether they be anti-drunk driving, distracted driving or seat belt use.

Upon publication in the Federal Register, each state will have 45 days to apply for the new grants following the procedures provided in the notice.

Distracted driving is so bad that a study published in 2006 found that driver inattention was the leading factor in crashes and near crashes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

While only drivers in Georgia who are under the age of 18-years-old are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving, all drivers are prohibited from text messaging while driving in the state. We may have these laws, but not all drivers are cooperating. Do your job to help to make our roadways safer for everyone and to reduce the risks of fatal accidents by keeping the cell phone out of the driver's seat.

Continue reading "Millions Offered to State's with Distracted Driving Laws" »

August 10, 2012

D.P. Holmes Trucking LLC V. Butler & Identifying Party Responsible for Georgia Trucking Accidents

Determining who is responsible for your injuries in the wake of a serious or fatal tractor-trailer accident in Georgia is akin to laying the foundation of your new house.

Get it wrong and your case may never be right. A recent decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court looks at the challenges of amending a lawsuit once it's filed. Too often, lack of experienced legal advice can result in failure to identify all of the parties that may share responsibility for your accident. Consequently, you may never recover all of the damages to which you are entitled for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other actionable costs. 1228351_old_truck.jpg


Yet this can be one of the most complex areas of trucking litigation -- and why it's so critical to choose a law firm with the experience and resources to properly identify those responsible, file your case and pursue the appropriate parties for damages. In a typical trucking accident case, parties that may share blame for an accident include the truck driver, the truck ownership or leasing company, the dispatch company, truck maintenance contractors, freight owners and even tractor-trailer manufacturers.

Trucking companies typically carry umbrella liability insurance, which can provide several million dollars worth of coverage in the event of an accident. Failure to properly pursue a company for damages, however, can negate an insurance company's obligations to cover loses stemming from a trucking accident.

That's what was at stake in D.P. Holmes Trucking LLC v. Butler.

Lester Butler sued David Holmes and John Does 1-5 after a 2006 trucking accident. He was later granted permission to amend his suit to include Holmes Trucking, however the amended complaint still referred to "Holmes" the individual, rather than "Holmes Trucking." Without seeking further permission from the court, Butler again amended his petition to include the trucking entity.

Attorneys for Holmes promptly moved for a motion to dismiss or summary judgement. However, the circuit court ruled the amendment corrected a "misnomer," which has long been recognized by law as permissible.

The trucking company then filed an interlocutory appeal, asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the suit with prejudice, meaning it could not be brought back before the court. An interlocutory appeal is an appeal that asks a higher court to look at an issue before the trial has been held or has concluded. Typically, courts do not grant such relief, although there are exceptions, particularly when one party is claiming immunity or that the court lacks jurisdiction to preside over a matter.

The state's supreme court found the lower court's application of misnomer was improper because that law allows for the correction of a party's name - not for the inclusion of a new party to a lawsuit. However, Justices found the state's rules of civil procedure permit the addition of a plaintiff upon petitioning the court.

The case was returned to Copiah County circuit court. Once properly amended, the 7-year-old case will likely be allowed to proceed.

Needless delay and an endless number of post-trial appeal issues have been created in this case simply by failure of the filing law firm to properly identify all of the parties responsible at the outset of the case. Finding a personal injury or wrongful death law firm experienced in trucking litigation can help ensure your case is built on a strong foundation.

Continue reading "D.P. Holmes Trucking LLC V. Butler & Identifying Party Responsible for Georgia Trucking Accidents" »

July 30, 2012

Speed Limiters & Your Risk for a Tractor-Trailer Accident in Georgia

Over the last few months, both Senators and Congressmen have been requesting as much information as possible in support of Road Safe America's push for speed limiters on big trucks.

Safe-driving advocates feel that speed limiters have the ability to not only reduce the severity of trucking accidents in Atlanta, but to also reduce the overall number of serious and fatal trucking accidents on the nation's roads. By slowing down these dangerous vehicles, safety advocates feel that our roadways will be safer for everyone. Oftentimes, the dangers that are associated with a collision are closely tied with the speed of a vehicle. This is especially true when we're talking about tractor-trailer, big rigs and other large commercial vehicles.
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Officials with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety are asking that all states adopt a maximum speed limit of 65 miles per hour. All states are urged to reduce their speed limits to help to further reduce the risks of accidents. Officials believe that when the maximum speed limits are correctly set and enforced, they improve mobility, motorist safety and respect for the law. AAA officials also favor speed-limiting technology on large trucks. Safety advocates say that these governors should be on commercial vehicles and should be operational at all times to help to avoid temptation on the part of some drivers to speed.

In 2008, there were more than 4,000 people who were killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks. Only about 15 percent of the people who died were large-truck occupants. The rest were the occupants of passenger vehicles, motorcyclists or pedestrians. The truth of the matter is that higher speeds warrant longer stopping distances and higher risks for injury and death in the event of a collision. Speed exacerbates the size and weight differences between large trucks and passenger vehicles, leading to more severe crashes.

Already, the European Union, Australia and Japan require large trucks to have speed governors. Safe-driving advocates here in the U.S. are working to catch up and to get these limiters on U.S. tractor-trailers.

Speed limiters would be able to do more than reduce the risks and the severity of accidents. They can also help the environment. With speed limiters, trucks would use less gas and they would also produce less carbon dioxide.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) is also working to push for greater deployment of active safety technologies to change specific, unsafe driver behaviors. And the agency supports speed-limiters on trucks manufactured after 1992. Safety advocates also support industry and government programs to address distracted and inattentive driving, since that unsafe behavior is at or near the top of the list of crash causes for both commercial and non-commercial drivers.

"Improving highway and truck safety is about understanding the behaviors and events that precipitate crashes, and about implementing programs and countermeasures," said Dan England, ATA Chairman.

Continue reading "Speed Limiters & Your Risk for a Tractor-Trailer Accident in Georgia" »

July 23, 2012

Spate of Georgia Trucking Accidents a Reminder of the Risks

It's a battlefield out there on the freeway this month. Cars, trucks and even people are getting into serious accidents with tractor-trailers across the state.

Everyone is warned to be safe and alert when sharing the road with these large vehicles. Every year, thousands are killed in accidents with tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks. The recent series of trucking accidents in the news is a sober reminder of the risks of being severely injured in these accidents. Be safe out there, especially during the chaotic summer travel season.
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Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand the dangers that semis and other large commercial vehicles pose to other motorists on the road. Once recent accident claimed the life of a teen driver from Grovetown.

According to WTVM, the accident happened after the young driver lost control of his pickup truck and slammed into a tractor-trailer. Unfortunately, the tractor-trailer was carrying diesel fuel, which added to the dangers. Authorities say the 19-year-old driver was attempting to get off of Deans Bridge Road when he lost control and hit the tractor-trailer head on. Local officers say that the collision caused the diesel fuel tank to spill a "significant amount" of fuel.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured in the accident but was transported to the Medical College of Georgia Hospital for evaluation.

In a separate incident, two women were recently killed in a traffic accident involving a tractor-trailer. This accident happened in Douglasville when a tractor-trailer reportedly drove through a red light and crashed into the women's vehicle. The crash occurred on Interstate 20 near Blairs Bridge Road and Thornton Road. The driver of the passenger vehicle was killed upon impact. The passenger later died at the hospital. In all, there were 6 vehicles involved in the accident. Ten people were treated for injuries.

Another tractor-trailer accident left a Jefferson man dead. In this accident, the victim was a pedestrian, according to Access North GA. He was reportedly attempting to cross Highway 129 at about 1:00 a.m. when he was hit by a passing tractor-trailer. After being hit, he was transported to Athens Regional Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.

And a Savannah trucking accident claimed the life of a 33-year-old motorcyclist over the weekend. News Channel 9 reported the motorcyclist is being blamed for failing to stop at a traffic light before crashing into the tractor-trailer. The accident happened early Sunday morning.

Whether you're driving, walking or biking, all travelers are urged to be careful around large trucks. The length and weight of tractor-trailers mean drivers cannot stop suddenly in an emergency. And their height and overall size mean blind spots are often a danger, particularly in dense urban areas. A wide turning radius can also lead to serious accidents, particularly when a vehicle is caught on the inside of a trailer making a right-hand turn.

Continue reading "Spate of Georgia Trucking Accidents a Reminder of the Risks" »

July 15, 2012

Bus and Trucking Accidents in Atlanta and Elsewhere Targeted with Continued FMCSA Enforcement

Nearly 300 commercial trucks and bus drivers have been ordered by federal officials to get off of our roads, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

In addition to these drivers, there were another 130 commercial bus and truck companies that are now facing legal enforcement actions as a result of the agency's annual drug and alcohol strike force sweep. This enforcement effort took place from the 30th of April through the 11st of May and targeted both unsafe drivers and unsafe commercial transportation companies. The main goal of this enforcement was to help to improve roadway safety and to help drivers and passengers to be confident that drivers are sober and safe. With more responsible commercial drivers we can enjoy lower risks of bus and trucking accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere.
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"We will not allow commercial bus and truck drivers operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol to stay on the road," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that the recent enforcement was conducted by about 200 federal officials and looked into the alcohol and drug safety records of commercial drivers, hazardous material transporters, interstate passenger carriers, school bus drivers and general long-haul truck companies. Federal investigators were looking to target and bust carriers and drivers that were in violation of federal standards and to remove them from our roadways. Many times, drivers who have something to hide will hop from company to company to avoid federal alcohol and drug reporting and testing requirements. Unfortunately, not all companies are testing them either.

According to Anne S. Ferro, the Administrator for the FMCSA, this enforcement effort was used to send a strong message to commercial drivers and companies -- those who do not comply with federal alcohol and drug safety standards will not be tolerated and will be prohibited from doing business when caught.

As stated, there were nearly 300 commercial drivers who were busted in this effort. They now face possible monetary fines in addition to being banned from driving a commercial vehicle. They have been charged with neglecting to adhere to federal alcohol and drug regulations. There are 130 companies that are also facing pending actions in connection with these violations. Many of these companies were busted for hiring drivers who had returned positive test results or for not having a testing program in effect at all. Both the drivers and the companies are allowed a chance to contest the findings or the amount of the civil penalties.

Just last month, more than 25 unsafe bus operations were pulled from the road. These companies were responsible for transporting nearly 2,000 passengers a day along Interstate 95. Officials are hoping that these efforts will help to reduce the risks of accidents.

Continue reading "Bus and Trucking Accidents in Atlanta and Elsewhere Targeted with Continued FMCSA Enforcement" »

July 9, 2012

Trucking Accident in Macon-Cobb County Takes Out Fire Truck

Three firefighters were injured when their fire truck was rear-ended in a tractor-trailer accident in Macon-Cobb County. All three of the firefighters and the driver of the tractor-trailer were transported to The Medical Center of Central Georgia after the crash. According to Firehouse, the accident happened to the Engine 2 truck on Interstate 16.
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All three of the firefighters are reportedly doing okay. Their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, says Cliff Rushin, Assistant Fire Chief. The driver of the tractor-trailer is reportedly in stable condition.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that the fire truck was responding to two separate accidents at the time of the tractor-trailer collision. Reportedly, the two initial accidents were merely 50 yards away from one another on Interstate 16 near Coliseum Drive. The firefighters were dispatched from the department's Monroe Street fire station. The firefighters were in front of the fire truck when two tractor-trailers collided with each other nearby. One of the tractor-trailers was thrown into the fire truck. The fire truck then hit one of the firefighters and pushed them into the guardrail. Law enforcement officers are still investigating the accident. Charges are pending, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

There are a number of ways in which firefighters can be injured on the job, and it's probably not what you think. Only 10 percent of their injuries actually happen while they're fighting fires.

About 17 percent of their injuries occur while they're transporting accident victims. Believe it or not, most of their injuries (up to 85 percent) are the result of sprains and strains. Cuts and bruising were also a common injury factor. All in all, more than 17 percent of firefighters are injured on the job each year. Most of these victims are between the ages of 30- and 50-years-old.

In traffic-related accidents with large trucks, there were nearly 4,000 people who were killed in in 2010. This is the most recent statistics available regarding these crashes. In addition, there were close to 100,000 additional individuals injured in these crashes. Throughout the entire year, there were more than 275,000 large trucks involve in accidents. What might be most alarming about these incidents is that they're getting more common. From just 2009 to 2010, the number of these accidents increased by close to 10 percent.

Drivers are asked to be cautious out there, especially during the summer travel season. Motorists are passing through our state to get to and from the state of Florida and to other places they need to be. And there are always plenty of commercial trucks on the road. Be on your best behavior and practice your safest driving habits when sharing the road with a tractor-trailer. Your safety relies on it.

Continue reading "Trucking Accident in Macon-Cobb County Takes Out Fire Truck" »

June 29, 2012

Auto Accidents in Atlanta and Elsewhere A Top Concern for Safety Officials

Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of work-related accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, a lot of these accidents involve large, commercial vehicles. Most of the people who are injured and killed in these kinds of accidents aren't the occupants of the large trucks. They're the occupants of the other vehicles, usually the passenger cars, that are most affected in these accidents. It's passengers like you and I that feel most of the consequences of these accidents. We're also the ones who can do the most to help prevent these kinds of collisions -- only your behavior is in your hands.
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For the fourth and final week of the National Safety Month campaign, put on by the National Safety Council (NSC), officials will be discussing the risks associated with driving and they will be sharing some simple safety tips to help to reduce your risks of a potentially fatal accident.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that navigating our roadways may be one of the most dangerous things that each and every one of us do on a daily basis, whether it's in a commercial truck or in a passenger car. It's especially dangerous out there during the summer driving season, when there's a significant increase in traffic. Drivers of all kinds are asked to be mindful of their actions behind the wheel to help to preserve driving safety, whether driving for work or for pleasure. Be on your best behavior and keep your attention on the road, especially when driving among large, commercial vehicles.

Curb All Distractions:

-Keep cell phones away from the driver's seat. About a quarter of all accidents involve cell phone use while driving, according to the NSC.

-Try to keep your cell phone in the glove compartment or in the back seat so you're less inclined to use it.

-Pull over into a safe area and throw your car into park if you need to use a cell phone.

-Record your voicemail message to say that you're unavailable when driving.

-Use your passengers to make/answer phone calls if need be.

Wear Your Seat Belt:

-Wear a seat belt every time in the car, during every single trip.

-Make sure that all of the occupants of your vehicle are wearing their seat belts too!

-If there are children in the vehicle, make sure they're properly buckled into the right child seat or booster seat.

Avoid Impaired Driving:

-If you plan on drinking, designate a driver who agrees to have nothing to drink to take you home.

-Never get into the vehicle with a driver who has been drinking.

-Take the keys away from someone who has been drinking,

-If you've been drinking and don't have a designated driver, call a cab, take public transportation, get a hold of a loved one for a ride or stay at a friend's house.

Continue reading "Auto Accidents in Atlanta and Elsewhere A Top Concern for Safety Officials" »

June 22, 2012

Speed Limiters Could Reduce Risks of Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accidents

A recently released study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) concluded that speed limiting devices on large trucks and other commercial vehicles are one of the most beneficial ways to help to reduce the number of trucking accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere.

Speeding is one of the top causes for trucking accidents across the nation. Road Safe American supports these devices and encourages more fleets to use this kind of technology to slow down our trucks and to help keep motorists of all kinds safe.
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“Results from multiple analyses indicated a profound safety benefit for trucks equipped with an active speed limiter,” concludes the recent FMCSA report.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that trucks that have speed limiters on them typically have a 50 percent lower rate of accidents than those without the devices. The FMCSA, Road Safe American and many other safe driving advocates and trucking organizations are in favor of these lifesaving devices! The Truckload Carriers Association is another organization that recently expressed its support for government-mandated speed limiters for heavy trucks.

Just five years ago, the American Trucking Association petitioned for the federal government to start creating a law to require speed limiters on all heavy trucks. The NHTSA granted the petitions in January of 2011, saying that this issue merited further consideration. But that’s as far as things have come since 2007.

Those who are against these kinds of devices say that they're forcing trucks to travel slower than the flow of the traffic on our roadways and it's a recipe for disaster. According to a number of studies, vehicles that travel at different speeds can create roadway hazards. Many say that a mandate for a 68 mile per hour limit would create unsafe speed differentials on roadways where traffic typically travels faster.

Electronic-logging might also be another way to keep our truckers from speeding excessively. Drive time can be confirmed by companies and mangers and drowsy driving can be regulated through these logs. Some believe that this is a more effective way to keep drivers' speed down on the roadway while others think that's it's a system that will allow companies to cut corners or keep falsified records-- in turn putting motorists at some serious risks for accidents.

Steve Owings, Co-Founder and President of Road Safe America, says that slower speeds make large, commercial vehicles less lethal in the event of a collision. The faster a vehicle is traveling at the time of impact the higher the risks are for death. This is especially important when we're talking about larger, heavier trucks. It's important to keep an eye on our truck drivers and ensure that they're following all of the road laws to help to preserve our safety out there.

Continue reading "Speed Limiters Could Reduce Risks of Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accidents" »

June 15, 2012

Trucking Accidents in Atlanta and Elsewhere Show Increase

About 75 percent of the people who were killed in trucking accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere were the occupants of the other involved vehicles in 2010. That according to new statistics released by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The battle between a large, commercial truck and one of our passenger vehicles isn't a very fair one. Commercial trucks come with so much more power behind their size and their weight. Our vehicles don't really stand a chance against these powerhouses and it's the occupants of these small passenger vehicles that suffer the most. It's not very often that an occupant of a large truck experiences the true dangers of these collisions.
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According to the recently released statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 3,700 people who lost their lives in semi accidents and accidents with other large commercial trucks across the nation in 2010.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that there were another 80,000 individuals who were injured in these crashes. The number of trucking accidents increased 10 percent over the previous year. The number is only expected to climb in the future.

In the state of Georgia, there were more than 1,700 vehicles involved in fatal accidents in 2010. Of these vehicles, close to 150 of them were large trucks. These large trucks accounted for about 10 percent of all of the vehicles that were involved in fatal accidents during the entire year.

Trucks drivers may not have the best of reputations behind the wheel, but they're not all bad. Drivers of large trucks in fatal accidents were less likely to have a previous license suspension or revocation than passenger car drivers. But more than 20 percent of all large truck drivers that were involved in fatal accidents in 2010 had at least one previous speeding conviction. This is compared to less than 20 percent of passenger car drivers involved in a fatal accident.

The NHTSA also reports a 2 percent increase in the percentage of large truck drivers who were involved in fatal accidents while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

There are ways that you can work to avoid one of these accidents. Review the following safety tips to help to improve your roadway safety, especially around large trucks.

Safe Driving Tips:

-Keep distractions out of the driver's seat.

-Be cautious around trucks.

-Never drive in a truck's blind spot. If you cannot see the driver then they cannot see you.

-Never cut off a large truck.

-Do not tailgate large trucks.

-Always wear a seat belt. Buckling up may be one of your best defenses against death in a traffic accident with a large, commercial truck.

-Try to stay away from trucks when they're making turns. Trucks take wide turns.

Continue reading "Trucking Accidents in Atlanta and Elsewhere Show Increase" »

May 30, 2012

Moving Company Accidents in Atlanta and Elsewhere Targeted with New "Consumer Checklist"

There's a new national campaign, including an important "Consumer Checklist," to make sure that residents who are planning on packing up and moving out are choosing the safest interstate moving company that is available.

Unfortunately, there are companies that cannot be trusted with your belongings and they can't be trusted along our roadways. The recent checklist, released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is now available to help consumers to also protect themselves from fraudulent and dishonest companies.

When residents move, they want a moving company to help them to get their belongings from point A to point B safely. We want to hire safe and responsible companies who will take good care of our possessions and avoid an accident in Atlanta and elsewhere on their journey. There's no messing around when it comes to our possessions. We want to put them in safe and honest hands, hands that won't damage, steal or wreck our items.
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"This new checklist will give consumers the tips they need to protect their move and make good decisions when selecting a moving company," said USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood.

Our Atlanta accident attorneys understand that there are a number of factors that a consumer should consider before choosing a moving company. Price shouldn't be the only thing we're concerned about. You also want to look at a company's on-road safety performance records and their consumer complaint history. These factors should be two of the most important. The new checklist will help you to make sure that you look at everything else that matters before choosing a trustworthy moving company. Consumers should be able to go through the entire checklist and feel comfortable and confident with the company they've chosen.

According to Administrator Anne S. Ferro, the FMCSA Administrator, there were nearly 3,000 consumer complaints filed nationwide in 2011 for household good movers. There were nearly 2,450 filed in 2010. There are a number of reasons why a consumer would file a complaint, too. The list is endless, but here are a few of the top ones:

-Deceptive practices.

-Unauthorized movers.

-Delay of shipment.

-Damage of shipment.

-Loss of shipment.

-Shipment being held hostage.

-Overcharges.

Atlanta was one of the top cities across the country for having the most consumer complaints filed. Among some of the other cities were Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, San Diego, Atlanta, Phoenix and Houston.

Through the FMCSA's Protect Your Move website, consumers will be able to look at a company's safety records and complaint history. The website also includes important information regarding consumers' rights and responsibilities. Please review this information before committing to a company. You want your personal belongings and their journey to their new home to be a safe and sound one!

There are nearly 6,000 household goods moving companies that are currently registered with the FMCSA. Many of them are reputable and responsible. It's the few bad ones that should worry consumers and everyone needs to know how to spot them!

Continue reading "Moving Company Accidents in Atlanta and Elsewhere Targeted with New "Consumer Checklist"" »

May 20, 2012

Roquemore v. E.R. Express & Liability in Truck Accident Cases

Trucks are essential in our society because they carry heavy cargo far distances. But the dangers they impose on the roads can be horrific.
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If you have been involved in an Atlanta truck accident, it is important to know your rights and what you are entitled to collect. Having an experienced personal injury attorney can help give you the peace of mind you need to fully recover.

Roquemore v. E.R. Express is a recent Sixth Circuit case that deals with the worst outcome of a truck accident, death. It all began with the normal loading of a truck trailer for transit. American Bridge Manufacturing (ABM) had a job where they needed to transport a large beam from Oregon to Michigan. ABM hired Sherman Brothers (Sherman) to arrange for the transport of this large beam, and Sherman hired E.R. Express to have a driver transport the truck and trailer holding the beam.

All of the requisite permits were obtained to transport this beam, and these permits stated that the beam measured at 13 feet and nine inches. Pavel Karkhu (Karkhu) from E.R. Express was assigned to drive from Oregon to Michigan. Unbeknownst to Karkhu, the beam was actually 13 feet and 10.5 inches; making the beam too large to travel underneath an overpass on the designated route.

Behind the truck driven by Karkhu was a tractor trailer driven by Nickie Donald. When Karkhu came to the overpass, the beam hit the overpass and dislodged from the trailer of Karkhu’s truck. Once the beam was dislodged, it fell back into the cabin of Donald’s truck. From the weight and impact of the beam, Donald was pinned inside his cabin until he bled to death.

Upon the death of Donald, his estate representative Mai Roquemore sued several parties. The defendant’s in this case included: American Bridge because it loaded the beam on the truck; Sherman Brothers because they hired the company of the driver and the company that obtained the permits; Trans/Mid-American because they obtained the permits with the wrong measurements; and E.R.Express who employed Karkhu.

The defendants collectively argued that the plaintiff could only sue E.R. Express under this theory of common law negligence because of their interpretation of state statute and case precedent.

The lower court initially heard this case and held that the plaintiff was barred from suing three of the four defendants because he could only bring suit against the owner of the vehicle that collided with the bridge.

Upon review of the facts of this case and the application of Michigan law, several key concepts were solidified. Where there are concurrent or intervening causes that contributed to the accident, the liability can be distributed according to amount of recklessness or carelessness, legally known as negligence. Although a significant amount of cases dealing with these types of facts end with only one party being held liable, this does not set a precedent that more than one party is not responsible in future cases. Liability can be shifted among the collective defendants by settlements, judgment or grace; but this does not indicate that the parties that shift liability or settle were not negligent.

Thus, this case illustrated that where one party is held “absolutely liable” for all of the damages of a truck accident, other parties can also be held liable for their concurrent or intervening acts of negligence.

If this rule were not true, then the injured party would not be able to recover from any party that was negligent if the “absolutely liable” party was immune from potential lawsuits. Because that result would be unfair, this court held that all of the four defendants could be sued for negligence and be held jointly liable.

Continue reading "Roquemore v. E.R. Express & Liability in Truck Accident Cases" »

May 1, 2012

Blood v. VH-1 Music First Says Proof of Foreseeability is Essential in Georgia Trucking Accident Cases

Atlanta truck accident cases can seem very overwhelming because there is so much confusion over who is liable.

Is it the truck driver? The truck driver's employer? Or some third party you are not even aware of?
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Our experienced Atlanta injury attorneys can help you identify the responsible parties and prove your case.

Blood v. VH-1 Music First is a case arising from a car accident caused by a commercial truck. Dennis Hernandez (Hernandez) was a commercial truck driver for MTV Networks. While he was traveling northbound on I-57 in Illinois he approached traffic. In an attempt to avoid getting stuck in the traffic jam, Hernandez crossed the center median of the highway to get onto I-57 northbound. This u-turn on the highway caused a severe accident that left a four to five mile traffic jam starting where Hernandez made the u-turn causing the severe three car accident.

Four hours after the accident, traffic was still jammed because of the accident caused by the driver. Brothers Paul and David Blood (plaintiffs) were driving on I-57 in their vehicle when they approached the beginning of the traffic jam. Behind the blood car a T.E.A.M Logistics (Logistics) truck driven by Milinko Cukovic (Cukovic) came and smashed into the pack of the plaintiff’s car. This impact left David Blood seriously injured and Paul Blood deceased.

The Blood family filed personal injury lawsuits against Cukovic, and T.E.A.M Logistics. Logistics removed the case to federal court and entered a third-party complaint against Hernandez, MTV Networks and VH-1 Music First (Hernandez defendants). Logistics argued that because of the negligence of the Hernandez defendants which caused the first accident, the second accident occurred. The plaintiffs then added the Hernandez defendants in an amended complaint.

In order to prove a case for negligence, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the four elements of negligence. The four elements of negligence are: the defendant had a specific duty of care; the defendant breached this duty of care; the defendant’s breach was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and there are damages.

Upon hearing the case, the district court entered summary judgment for the Hernandez defendants. This district court found that the Hernandez defendants were not the proximate cause of the injuries the plaintiff’s sustained. The plaintiff’s appealed this case to the circuit court.

This court first analyzed the validity of the lower courts summary judgment. The only time summary judgment is appropriate is where the moving party shows the court that there is no dispute as to the material facts of the case. Therefore, where there is a factual dispute it is improper for the court to grant summary judgment. A factual dispute is where a reasonable jury hearing the case could decide for either party.

The court in this case acknowledged that it is undisputed that Hernandez had a duty and that this duty was breached by Hernandez. However, to prove a case for negligence the plaintiff must show causation. Therefore, to establish if there was a factual dispute in this case, the court must examine the requirements of proximate cause.

To prove proximate cause the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty was a substantial factor to the injuries the plaintiff suffered. Next, plaintiff must show that a reasonably prudent person would be able to foresee that as a result of their action, the plaintiff could sustain the type of injuries sustained.

Because plaintiffs could not show that Hernandez could have foreseen a car accident four hours after the time that he made the illegal u-turn, this court affirmed the summary judgment of the district court. Plaintiffs were therefore unable to collect damages from the Hernandez defendants.

Continue reading "Blood v. VH-1 Music First Says Proof of Foreseeability is Essential in Georgia Trucking Accident Cases" »

April 26, 2012

Accidents in Atlanta Targeted by National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week 2012

During every April, the Georgia Department of Transportation participates in the National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.

This year's event is taking place from the 23rd through the 27th of April and aims to help protect both workers and motorists in our nation's roadside construction zones. Every year, hundreds are killed in work zone-related accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere. It's really the passing motorists that face the most risks for a fatal accident in these areas, accounting for nearly 90 percent of the work zone fatalities nationwide. This year's theme is "Don't Barrel through Work Zones" and it's working to get more motorists to pay attention, slow down and curb the distractions when traveling through our state's work zones.
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Our Atlanta accident lawyers understand that our state takes this event seriously. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the entire state will be sponsoring a stand-down hour at construction sites statewide to conduct work zone safety training focusing on halting distracted driving. This year's stand-down is being organized by the Georgia Struck-By Alliance, which includes a number of organizations determined to make our roadways safer for everyone, both workers and motorists.

The truth of the matter is that these accidents are completely preventable and only takes the practice of a few simple habits to avoid. It's getting drivers and workers to exercise these habits that's the tough part!

"The members of this alliance have demonstrated initiative and leadership organizing this safety stand-down industry-wide throughout Georgia to emphasize the importance of work zone safety," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator for the Southeast.

Coe adds that the stand-down is to help to heighten construction workers' awareness about the need to locate, point out and eliminate work-related hazards. It's focusing on getting drivers to slow down, ways to reroute traffic, devices used to separate workers and motor vehicle traffic and ways to keep everyone safe in these zones. The truth of the matter is that these kinds of accidents are 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little time, knowledge and effort to point out and correct these dangers.

OSHA is offering workers and employers with informational flyers and toolboxes, available in both English and Spanish, to help get the word out to drivers and to workers nationwide.

Drivers are asked to slow down, to abide by posted speed limit and lane changes, to allow plenty of time to get through these areas, to avoid tailgating and to be a courteous driver. By practicing just a few safe and alert driving habits, we can help to increase the safety in these areas in no time!

If you would like to register your company to participate in this year's stand-down, contact Cherri Watson, Director of Safety with the Education and Workforce Development for Georgia Branch, by calling 678-298-4104 or sending an email.

Continue reading "Accidents in Atlanta Targeted by National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week 2012" »

April 20, 2012

Fairchild v. SCDOT: How You Can Get Punitive Damages in Your Georgia Truck Accident Case

As we go through our daily lives, the concentration is usually on rushing to the next thing and not on getting there safely.
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When you are driving too fast, the likelihood of an accident increases. To avoid a trucking accident in Atlanta, it is important to maintain reasonable speed on highways where trucks are present. And if you have been involved in a truck accident, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced Atlanta injury attorney to help get you the award necessary to help pay for medical bills, rehabilitation and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Fairchild v. South Carolina Department of Transportation is a recent trucking accident case out of South Carolina. In this case the court looked to the issues surrounding damage awards for negligence in trucking accidents.

There was a South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) driver who was driving a dump truck with an attached rear trailer. In an attempt to make a u-turn on a highway, the driver merged into the median of the highway. Because of the length of the dump truck and the attached trailer, the rear of the trailer stuck out into the left traffic lane on the highway. Fairchild (plaintiff) was driving in that left lane on the highway. Upon seeing the trailer in the road, the plaintiff slammed on her brakes to avoid an accident. In doing this, a truck that was behind the plaintiff driven by Palmer (Defendant), crashed into plaintiff. As this was also a truck with a rear trailer attached, the force of this crash caused the plaintiff’s minivan to flip over and roll onto the median of the highway. Plaintiff suffered serious injuries and property damage.

Plaintiff sued SCDOT and Palmer. Upon signing a covenant not to sue with the SCDOT, Plaintiff continued her negligence lawsuit against Palmer. She sought actual damages for her property damage and physical injuries, as well as punitive damages.

The court in this case heard the appeal by the plaintiff because of the lower courts failure to instruct a jury as to punitive damages.

There are several different types of damages awarded in personal injury cases. The main types of damages are compensatory damages, often referred to as actual damages. These damages are awarded to compensate a victim for injury, property damage and/or harm suffered. On the other hand, punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were so egregious, malicious or reckless as to inspire the court to punish them. These types of damages were created to have a deterrent effect on the public at large.

The court in this case looks to statute and case precedent to guide its decision. Where punitive damages are sought, the jury is responsible for the decision of whether to award these damages. However, it is the responsibility of the judge to give the jury instructions as to the proof necessary and the way to quantify these damages. Because the lower court failed to instruct the jury regarding this type of damages, this South Carolina court reminds the state courts of procedural policy.

Additionally, this court analyzed the rules that are essential when determining the application of the damages. Every driver has a duty to drive as a reasonably prudent person in similar circumstance. Statute also indicates that in order to act reasonably as a driver, you are not to speed or follow another vehicle too closely. This is a duty of care imputed on all drivers.

Where a driver fails to drive at a reasonable speed or follows too closely behind another vehicle, reckless, willful or wonton conduct is inferred. Where this conduct is inferred, punitive damages are appropriate.

Thus, this court held that the jury is responsible for making this decision although the law surrounding standards must be set by the judge.

Continue reading "Fairchild v. SCDOT: How You Can Get Punitive Damages in Your Georgia Truck Accident Case" »

April 5, 2012

Georgia Trucking Acccident Watch: The Court Addresses a Question of “Great Public Importance"

Atlanta trucking accidents can cause serious injuries and damages. Confusion usually arises over who is responsible for the potential negligent trucker’s actions.
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From whom can you actually recover these damages, and in what court do you need to bring your cause of action? Our experienced Atlanta injury attorneys can help you get the answers you need.

Kitroser et al. v. Hurt, et al. is a case that centers on a vehicle-truck collision. Dale Dickey (“Dickey”) was operating a commercial truck owned by his employer, Airgas Carbonic, Inc. (“Airgas”). Because Dickey was driving negligently, he struck the vehicle of Rhina Castro Lara (“Lara”). As a result of this collision Lara suffered from such severe injuries that she died.

Lara’s estate (“Kitroser”) filed suit against Dickey, Airgas and several Airgas employees. Airgas was a foreign corporation with an office in Florida.

Kitroser argued that through training and personal supervision of Dickey, the Airgas employees knew or should have known that Dickey was a careless and dangerous driver. Kitroser alleged that Airgas acted negligently when they hired him after they had actual and constructive knowledge that Dickey was unfit to drive.

Airgas employees claimed protection under the corporate shield doctrine because the actions they took were on behalf of Airgas and were not for their own benefit. If the court were to have found that the employees were subject to this doctrine, personal jurisdiction would be invalid.

Therefore, the question addressed by the court in this case is: where an individual, non-resident defendant acting on behalf of his corporate employer, commits negligent acts within the state of Florida, does the corporate shield doctrine operate as a bar to personal jurisdiction over the individual defendant?

The court in this case answered this question in the negative.

To analyze this “certified court question" there are several legal concepts that need to be explained. First, the court discussed the question of personal jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the power of a court to decide issues involving you or your property. One type of jurisdiction is personal jurisdiction. This is the power of the court to make a decision regarding your interests when a defendant is domiciled within the state, the defendant is present within the state when served notice, or when the defendant consents to have the case heard in a specific court. When dealing with corporations, this issue becomes a little more complicated. A court has personal jurisdiction over corporations when a corporation is incorporated in the state, when the corporation has a place of business within the state, when a corporation has substantial activity within a state or through a long arm statute.

A long arm statute is state law that allows another state to exercise jurisdiction where an out of state defendant has sufficient minimum contacts. To determine whether the court has long arm jurisdiction the court discusses prior case law that states that where an employee acts physically within a state and when this action was civil negligence, that state has jurisdiction over the defendant although the defendant is not a state resident.

Employees in this case had no legal ties to the state of Florida although they were present in the state. The employees argued that a Florida court could not hear this case because the court would not have jurisdiction over them. Some of the things that were presented in the evaluation of personal jurisdiction were the facts that the employees were not Florida residents; they did not own or lease real estate in Florida; they did not have post office boxes or bank accounts in Florida; they did not hold any professional or vocational licenses issued by Florida; etc. However, it is uncontested that the Airgas employees were present in Florida office of the corporation and they were engaged in activities amounting to the training and supervision of Dickey. And it was held that personal jurisdiction applies to any person who commits a civil wrong within the state, regardless of whether they lived in the state.

The employees then argued that the court did not have jurisdiction over them because of the corporate shield doctrine. The court here held that the corporate shield doctrine is not applicable in this case to avoid personal jurisdiction.

Because of the reasons listed above, the Supreme Court of Florida did have jurisdiction over non-resident corporate employees who acted negligently within the state during the course of their employment.

Continue reading "Georgia Trucking Acccident Watch: The Court Addresses a Question of “Great Public Importance"" »

March 28, 2012

Risks for Trucking Accidents in Georgia Ignored, Company Fined Nearly $200,000

A Georgia trucking company, Interline Logistics Group, has been ordered to reinstate one of its truck drivers and to dish out nearly $200,000 in damages and back wages. The truck driver was fired after voicing concerns and filing complaints about the company and roadway safety, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
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The driver filed the complaints because he felt at risk for an accident because of the faulty brakes on his truck. He also was reportedly fired because he refused to go against the USDOT's regulations for hours of service (HOS). The driver was being instructed to work and drive more than was legally allowable. These HOS rules are in place to help keep drivers safe behind the wheel and to keep the surrounding motorists safe from drowsy drivers.

One of the biggest problems in the trucking industry is overworked drivers. When these drivers are not provided with the proper resting time, risks for trucking accidents in Georgia and elsewhere skyrocket and everyone on the road is at risk.

Our Atlanta trucking injury lawyers understand that the company allegedly sent the driver to the repair shop to have his truck's brakes fixed, but the job never got done. Before the job could be completed, he was sent out on a delivery -- with faulty brakes! He was fired shortly after the complaint. Safety should be everyone's concern. Safe company policies equate to safe roadways.

"The safety of all workers and everyone on the road is endangered when employees are afraid to report safety concerns because of threats from their employers," said Dr. David Michaels with the Occupational Safety and Health.

Aside from worrying about safety with the faulty brakes, the driver refused to make the delivery because he was over the federally-mandated number of hours that drivers are allowed to work. The next day he was fired.

After an investigation by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), it was concluded that the driver was only concerned about the safety of himself and other motorists on our roadways. The completely disregard for these concerns landed the company with nearly $200,000 in fines.

"Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The federally mandated HOS rules are in place to help keep our roadways safe. Drowsiness and fatigue is a big problem for truck drivers when they're overworked, as we've recently reported on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog. The rules currently in place limit the number of hours that a driver can work in a day and in a week. The rules also allow them to take breaks when they feel necessary. Violating these rules puts everyone on our roadways at risk.

Continue reading "Risks for Trucking Accidents in Georgia Ignored, Company Fined Nearly $200,000" »

March 23, 2012

New HOS Rule to Help Reduce Risks of Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere

Commercial truck drivers may not be as tired anymore after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed a new hours-of-service (HOS) rule to limit the amount of hours they can spend behind the wheel. The move to stricter rules was made after our country experienced far too many drowsy driving-related trucking accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere. Officials believed that these accidents were the result of far too lenient rules. Truckers were practically living behind the wheel.
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"A big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked," said the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Our Georgia trucking accident lawyers understand that this new HOS rule is one of the FMCSA's most transparent and public outreach efforts in the agency's history. What it did was spend days talking with the public and with trucking companies, law enforcement officials, and safe-driving advocates about their input regarding such a rule. Everyone had a little bit of say as to how the rule was constructed. The administration also used data from the most recent studies regarding fatigued driving and accident risks to come up with the new rule.

The FMCSA's New Rule Enforces That Truck Drivers:

-Work only 70 hours a week. The old rule allowed truck drivers to work a maximum of 82 hours in one week.

-Take at least one 30-minute break for every eight hours they spend behind the wheel. Drivers are also allowed to take as many 30-minute breaks as they feel necessary during each eight-consecutive hours of work.

-Work no more than 11 hours in a single day. When more research is done on a driver's abilities behind the wheel during 11 hours of daily driving then this rule may be changed, depending on the findings.

-Use the "34-hour restart" provision when maximizing weekly work hours. When drivers meet the weekly work hours allotted to them, they are required to take at least two nights' worth of rest. These resting periods are to be taken when the body's internal clock desires sleep the most: from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Drivers need to restart their work week by completing at least 34-consecutive hours off duty. This must be done at least once in a seven-day work week.

Drivers who don't abide by these rules can face fines of nearly $2,800. Companies aren't off the hook either. If they're busted allowing their drivers to exceed these limitations, then they can be faced with fines of $11,000 for each offense.

The rule was put into effect late in February and the compliance date for these provisions is July 1, 2013.

Continue reading "New HOS Rule to Help Reduce Risks of Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere" »

March 9, 2012

Atlanta Truck Accident Risk Rises with Daylight Saving Time

It's time to spring-forward your clocks. What you may not anticipate with this annual ritual of daylight saving time is an increased risk of trucking accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere in the country.

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Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys are aware of a number of studies that prove the point.

A study in 1998 conducted by the Department of Psychology in Columbia found that when the clocks go forward, the accident rates go up - by an alarming 17 percent the Monday after the change.

In fact, the study analyzed fatal accident numbers from 1986 through 1995.

The same trend has not been observed when the clocks "fall back" just before winter, giving us an extra hour.

One theory for why this happens has to do with how much light people have on their way to work that morning. While they may be used to their morning commute being bright, the sudden shift backward an hour throws them into darkness.

Another reason is that some people may have forgotten to change their clocks. It's an easy enough mistake. When they realize it the following day, they find themselves rushing to work, speeding and engaging in other unsafe driving behaviors.

But researchers concluded that the main reason for this spike in spring crashes has to do with sleep, or rather a lack of it.

When daylight saving time was first implemented in March of 1918, it was a wartime measure aimed to reduce energy consumption and increase sunlight in the evening hours.

The thinking behind making the change on a Sunday is that most people have time to sleep in on the weekend when the time change actually occurs. Come Monday morning, however, some may find themselves especially fatigued. And studies have shown that just because people may have a little extra time on a Sunday to adjust and get used to the change, it doesn't mean they will use it that way. In fact, people tend to use it either watching television or socializing. This is going to make them more prone to tiredness behind the wheel on the way to work.

Truck drivers, in particular, are susceptible to a lack of sleep on a day-to-day basis as it is. With sleep-and-wake schedules that are already erratic, it leaves truckers particularly vulnerable to a crash.

An article published in the Journal of Public Health and Policy, called "Long Hours and Fatigue: A survey of Tractor-Trailer Drivers," investigators surveyed some 1,200 truckers at stations in four states. What they found was that more than 30 percent admitted to having exceeded their weekly hours-of-service limit required by law. Another 20 percent said they had dozed off behind the wheel at least once and sometimes more within the previous month. And while the federal government requires that truckers get a certain amount of rest time each week, travel logs are so often fudged that they are known in the industry as "comic books."

In an older study (that is no less valid today), researchers found in 1983 that a startling 41 percent of major truck crashes were at least partially attributable to truckers who had been on the road more than 15 hours without stopping.

Continue reading "Atlanta Truck Accident Risk Rises with Daylight Saving Time" »

February 28, 2012

Atlanta Trucking Accidents Involve Teens Too

Many teens - and maybe even their parents - may feel that an Atlanta trucking accident isn't something they need to concern themselves with. After all, you would be hard-pressed to find a teenager operating a big-rig.

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However, because teens share the road with these large vehicles, it's important for parents to discuss how to navigate safely around them. Teens need to be reminded of the dangers around these vehicles, which can sometimes weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds. Many teens driving are familiar with passenger cars and trucks, but their chances of survival decrease exponentially if they tangle with a large truck. It's a topic many driver's education courses may simply gloss over, so it's crucial for parents to make sure their teen is educated about the dangers

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys believe this discussion is all the more important to have in light of a recent study that revealed the number of teens car accident fatalities is on an alarmingly upward incline.

According to a report released earlier this month by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of drivers aged 17 and under who died in passenger vehicles increased during the first half of 2011, compared to the first six months of 2010. This was true for all 50 states and Washington D.C.

The statistics showed that 16 and 17-year-olds killed in car accidents increased by 11 percent during that time frame. Once figures are tabulated for the end of 2011, if that is a trend that continues, it will mean the end of eight consecutive years of a decline in teen driver fatalities.

While there is no breakdown in this report of exactly how many of those specifically involved large trucks, what we do know from previous research is that those involved in Atlanta trucking accidents suffer more severe injuries than those who crash into other passenger vehicles.

In a large-scale study conducted by the National Highway Safety Association, researchers looked at trucking accident data from 1975 to 2005. What they found was that more than 7 percent of those killed in trucking accidents were teens ages 17 and under. The next-highest age group, those ages 18 to 25, suffered 17 percent of the total trucking accident fatalities - the most of any other age group. This alone should be evidence enough for parents to have a discussion with their teens about driving around large trucks.

The Geico Educational Foundation in 2009 released a brochure with tips for teens to avoid trucking accidents. The first of those is to be aware of the trucker's blind spots, also referred to as "no zones." A good general rule is that if you can't see the trucker's mirror, he or she is not going to be able to see you. If you need to pass a truck, make sure you can see the front of the rig in your rear view mirror before you pull ahead. Never swerve in front of a truck or come to an abrupt stop just ahead of a truck, as these large vehicles can't stop as quickly as the driver of a passenger vehicle. Lastly, avoid getting between a turning truck and the curb, as these vehicles often require a large amount of space to make their wide turns.

Continue reading "Atlanta Trucking Accidents Involve Teens Too" »

February 22, 2012

Georgia Truckers Await Rule on Electronic Speed Limiters

It's been almost a year since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it would begin to work on a plan to require speed limiters on large trucks in an effort to reduce trucking accidents in Georgia.

The new rule, which would limit the top speed for large trucks to 68 miles per hour, is expected to be released sometime this year.

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Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys know it's been a long journey for the advocates at Road Safe America, who first proposed the speed-curbing devices to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2006. According to RSA, the U.S. is the only developed country that doesn't require speed limiters to be installed in heavy commercial vehicles.

To illustrate why this is such a crucial measure to implement, RSA reports that the number of people killed by heavy trucks each year is equivalent to two commercial airplanes crashing each month, killing everyone inside.

According to thetrucker.com, such a measure would also likely help the industry to save on fuel costs, in addition to boosting the safety of both truckers and those who share the road with them.

A similar law has been in effect in areas of Canada since 2009. In Ontario and Quebec, for example, most large trucks are outfitted with speed limiters that cap their speed at about 65 miles per hour (or if you're there, 105 kilometers per hour).

According to Ontario's Ministry of Transportation, a 2007 study found that these devices are expected to save about 100 million liters of fuel annually (or about 280,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions).

There, truckers were given six months to adjust to using the new devices, and by all accounts, the integration process has gone smoothly.

Tom Hodgson, the executive director of RSA, says a rule that would reduce the maximum speed of large trucks will no doubt save lives. But he believes transportation officials need to take it a step farther.

He noted a fatal flaw in the way the industry operates, and it has to do with the pay schedule. Currently, most trucking companies pay their drivers by the mile. This is an incentive for truckers to drive very quickly for long periods of time. Hodgson said if the industry changed its policy by paying truckers for all the hours they are traveling - and not just those in which they are physically on the road - truckers would be more inclined to drive more slowly, carefully and get enough rest to ensure they are alert and can safely navigate the highways we all share.

In addition to speed limiters, the trucking industry is also anticipating the widespread implementation of electronic log books within the next three years, under federal guidelines. Currently, paper log books that record drive time and on-duty status are commonly called "comic books" because they are so often falsified by truckers and their companies.

It's hoped that by having those hours logged electronically, truckers and their companies will be more in line with federal laws and guidelines.

Continue reading "Georgia Truckers Await Rule on Electronic Speed Limiters" »

February 15, 2012

Georgia Trucking Accidents Highlight Need for Caution

It was a mess that took hours of meticulous clean-up, following a Dalton trucking accident.

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According to authorities, the wreck involved a semitrailer that had been hauling a number of chemical compounds, some containing formaldehyde, which flipped on I-75.

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys understand this happened near the Tennessee border.

Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling gas that is often used as a disinfectant and to preserve dead bodies. For the living, it is known to cause disease, namely, cancer.

In the wake of the accident, small vials of cleaning solution, each containing some of the dangerous chemical, had scattered across the roadway.

According to a sergeant for the Georgia State Highway Patrol, the truck had been hauling two trailers when it struck a guardrail and the rear trailer flipped. In a domino effect, two more accidents happened soon after, according to press reports. One woman even had to be sent to the hospital.

It occurred early in the morning, about 5 a.m. It was on I-75, about a half hour outside of Chattanooga.

The chemical bottles across the roadway forced the sheriff's office to close two of the interstate's southbound lanes.

Unfortunately, that was the second trucking accident in Georgia in as many days.

Other area news reports indicate that an accident that happened just a day before the chemical spill resulted in the death of a trucker in northwest Georgia.

The Associated Press reports that the driver, who was from Indiana, was operating a Freightliner truck. He was going south in Gordon County, near the 320 exit on I-75, when the truck drifted off the road. Investigators still aren't sure exactly what caused the truck to leave the road, but they determined the driver over-corrected, got back on the road and then flipped.

A spokesman for the state highway patrol said the driver wasn't wearing a seat belt, and was ejected due to the impact. He died a short time later.

No one else was hurt in the accident.

While we are saddened to hear of the passing of the Indiana trucker on our state highway, we were relieved to hear no one else had been hurt. Statistics indicate that often in crashes involving a large truck, other people are likely to be injured.

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of those people who were killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2008, almost 75 percent - or three-quarters - were occupants of the other vehicle. Another 10 percent of those killed were non-occupants, meaning they were not in another car and they weren't in the truck either. In 16 percent of the cases, it was someone inside the large truck who died.

Injury statistics indicate the same trend. In the cases where serious injury occurred in crashes with large trucks, 71 percent were the people in the other vehicle. Three percent were non-occupants, and 26 were the people inside the large truck.

Continue reading "Georgia Trucking Accidents Highlight Need for Caution" »

February 8, 2012

Georgia Truckers Face More Stringent Prescription Drug Rules

A new final rule handed down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is intended to reduce the number of impaired commercial truck drivers and prevent trucking accidents in Atlanta and throughout the country.

Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys know that truck drivers have a difficult job, with grueling schedules that demand physical and mental stamina. Adding alcohol or narcotics to that mix - whether prescribed or not - can have deadly consequences.

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The new rule expands earlier guidelines regarding truckers' use of medication or narcotics. Illegal narcotics, such as cocaine and heroin, are prohibited by every driver, as is alcohol.

Under the old rule, employers who had "actual knowledge" of a driver who had violated these laws were compelled to take action against that employee. But the administration determined that the term "actual knowledge" could mean the employer would have had to have seen or witnessed the drug use first hand. Under the new rule, employers merely have to be made aware, even if that knowledge comes from the trucker's previous employer.

The new rule also prohibits truckers' use of any Schedule I substance under any circumstances. Schedule 1 drugs are those that must be prescribed by a doctor, such as certain opiates, stimulants and depressants. These are drugs that would have a high potential for abuse and would impair the truck driver's ability to do his or her job safely. Under the old rules, truckers could use these substances on the job when they had a valid doctor's prescription. Not any more.

The advocacy group Road Safe America has long supported changes in this area. For years, the group has been calling for a central database where trucking companies could check the previous drug test results for truck drivers. The group says truckers that tested positive for drugs in one state would simply go to a neighboring state to apply for a job there. Without a central database to cross-reference information, the driver's prior record becomes essentially "lost."

With all the press given to impaired drivers of passenger vehicles, imagine how much more damage is often done when the intoxicated person is driving an 80,000 pound truck at speeds of up to 80 miles an hour. As Road Safe America puts it: "It's truly horrifying."

A recent Georgia trucking accident highlighted these dangers. According to The Newnan Times-Herald, a truck driver from West Virginia was found guilty earlier this month of a 2010 hit-and-run crash on I-85 that injured a sheriff's deputy.

The accident happened in 2010 as the deputy was initiating a traffic stop along I-85. As the deputy was walking back, his cruiser and the vehicle he had stopped was sideswiped by the trucker's 18-wheeler.

Both cars sustained damage, and the deputy was tossed to the ground. The trucker, who the newspaper reported had been legally using prescription drugs, did not stop, though he was located and arrested a short time later.

The trucker was found guilty of hit-and-run, violating the state's Move Over law and failing to maintain his lane.

Continue reading "Georgia Truckers Face More Stringent Prescription Drug Rules" »

January 27, 2012

FMCSA Working to Ensure Drivers Rest and Reduce Risks of Trucking Accidents in Georgia, Nation

A recent accident involving a semi-truck driver from Atlanta left a man in the hospital and more than 200 gallons of diesel fuel all over I-90. According to authorities, the accident happened shortly after 6 p.m., when the commercial tractor-trailer drifted off of the right side of the road. The driver tried to bring the large truck back on the road, but according to authorities, the driver lost control of his rig. His semi slammed into a concrete barrier and both of the truck's fuel tanks were punctured, spilling fuel all over the road. The semi flipped onto its side and finally came to rest at the side of the road, next to the barrier. The Atlanta driver has been found at fault and cited.
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Every year, thousands of fatal trucking accidents happen on roadways across the nation. Many of the trucking accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere are the result of driver fatigue. Truck drivers work long hours behind the wheel with very little rest. These drivers are common victims to drowsy driving as they chug on toward meeting deadlines and delivering goods. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 300,000 large trucks on U.S. roadways in 2009. These trucks were involved in accidents that resulted in the death of nearly 3,400 people and injury to another 75,000.

Our Atlanta trucking accident lawyers understand that semi-truck drivers have demanding work schedules with hours and hours spent behind the wheel. To help to reduce the risks of drowsy driving-related trucking accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced a new rule to regulate the work schedules of these drivers. These drivers operate potentially deadly vehicles if involved in an accident. Death is more likely in the event of a traffic accident involving a big rig, semi-truck, tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler.

The rules tighten the previous hours-of-service (HOS) safety rules for these truck drivers,

"This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives," said USDOT Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The new rule was open for discussion a number of times through FMCSA listening sessions. These were meetings held across the country in which trucking employers, truck drivers, safe-driving advocates and law enforcement officials were invited to share their input regarding these standards to help shape the rules

FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro says this rule is the most thorough and extensive rule yet. She says that through public and private input, as well as extensive research, administrators with FMCSA feel they've created the most comprehensive and beneficial set of rules and regulations to help to reduce the risks of drowsy driving-related trucking accidents across the country.

Drivers are no longer allowed to work 82 hours a week. They are now limited to 70 hours a week. They are also required to take at least a 30-minute break for every 8 hours they spend behind the wheel. Lastly, they are no longer allowed to driver more than 11 hours in a day.

Companies and drivers will be fined if they break any of the new rules.

In 2009, the NHTSA reports that there were nearly 150 large trucks involved in fatal accidents in Georgia. The new rule is hoping to reduce this number significantly with the coming years.

Continue reading "FMCSA Working to Ensure Drivers Rest and Reduce Risks of Trucking Accidents in Georgia, Nation" »

January 23, 2012

Slew of Georgia Trucking Accidents Urges Drivers to be Cautious on Roadways

As our Georgia trucking accident attorneys discussed on a recent blog, trucking accidents are a top concern for safe-driving advocates across the country. Traffic accidents involving big rigs, 18-wheelers, semi-trucks and tractor-trailers oftentimes produce fatal results.

There have been a number of recent trucking accidents in Georgia that illustrate our need for more road safety awareness. Both the drivers of trucks and the drivers of passenger vehicles are urged to be cautious. By practicing safe and alert driving habits, we can all do our part to help to reduce the risks of these types of accidents.
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Recent Trucking Accidents in Georgia:

Canton Road Connector on I-75 in Marietta: After a trucking accident in which a big rig flipped on its side, officials were forced to block the northbound lanes of the interstate to mop up the truck's spilled diesel fuel. Luckily, authorities reported none of the truck's 9,000 pounds of propane leaked in the accident. According to 11ALIVE, one person was injured in the accident and was transported to the hospital.

Highway 129 south on Gainesville: After rainy weather passed through the area, Hall County authorities report that a tractor-trailer slid off of the slippery roads and flipped on its side, according to Access North GA. The truck was fully-loaded with chickens. Local authorities said that it took for hours to clear the mess.

FedEx driver hits man in East Point: A 77-year-old pedestrian was hit by a passing truck and is now on life support. This accident happened at the intersection of Virginia Avenue and Harrison Road. Georgia State Patrol report that the truck's bumper hit the elderly pedestrian and the two back tires ran over her. WSBTV2 reports that the trucker kept driving until someone called and said that he had hit someone. The driver then returned to the scene of the accident. Reports indicate that the driver failed to see the pedestrian. The driver is not facing any charges for the accident. Authorities say that the pedestrian was jaywalking at the time.

Trucker from Georgia stops traffic for three hours: A truck driver from Rome wedged his big rig under a train trestle at roughly 8:30 a.m., after failing to obey a traffic control device. Officials with the Cambridge/Greenwich Police have given the driver a ticket. It took officials two hours to get the truck out from underneath the trestle, according to Bennington Banner.

Tractor-trailer hits power pole in Macon: A tow truck that was carrying three vehicles ran into a power pole and caused the power lines to hang just feet above the highway. Power was cut off to Northern and Hall Streets. Cleanup was expected to take nearly five hours. Motorists were urged to steer clear of the area.

Continue reading "Slew of Georgia Trucking Accidents Urges Drivers to be Cautious on Roadways" »

January 15, 2012

Federal Trucking Standards Help Keep Fatigued Truck Drivers from Causing Georgia Trucking Accidents

Federally regulated hours-of-service rules for trucking companies are in place for a reason. Without them, fatigued truck drivers put other motorists in danger of a trucking accident in Georgia and elsewhere. Truck drivers are often required by their employers to make long trips and work extended hours but these work conditions can take a toll on the body and cause a driver to become drowsy or otherwise lose their edge.
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Road Safe America recently reported that a state legislator from New Hampshire is knocking the government for trying to keep trucking companies in line by placing stringent rules on drivers for the number of hours permitted to work in a day or in any given work week.

Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that drivers make the most money by working long hours but it simply isn't safe for other roadway users around them. Not only are motorists at tremendous risk of an accident caused by a fatigued driver but pedestrians and bicyclists have very little chance of survival from a collision with a large commercial truck or tractor-trailer. State Senator Ayotte is considering an amendment to ban the use of Federal funds to issue a final rule on driver and roadway safety for drowsy drivers in the commercial bus and trucking industries.

We first posted about the new proposal for hours-of-service (HOS) rule on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog last December. The HOS proposal included a "34-hour restart" in which truck drivers could not begin the clock on a new weekly 60 or 70 hours worked without taking a 34-hour break from driving duties in between. New legislation was also proposed that a truck driver couldn't work more than 14 hours in any given workday. Violations of these proposed rules would cause drivers and their employers to be slapped with civil penalties for each offense. The driver could be assessed a fine up to $2,750 while the employer could be forced to pay up to $11,000 in civil penalties.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood responded to the New Hampshire Senator with a letter. He defended his efforts and the work of his department by reinforcing the dangers of fatigued drivers. He wrote that approximately 500 lives were lost last year in an accident involving a fatigued commercial driver.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is very close to issuing a final rule that is critical to keeping hours worked by truck drivers in check and keeping fatigued commercial drivers off U.S. roadways. Since 2009, the government has been tackling the issue of driver fatigue through research, listening sessions and the rulemaking process. To propose an amendment to the final rule would cause confusion and a gray area between Federal and State officials, as well as, members of the trucking industry.

We want to urge all drivers to be well-rested before you take to the roads. Alert drivers can react to the dangers of more congested roadways as 2012 gets underway.

Continue reading "Federal Trucking Standards Help Keep Fatigued Truck Drivers from Causing Georgia Trucking Accidents" »

January 4, 2012

Train v. Tractor-Trailer Accident in Atlanta Highlights Risks to Motorists

A Georgia trucker is in trouble after plowing his big rig into a train; the clash of titans occurred at the Cherokee Street crossing in Kennesaw, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The risk for Georgia semi accidents is on the rise as 2012 gets underway; truckers are hitting the road looking to make up for lost time after the break. Motorists don't stand a chance in an accident with a tractor-trailer and are unlikely to fare any better in a railroad crossing accident. Train engineers and truck drivers share a larger responsibility in keeping motorists safe on the road. When they fail to live up to their end of that bargain, the results are typically catastrophic and often deadly for victims in passenger cars. 1334757_railway_sign.jpg

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand those risks: Nearly 4,000 motorists were killed and nearly 75,000 were injured in accidents with large commercial trucks in 2009. In three-quarters of those cases, the victim was the occupant of a passenger vehicle or a non-occupant, such as a bicyclist or pedestrian, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In this case, the truck got stuck at the crossing and was hit by a freight train, according to a report from the Kennesaw Police Department. The Atlanta Foods International truck was crossing the CSX Transportation tracks at the time of the accident. The 44-year-old truck driver was cited for failure to heed a crossing signal that warned of the approaching train. The train slammed into the trailer but managed to remain on the tracks.

The train missed the tractor and neither the driver or the train crew reported serious injuries, according to the AJC report. The road was closed for more than three hours and the Cherokee crossing was to remain closed pending repairs.

Georgia is one of 10 states under federal mandate to improve safety at railroad crossings. The state ranked fifth most dangerous in a report released in 2010 by the Federal Railroad Administration. Georgia is under a directive to focus on crossing deemed most dangerous and to come up with an action plan to improve safety.

Nationwide, about 7,000 railroad crossing accidents occur each year, claiming nearly 900 lives. Nationwide, railroad infrastructure is aging and woefully inadequate when it comes to the task of keeping motorists safe. Far too many crossing lack arms, lights and signals and far too many intersections have equipment that is not functioning or not properly maintained.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, the state currently evaluates crossings based on the following criteria:

-Number of passenger trains using the crossing.

-Number of freight trains using the crossing.

-Distance to alternate crossing.

-Crossing's accident history.

-Type of warning devices present at crossing, if any.

-Alignment of roadway and crossing.

-Traffic volume of crossing.

-Crossing speed limit.

-Affects of closure, including presence of medical facilities in the area.

Continue reading "Train v. Tractor-Trailer Accident in Atlanta Highlights Risks to Motorists" »

December 19, 2011

Georgia Tractor Trailer Deaths Leave Behind Devastation

It doesn't take a lot of searching on the Internet to see that people involved in serious trucking accidents in Atlanta and the surrounding areas can be devastating.

Our Georgia truck accident attorneys point out three recent examples where accidents involving large tractor trailers caused death and major injury.
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People who are driving sedans and other smaller vehicles almost always are on the wrong end of a trucking accident. While truckers themselves do run the risk of being injured, given that they are higher up and have a chance of flipping due to the weight of the trucks they drive, the risk isn't nearly as high as the vehicles below.

In one case, a woman died in a horrible accident in Thomson, Georgia, after colliding head-on with a tractor trailer. Photos from the scene show a mangled vehicle that is barely recognizable. You can't determine the make or model or have any idea what the vehicle looked like before.

According to news reports, the accident happened in the early hours of a recent weekday on a highway. A 21-year-old woman collided with a tractor trailer and was pronounced dead at the scene, state troopers reported. The tractor trailer was carrying wood and was driven by a 45-year-old truck driver.

Witnesses reported that the woman drove into the northbound lane of the highway, attempting to pass another southbound vehicle. But when she didn't immediately get back into the lane, she ran straight into a tractor trailer that was coming over a hill.

The force of the accident caused the woman's vehicle to be dragged more than 200 feet -- nearly 2/3 of the length of a football field -- before it finally came to rest. It's unclear how fast the vehicles were going at the time, but that line alone describes the awesome power of these tractor trailers.

In an accident north of Macon on Interstate 75, two people died during a multi-vehicle accident on the highway. A television news station reported that at least two people died in the wreck where one of the vehicles involved was a tractor-trailer.

The accident took hours to clear up as traffic was completely blocked for some time as crime scene investigators attempted to piece together what happened.

A Georgia trucker was involved in a fatal accident in upstate New York recently when a delivery truck driver ran into the rear of an 18-wheeler that was having mechanical problems, killing a delivery truck passenger, a local newspaper reports.

The Georgia truck driver told police he was driving slowly on an interstate because he was experiencing mechanical problems. An appliance delivery truck driver said he didn't see the tractor trailer until it was too late. The impact of the accident killed his co-worker.

Even running into the back of an empty 18-wheeler can kill, as this story relays. Large trucks are so powerful they don't need to be fully loaded in order for other drivers to feel their impact.

Continue reading "Georgia Tractor Trailer Deaths Leave Behind Devastation" »

December 12, 2011

Georgia Trucking Accidents Expected to Rise This Holiday Season

Traffic analysts believe that nearly 90 million people will be on the road this holiday season, traveling at least 50 miles from their homes to visit relatives or friends.

With Interstate 75 running right through Atlanta, this means that there will also be an abundance of tractor trailers passing through Georgia, delivering goods to retailers throughout the Southeast. And with an increase in trucks, that could mean there will be additional Georgia trucking accidents.
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Our Georgia trucking accident lawyers have seen the devastation that accidents involving big rigs can have on families. While many truck drivers take precautions to drive safely, many companies overwork their drivers, which leads to fatigue and the potential for drivers to lose focus and get into an accident.

While everyone realizes the danger that a car-on-car accident can have, a trucking accident is magnified because of the sheer weight and size of these massive vehicles. When they attempt to stop, their loads can shift, making their ability to break even more difficult. Add in bad weather and road conditions and it can be disastrous for drivers.

The National Safety Council has estimated that nearly 300 people will die on the roads between December 23 and December 26 as a result of the expected increase in traffic. Despite an increase in gas prices in recent months, experts believe more Georgians will be hitting the roads this holiday season.

Studies have shown that seat belts are 45 percent effective in helping to prevent fatal accidents. Based on that data, more than 100 lives could be saved during the Christmas holiday if every person wore a safety belt while driving. Some recent fatal statistics during the last few years, as reported by the National Safety Council (year followed by number of fatalities):

2005: 383
2006: 379
2007: 454
2008: 409
2009: 248

While it is encouraging that the number of fatal accidents was down in 2009 from previous years, that's still a large number of people who have died as a result of traffic accidents. It's unclear what percentage of those traffic accidents were a result of large trucks.

Additionally, statistics from the New Year's holiday period during the last few years have increased in recent years:

2005: 449
2006: 432
2007: 387
2008: 407
2009: 458

Truckers are everywhere and drivers would do best to avoid being nearby, if possible. Even just a near contact can cause a trucker to over-correct their steering and cause accidents. Because of their large blind spots, it's also advisable to stay away from those areas where other drivers can't see the drivers in their side-view mirrors.

Let this holiday season be memorable, but not because of a bad trucking accident. Drive safe, wherever your destination and through whichever roads you travel. Adhere to these short tips to avoid being the victim of a Georgia trucking accident.

Continue reading "Georgia Trucking Accidents Expected to Rise This Holiday Season" »

November 22, 2011

Heightened Thanksgiving Day Travel Increases Risks of Georgia Car and Trucking Accidents

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and give thanks for the many blessings you have been given in our life. Most Thanksgiving Day traditions involve several generations of family gathering around the table for turkey, stuffing and all the fixings. For this reason, Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous travel days or holiday weekends of the year as many motorists are required to travel to get to their loved ones and family.
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Georgia trucking accident attorneys know that roadways will be more congested around the holidays so we hope that motorists use extra caution on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the weekend to reduce the chances of being involved in a car or trucking accident in Atlanta or elsewhere.

Many travelers may be coming to Georgia from out-of-state which can make roadways more dangerous for a driver who is unfamiliar with the area. When a car or truck driver doesn't know the area, making a wrong turn onto a street or roadway that only goes one direction can create a potentially dangerous situation.

A multiple vehicle crash on I-85 north of Atlanta recently is a good example of how going the wrong way on a roadway can lead to serious injury. A woman driving a Ford Explorer was allegedly going the wrong direction when she clipped an 18-wheeler. The impact with the first large truck caused her to hit another tractor-trailer and Chevrolet van before being thrown from her SUV. The alleged wrong-way driver of the Ford Explorer was seriously injured from the crash but authorities reported no other injuries from the accident. Hazmat crews had to report to the scene as one of the trucks involved in the accident spilled fuel.

In order to avoid an accident with a large truck or car this Thanksgiving, American Trucking Association's professional drivers offer the following highway safety tips:

-Maintain a safe travel speed. More vehicles on the roadway require operating at a lower speed to avoid contact with a large truck other passenger vehicle that slows or stops without warning.

-Rather than winging it if you don't have a GPS device in your vehicle, plan your trip mile by mile before you leave. Know your exit name and number, watch for traffic signs well in advance, familiarize yourself with street names, and pull over to read a map if you get lost.

-Don't be distracted by everything going on around you. Keep your eyes and mental focus on the road at all times.

-The only way to limit the chances of being late to dinner is to leave plenty early. Allowing extra travel time takes the stress of arriving late out play and allows families to enjoy the ride.

-If you don't have an emergency kit in your vehicle, prepare one for the trip. Include items like a flashlight, first-aid kit, jumper cables, tire repair kit, blankets and bottled water.

-Check the 5-day weather forecast the week before your trip so you know what weather conditions to expect. Make adjustments in your travel plans if poor conditions are predict.

-If you feel a little drowsy after you stuff yourself with turkey, take a nap before you drive or have someone else get behind the wheel until you feel rested.

Continue reading "Heightened Thanksgiving Day Travel Increases Risks of Georgia Car and Trucking Accidents" »

November 16, 2011

Drunk Driver Killed in Georgia Trucking Accident Serves as Reminder to Avoid a Truck Collision in Atlanta, Elsewhere

With winter weather just about upon us and the holidays fast approaching, it is a good time for our Atlanta trucking accident lawyers to remind motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to use a little more caution to avoid an accident. You may begin to notice roadways becoming slicker with morning frosts and icy conditions or a little more congested with holiday shoppers and travelers.
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We especially urge you to use more caution around big rigs to avoid a tractor-trailer accident in Georgia. Becoming entwined with these big and powerful 18-wheelers doesn't usually end well for drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians.

Two separate incidents that occurred recently remind us of the dangers when a motorist makes impact with a tractor-trailer. AccessNorthGa.com recently reported of an early morning collision when a car became wedged underneath a semi. The driver of the car was trapped inside and had to be taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for treatment of severe injuries.

A second accident turned fatal when a driver of a 2008 Kia Optima in Worth County failed to stop at a stop sign. Fox 31 online reports a 68-year-old female had to be rushed to Phoebe Putney Hospital after colliding with a flatbed truck on Highway 300. The driver ran a stop sign, but the approaching truck could not swerve in time to miss broadside contact with the Optima. Georgia State Police confirmed the passenger car driver was under the influence at the time of the accident. The woman was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Road Safe America offers these driver safety tips:

Passenger car drivers

-Whatever you do, stay out of a truck's blind spots. A trucker can't avoid a collision if you are riding where the driver can't see you.

-Allow four to six seconds of space between you and semi-truck in wet or icy conditions or at high rates of speed.

-When using a turn signal, wait for a tractor-trailer to make their turn before passing. Large trucks require more space to turn corners so you don't want to block their path by trying to go around them.

-If you see a truck driver driving erratically or recklessly, report them to authorities immediately.

Tractor-trailer drivers

-Never get behind the wheel if you are feeling drowsy. Eat right, stay fit and get plenty of rest.

-A third of work zone injuries are caused by large trucks driving too fast through construction zones. Slow down and move over.

-Check brakes regularly to avoid accidents from brake malfunctions. A common out-of-service violation for large trucks is brake defects.

-Drive defensively, not aggressively. If an aggressive driver approaches you on the roadway, let them go. Never engage in aggressive acts with other motorists.

Reduce the risk of severe injury or death by using caution and staying focused on the roadway every time you get behind the wheel.

Continue reading "Drunk Driver Killed in Georgia Trucking Accident Serves as Reminder to Avoid a Truck Collision in Atlanta, Elsewhere" »

November 9, 2011

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week Aims to Curb Fatigue-Related Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere

The National Sleep Foundation and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have joined forces for this year's Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, educating the public on ways to reduce the risks of fatigue-related car accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere. The 2011 campaign is taking place this week through Saturday.
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Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that truck driver fatigue has been a popular conversation topic among safe driving advocates in recent months. Trucking accidents overall kill more than 5,000 people ever year and injure about 150,000. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that there were more than 750 fatalities and another 20,000 injuries resulting from accidents with fatigued truckers. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. A driver of a commercial truck gets sleepy at the wheel because he or she has worked too many hours and hasn't slept enough.

To help raise awareness about this dangerous driving habit, AAA released its findings regarding drowsy driving from a recent study, according to CBS Atlanta. The study concluded that although more than 95 percent of surveyed drivers said that drowsy driving was completely unacceptable, about a third of all drivers were still guilty of the dangerous habit.

Drowsy driving can produce fatal consequences, especially when a large truck is involved. Fatigued drivers are reportedly involved in one out of every six deadly accidents. Sleepy drivers are among the top contributors to trucking accidents in the U.S., contributing to nearly 15 percent of all fatal trucking accidents.

More than 40 percent of drivers who were surveyed by AAA admitted to having fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once. What's alarming is that a majority of these drivers fell asleep while they were driving at high speeds.

"Drivers have a tendency to underestimate the impact being tired has on their driving ability, which puts themselves and others at risk," said AAA Foundation president and CEO Peter Kissinger.

You may be getting sleepy at the wheel if you are having trouble focusing on the road, you are swerving in and out of your lane, you can't clearly remember the last few miles driven, you're yawning excessively, feeling irritable, restless or aggressive, or overlooking traffic lights, for instance.

How to prevent drowsy driving:

-Get at least seven hours of sleep before you head out on a long trip.

-Take a break every two hours or every 100 miles.

-Travel with a passenger. Switch drivers when you start to feel sleepy.

-Never drive during times that you'd normally be sleeping.

Remember that one of the worst things you can do behind the wheel if you feel sleepy is to try to power through it. If you start feeling tired, the best thing to do is pull over in a safe spot and rest.

Continue reading "Drowsy Driving Prevention Week Aims to Curb Fatigue-Related Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere" »

October 19, 2011

Road Safe America Addresses Unsafe Roadways to Help Prevent Trucking Accidents in Atlanta, Nation

Highway funding legislation has been extended once again, with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives pushing it back until March 2012. This legislation is referred to as Public Law 109-59. This is the eighth time that this bill has received an extension and Road Safe America isn't happy about it. This highway safety advocate group continuously pushes for safe roadways for motorists nationwide to help prevent fatal car accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere. The extension of this legislation is doing nothing more than putting drivers on U.S. roadways in danger, according to Road Safe America.
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Most of the construction projects and maintenance work on our roadways relies heavily on federal tax money. The budget that organizes the money used for these projects is discussed, altered and renewed only every six years. The legislation that's in office right now expired nearly two years ago. There are a few ways that government can raise the money to keep this fund alive, one of the most popular options being to raise the tax on gas. But instead of figuring out new ways to make money to make our roads better our elected officials are throwing in the towel. With each and every extension, our roadways are getting worse and more dangerous.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand how vital of a role roadway conditions plays in the safety of motorists. Our elected officials are supposed to ensure the safety of all roadways. If you feel that the condition of a road has contributed to your accident, you're urged to contact an attorney to help you take on the at-fault parties and to help you to gain the compensation you deserve.

In September, a bridge on Interstate 64 that is used to get from Ohio to Louisville and to cross over the Ohio River had to be shut down because of all of the stress fractures that road analysts found in the I-beams. This bridge could be closed for months, and roadway officials predict that many other bridges could be closed following even more inspections. Without the proper funding for projects like this one, these roadways could remain closed.

Road Safe America believes that if this type of financing was as predictable as other parts of government expenses, then these maintenance and rebuilding projects could have been avoided. The safe road advocate group is calling on Congress to do its job.

According to SmartMotorist.com, here are the common causes for roadway accidents:

-Equipment Failure

-Roadway Design

-Poor Roadway Maintenance

-Driver Behavior

More than 90 percent of traffic accidents are a combination of a driver's skill and a combination of one or more of the factors listed above.

Road Safe America and other safe-driving advocates hope that one day a highway funding bill will be able to introduce more safe-driving rules. In addition to roadway design, many commercial vehicles rely on on-board data recorders and speed regulating technology to help reduce the number of fatal accidents. The organization reiterates that it would rather have a complete bill passed than an incomplete bill rushed through legislation, but eight extensions is far too many.

Continue reading "Road Safe America Addresses Unsafe Roadways to Help Prevent Trucking Accidents in Atlanta, Nation" »

October 13, 2011

Headlines Reveal Reports of Several Recent Georgia Trucking Accidents

Georgia trucking accidents are becoming all too common on our roadways. Many are fatal. Drivers of passenger vehicles are urged to be extra vigilant while driving near and alongside these large vehicles. Driving safely and defensively can help reduce the risks of a fatal accident.

While looking over the headlines of recent news sources, we noticed far too many of these types of accidents making front pages. Truck drivers are crashing into other vehicles, into road barriers and are flipping over on many of our popular roadways.
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Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys would like to take this time to warn drivers about the risks and consequences of traffic accidents involving large, commercial vehicles. Oftentimes these accidents take the lives of innocent motorists. To try and avoid one of these accidents, you're urged to be on your best driving behavior when traveling among these big rigs. As the end of the year approaches, roadway traffic is expected to increase. More traffic increases you risks for an accident. Remember to be cautious of these trucks' blind spots, and never travel too closely to them.

I-75 on Exit 121 in Dooly County

According to WMAZ, the southbound lanes of I-75 had to be shut down because a tractor-trailer accident took out concrete slabs that were located along the roadway. After the collision, the truck caught fire. Officials are working diligently to remove and replace these slabs. Drivers are urged to be cautious when traveling through this area. Traffic was rerouted through a rest stop at Mile Marker 118.

Hart County near Dad’s Restaurant in Lavonia

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Hart County Sheriff’s Office are currently investigating a fatal hit-and-run accident that happened near Dad’s Restaurant in Lavonia. A 43-year-old woman from Mount Airy died after being hit by the runaway big rig. Witnesses have reported to have last seen the tractor-trailer heading north on Interstate 85 toward South Carolina, according to Access North Georgia.

Interstate 16 near Mile Marker 15

According to Georgia State Patrol, a tractor-trailer that was loaded with heavy steel flipped over into the median of the interstate near Mile Marker 15. The truck driver was transported to a local hospital. Emergency response crews were able to flip the truck back over, according to WMAZ. Transportation officials have yet to determine what caused the truck to flip.

Interstate 20 near Exits 92 and 93

A 19-year-old passenger was killed when an 18-wheeler collided with the vehicle he was riding in. The accident happened in the westbound lanes of I-20, according to the Rockdale Citizen. The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The driver of the passenger vehicle was injured in the accident and was transported to Atlanta Medical Center.

Continue reading "Headlines Reveal Reports of Several Recent Georgia Trucking Accidents" »

October 7, 2011

Safety Council Backs Initiative to Reduce Distraction-Related Trucking Accidents in Georgia, Nation

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently made a recommendation to ban all cell phone use for drivers of commercial vehicles. The National Safety Council is proudly backing this new recommendation as it sees it as an effective way to help reduce the risks of distraction-related trucking accidents in Georgia and elsewhere. This recommendation would ban the use of both hand-held and hands-free devices, except for when these devices are used for emergencies.
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This proposal comes after the recent investigation of an accident in Kentucky that we previously told you about on our Georgia Trucking Accident Lawyers Blog that killed 11 people. Officials report that the driver of the truck had used his phone about 70 times in a 24-hour period before the accident, both for phone calls and text messages. He was reportedly talking on his cell phone just seconds before the fatal accident occurred.

It all happened when the driver of the tractor-trailer drove head-on into a passenger van after crossing an unpaved median on Interstate 65 in Munfordville. Eleven people including the truck driver died. The truck also took out shops that were located near that roadway.

"It (distracted driving) can be especially lethal when the distracted driver is at the wheel of a vehicle that weighs 40 tons and travels at highway speeds," says Deborah Hersman, a NTSB chairman.

To help make this recommendation into a federal law, we told you that the NTSB handed it over to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). That's because in the hands of FMCSA, this proposal has a better chance of becoming reality. The NTSB does not have the authority to create laws, while the FMCSA has a history of helping laws to get into the books to help keep drivers safe.

Currently, truckers are banned only from text messaging while behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle.

The National Safety Council is applauding the efforts of the National Transportation Safety Board, recognizing that more than 20 percent of accidents every year involve a driver using a cell phone. Many of these accidents are preventable with a little bit more driver attention and common sense.

“The council called for a national ban on all cell phone use among drivers in 2009, recognizing that research shows no safety benefit from hands-free devices," said Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO.

There is no phone call and no text message that is worth risking someone's life. While there may be no federal law regulating the use of cell phones or text messaging devices, drivers are urged to do the right thing and to curb the needless distraction while operating a motor vehicle. We will continue to look after the proposal's progress and keep you updated.

Continue reading "Safety Council Backs Initiative to Reduce Distraction-Related Trucking Accidents in Georgia, Nation" »

September 16, 2011

Trucking Accident in Austell Spills Radioactive Liquid over Interstate 20

According to local authorities, a trucking accident in Austell resulted in radioactive material all over the eastbound lanes of Interstate 20 for about five hours.

The Cobb County Fire Department reported that the radioactive medical-related material started to pour onto the pavement in the middle of the night as the driver headed down the Interstate between Fulton Industrial Boulevard and Six Flags Drive as he lost control of the big rig.

Authorities report that the 18-wheeler had a load of eight separate containers that were filled with the radioactive material. Seven of them busted open during the incident, according to WSBTV.
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"He came up kind of close on another vehicle and swerved to miss it and he hit the guard rail and that's what made it overturn," said Dennell Boyd, a spokeswoman for the Fire Department.

Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys understand how dangerous accidents with large trucks can be. The danger and the consequences are greatly increased when the large vehicle is carrying hazardous cargo. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division had to work through the night to get the mess cleaned up by morning rush hour.

According to government accident statistics, thousands of people who transport dangerous cargo on trucks pose increased dangers of causing serious injury on our roadways. These risks are increased when conditions work against the trucker, including weather conditions, road conditions, driver skills, distractions and other motorists.

Dangerous cargo can include infectious and poisonous substances, radioactive material, liquids, gasses and explosives. Dangerous cargo can also be defined as loosely secured cargo that has the ability to become disconnected with the truck and fly into your driving path. Overloading a truck with cargo as makes it dangerous as it's more susceptible to flip or veer out of control.

A number of driver factors can contribute to lose cargo on our roadways, including driver negligence or carelessness, driver fatigue, alcohol or drug impairment, driver distractions and speeding.

Truckers and trucking companies are required to meet a number of federal regulations and adhere to laws to help ensure the safety of everyone on our roadways. Commercial truckers are also required to keep their log book and insurance information handy at all times.

Truckers must remain within a maximum axle weight law, make sure the roads they're traveling are safe enough to handle their vehicle's weight and stop at designated weight stations. If these laws, or any others, are broken, drivers will not only face serious fines, but they can cause a serious accident and find themselves in a legal mess.

If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck and have been injured as a result of unsafe cargo, you're urged to contact an experienced attorney to help you to determine liability. Drawing this conclusion requires a thorough investigation and knowledge of the current trucking regulations, laws and standards.

Continue reading "Trucking Accident in Austell Spills Radioactive Liquid over Interstate 20" »

September 9, 2011

Distracted Driver Causes Fatal Accident - NTSB Pushes for Stricter Laws to Reduce Trucking Accidents in Georgia, Elsewhere

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is making another attempt to reduce the risks of distracted driving-related trucking accidents in Georgia and elsewhere. The most recent attempt comes after a court hearing pertaining to a fatal trucking accident that took the lives of 11 people and took out local shops in Kentucky back in March of last year, according to USA TODAY.
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Officials believe that a cell phone was the cause of that accident as the Alabama driver's phone records state that he was on his phone just mere seconds before the accident. Investigators also discovered that he had made nearly 70 calls and texts in just the 24-hour period leading up to the accident.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle can turn deadly in just seconds, especially when the driver's vehicle is a large truck. Drivers need to remember that no phone call and no text message is worth the life of you or another motorist or yours. All drivers are urged to curb distractions and keep full focus on the roadway at all times. Phone calls and texts can wait.

NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman says that she expects a majority of truckers to oppose these recommendations, but as these types of accident are becoming more and more frequent, a ban like this is necessary.

The NTSB has handed the recommendation over to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The new recommendation aims to take over the ban of commercial truck drivers sending text messages while driving. Currently, If a truck driver is busted, they can wind up with a fine of nearly $3,000. That law was passed in September of 2010, but the NTSB wants stricter laws. The ban of all hand-held devices is expected to get a final ruling later this fall.

There are no states that currently ban the use of all cell phones, including hands-free devices, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Less than 10 states and the District of Columbia ban drivers from using hand-held phones. There are 34 states that ban drivers from text messaging behind the wheel.

According to the most recently released statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were more than 3,300 people killed in the United States in 2009 because of traffic accidents that involved a large truck. A large truck, for statistical purposes, is considered a vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds. Nearly 75,000 people were injured in these types of accidents during the same year.

Of the deaths that resulted from these accidents, roughly 75 percent were experienced by the occupants of vehicles other than the large truck, 10 percent were experienced by nonoccupants and 15 percent of the fatalities were experienced by those riding in the large truck. There were nearly 150 fatalities resulting from trucking accidents in Georgia throughout the year.

Many of these lives could have been saved if there were distracted driving-related regulations and bans in place to help keep truck driver focus on the roadway instead of on a phone. But it also takes common-sense actions by drivers to make our roadways safer.

Continue reading "Distracted Driver Causes Fatal Accident - NTSB Pushes for Stricter Laws to Reduce Trucking Accidents in Georgia, Elsewhere" »

August 28, 2011

Douglasville Railroad Crossing Popular Spot for Trucking Accidents in Georgia

A recent trucking accident in Georgia nearly occurred on the railroad tracks at Georgia Highway 92 and Campbellton Street crossing. Luckily in this incident, the truck was able to free itself from the track before it was hit by the oncoming train, according to the Times-Georgian.

Douglasville Police Chief, Chris Womack reports that the driver has received a route violation for the incident.
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Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys recognize that this is the same location in which a similar incident happened back in April. The only difference with the April incident is that the disabled dump truck was hit by a Norfolk Southern freight train. Luckily, no one was injured in the accident, but the dump truck was severely damaged.

“The reason this keeps happening is that truck drivers pay no attention to the signs saying not to cross there,” said Douglasville City Manager Bill Osborne.

Osborne goes on to say that these types of accident would not happen if the truck drivers would just abide by Georgia Department of Transportation crossing signs in the area. These are signs that direct all of the traffic heading northbound on Highway 92 east to Bankhead Avenue and then on over to the crossing at Mosby Street. The traffic is then directed back on Strickland Street and then over to Highway 92. This is a simple route that is used to prevent catastrophic railroad crossing-trucking accidents.

Osborne says that one of the main reasons that trucks are getting stuck near these railroad crossings is because the steep hill on the railroad's south side. The incline makes it extremely easy for these large trucks to get stuck.

Because there have been so many crossing problems, highway officials are proposing, again, a relocation plan for Highway 92.

It may not be the fault of the drivers says Larry G. Smith. Smith is a freelance accident investigator. He was at the scene of the most recent incident at the Douglasville railroad crossing and concluded that the signs in the area are confusing and may not be understandable to drivers who may not be familiar with the area. He says that visiting drivers may not understand the signs because it's not typical for state routes to run on streets. They're usually taken through highways.

Smith did make a note of the 66 incidents that that happened at Douglasville's 15 railroad crossings. Since 1976, these incidents have resulted in 12 injuries and nine fatalities.

One of his recommendations to help reduce the number of accidents in these areas is to reduce the speed limit for the trains that pass through these crossings.

Osborne says that is not a decision that the local government can make. They are not in charge of controlling the speed limits for these trains.

Continue reading "Douglasville Railroad Crossing Popular Spot for Trucking Accidents in Georgia" »

August 24, 2011

Shortage in Drivers Make Travel More Dangerous and Trucking Accidents in Georgia More Likely

By 2014, trucking companies in the United States could potentially face a 30 percent surge in wage bills amid a trucker shortage and an increased demand for freight shipments. In efforts to meet demands, drivers are taking on more hours, longer trips and heavy loads, which is leaving us all with increased risks of being involved in a trucking accident in Georgia.

Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys know the trucker shortage is growing critical and is expected to double by next year. Trucking companies will have 300,000 open full-time positions -- about a third of the workforce.

The increase in demand is a good sign that our economy is slowly recovering from the July dip. For company owners to keep drivers, they're increasing wages for their employees which in turn increases prices for customers. A Georgia-based trucking company recently upped its employee's salary by 2.5 percent, which resulted in a $10 million increase for the year.

“The truck-driver population is growing at less than 1 percent a year,” said Jeff Kauffman, a Sterne Agee & Leach Inc.

With more and more regulations being placed on the trucking industry, drivers are proving to be more and more difficult to come by. Regulations limiting driver hours and trucking loads are causing companies to make more, shorter trips. Shorter trips shorten the paychecks of these drivers.

New regulations that make a driver's history more available helps to weed out bad drivers. While that's good news for us motorists, that's bad news for companies who have to get deliveries to destinations on time.

With all the new criteria, the pool of potential hires is growing smaller and smaller.

Another strike against these companies is the cost for new, more fuel efficient trucks that are required to meet federal emission rules. Add that to the rising costs of diesel and we're talking a pretty penny here, just to make a single delivery. This year's cost of fuel is roughly 30 percent more for each gallon than it was during this time last year.

“If it was purely a decision based on price, I probably already have moved to rail. But the flip side is, there’s a service difference favoring truckers because of their greater speed," said Kauffman.

It’s even hard to believe that drivers are hard to come by with an average unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent in the United States. Drivers typically spend about three weeks traveling with a truckload carrier at a time and these are some of the longest hauls in the delivery industry. Each trailer only has items for one customer at one time.

Regardless, drivers are spending too many consecutive hours on our roadways trying to make these deliveries in a timely fashion for these companies. The problem is that the shortage in drivers in leading to overworked current employees and increasing risks for fatal, and preventable, accidents on our roadways.

Continue reading "Shortage in Drivers Make Travel More Dangerous and Trucking Accidents in Georgia More Likely" »

August 15, 2011

Oconee County Trucking Accident Causes Injury and Shuts down U.S. 441

Two people were injured in a tractor-trailer accident in Oconee County. Involved in the accident were a tractor-trailer, concrete truck and an SUV. U.S. 441 South of Tappan Spur Road and the Morgan County line was shut down for a number of hours after the accident, according to local authorities.
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The accident happened when 2005 Freightliner, that was heading southbound, experienced mechanical failure that caused its front left tire to fall off, according to reports. The trailer sideswiped a Mack 600 truck that was carrying concrete. The Mack truck was heading northbound when it was forced into the path of an SUV, according to Online Athens. The concrete truck flipped quite a few times. All three vehicles had to be cleared before the highway could reopen, authorities said.

Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys realize just how dangerous our highways can be for all motorists, but when you throw a semi, a concrete truck and an SUV into the mix, you've got a recipe for some serious damage. The woman that was driving the SUV sustained injuries as a result of the accident. The driver of the concrete truck, that rolled several times, sustained critical injuries. Emergency responders transported the concrete truck driver to Athens Regional Medical Center, according to troopers.

If you are involved in a traffic accident with a truck, it is important for you to contact an experienced attorney to help you determine fault and to fight for the proper compensation from not only the driver, but from the trucking company.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were roughly 380,000 large trucks involved in traffic accidents on U.S. roadways in 2008 alone. During that same year, 4,066 trucks were involved in fatal accidents that ended up taking the lives of 4,229 people. These traffic deaths accounted for more than 10 percent of all of the reported traffic fatalities in 2008. Another 90,000 people sustained injuries in these accidents. The trucks in these statistics are classified as vehicles with a gross weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds.

Percentage of fatality occurrences in trucking accidents:

-74 percent: occupants of another vehicle.

-10 percent: nonoccupants.

-16 percent: occupants of a large truck.

Percentage of Injury ocurrences in trucking accidents:

-71 percent: occupants of another vehicle.

-3 percent: nonoccupants.

-26 percent: occupants of a large truck.

According to the NHTSA, nearly 200 trucks were involved in fatal traffic accidents in the state of Georgia in 2008. A number of these traffic fatalities can be avoided if motorists can learn to travel more cautiously among these large trucks on our roadways.

You are more than 95 percent more likely to be killed, as a passenger-vehicle occupant, than a truck driver in one of these accidents. One statistic that benefits a truck drivers is that roughly 75 percent of the traffic accidents are caused by the passenger vehicles.

Continue reading "Oconee County Trucking Accident Causes Injury and Shuts down U.S. 441" »

August 12, 2011

Fatal Trucking Accident in Georgia Kills Newlywed on I-85 -- Obama Administration Puts More Regulations on Trucking Industry

According to the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration, more than a third of all traffic accidents involve a speeding driver. A 28-year-old woman was killed and two others were injured after a fatal trucking accident in Georgia. The woman that was killed was a passenger in a tractor-trailer that was carrying logs that overturned after colliding with an SUV and two other vehicles, according to CBS Atlanta.
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The accident happened on I-85 and held up rush-hour traffic for hours. The accident happened when a pickup truck swerved into the emergency lane because of a flat tire. The maneuver caused the tractor-trailer to hit an SUV and then collide with another tractor-trailer and a sedan, according to reports.

Trucking accidents on interstates can oftentimes turn deadly. Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand that large trucks traveling at such high rates of speed are extremely dangerous in the event of an accident. Motorists are urged to be extremely cautious when traveling on Interstates and expressways with these big rigs.

Speeding not only increases risks of fatal accidents, but it can do quite a number on fuel costs. In an attempt to reduce truck's consumption of fuel, the Obama Administration is making its first attempt at regulating the efficiency of heavy-duty trucks, including city buses and garbage trucks. The administration aims to improve tractor-trailer fuel economy by about 20 percent by 2018. These savings will total about $50 billion in fuel cost savings over the span of five years and will decrease carbon- dioxide emissions.

“It’s an exciting time for our industry,” said Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations in Arlington, Virginia. “It was a win-win for everyone.”

The reduction of fuel costs will make big rigs more expensive though. The cost of a one of these trucks will increase about $6,220 because of the new fuel-saving technology. But in the long run truck operators will end up saving $73,000 in fuel costs over the lifetime of the trucks, according to Bloomberg.

“If the customer saves $2,000 a year in fuel, then he’s willing to pay for that,” said Martin Daum, president and chief executive officer of Daimler Trucks North America LLC. “If he saves very little then we can’t ask for something. It’s a function of what technology we put on the truck and what the fuel price is.”

Trucking companies are the ones who will have to dish out the up-front costs for the more expensive technology, but they will be able to pay for the investments through fuel savings in 18 months to 24 months.

It's the small-business truckers that will have a hard time paying for the new technology in these trucks, especially when costs from other regulations like electronic data recorders and mandatory speed limiters are factored in.

Still, the effort is worth it. Speeding trucks exponentially increase the devastation in the event of an accident.

Continue reading "Fatal Trucking Accident in Georgia Kills Newlywed on I-85 -- Obama Administration Puts More Regulations on Trucking Industry" »

July 28, 2011

Drug Use Blamed for Fatal Truck Driver's Accident

Three people were killed on Interstate 40 in North Carolina late last month after an accused drugged driver got behind the wheel of his tractor-trailer. The neighboring case illustrates the risk of Atlanta truck driver accidents caused by alcohol and drugs. The driver was reportedly under the influence of methadone and marijuana when he failed to react to slowing traffic at the 15-501 exit between Durham and Chapel Hill. He slammed his tractor-trailer into a pickup truck, hit an SUV, slammed into another vehicle and finally came to rest as he hit a box truck. The drivers of the first three vehicles were killed. The driver of the box truck survived.
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The truck driver was arrested and held on a $600,000 bond and has been charged with two counts of felony death by vehicle, one count of misdemeanor death by vehicle, driving while impaired and possession of drugs.

Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys recognize the frequency of these types of accidents. More and more truck drivers are causing accidents under the influence of a number of drugs. A number of trucking companies have been cited for numerous safety violations in recent years. As we recently reported on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, there are a number of preventable circumstances that cause these accidents time and time again.

The company owning the truck of the Tennessee driver reportedly has been cited for previous safety issues. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports the the company scored barely above an 81 percent on driver fatigue ratings.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there has been a substantial increase in the level of drug involvement among fatally injured drivers involved in traffic accidents from 2005 to 2009.

The NHTSA reports that more than 60 percent of the 21,798 truck drivers who were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2009 alone were tested for drugs. These test results prove that nearly 4,000 truck drivers tested positive for drug involvement. This means that roughly 20 percent of these accidents involved a drugged driver. Drugged driver accidents accounted for 13 percent in 2005, 15 percent in 2006, 16 percent in 2007 and nearly percent in 2008 or all trucking accidents.

"Every driver on the road has a personal responsibility to operate his or her vehicle with full and uncompromised attention on the driving task," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Today’s report provides a warning signal that too many Americans are driving after having taken drugs, not realizing the potential for putting themselves and others on the highway at risk."

Administrator Strickland highlights that state drug testing procedures and techniques are indeed evolving. He says that states, and jurisdictions within a state, are allowed to test for different drugs, use different test types and/or employ different concentration thresholds for determining whether a test was positive or not.

"While it’s clear that science and state policies regarding drugs and driving are evolving, one fact is indisputable. If you are taking any drugs that might impair your ability to drive safely, then you need to put common sense and caution to the forefront, and give your keys to someone else. It doesn’t matter if its drugs or alcohol, if you’re impaired, don’t drive," says Strickland.

Continue reading "Drug Use Blamed for Fatal Truck Driver's Accident" »

July 24, 2011

Tops Causes of Trucking Accidents in Georgia May Surprise You

When you think of trucking accidents in Atlanta, you might think of drowsy, fatigued truck drivers or speeding trucks and overturned loads. The truth is, there are a number of factors that can contribute to these accidents. As the interstates and highways grow more congested, it is now more important than ever to focus on these causes in an attempt to reverse the trend.
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Although trucking companies have made a number of improvements to their safety training, recently released data still shows that we're still seeing an alarming number of trucking accidents on our roadways. Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys urge all motorists to be cautious when traveling around these powerful big rigs. There is only so much we can do as passenger-vehicle motorists to avoid an accident with a tractor-trailer. The rest of the responsibility lies in the hands of these truck drivers. It is important that they're all thoroughly trained and knowledgeable regarding how to safely operate their vehicles.

According to the 2006 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s report, about one in 20 drivers will be involved in a serious traffic accident. This study also concluded that there are approximately 141,000 truck accidents every year. About 77,000 of these accidents are the direct fault of the truck driver.

Here are the top 10 causes of trucking accidents:

-Prescription Drug Use: 26 percent.

-Traveling Too Fast: 23 percent.

-Unfamiliar with Roadway: 22 percent.

-Over-the-counter Drug Use: 18 percent.

-Inadequate Surveillance: 14 percent.

-Fatigue: 13 percent.

-Illegal Maneuver: 9 percent.

-Exterior Distraction: 8 percent.

-Inadequate Evasive Action: 7 percent.

-Aggressive Driving Behavior: 7 percent.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,000 motorists were killed in accidents involving these large commercial trucks 2008. Another 64,000 were injured in these types of traffic accidents. Less than a quarter of the people who were killed in these accidents were in the tractor-trailers at the time of the accident.

The NHTSA reports that more than 100 large trucks were involved in deadly accidents in Georgia in 2009 alone.

So how do we reduce the risks of these accidents? We could start by offering more extensive driver training. Continual education concerning medications may be a good start considering prescription drug use is the most common cause of trucking accidents. Currently, truck driving schools and trucking companies only use a three minute video during classes to illustrate the dangers of drugs and driving. Hardly seems effective, right? Newly licensed truck drivers need to fully understand the importance of applying simple over-the-counter drugs with an 80,000 pound machine. A 180-second video isn't going to get the point across to drivers about the dangers they present on our roadways. Drivers should be constantly reminded of the deadly consequences of mixing trucking and prescriptions drugs with quarterly safety meetings and current printed material on a regular basis.

Continue reading "Tops Causes of Trucking Accidents in Georgia May Surprise You" »

July 12, 2011

High Gas Prices Could Reduce Threat of Atlanta Trucking Accidents

High gas prices have one benefit: slower trucks and a reduced risk of Georgia trucking accidents.

Our Atlanta personal injury lawyers understand all too well the dangers speeding trucks pose to motorists on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports about one-third of all fatal accidents involve speed. Of those killed in crashes with tractor-trailers or other large trucks, three-quarters are the occupants of other vehicles or non-occupants, such as bicyclists and pedestrians.
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While the Wall Street Journal article opens with a trucker reminiscing about the fun of barreling down the road at 100 mph, we know such accidents are nearly always fatal for the unfortunate victims in passenger cars that are forced to share the road.

The good news is that soaring fuel costs have trucking companies pushing drivers to conserve by driving slower. Several companies are using computerized governors to cut speeds from 70 mph to 65 mph. Cash bonuses for fuel-saving drivers are also becoming more common. One driver reports being chastised for a 5 mph average -- his company is looking for 7 mph.

Unfortunately, even as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration toots its own horn over enforcement efforts, the government has thus far failed to make such speed-regulating technology mandatory for all trucks on the road.

The move can reduce a driver's pay -- since most are still paid by the hour -- another issue the government refuses to address. The end result is often speeding, tired, overworked drivers and falsified logbooks. Still, saving gas is worth it; Every decline of 5 mph gains about half a mile per gallon in fuel economy.

In the old days, the CB radio helped spot cops and falsified logbooks hid illegally long workdays.

"I used to have three logbooks," one trucker said. "You could run anywhere you wanted to."

As we have reported here on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, officials continue to tweak hours-of-service rules, which govern how long a driver can remain behind the wheel. Most recently, they were increased during the Bush Administration. But until the government mandates data records to replace the hand-written logbooks, abuses will continue to put motorists at high risk of being involved in a serious or fatal accident.

Some drivers claim slower trucks are more dangerous because speeding drivers whip around them. While we all need to do our part to stay safe around tractor-trailers, nothing is as dangerous as an 80,000 pound bullet barreling down the highway.

Continue reading "High Gas Prices Could Reduce Threat of Atlanta Trucking Accidents" »

June 28, 2011

Georgia Trucking Accidents can Result from Sleep Disorders

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is warning commercial drivers about the dangers of sleep apnea as authorities work to reduce the risk of commercial trucking accidents in Georgia and elsewhere.

Our Atlanta trucking accident lawyers have reported here before on the rules in place to help ensure truck drivers are well rested. Hours of Service rules are being reviewed and the government is pushing rules to require black box data recorders -- similar to airlines -- which would replace the written log books that have long been vulnerable to forgery and other shenanigans. Still, some safety advocates say truckers need more stringent physicals -- similar to the twice-a-year requirements of airline pilots. And the use of pain medication is another area where not enough rules exist to protect other motorists on the road.
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The sleep apnea warning is another example of how routine medical issues can become deadly when affecting the driver of an 80,000 pound vehicle traveling down the road at 70 mph.

Risk factors including snoring and feeling sleepy during the day. Those who are overweight by 40 pounds or more are also at high risk. The disorder causes brief interruptions in breathing (as many as 400 times a night), and can be life-threatening if undiagnosed and untreated.

Astonishingly, the FMCSA reports as many as 28 percent of commercial drivers could have sleep apnea! While the condition is treatable, it can also disqualify a driver, which could be discouraging drivers from seeking treatment. Those with moderate or severe cases could be at highest risk for an accident.

When staying awake means staying alive, the fact that more than 1 in 4 drivers could be suffering from a sleep disorder is troubling, to say the least. Though it should not be surprising in a nation that is chronically sleep deprived:

-The average American sleeps less than 7 hours a night.

-Three-quarters of adults experience at least one symptom of a sleep disorder at least a few nights a week.

-More than one-third of adults report being so tired during the day that it interferes with their daily activities a few times a month or more.

-More than one-fourth report being sleepy at work at least two days a week.

-1 in 5 admit to making errors at work.

-The majority admit that being sleepy makes work tasks more difficult.

-About half admit to driving while sleepy during the past year.

-As many as one-third admit to having dosed off while driving.

Medical conditions that may affect sleep include insomnia, restless legs syndrome, snoring, and sleep apnea.

Continue reading "Georgia Trucking Accidents can Result from Sleep Disorders" »

June 22, 2011

H.E.R.O. Struck in Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accident

An Atlanta tractor-trailer accident seriously injured a H.E.R.O worker on I-85 in Gwinnett County on Tuesday, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The victim was removing debris from the highway when he was struck near Old Peachtree Road, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation. Our Atlanta semi accident attorneys know such pedestrian crashes are typically fatal. Too often, a crash occurs when victims are standing outside a disabled vehicle at the side of the road. You are encouraged to wait well off the road -- well away from your vehicle, whenever possible.
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Georgia's Highway Emergency Response Operators work to reduce congestion and clear roads after an accident. Unfortunately, that means they are often working outside their vehicles, along busy highways. In January, another H.E.R.O. operator was killed while helping a motorist on I-85 in downtown Atlanta. He was the first killed on the job since the program began 15 years ago.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 380,000 accidents involving large trucks each year. In 2008, a total of 4,229 people were killed. Of those, 413 on-occupants (including bicyclists and pedestrians) were killed and another 3,000 were injured.

In this case, the worker was removing tire debris from the road. Several vehicles had stopped behind him, including a blue pickup. A tractor-trailer reportedly hit the truck and another vehicle before striking the H.E.R.O worker and coming to a stop. The truck driver told police his brakes failed, according to the AJC. The driver and passenger in the blue truck were transported to the hospital for treatment. The drivers of the tractor-trailer and the other vehicle were not injured.

The H.E.R.O worker was conscious after the accident and was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center. He may have sustained several broken limbs, according to the report.

Three lanes of I-85 were blocked and did not reopen for more than an hour. Authorities investigating include the Gwinnett police, the Georgia Highway Patrol, the Georgia Department of Public Safety's Motor Carrier Compliance Division and several other H.E.R.O. units.

Safety tips for stranded motorists include:

-Pull to the shoulder and stop as far right as possible.

-If possible, don't stop along a guardrail, which limits your ability to escape in the event of an accident.

-Switch on your hazard lights.

-Exit the vehicle via the right-hand door.

-Make sure all passengers stay well away from the road.

-Wait to use the phone until at a safe location -- well away from traffic.

-Never stand between your vehicle and oncoming traffic.

Continue reading "H.E.R.O. Struck in Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accident" »

June 15, 2011

Summer Dangers Illustrated by Tragic Death of Child in Atlanta Semi Accident

The tragic death of a 10-year-old boy in a Madison County tractor-trailer accident this month is a painful reminder of the dangers these large trucks pose to young people through the summer months.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports the rear-end accident claimed the life of the boy and critically injured a friend. The crash happened on Highway 441 (Commerce Road) near Nature Center Road. The 57-year-old North Carolina trucker rear-ended a car driven by the victim's mother, according to the AJC.
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All of the occupants were wearing their seat belts.

Our Atlanta semi accident attorneys understand the risks posed by large commercial vehicles can impact anyone, from the very young to our oldest residents. However, teen drivers and other young people are at particular risk through the summer travel season.

This month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sponsored "Teens and Trucks," a program aimed at warning teens about the dangers large trucks pose on the road.

Teens promised to give trucks plenty of room, to avoid blind spots, and to participate in the "No Texting Promise."

“We want everyone to be safe, but as newer drivers, teens must adhere to a few simple rules,” said Anne Ferro, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “They are: buckle up, don’t drink and drive; don’t speed, don’t text or use your phone, and steer clear of a truck’s blind spots.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 9 of the 10 deadliest days for teen drivers are during the summer. Teens are nearly twice as likely to die compared to the rest of the year. On average, 16 young people are killed on the nation's roads each day during the summer -- compared to an average of 8.8 deaths per day during the rest of the year.

"Prom, graduation, and summer are fantastic times for youth to celebrate and enjoy. However, with these fun times come unfortunate tragedies,” said Sandy Spavone, President of the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). “Through education, enforcement, and legislation lives can be saved and injuries prevented."

Young drivers ages 16 to 24 have the highest fatal crash rate in the nation. About 4,000 were killed in accidents involving large trucks during the last five years. And it's not just large trucks -- teens are at high risk for every other type of accident on the road, in large part because of inexperience and poor driving habits. Teens are most likely to be distracted, have low seat belt use and are most likely to ride with too many passengers in the vehicles. Speeding and drunk driving are the other most common causes of car accidents in Georgia involving young drivers.

Continue reading "Summer Dangers Illustrated by Tragic Death of Child in Atlanta Semi Accident" »

June 6, 2011

High Risk of Trucking Accidents on Atlanta Roads

A trucking accident in Atlanta could have taken a quick turn for the worse after a tractor-trailer was involved in a four-vehicle accident on I-285 eastbound in DeKalb County, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That tractor-trailer was carrying nearly 37,000 pounds of class-3 explosives.

According to Shata Spikes with Georgia Department of Transportation, the explosives did not spill. The four-vehicle accident shut down two lanes of I-285 near Flat Shoals earlier this week. Two tractor-trailers and two passenger vehicles were involved in the wreck.
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Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys recognize the dangers of these trucking accidents. We also understand that these dangers can be greatly increased with the amount and type of cargo that a truck is carrying. Luckily, no explosive were set off in this crash. Injuries could have been much worse -- even fatal.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 3,500 fatalities resulting from traffic accidents involving such large trucks in 2009. Another 74,000 motorists suffered serious injuries. These large trucks are classified by having a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds. Reports indicate that 296,000 large trucks were involved in motor-vehicle accidents in 2009.

While 2009 saw a near 20 percent decrease from the previous year in the number of injuries resulting from these accidents, the severity of the injuries remain. Of the people that were injured in these types of accidents throughout the year, more than 75 percent were occupants of another vehicle, about 2 percent were non-occupants and more than 20 percent were of a large truck.

Large trucks accounted for nearly 10 percent of all motor vehicles involved in fatal accidents. They also made up nearly 5 percent of all vehicles that were involved in accidents that resulted in injury and property-damage-only crashes.

Georgia saw 133 fatal motor-vehicle crashes involving large trucks in 2009.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety offers these tips for motorists to help them share the road safely and efficiently with these large and dangerous trucks:

-Be cautious of the wind gusts created by these large trucks. Be sure to keep both of your hands on the steering wheel when you're passing a truck or a truck passes you.

-Remember to leave plenty of room between you and a truck if you're coming to a stop on a hill. These large trucks have a tendency to roll back when the driver takes their foot off of the brake pedal.

-If you see a truck signaling a lane change, give them room. An average-sized truck needs at least an 8 second gap, or 700 feet, when changing lanes at highway speeds. Think of this distance as the length of 2 1/2 football fields.

-If a truck is passing you, don't speed up. Instead, you should stay to the right and slow your speed. Go ahead and let the truck pass you.

-Be sure to stay out of the truck's large blind spots. Remember that if you can't see the driver, then the driver cannot see you.

Continue reading "High Risk of Trucking Accidents on Atlanta Roads" »

May 31, 2011

Forum Aims to Reduce Risks of Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere

A two-day forum, headed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), aimed to get input from safety experts, federal regulators and truck and bus industry leaders to see what can be done, and is being done, to help prevent fatal trucking accidents in Georgia and elsewhere. They also looked to figure out why previous safety recommendations have yet to be enacted, according to the Associated Press.
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Although fatal trucking accidents decreased from 2008 to 2009, from 5,200 deaths to 3,200, many credit this decline to the economy and the decrease in driving as other traffic fatalities have mirrored this trend. Our Georgia trucking accident lawyers and other safety advocates worry that these statistics will see an increase as our economy recovers and motorists hit the road again.

"Even if you don't necessarily have more crashes, when there is a crash, there is more damage," said Henry Jasny, general counsel for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

We recognize that one of the main contributors to the fatal accidents is fatigued drivers. Companies and drivers are looking to make more money by working longer hours. Because of this trend, the Obama administration is seeking to enforce new rules and regulations to track these driver hours. Currently, driver work hours are recorded on paper and can be easily falsified to benefit the company and the driver. According to the NTSB, roughly a third of these commercial motor vehicle accidents are due to fatigue. The Administration is looking to require all buses and trucks to come equipped with electronic recording devices to companies are not able to overwork their drivers.

"We must remind ourselves that each data point in these statistics represents a family member that will never come home to loved ones," Sumwalt said.

More specifically, the administration also would like to limit the hours a driver may spend behind the wheel from 11 hours to 10 hours a day. This proposal also would require that drivers take mandatory rest breaks, limit the overall work day to 14 hours and require that drivers be given more time off to rest once they've reached their 60 hour weekly driving limit.

"From an economic standpoint, it would do a great deal of harm to this industry and wouldn't improve safety," said Dave Osiecki, senior vice president at the American Trucking Associations.

The proposed regulations don't stop there. The administration also seeks to equip trucks and buses with safety technology that is now common on most new model passenger vehicles. They're looking to set up electronic systems that monitor stability control to prevent rollovers, warning systems that alert drivers when they're drifting into another lane, adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts speed to traffic and warning systems that alert drivers to an impeding collision.

Without the fancy new gadgets, driver alertness may be the one saving grace motorists have to help them avoid a potentially fatal accident.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety offers these tips to help prevent all motorists from dangerous drowsy driving:

-Do not get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle if you feel tired.

-Make sure you get enough sleep the night before you plan to take a long trip.

-Travel with a passenger. This way if you become sleepy at the wheel, you can switch with your passenger and catch up on your rest.

-If you're feeling tired and are not traveling with a passenger, pull over and take a power nap.

-Schedule yourself a break every two hours, or every 100 miles, and stop to stretch or rest.

Continue reading "Forum Aims to Reduce Risks of Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere" »

May 25, 2011

New Bill Aiming to Limit Weight and Size Regulations Seeks to Reduce Risks of Truck Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere

Trucking accident survivors, families of these victims and Members of Congress are pleased to announce the new Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act (SHIPA).
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The new poll put out by the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), illustrates an overwhelming amount of support for these size and weight limitations and the revising of the federal rule to cap the number of hours a truck driver may work on the road to reduce risks of a trucking accident in Georgia and elsewhere. Another report, including the top 10 states for the most fatal trucking accident occurrences, will be released as well, according to The Auto Channel.

Our Georgia truck accident attorneys understand the dangers that these large trucks and fatigued drives place on other motorists on our roadways. We understand that a revision of current trucking regulations is necessary as these measures need to be reevaluated to ensure road safety. Oftentimes these trucks plow through smaller vehicles with deadly consequences.

The Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act, House Bill 1218, aims to regulate the minimize weight and length limitations for all vehicles on federal highways. This bill will mainly pertain to large, commercial big rigs.

As we previously discussed on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) asked the American Trucking Association to equip their trucks and buses with automated and tamperproof on-board recording devices. These are meant to reduce the risks of fatigued driving accidents as drivers will be unable to falsify paper records. Falsified paper records currently allow drivers to work longer than the law allows.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these large commercial trucks were involved in accidents that resulted in nearly 3,500 deaths in 2009. That same year, these accidents resulted in nearly 74,000 injuries. The United States witnessed nearly 300,000 crashes involving commercial trucks.

Motorists are urged to follow these safety tips when driving near big trucks to ensure their own safety:

-Be cautious of wind gusts from the large trucks.

-Keep both hands on the wheel as these wind gusts from a passing truck have the strength and ability to move your car.

-Do not speed up when a truck is passing you. Instead, you are urged to steer clear of the passing truck and slow down slightly. This will allow you to get out of their blind spots quicker once they've passed.

-If you see a truck driver signaling to change lanes, allow them to.

-Leave plenty of room between you and a truck.

-When passing a truck, do not proceed back into the original lane until you can see the entire truck in your rear view mirrors.

Continue reading "New Bill Aiming to Limit Weight and Size Regulations Seeks to Reduce Risks of Truck Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere" »

May 20, 2011

Advocates Call on Bus Companies to Increase Safety Measures to Reduce Risks of Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) just wrapped up a two-day forum that focused on efforts to help prevent tour bus accidents. This forum comes after many deadly accidents this year, like the one on Interstate 95 near the Bronx-Westchester border that took the lives of 15 passengers and injured 18 more. The forum took concerns from federal regulators, safety experts, and the tour bus and trucking industries about ways to make our roads even safer and how to prevent future trucking accidents in Georgia and elsewhere in the United States.

They also discussed how and why previous safety recommendations seemed to fail or had not been fully implemented, according to Lo Hud.
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Our Georgia trucking accident lawyers advocate the reexamination of current rules and regulations of these large trucks and their drivers. We also understand the great dangers facing passenger-vehicle motorists when involved in an accident with one of these larger vehicles -- the passenger-vehicle occupant is at a much higher risk for injury or death as a result of an accident with a large truck or commercial bus.

According to the Associated Press, big tour buses are involved in accident that cause about 20 deaths a year to passengers. These statistics mirror those of airline passenger trips. Between 2000 and 2009, tour buses were involved in 338 fatal crashes. Truck fatalities have been steadily decreasing, falling from 5,200 in 2005 to 3,200 in 2009.

Still, thousands are seriously injured in accidents with large commercial vehicles each year. And, like airline traffic, Atlanta is a southern hub which increases the risk to motorists throughout Georgia.

"We must remind ourselves that each data point in these statistics represents a family member that will never come home to loved ones," NTSB member Robert Sumwalt told The Associated Press.

The Obama administration has recently proposed several steps in an effort to toughen bus and truck regulations. One of their proposals would require that all trucks and buses be equipped with devices that record how many hours drivers are behind the wheel as many drivers are overworked and driving while fatigued. As many as a third of all commercial motor vehicle accidents are due to truck driver fatigue, according to NTSB.

The NTSB has been suggesting that buses increase the strength of their roofs for years now. They also encourage bus companies to offer better emergency exits, better fire protection and windows that prevent passengers from being ejected.

They would also like buses to include electronic stability control in an effort to prevent rollovers, warning systems that alert drivers when they're drifting into another lane, adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts speed to traffic and warning systems that alert drivers to an impeding collision.

"From an economic standpoint, it would do a great deal of harm to this industry and wouldn't improve safety," said Dave Osiecki, senior vice president at the American Trucking Associations.

In other words, it's about the money. Yet these same companies will be the first to scream foul when a careless accident leads to a personal injury or wrongful death verdict to compensate victims of preventable injury.

Continue reading "Advocates Call on Bus Companies to Increase Safety Measures to Reduce Risks of Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere" »

May 16, 2011

Recent Georgia Trucking Accident Worry Safety Advocates as Spring and Summer Traveling Season Begins

A driver lost their life earlier this month after being involved in a Georgia trucking accident on Interstate 20, according to Atlanta police. The accident happened when a passenger vehicle was smashed under the rear of a tractor trailer. Several lanes on the interstate were shut down. Atlanta Fire and Rescue and the Georgia State Patrol responded to the accident, according to My Fox Atlanta.
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Fox 5 reports that a second accident happened around the same time as the Interstate 20 collision, killed a newlywed and sent her husband to the hospital after their car suffered a rollover accident on Interstate 285. The accident reportedly happened on the west side of the Interstate 285 right before the M.L. King Boulevard overpass. The car was clipped by a tractor trailer that was changing lanes in front of them. The tractor trailer sent the car into the inner barrier wall, back into traffic lanes causing it to bounce back into traffic where it was hit by a semi.

Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys helps victims of accidents with tractor trailers or other large trucks. Injuries experienced in these accidents are oftentimes very serious, if not fatal. The size of trucks and the impact that they have on passenger vehicles can equal catastrophic damage and injury. An experienced attorney needs to be contacted immediately if you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with one of these trucks.

Rescue crews were forced to use the Jaws of Life in the rollover accident to retrieve the newlywed victims from the mangled car. The new bride died at the scene. Neither of the truck drivers that were involved were injured.

Recent investigations led to charges being filed against the driver of the tractor trailer. He is accused of causing the accident. He is facing charges of vehicular homicide and improper lane change. He was held in the Fulton County Jail.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 3,500 fatalities, and approximately 74,000 injuries, were suffered in the United States because of traffic accidents involving large trucks in 2009. Nearly 2,000 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents in Georgia in that same year.

As more and more trucks hit the road in Atlanta during this spring and summer travel season, many worry the fatality rate will increase. Drivers are urged to practice defensive driving skills in an attempt to help prevent these potentially deadly accidents.

Continue reading "Recent Georgia Trucking Accident Worry Safety Advocates as Spring and Summer Traveling Season Begins" »

May 6, 2011

Moving Companies under Scrutiny; Fraud, Georgia Trucking Accidents a Risk

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has fined three moving companies, Lightning Van Lines, Inc. of San Leandro, California; Viking Moving and Storage, Inc. of Oakland, California and are Guardian Moving & Storage of Los Angeles, California, $25,000 each during an enforcement sweep that took place in March.

Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers applaud FMCSA efforts to remove unsafe moving trucks from our roadways. We know in 2009, Georgia had 1,750 fatal accidents, 133 involved large trucks.
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Compliance reviews of 67 moving companies were conducted by 37 FMCSA and state investigators as part of the agencies Household Goods Strike Force. The Strike Force purpose is to protect the public from deceptive moving companies. High risk companies were targeted in Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles and San Jose, California; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

"We are committed to protecting the public from unscrupulous movers that attempt to operate unsafely," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We want these carriers to know that there are serious legal and financial consequences for evading federal regulations."

Investigators looked for regulatory violations including: not providing consumers with a mediation process, collecting fees higher than the original estimate and not giving customers their shipment.

"FMCSA is committed to raising the bar for safety and closing cases on rogue household goods movers," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "We will do this by keeping the focus on safety and on improving service to the American public, one safe and successful move at a time."

Avoid these mistakes when choosing a moving company:
-Getting estimates over the phone, movers need to see your belongings to give you an accurate estimate.

-Accepting the first estimate, you need several estimates for a fair comparison.

-Accepting the lowest estimate, a super low estimate should signal a red flag.

-Not asking about additional charges, always ask what will cost you extra.

-Choosing an uninsured or unlicensed company, moving companies have to be licensed and carry insurance.

-Not getting a written contract, your agreement must be in writing so you know exactly what you are paying for.

-Not disclosing issues to the movers, let them know your new apartment is on the 3rd floor with no elevator.

-Not understanding the insurance coverage the movers provide, it is wise to pay extra for coverage that will give you replacement value for damaged items.

Continue reading "Moving Companies under Scrutiny; Fraud, Georgia Trucking Accidents a Risk" »

May 3, 2011

Falling Cargo From Interstate Motor Carriers

All drivers know that our interstate highways are crowded with trucking companies hauling cargo to destinations throughout the United States. The Code of Federal Regulations addresses requirements for proper cargo securement. These regulations are found at Title 49, Chapter 3, Parts 392.9 and 393.1 through 393.136. These cargo securement regulations are quite specific and provide commodities specific regulations for machinery, logs and other products. Obviously, the general requirements include specified performance criteria for the securement system being utilized by the trucking company. The regulations also require a certain number of tie downs to secure the load according to the length of the cargo and the weights involved. Whatever the cargo is, it must be restrained sufficiently to prevent rolling or shifting during transit. Additionally, of course, the regulations require that the drivers of the interstate trucks carrying the cargo must periodically inspect their load to make sure that it has been properly secured.

In virtually any accident involving a falling cargo situation, the Code of Federal Regulations will be implicated because the regulations themselves set forth the specific requirements for the safe and proper securement of cargo being transported in interstate commerce. The improper securement of cargo obviously can result in serious personal injury claims with life altering consequences. Accordingly, in any traffic accident involving falling cargo, it is imperative that an investigation be conducted as soon as possible to evaluate why it is that the cargo fell off the truck. Clearly, if proper securement regulations had been followed, which are designed to prevent all such incidents, the accident would probably have never occurred. Thus, typically, in any case involving falling cargo, there will be a violation of the Code of Federal Regulations, but as is true of any legal case, it is imperative that an investigation be conducted as soon as possible so that the issues can be carefully examined.

April 28, 2011

Distracted Driving Plays Significant Role In Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere

As National Distracted Driving Awareness Month comes to an end, the National Safety Council would like for motorists to respect the dangers of distracted driving all year long. We recently reported on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog about an unfortunate fatal trucking accident that took the life of a driver. Police are still investigating to see if the driver was operating his vehicle while distracted. They're also investigating to see if he could have been asleep at the wheel.

Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers would like to stress the importance of putting away all distractions while operating a motor vehicle. This advice is particularly critical for truck drivers.
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The National Safety Council (NSC) was behind the events of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, as were the safety advocates at FocusDriven. Both organizations used the entire month to promote safe driving habits by discouraging the use of cell phones and other distracting behavior while driving. The NSC reported that there are nearly 12 times as many accidents that involve cell phone use as text messaging.

The safe driving advocates believe that National Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a perfect opportunity for employers to implement no cell phone policies. Rules regarding cell phone use and other distractions while driving would make a great impact on the risk of a trucking accident. The NSC has provided employers with a Cell Phone Policy Kit to help your company get started.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were more than 3,300 fatalities, and more than 74,000 injured, in accidents involving trucks in the United States in 2009. They report that nearly 300,000 large trucks, with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, that were involved in traffic accidents in that same year.

The U.S. government recently announced a ban on texting by drivers of large commercial vehicles in an attempt to avoid the dangers of distracted driving. The new ban comes with fines of up to $2,750. A ban on hand-held cell phones is in the works.

"We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,'' LaHood said. "This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.''

Last year, President Obama banned all federal employees from texting while driving a government vehicle. He also banned them from texting in their own cars if they use government-issued phones or are on official business.

As officials continue to throw bans on drivers of various vehicles, there is no doubt that distracted driving includes other activities. Distracted driving can include messing with the radio, talking to passengers, or using GPS devices or maps. It is not until all drivers make a conscious effort to practice alert and focus driving habits that we will all see a significant decrease in serious and fatal accidents on our roadways.

Continue reading "Distracted Driving Plays Significant Role In Trucking Accidents in Georgia and Elsewhere" »

April 23, 2011

Drowsy Driving Significantly Increases the Risk of a Trucking Accident in Georgia and Elsewhere

Truck drivers are often operating their vehicles while drowsy as their work shift call for long hours on the open road. As we recently reported on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, the driver of a Georgia fuel tanker was killed in an accident with a tractor-trailer on I-95. Police are investigating the accident and questioning whether or not the driver was asleep at the wheel.

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys understand the risks that drowsy drivers pose to the safety of all motorists on our roadways. Drivers of passenger vehicles are more at risk in these types of accidents as they're the ones who are more commonly seriously injured or killed in the event of an accident with a large truck.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 3,000 motorists were killed, and 64,000 were injured, in accidents involving these large commercial trucks in 2008. Less than one-fourth of the injury or fatality victims were in the tractor-trailers at the time of the accident.

The NHTSA found that more than 100 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents in Georgia in 2009.

In an effort to reduce the risk of an accident with a drowsy truck driver, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) requests that the American Trucking Associations advise companies to equip their commercial vehicles with automated and tamperproof on-board recording devices, which track driving hours and compliance with hours-of-service rules. The government is also moving to make such recorders mandatory for most over-the-road trucks.

According to an article in Automotive Discovery, a driver alertness warning and lane departure warning system is now be available to truck drivers through the SafeTraK3. This device can help to warn truck drivers about unintentional departure from their lane. It also has the ability to detect erratic driving in any one lane. Experts agree that fatigue and drowsiness are two of the biggest risk factors for commercial trucking accidents. Systems like the SafeTraK3 could be installed in all large trucks, and eventually in passenger cars, to help reduce the risks of a drowsy driving accident.

The AAA Foundation offers these safety tips to help drivers stay awake at the wheel to "Drive Alert...Arrive Alive":

-Make sure you get enough sleep the night before. If you've got a trip planned that involves a significant amount of driving, be sure to prepare yourself for the trip by getting enough sleep in the days leading up to the trip.

-Avoid driving when you're sleepy. If you feel the effects of drowsiness at the wheel, you should pull over, take a break or get a hotel room to catch up on your rest.

-Schedule a break. It is recommended that you drive no longer than 2 hours, or every 100 miles, before stopping and taking a break.

-Travel with a passenger. When you're traveling with another passenger, be sure to take turns driving as the other passenger catches up on rest. This will cut your personal driving time in half.

Make sure you listen to your biological clock while operating a motor vehicle. Night time is a very risky time for drivers as sleep can be seemingly irresistible. This urge most commonly occurs between midnight and 6 a.m. This is the time when drivers are most likely to be involved in a sleep-related accident. The second most common time for the occurrence of a drowsy driving accident is during the "afternoon lull" or between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Continue reading "Drowsy Driving Significantly Increases the Risk of a Trucking Accident in Georgia and Elsewhere" »

April 11, 2011

Cargo often a Factor in Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accidents

The driver of a fuel tanker was killed after a Georgia tractor-trailer accident on I-95 south of Richmond Hill, according to the Bryan County News. The crash involved a second tractor-trailer, which was hauling cars.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys reported previously on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog that unsafe or hazardous loads require compliance with specific regulations. With one truck hauling fuel and the other hauling cars, both were carrying specialty loads. Though there is no indication that the loads contributed to the accident, the fuel certainly contributed to the fire and the death of the tanker's driver.
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The Georgia State Patrol reports that the tanker truck struck the car hauler at about 3:40 a.m. The tractor-trailer had just merged onto the Interstate from Highway 17 at the time of the crash.

“The tanker just came up from behind, hit him and burst into flames," said Trooper Henry Gilliard. "The tanker was carrying gasoline."

The driver of the tanker, a 28-year-old man from Brunswick, died at the scene.

Police said there was no reaction and questioned whether the driver was sleeping or just distracted. The 39-year-old Florida man at the wheel of the car hauler was not injured.

Elsewhere, Access North Georgia reports a portion of Old Cornelia Highway in the area of East Hall was closed after a tractor-trailer overturned near Whitehall Road.

The rig was carrying a load of All-Terrain Vehicles, which had to be offloaded before the truck could be pulled upright. A hazardous material team was called to the scene to help clean up the fuel that spilled from the wreck.

Continue reading "Cargo often a Factor in Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accidents" »

March 30, 2011

Lack of Standard Training for Truckers a cause of Atlanta Tractor-Trailer Accidents

For over 3 years, Road Safe America has been waiting for required minimum training for those seeking a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). It appears that Docket # FMCSA-2007-27748 is caught up in bureaucratic red tape.

Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys know that poorly trained truckers often play a huge role in serious Georgia trucking accidents.
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The general public probably assumes that driving an 80,000 pound vehicle requires special training. But regrettably, there are no minimum training standards required by the U.S. Department of Transportation for truck driver training.

There are usually two acceptable paths a truck driver can take regarding training. They can go to a private truck driver training school, which almost every state has, or they can be trained by the carrier they want to work for.

To obtain a CDL, in most states, is a two part process. Part one requires passing a written test, consisting of questions about the trucking industry and the difficult rules surrounding commercial vehicles. Part two involves passing a driving test which includes a visual inspection exercise, driving on the road and a parking lot skills test.

Minimum standards for classroom time or behind-the-wheel training don't exist.

This is the issue for Road Safe America; someone could study the training manual and pass the written test. They can then go seek training from a trucker friend to pass the driving part of the test. Most of us, undoubtedly, would not fly in a plane if we knew there were no minimum training requirements for the pilots. So in the same sense, motorists sharing roadways with untrained truck drivers seem almost unconscionable.

In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that almost 12 people a day are killed in large truck crashes and 246 people a day are injured. It should concern every motorist on the road to learn that trucks are involved in over 1,000 crashes every day.

It is appalling that these kinds of statistics are not enough to fast-track the process of passing Docket # FMCSA-2007-27748 which would require new operators of commercial motor vehicles to have mandatory training.

Continue reading "Lack of Standard Training for Truckers a cause of Atlanta Tractor-Trailer Accidents" »

March 19, 2011

Trucks Pose Threat to Drivers and Increase Risks for Georgia Trucking Accidents

Two tractor-trailers collided earlier this month while traveling northbound on I-75 in Gordon County, reported CBS Atlanta. The highway was shut down for nearly three hours, forcing drivers to find alternate routes.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
reports that America's roads see more than 500,000 tractor-trailer accidents each year.
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Atlanta trucking accident lawyers urge you to practice safe driving to avoid a potentially deadly Georgia trucking accident. In accidents involving a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle it is more likely that the occupants of the smaller vehicle will sustain more serious injuries than that of the larger vehicle. Figure a fully-loaded tractor-trailer weighs 80,000 pounds -- about 20 times the weight of a passenger vehicle. The heavier vehicle typically takes three times longer to stop.

It is also common for tractor-trailer accidents to occur because of driver fatigue, dangerous roads, defective equipment and failure to maintain current inspection standards. Many times the company employing the truck driver will try to dispute whose insurance will provide proper compensation for the victim. By working with an experienced truck accident lawyer, victims can fight to ensuring that their rights are properly protected.

It can be difficult to prevent a fatal tractor-trailer accident, but traffic experts offer passenger-vehicle drivers critical tips to help safeguard themselves:

-Avoid a truck's blind spots. Remember that if you can't see the driver, they cannot see you.

-If you need to stop on the highway make sure to pull completely off the road. Remember that tractor-trailers are large vehicles and take up much of the lane.

-Understand the limitations of a truck driver. It is especially important to remember not to tailgate. It is extremely dangerous, especially when driving near larger vehicles.

-Treat trucks differently than you would other drivers.

Continue reading "Trucks Pose Threat to Drivers and Increase Risks for Georgia Trucking Accidents" »

March 9, 2011

Sun glare causes seven-car tractor-trailer accident in Atlanta

An Atlanta semi accident involved a tractor trailer truck and seven other vehicles on I-20 near Six Flags Amusement Park, according to My Fox Atlanta.

Police report cars had slowed because of sun glare when a tractor trailer nearly slammed into them. The truck moved to avoid the accident, and crashed over an embankment. In doing so, the semi slammed into a parked car on the shoulder, which triggered a chain-reaction collision.
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Georgia truck accident lawyers
understand the risk posed by crashes with large commercial trucks. Too often, it is other motorists on the road who are seriously injured or killed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 3,000 motorists were killed and 64,000 were injured in crashes involving large commercial trucks in 2008. Fewer than one-fourth of the injury or fatality victims were riding in the tractor-trailers at the time of the crash.

Nationwide, 380,000 large truck accidents were reported, a number that is expected to increase with the economic recovery.

A Hazmat team was called to the scene to clean up spilled diesel fuel and the injured were transported to an area hospital.

The Vision Council of America offers the following safety tips to motorists regarding winter sun glare:

-Use a safe traveling distance to allow for plenty of reaction time.

-Make a habit of using visor to help reduce glare.

-Avoid glossy dash cleaners.

-Keep windshield clean and wiper fluid full.

-Take glare into account when planning route. Traveling roads with tall trees or buildings will help reduce glare.

-Wear sunglasses.

Continue reading "Sun glare causes seven-car tractor-trailer accident in Atlanta" »

February 24, 2011

Limiting speeds will decrease risk of Georgia Trucking Accidents

Speed-limiting devices could be mandated for commercial trucks, limiting them to 68 mph and reducing the risk of Georgia trucking accidents and accidents involving tractor-trailers elsewhere on the nation's highways.

Our Atlanta personal injury lawyers applaud this long-overdue move by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. As we reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, the government has also proposed adding data recorders to commercial trucks in order to monitor compliance with hours-of-service rules. HOS regulations are meant to reduce the risk of fatigued truckers causing accidents because of too many hours spent behind the wheel.
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But, as safety organizations like Road Safe America point out, without speed limiters, truckers forced to limit their time spent behind the wheel will simply speed to make up the difference. Of course, truckers have always been subjected to HOS regulations, but hand-written log books have largely made a joke of the safety effort.

“Rules that slow down the top speed of big rigs will certainly save lives. But, the pay-by-the-mile formula of most in the industry is an incentive to drive fast and long," said Tom Hodgson, RSA’s Executive Director. "RSA thinks that the truckers deserve a professional’s wage for the hard and crucial job they do. We want them to get paid for all of their working hours, whether their truck is moving or not, so that safety is the primary concern for all."

Countries in Europe, as well as Japan, Australia and several Canadian Provinces, have speed governors on trucks set at top speeds ranging from 55 mph to 65 mph. They also have far fewer fatalities caused by large trucks.

Their rate of truck crash related fatalities is lower than ours and we need to catch up,” said RSA Founder Steve Owings. "Road Safe America believes the recent move by the DOT will gain traction as more citizens become aware of the lifesaving potential in its becoming law."

Continue reading "Limiting speeds will decrease risk of Georgia Trucking Accidents" »

February 14, 2011

Woman plummets from bridge to avoid Georgia semi accident

The media is abuzz after a 22-year-old woman survived a jump into Lake Lanier to avoid a Georgia semi accident.

It is one of the more courageous acts our Georgia trucking accident attorneys have encountered, and may well have saved the young woman's life. As we frequently report, the extreme weight of a tractor-trailer -- which can weight 20 times more than a 4,000-pound passenger car -- frequently results in fatal injuries to occupants of involved passenger cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 380,000 accidents involving large trucks claimed 4,229 lives in 2008. Of those, only 677 were truck occupants. The majority were victims in the other vehicle or non-occupants, including bicyclists and pedestrians.

In this case, the woman said she got out of her car following a fender-bender on Dawsonville Highway Bridge. She then saw the semi speeding toward her and knew the truck was going to hit her car and force it into her.

Instead, she jumped from the bridge. She said she felt she was in big trouble because she had so far to swim to get to shore. While she suffered some leg injuries and hypothermia, she may have avoid fatal injuries; the truck did indeed slam into her car on the bridge.

No charges have been filed and the case remains under investigation.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the woman jumped about 40 feet. She had driven onto the icy bridge about 6:30 a.m. and was taking it easy when a car sideswiped her and knocked her into a concrete pillar.

The water was 40 degrees. Access North Georgia said the woman reported hearing the truck hit her car as she swam to shore. The Journal-Constitution said the truck avoided colliding with any vehicles on the bridge.

Continue reading "Woman plummets from bridge to avoid Georgia semi accident" »

February 11, 2011

Wrong-way driver allegedly causes Georgia Trucking Accident

A Georgia tractor-trailer accident has claimed the life of a teenager who was reportedly driving the wrong-way down the eastbound lanes of I-285 in DeKalb County, Channel 2 News reported.

Our Atlanta injury lawyers frequently write about the consequences of accidents with large trucks in Georgia. Even when the accident is the fault of the other motorist, the weight, speed and force of a large truck can make for deadly consequences.
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Witnesses say the truck exploded as if hit by a stick of dynamite and a firefighter pulled at least one victim from a burning car. The truck burned on its side, backing up traffic for miles near Ashford-Dunwoody and Chamblee Dunwoody roads and closing the Interstate for more than 12 hours.

The Georgia Department of Transportation reported the truck was carrying margarine. The 19-year-old driver of the car was killed on impact. The 57-year-old truck driver was not hurt, CBS Atlanta reported.

Teenagers are at particularly high risk of being involved in a serious or fatal car accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for all teens. In 2008, 233 motorists died in Georgia car accidents involving teenagers.

Continue reading "Wrong-way driver allegedly causes Georgia Trucking Accident" »

February 5, 2011

Data Recorders to Measure Hours of Service - Fewer Georgia Trucking Accidents Possible

Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys applaud the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's move to require on-board recorders to monitor hours-of-service compliance for over-the-road truckers.

As we reported on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, the government continues to fine tune the regulations governing how many hours a day and days a week a trucker can remain behind the wheel. Fatigued truckers are a leading cause of trucking accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere.
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However, compliance checks have long been a joke as truckers are paid by the mile and compliance relies upon toll receipts, hand-written log books and other evidence.

"We cannot protect our roadways when commercial truck and bus companies exceed hours-of-service rules," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This proposal would make our roads safer by ensuring that carriers traveling across state lines are using EOBRs to track the hours their drivers spend behind the wheel."

Those in violation would face fines of up to $11,000 for each offense. The proposal would cover approximately 500,000 carriers nationwide. Previously, only those who had been caught violating hours-of-service rules had been required to use the electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs).

"This proposal is an important step in our efforts to raise the safety bar for commercial carriers and drivers," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "We believe broader use of EOBRs would give carriers and drivers an effective tool to strengthen their HOS compliance."

Continue reading "Data Recorders to Measure Hours of Service - Fewer Georgia Trucking Accidents Possible" »

January 30, 2011

Cause of accident, parties responsible, can impact claim in Georgia trucking accidents

Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 4,000 motorists are killed in nearly 400,000 accidents involving large trucks. A total of 179 fatal Georgia trucking accidents were reported in 2008.

An Atlanta injury lawyer will need to work to determine the cause of your accident, as well as who is responsible. The answers to both questions can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.
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The Top 10 causes of trucking accidents, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, are:

-Prescription Drug Use

-Traveling too Fast

-Driver Unfamiliar with Roads

-Over-the-Counter Drug Use

-Inadequate Surveillance

-Fatigue

-Illegal Maneuver

-Exterior Distraction

-Inadequate Evasive Action

-Aggressive Driving


Parties liable for an Atlanta trucking accident may include:

-The truck driver

-The owner of the truck and/or the trailer

-The trucking company

-The entity that leased the truck or trailer to the trucking company or driver.

-The manufacturer

-The shipper or loader of cargo

-The associated insurance companies.

A Georgia trucking accident lawyer needs to have significant experience in investigating and determining liability for such accidents, as well as handling claims against large trucking or insurance companies. Many times, companies will hide behind LLCs to avoid liability, or will claim a driver was operating as an independent contractor. In other cases, multiple victims and competing insurance claims may jeopardize your ability to collect.

Further complicating a truck accident claim are the many rules truckers and trucking companies are required to follow. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and other state and federal entities regulate trucks in an effort to protect the public. Whether or not a truck driver was text messaging -- which is now illegal according to federal law -- or whether he or she was violating hours-of-service rules are just two considerations an attorney must take into account when pursing a wrongful death or personal injury claim in the wake of a Georgia trucking accident.

Continue reading "Cause of accident, parties responsible, can impact claim in Georgia trucking accidents" »

January 28, 2011

Fatigue leading cause of Georgia trucking accidents as Hours-of-Service debate continues

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced public hearings on Feb. 17 in Virginia in regards to its proposed new Hours-of-Service rules.

As our Georgia trucking accident attorneys have reported, the length of time a trucker remains behind the wheel can increase the risk of an Atlanta trucking accident.
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Our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog recently noted the government's move to restrict hours of service after former President George W. Bush extended them during his last days in office.

The Truck Safety Coalition, an organization dedicated to assisting the victims of trucking accidents, is among the organizations that believe the Obama Administration did not go far enough in reversing the extended HOS permitted under former President George W. Bush.

"The current rule allows tired truckers to drive excessively long hours and is opposed by safety organizations, truck safety groups, labor unions, truck crash victims and survivors as well as many truckers who are forced to work sweatshop hours," the organization said in a statement. "The new proposed rule does not eliminate anti-safety provisions that allow truck drivers to drive and work long hours, get less rest and drive while fatigued."

The National Transportation Safety Board has found that fatigue is a factor in 30 to 40 percent of truck crashes. The new proposal considers a 10-hour rule, but has not eliminated the possibility of permitting drivers to work 11-hour days. It also would permit drivers to drive for up to 77 hours a week.

Continue reading "Fatigue leading cause of Georgia trucking accidents as Hours-of-Service debate continues" »

January 17, 2011

Snow may be gone but increased risk of Georgia trucking accidents remains

The storm that effectively shut down Atlanta for most of the last week will likely increase the risk of Georgia trucking accidents as drivers hit the roads looking to make up for lost time.

In other cases, bad weather and black ice have led to numerous trucking accidents, according to FOX Atlanta.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports the storm cost $300 million in unrecoverable retail sales. Planes were grounded. Stores and offices were closed. And trucks didn't make deliveries.
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The paper reports the heart and soul of the Atlanta economy -- its transportation and logistics industry -- was virtually paralyzed as flights were canceled and the trucking industry sat out the storm. Trucks carry 88 percent of the freight moving through Atlanta -- more than 1 million tons a day. Most of that traffic goes through the Atlanta area, according to the Georgia Motor Truck Association.

A typical grocery store gets 80 deliveries a week. For a couple of days, deliveries dropped to near zero. UPS alone has nearly 5,000 trucks and vans covering Georgia, in addition to more than 300 tractor-trailer rigs. For days, nothing moved.

While operations as large as UPS have plans in place to effectively deal with such closures, many smaller companies do not. Smaller grocery distributors, furniture warehouses and other companies may push delivery crews to the limits or beyond, increasing the danger to the motoring public.

And, as the spokesman for the trucking association points out, getting caught up is made all the more critical by the possibility of a long winter with more snow.

Continue reading "Snow may be gone but increased risk of Georgia trucking accidents remains " »

January 7, 2011

Atlanta tractor-trailer accident involves school bus

Six students were injured in an Atlanta tractor-trailer accident that involved a school bus this week -- authorities report a substitute bus driver may have pulled into the path of the tractor trailer, CBS Atlanta reported.

Our Atlanta accident attorneys know such an accident is every parent's nightmare. Fortunately, there were no reports of life-threatening injuries.
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The crash happened at Georgia Highway 369 and Lovelace Lane in Cherokee County. The students were being transported to Free Home Elementary School. Eight people, including six students, were taken to the hospital. All of the students were released by noon.

Both the 52-year-old bus driver and the 43-year-old tractor-trailer driver were listed in serious condition. The bus driver was a substitute who had about 48 hours of training. Georgia State Police report the bus may have pulled into the path of the semi. The truck struck the front of the bus and careened into a 30-foot ditch.

The bus had been turning around in a driveway at the time of the crash. The accident remains under investigation.

Even in accidents in which the other driver appears at fault, a thorough investigation is warranted. A truck driver may have been speeding, or operating over his hours-of-service limits. A truck's maintenance records should also be reviewed. Often the reason for such accidents is clear cut. In other cases, a thorough investigation can reveal wrongdoing on the part of a trucker or trucking company that contributed to the accident.

Continue reading "Atlanta tractor-trailer accident involves school bus " »

December 29, 2010

Hazardous chemicals complicates Covington trucking accident

A Covington, Georgia tractor-trailer accident shut down I-20 at exit 98 for most of the day on Tuesday, the Rockdale Citizen reported.

As our Atlanta semi accident attorneys reported earlier this year on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog unsafe or hazardous loads pose an additional danger to other motorists on the road. In this case, hazardous materials complicated cleanup. In other cases, shifting loads can cause accidents and can even come loose and become a danger on the highways.
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Investigators from the Georgia Highway Patrol believe one truck had stopped for a lane closure when it was rear-ended by a second truck. The first truck overturned at the base of the ramp entering I-20 from Georgia Highway 11.

As we reported earlier this month, the holidays can increase the risk that motorists will be involved in a Georgia tractor-trailer accident. Truckers will be hurrying home for the holidays and, in some cases, taking off on Sunday looking to make up for lost time. More motorists will also be on the road. Inclement weather, drunk and distracted driving and speeding may also increase the risks.

Two people were injured in Tuesday's crash. The driver and passenger of the second truck were trapped inside the vehicle and had to be extricated by rescue personnel. One was flown by helicopter to Atlanta trauma. The other was transported by ambulance.

One comment on the newspaper's website suggested Georgia have slower speed limits for large trucks. The motorist reported speeding just to get out of the way of large trucks and other commercial vehicles speeding down the road.

Continue reading "Hazardous chemicals complicates Covington trucking accident" »

December 20, 2010

Port Wentworth cracking down on unsafe Georgia truckers at busy intersections

The Savannah Morning News reports authorities are citing truckers for running down the berm of Georgia 21 near I-95 in an effort to avoid rush-hour congestion.

Our Georgia trucking accident lawyers remind motorists that December is a dangerous time for commercial truck accidents in Atlanta, Savannah and throughout Georgia. Heavy holiday traffic, speeding, drunk driving, bad weather and truckers who are hurrying home for the holidays can all contribute to serious or fatal Georgia semi accidents.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Georgia is among the five states with the most fatal trucking accidents. More than 160 motorists were killed in accidents involving semis and other large commercial trucks in 2008.

Law enforcement can't be counted on to catch every offender. Even the Morning News reports driving down the emergency lane on I-95 to exit Ga. 21 likely won't meet with the same scorn. Port Wentworth police say the issue is a safety concern on Ga. 21 while those using the emergency lane on I-95 are just trying to get out of the way of the flow of traffic.

Regardless, passing vehicles on the right is never safe. Motorists are not expecting vehicles to be approaching on the right side. Pulling into the path of an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer, no matter how slow it is traveling, is a recipe for disaster.

As we reported in October on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, it is the same intersection where a tractor-trailer accident killed the 41-year-old driver of a small pickup. Investigators say traffic congestion contributed to the accident after the semi crested the hill at 65 mph and found traffic at a dead stop.

Officers say the intersection has been growing more congested for years as the result of population increases in west Chatham cities and Effingham County.

There is talk of building a deceleration lane. In the meantime, it is a case of motorists beware at that intersection and many others throughout Georgia this holiday season. During one recent Port Wentworth police operation, four tractor-trailers were stopped in about two hours. Each was seen by police illegally using the emergency lane to bypass traffic on Georgia 21.

"Those trucks are heavy and we've seen it - they can cause a lot of damage," Capt. Matt Libby said. "I've gotten several complaints about people getting tickets, but we're still going to be out there."

Continue reading "Port Wentworth cracking down on unsafe Georgia truckers at busy intersections" »

December 14, 2010

Safety weekend aims to increase awareness of dangers of drunk driving, Georgia trucking accidents

The Georgia Highway Patrol will participate in National Lifesaver weekend this weekend, Dec. 17 to 19 to promote safe travel during the upcoming holiday season.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys remind motorists to be extra cautious when driving around semis or other large commercial vehicles on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 380,000 large truck accidents occurred on the nation's roads in 2008, killing 4,229 motorists and injuring more than 90,000 others.
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Georgia truck accidents
claimed 179 lives that year. Only California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas reported more fatal tractor-trailer accidents.

This is the 19th year the patrol has participated in the program. Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said impaired driving enforcement will be a priority.

“We are joining this nationwide effort because it focuses on driving behaviors that kill across the nation and this is not just a local problem,” he said. “This time of year is especially dangerous on our roads and that danger is only compounded by alcohol and drug impaired drivers.”

The Patrol and the Motor Carrier Compliance Division officers will also participate in Lights on For Life Day Friday Dec. 17 to remind motorists not to drink and drive. Officers will drive with their headlights on throughout the day to remind motorists of the dangers.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police coordinates the National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend, which is a campaign of Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort). C.A.R.E. aims to reduce the number of traffic fatalities nationwide by coordinating enforcement efforts, including high-visibility patrols and road checks.

Continue reading "Safety weekend aims to increase awareness of dangers of drunk driving, Georgia trucking accidents" »

December 5, 2010

Thanksgiving trucking accidents a reminder of hazards faced by Georgia motorists

The Highway Patrol reported several tractor-trailer accidents in Georgia over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Macon.com reported that an Augusta couple crashed their Mitsubishi Galant into the side of a semi on U.S. 80 west at the U.S. 441 bypass in Dublin. A 72-year-old man was killed, according to the Laurens County Coroner's office.
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His wife did not suffer life-threatening injuries and was taken to Fairview Park Hospital for treatment.

Authorities report the couple is believed to have run a red light.

In other news, the Baker County Press reported that a 54-year-old Florida man died in a semi accident while returning from a Georgia hunting trip.

Police say his pickup drifted out of its lane and into the path of a northbound limerock truck.

These cases illustrate the importance of consulting with an experienced Georgia trucking accident lawyer whenever you or a loved one is involved in an accident with a semi or other commercial vehicle. In three-quarters of such accidents, the occupants of the other vehicle are seriously injured or killed.

In cases where a motorist was found to be at fault, a thorough and independent review should be conducted to determine whether or not the truck driver or trucking company also shares blame for causing the accident. Vehicle maintenance, truck weight, and proper compliance with hours-of-service and other safety regulations are important considerations when determining fault in an accident.

Continue reading "Thanksgiving trucking accidents a reminder of hazards faced by Georgia motorists" »

November 30, 2010

Holidays increase risk of Georgia tractor-trailer accidents

The five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's is among the deadliest of the year for Georgia trucking accidents and tractor-trailer accidents elsewhere in the country.

The Trucker reports Thanksgiving and New Year's are two of the deadliest holidays on the nation's roads with an average of 572 deaths per year.
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The reasons for Atlanta semi accidents around the holidays are numerous and can include:

-Time Constraints: Truckers will be hitting the road this week looking to make up lost time from the long holiday weekend. As Christmas and New Year's approach, they will be pushing themselves to the limits, and perhaps beyond, the get home for the holidays.

Daylight Savings Time: Brings darkness to the evening commute and may increase drowsy and distracted driving accidents. While truckers are susceptible, other motorists on the road are also at increased risk.

Bad Weather: The arrival of winter weather can increase the risk of accidents. In areas where winter weather is less of a factor, trucks may be more apt to try to make up for lost time as a result of bad weather in northern states.

Drowsy Driving: Early dark, low visibility, warm cabs, big meals and long hours can all contribute to the risk of accidents caused by tired truckers. The National Safety Commission reports that young men and shift workers are most likely to be impacted by drowsy driving.

Drunk Driving:
With the holidays comes more opportunity to celebrate. For others, depression can increase the risks associated with alcohol or drug use. In either case, drinking and driving accidents are a common danger around the holidays.

Continue reading "Holidays increase risk of Georgia tractor-trailer accidents" »

November 30, 2010

Trucking Terminology

Our Atlanta area truck accident attorneys are keenly aware that cases involving large trucks and buses are much more complicated than those involving automobile collisions. Yesterday, at a deposition involving a tractor-trailer related death I was surprised to learn that many of the attorneys involved were not familiar with terminology used in the trucking arena.

Below is a list of some common terms used in the trucking industry. I hope that it will be useful.


- A -
ABS (Antilock Braking System)
Computer, sensors and solenoid valves which together monitor wheel speed and modulate braking force if wheel lockup is sensed during braking. Helps the driver retain control of the vehicle during heavy braking on slippery roads.

AFV (Alternative Fueled Vehicle)
Vehicle powered by a fuel other than gasoline or diesel.

Air Ride Suspension
Suspension which supports the load on air-filled rubber bags rather than steel springs. Compressed air is supplied by the same engine-driven air compressor and reservoir tanks which provide air to the air brake system.

ATC (Automatic Traction Control)
Usually an optional feature based on ABS, it prevents spinning of the drive wheels under power on slippery surfaces by braking individual wheels and/or reducing engine throttle. Also called ASR, an acronym sometimes loosely translated from the German as anti-spin regulation.

ATV (All Terrain Vehicle)
Vehicle designed for any type of terrain.

AVI (Automatic Vehicle Identification)
System combining an on-board transponder with roadside receivers to automate identification of vehicles. Uses include electronic toll collection and stolen vehicle detection.

AVL (Automated Vehicle Location)
Class of technologies designed to locate vehicles for fleet management purposes and for stolen vehicle recovery. Infrastructure can be land-based radio towers or satellites.

Axle
Structural component to which wheels, brakes and suspension are attached.
Drive axles are those with powered wheels.
Front axle is usually called the steer axle.
Pusher axles are unpowered and go ahead of drive axles.
Rear axles may be drive, tag or pusher types.
Tag axles are unpowered and go behind drive axles.

- B -
BBC
Distance from a truck's front bumper to the back of its cab.

Bill of Lading
Itemized list of goods contained in a shipment.

Blind Spot
Areas around a commercial vehicle that are not visible to the driver either through the windshield, side windows or mirrors.

Bobtail
Tractor operating without a trailer. Also refers to straight truck.

Bogie (also spelled bogey)
Assembly of two or more axles, usually a pair in tandem.

Brake Horsepower (bhp)
Engine horsepower rating as determined by brake dynamometer testing. (see Horsepower)

Bridge Formula
A bridge protection formula used by federal and state governments to regulate the amount of weight that can be put on each of a vehicle's axles, and how far apart the axles (or groups of axles) must be to legally carry a given weight.

- C -
Cabover (Cab-Over-Engine, COE)
Truck or tractor design in which the cab sits over the engine on the chassis.

Cargo Weight
Combined weight of all loads, gear and supplies on a vehicle.

Cartage Company
Company that provides local (within a town, city or municipality) pick-up and delivery.

Cast Spoke Wheel
Wheel with five or six spokes originating from a center hub. The spoked portion, usually made of cast steel, is bolted to a multiple-piece steel rim (see Demountable Rim; Disc Wheel).

CB (Citizens Band Radio)
Two-way radio for which no license is required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Long beyond its heyday in the '70s, CB is still used by truckers and motorists for everything from traffic condition reports to emergency calls to idle chatter.

CDL (Commercial Driver's License)
License which authorizes an individual to operate commercial motor vehicles and buses over 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. For operators of freight-hauling trucks, the maximum size which may be driven without a CDL is Class 6 (maximum 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight).

CE (CF, LP)
Distance from back of a truck's cab to the end of its frame.

CFC
Chlorofluorocarbon.

CG (Center of Gravity)
Weight center or balance point of an object, such as a truck body. Calculated to help determine optimum placement of truck bodies on chassis.

Chassis Weight (Curb Weight, Tare Weight)
Weight of the empty truck, without occupants or load.

CNG
Compressed natural gas.

COFC (Container On Flat Car)
Method of moving shipping containers which involves transporting them on railroad flat cars.

Common Carrier
Freight transportation company which serves the general public. May be regular route service (over designated highways on a regular basis) or irregular route (between various points on an unscheduled basis).

Compensated Intracorporate Hauling
Freight transportation service provided by one company for a sister company.

Container (Shipping Container)
Standard-sized rectangular box used to transport freight by ship, rail and highway. International shipping containers are 20 or 40 feet long, conform to International Standards Organization (ISO) standards and are designed to fit in ships' holds. Containers are transported on public roads atop a container chassis towed by a tractor. Domestic containers, up to 53 feet long and of lighter construction, are designed for rail and highway use only.

Container Chassis
Single-purpose semitrailer designed to carry a shipping container.

Contract Carrier
Company that transports freight under contract with one or a limited number of shippers.

Converter Dolly (Dolly)
Auxiliary axle assembly equipped with a fifth wheel (coupling device), towed by a semitrailer and supporting the front of, and towing, another semitrailer.

Cube (Cubic Capacity)
Interior volume of a truck body, semitrailer or trailer, measured in cubic feet.

- D -
Dead-Heading
Operating a truck without cargo.

Demountable Rim
Multi-piece steel wheel rim assembly which is bolted to a spoke hub. Demountable rims are still in use, though they have been replaced in many applications by the simpler disc wheel. (see Cast Spoke Wheel)

Disc Wheel
Single-piece rim/wheel assembly of stamped and welded steel or forged aluminum, anchored by 8 or 10 nuts to a hub. A "Budd wheel" is a ten-hole, stud-piloted disc wheel; a design originated by the Budd Corporation.

Displacement (Piston Displacement)
Sum of the volumes swept by an engine's pistons as they travel up and down in their cylinders. Based upon bore (diameter of cylinder) and stroke (distance traveled by piston). Expressed in liters or cubic inches.

Doubles (Twins, Twin Trailers)
Combination of a tractor and two semitrailers connected in tandem by a converter dolly.

Driveline
All the components which together transmit power from the transmission to the drive axle(s). These consist of at least one driveshaft (propeller shaft) with a universal joint at each end.

Drivetrain (Powertrain)
All the components, excluding engine, which transmit the engine's power to the rear wheels: clutch, transmission, driveline and drive axle(s).

DRL (Daytime Running Lights)
System that automatically turns on a vehicle's low beam headlights when the parking brake is released and the ignition is on.

- E -
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)
The business-to-business interconnection of computers for the rapid exchange of a wide variety of documents, from bills of lading to build tickets at auto plants.

Exempt Carrier
Company which transports commodities exempted from Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) economic regulation.

EV (Electric Vehicle)
Vehicle powered by electric motor(s) rather than by an internal combustion engine. Most common source of electricity is chemical storage batteries.

- F -
Fifth Wheel
Coupling device attached to a tractor or dolly which supports the front of a semitrailer and locks it to the tractor or dolly. The fifth wheel's center is designed to accept a trailer's kingpin, around which the trailer and tractor or dolly pivot in turns.

Fixed Tandem
Assembly of two axles and suspension that is attached to the chassis in one place, and cannot be moved fore and aft.

For-Hire Carrier
Company in the business of transporting freight belonging to others.

- G -
GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating)
Maximum weight an axle is rated to carry by the manufacturer. Includes both the weight of the axle and the portion of a vehicle's weight carried by the axle.

GCW (Gross Combination Weight)
Total weight of a loaded combination vehicle, such as a tractor-semitrailer or truck and full trailer(s).

Geared Speed
Calculated vehicle speed at the engine's governed rpm in each transmission gear, or (commonly) in top gear.

Gear Ratio
Number, usually expressed as a decimal fraction, representing how many turns of the input shaft cause exactly one revolution of the output shaft. Applies to transmissions, power takeoffs, power dividers and rear axles. Example: If 2.5 revolutions of an input shaft cause one revolution of the output shaft, the gear ratio is 2.5:1.

Grade
Steepness of a grade, expressed as a percentage. Example: A vehicle climbing a 5% grade rises 5 feet for every 100 feet of forward travel.

Gradeability
Vehicle's ability to climb a grade at a given speed. Example: A truck with a gradeability of 5% at 60 mph can maintain 60 mph on a grade with a rise of 5%.

GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight)
Total weight of a vehicle and everything aboard, including its load.

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)
Total weight a vehicle is rated to carry by the manufacturer, including its own weight and the weight of its load.

- H -
Hazmat
Hazardous materials, as classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Transport of hazardous materials is strictly regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Headache Rack
Heavy protective barrier mounted behind the tractor's cab. Designed to prevent "headaches" caused by load shifting forward from the trailer and crushing the cab.

HCFC
Hydrochlorofluorocarbon.

Horsepower (hp)
Measure of power (the amount of work that can be done over a given amount of time). One horsepower is defined as 33,000 foot-pounds of work in one minute. Example: Lifting 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute, or lifting 3300 pounds ten feet in one minute.

Horsepower, Gross Laboratory
Tested horsepower of a "bare" engine without fan, water pump, alternator, exhaust system or any other accessories.
Horsepower, SAE Net

Horsepower capability of an engine with full accessories and exhaust system. Test procedures per standards of Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

Hours-Of-Service
U.S. Department of Transportation safety regulations which govern the hours of service of commercial vehicle drivers engaged in interstate trucking operations.

I -
Independent Trucker
See Owner Operator.

ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems)
See IVHS.

IVHS (Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems)
Blanket term for a wide array of technologies, including electronic sensors, computer hardware and software and radio communications. The purpose of IVHS is to increase efficiency of use of existing highways, reducing travel time, fuel consumption, air pollution and accidents. There are five functional areas:

• Advanced Public Transportation Systems (APTS)
• Advance Traffic Management Systems (ATMS)
• Advance Traveler Information Systems (ATIS)
• Advanced Vehicle Control Systems (AVCS)
• Commercial Vehicle Operations (CVO)

A more recently coined term, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), encompasses both IVHS and modes of transportation other than highway, such as rail.

- J -
Jackknife
To place the trailer at a very sharp angle to the tractor.

JIT (Just-In-Time)
Manufacturing system which depends on frequent, small deliveries of parts and supplies to keep on-site inventory to a minimum.


- K -
Kingpin (axle)
Pin around which a steer axle's wheels pivot.

Kingpin (trailer)
Anchor pin at the center of a semitrailer's upper coupler which is captured by the locking jaws of a tractor's fifth wheel to attach the tractor to the semitrailer.

- L -
Landing Gear
Retracting legs which support the front of a semitrailer when it is not coupled to a tractor.

LCV (Long Combination Vehicle)
In general, vehicles longer than a standard doubles rig (tractor and two 28-foot semitrailers). Examples of LCVs which are permitted in some U.S. western states and eastern toll roads: Twin 48-foot trailers; triple 28-foot trailers.

Lessee
Company or individual which leases vehicles.

Lessor
Company which leases vehicles.

Lift Axle
Extra, unpowered axle needed only when the vehicle is loaded, allowing it to meet federal and state vehicle weight standards. The lift axle is mounted to an air spring suspension that raises the axle when it is not required.

LPG
Liquid propane gas.

Load Range (Tires)
Letter code system for the weight carrying capacity of tires. Comparable ply ratings are shown below.
LR PR LR PR A

.... 2 E .... 10 B .... 4 F .... 12 C .... 6 G .... 14 D ....

8 H .... 16 (LR = Load Range PR = Ply Rating)

Logbook
Book carried by truck drivers in which they record their hours of service and duty status for each 24-hour period. Required in interstate commercial trucking by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Lowboy
Open flat-bed trailer with a deck height very low to the ground, used to haul construction equipment or bulky or heavy loads.

LTL (Less-Than-Truckload)
A quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a truckload (TL) rate; usually less than 10,000 pounds.

LTL Carrier
Trucking company which consolidates less-than-truckload cargo for multiple destinations on one vehicle.

- O -
Overdrive
Gearing in which less than one revolution of a transmission's input shaft causes one turn of the output shaft. The purpose of overdrive is to reduce engine rpm in high gear for better fuel economy. Example: A transmission with an overdrive top gear has a ratio of 0.70 to one. Turning the input shaft 0.7 revolutions causes 1.0 revolution of the output shaft.

Owner-Operator
Trucker who owns and operates his own truck(s).

- P -
P&D
Pickup and delivery.

Payload
Weight of the cargo being hauled.

Peddle Run
Truck route with frequent delivery stops.

Pigtail
Cable used to transmit electrical power from the tractor to the trailer. So named because it is coiled like a pig's tail.

Piggyback
Semitrailer built with reinforcements to withstand transport by a railroad flatcar.

Pintle Hook
Coupling device used in double trailer, triple trailer and truck-trailer combinations. It has a curved, fixed towing horn and an upper latch that opens to accept the drawbar eye of a trailer or dolly.

Ply Rating (PR)
Relative measure of tire casing strength. (see Load Range)

Private Carrier
Business which operates trucks primarily for the purpose of transporting its own products and raw materials. The principle business activity of a private carrier is not transportation. (see For-Hire Carrier)

PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch)
In trucking, unit of measurement for tire air pressure, air brake system pressure and turbocharger boost.

PTO (Power Takeoff)
Device used to transmit engine power to auxiliary equipment. A PTO often drives a hydraulic pump, which can power a dump body, concrete mixer or refuse packer. Some designs mount to a standard opening on the transmission, while others attach at the front or rear of the engine.

Pull Trailer
Short, full trailer (supported by axles front and rear) with an extended tongue.

Pup Trailer
Short semitrailer, usually between 26 and 32 feet long, with a single axle.


- R -
Relay (Relay Driving)
Common practice in the less-than-truckload industry, in which one driver takes a truck for 8 to 10 hours, then turns the truck over to another driver, pony express style.

Reefer
Refrigerated trailer with insulated walls and a self-powered refrigeration unit. Most commonly used for transporting food.

Retarder
Device used to assist brakes in slowing the vehicle. The most common type of retarder on over-the-road trucks manipulates the engine's valves to create engine drag. (This type is commonly referred to as "Jake Brake" because the predominant manufacturer is Jacobs Vehicle Equipment Co.) Other types of retarders include exhaust retarders, transmission-mounted hydraulic retarders and axle-mounted electromagnetic retarders.

RFG (Reformulated Gasoline)
Gasoline blended with pollution reducing additives.

RoadRailer
Semitrailer specially designed to travel both on highway and on rails. Manufactured by Wabash Corp.

Rolling Radius
Tire dimension from center of the axle to the ground; measured with tire loaded to rated capacity. Used in calculating geared speed.

RPM (Revolutions Per Minute)
Measure of the speed at which a shaft spins. Most often used to describe engine crankshaft speed. Indicated by a tachometer.

Runaway Truck Ramp
Emergency area adjacent to a steep downgrade that a heavy truck can steer into after losing braking power. Usually two or three lanes wide and several hundred feet long, the ramp is a soft, gravel-filled pathway which absorbs the truck's forward momentum, bringing it to a safe stop. Depending on the surrounding terrain, the ramp may be level or run up or down hill.

- S -
Semitrailer
Truck trailer supported at the rear by its own wheels and at the front by a fifth wheel mounted to a tractor or dolly.

Setback Axle
Front steering axle moved rearward from the generally accepted standard position. Advantages: Shorter turning radius and more of a vehicle's weight shifted to front axle.

Shipping Weight
"Dry" weight of a truck including all standard equipment, but excluding fuel and coolant.

Single-Source Leasing
Service in which companies can lease drivers and trucks from the same source, rather than having to procure them from different companies.

Sleeper
Sleeping compartment mounted behind a truck cab, sometimes attached to the cab or even designed to be an integral part of it.

Sleeper Team
See Team.

Sliding Fifth Wheel
Fifth wheel mounted to a mechanism that allows it to be moved back and forth for the purpose of adjusting the distribution of weight on the tractor's axles. Also provides the capability to vary vehicle combination lengths.

Sliding Tandem (Slider)
Mechanism that allows a tandem axle suspension to be moved back and forth at the rear of a semitrailer, for the purpose of adjusting the distribution of weight between the axles and fifth wheel.

Speedability
Top speed a vehicle can attain as determined by engine power, engine governed speed, gross weight, driveline efficiency, air resistance, grade and load.

Spoke Wheel
See Cast Spoke Wheel.

Spread Axle (Spread Tandem)
Tandem axle assembly spaced further apart than the standard spacing of 54 inches. The U.S. federal bridge formula favors trailer axles with an eight or nine foot spread by allowing higher weight than on tandems with standard spacing.

Straight Truck
See Truck.

SUV
Sport/utility vehicle.

Synchronized Transmission
Transmission with built-in mechanisms to automatically "equalize" the speed of its gears to allow smooth shifting without the need to double-clutch.

- T -
Tag Axle
See Axle.

Tare Weight
See Chassis Weight.

Tandem Axle (Tandems)
Pair of axles and associated suspension usually located close together. (see Spread Axle)

Team (Driver Team)
Team of two drivers who alternative driving and resting.

TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit)
Standardized unit for measuring container capacity on ships, railcars, etc.

TL (Truckload)
The quantity of freight required to fill a trailer; usually more than 10,000 pounds. (see LTL)

TL Carrier
Trucking company which dedicates trailers to a single shipper's cargo, as opposed to an LTL (Less Than Truckload) carrier which transports the consolidated cargo of several shippers and makes multiple deliveries. (see LTL Carrier)

TOFC (Trailer On Flatcar)
Method of moving cargo which involves transporting semitrailers on railroad flat cars. (see Piggyback)

Tractor
Truck designed primarily to pull a semitrailer by means of a fifth wheel mounted over the rear axle(s). Sometimes called a truck tractor or highway tractor to differentiate from it from a farm tractor.

Tractor Trailer
Tractor and semitrailer combination.

Tri-Axle
Truck, tractor or trailer with three axles grouped together at the rear. (see Tridem)

Tridem
Group of three axles on a truck, tractor or trailer. Tridems are most common on European semitrailers.

Trip Leasing
Leasing a company's vehicle to another transportation provider for a single trip.

Trip Recorder (On-Board Computer)
Cab-mounted device which electronically or mechanically records data such as truck speed, engine rpm, idle time and other information useful to trucking management.

Truck
Vehicle which carries cargo in a body mounted to its chassis, rather than on a trailer towed by the vehicle.

Twins (Twin Trailers)
See Doubles.

- U -
ULEV
Ultra-low emissions vehicle.

Upper Coupler
Load bearing surface on the underside of the front of a semitrailer. It rests on the fifth wheel of a tractor or dolly and has a downward-protruding kingpin which is captured by the locking jaws of the fifth wheel.

- V -
VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
Assigned by the manufacturer, this number is unique to each vehicle and appears on the vehicle's registration and title.

VMRS (Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards)
Set of codes developed to facilitate computerized tracking of parts and labor used in equipment repair. Established and maintained by the American Trucking Associations.

- W -
Walking Beam Suspension
Type of truck and tractor rear suspension consisting of two beams, one at each side of the chassis, which pivot in the center and connect at the front to one axle of a tandem and at the rear to the other axle.

WIM (Weigh-In-Motion)
Technology for determining a vehicle's weight without requiring it to come to a
complete stop.

- Y -
Yard Jockey
Person who operates a yard tractor.

Yard Tractor (Yard Mule)
Special tractor used to move trailers around a terminal, warehouse, distribution center, etc.


November 17, 2010

"Faces of Distracted Driving" aims to highlight dangers of Georgia trucking accidents

The U.S. Department of Transportation today launched "Faces of Distracted Driving," an online video series meant to convey the tragic consequences of text messaging and cell phone use while driving. The move comes on the heals of a final rule preventing truckers from text messaging while driving, as part of the government's fight to reduce the risk of trucking accidents in Georgia and elsewhere.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 5,500 motorists were killed last year and 500,000 more were injured in accidents caused by distracted driving.

"Statistics never tell the whole story -- behind these numbers are children, parents, neighbors and friends," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "No message or call is worth the risk. So when you get in the car, buckle up and put your cell phone in the glove compartment."

Late last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued its final rule barring truck drivers nationwide from text messaging while behind the wheel.

Sanctions for violations include fines of up to $2,750 for drivers and $11,000 for carriers. A violation may also impact the ability of a driver to renew his commercial driver's license. Statistics show commercial drivers who text message are 23 percent more likely to be involved in an accident or near accident.

Our Atlanta injury attorneys reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, that truckers were 7 times more likely to be involved in an accident, particularly newer or inexperienced drivers.

Continue reading ""Faces of Distracted Driving" aims to highlight dangers of Georgia trucking accidents" »

November 12, 2010

Data recorders ordered for company charged with violating hours-of-service rules, increasing risk for tractor-trailer accidents

A trucking company with more than 700 tractor-trailers on the road has been ordered by the federal government to install on-board recorders in all of its trucks for violating hours-of-service rules and commercial driver's license requirements, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Our Atlanta tractor-trailer accident attorneys previously reported on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog that safety advocates have pushed for the data recorders -- similar to the black boxes used in airplanes -- for years.
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Instead, the government relies largely upon the honor system and written log books to track whether drivers are complying with hours of service rules aimed at keeping other motorists safe on the road.

In this case, JBS Carriers, of Greeley, Colo., was also required to pay $81,780 in fines. The electronic recorders must be installed on all of the company's trucks by March 2011.

"Safety is our highest priority," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We will not tolerate commercial carriers that put people at risk by placing unsafe, unlicensed drivers behind the wheel and evading hours-of-service rules."

The FMCSA also talked tough on enforcement.

"FMCSA will continue to use every resource at its disposal to pursue carriers that jeopardize road safety by failing to adhere to federal safety regulations," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro.

In its final ruling last month, the agency responsible for overseeing the nation's trucking industry cited JBS Carriers with 102 counts of falsifying drivers' records and three counts of allowing a suspended, revoked or canceled commercial driver to operate a commercial vehicle.

The trucking company must also initiate safety training for all current and future truckers and improve oversight.

The on-board recorders automatically record the number of hours a driver spends operating a vehicle. The hours-of-service regulations are designed to prevent crashes and fatalities by mandating rest periods for drivers, many of whom are paid by the mile.

Continue reading "Data recorders ordered for company charged with violating hours-of-service rules, increasing risk for tractor-trailer accidents" »

November 4, 2010

Failed trauma center measure leaves motorists at grave risk in Georgia trucking accidents

Voters have rejected an amendment that would have funded new and improved trauma centers through a $10 tax added to vehicle registrations, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

As our Georgia accident attorneys reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, the lack of trauma centers is a serious issue for anyone involved in an accident, but particularly for those who are injured in a crash with a semi or other large commercial truck.
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Victims of Atlanta tractor-trailer accidents may have immediate access to high-quality trauma centers, but those in other parts of the state -- particularly the long southern stretch to the Florida border, may be a half hour or more away from a quality trauma center capable of dealing with the type of life-threatening injuries that frequently accompany a Georgia trucking accident.

Many people live 50 miles or more from the nearest trauma center. And the measure's failure means new construction and/or upgrades to the state's trauma centers are unlikely to occur anytime soon.

"We're headed into an era of uncertainty as far as the trauma system goes," Kevin Bloye, a spokesman for the Georgia Hospital Association, told the AJC. "The state budget is in crisis and as much as we remain committed to bolstering the trauma system, we're not optimistic."

Because of their extreme weight (typically 20 times more than a passenger car), an accident with a semi frequently leads to very serious or fatal injuries for the occupants of passenger cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported one out of every nine traffic fatalities involves an accident with a large truck. In 2008, a total of 4,229 motorists were killed and more than 90,000 were injured in accidents with large trucks. Three-quarters of accident victims were either occupants of passenger vehicles or were other motorists on the road, including bicyclists and pedestrians.

Seventeen of Georgia's hospitals are designated as trauma centers, far short of the 25 to 30 that health officials say are necessary. The state's death rate from trauma is 20 percent higher than the national average, costing 700 additional lives per year.

Continue reading "Failed trauma center measure leaves motorists at grave risk in Georgia trucking accidents" »

October 27, 2010

Fatal Georgia trucking accident blamed on congestion; semi slams into stopped traffic near Port Wentworth

A massive Georgia semi accident on I-95 Thursday morning resulted when the tractor-trailer plowed into a line of stopped vehicles and was a disaster waiting to happen, Port Wentworth officials told the Savannah Morning News.

A Port Wentworth captain said the area's growth has led to congestion around Ga. exit 21, which has turned northbound I-95 into a parking lot. Rescue workers responded shortly before 6 p.m. after reports that a tractor trailer had compacted a small pickup after ramming it from behind. The semi pushed the little truck into a larger one, before shoving it into the woods. A Honda CRV was also sent spinning toward the median.
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The 41-year-old Statesboro woman driving the small pickup was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Georgia Highway Patrol.

Investigators say the semi crested a hill at 65 mph to find traffic at a dead stop.

Even under the best of circumstances, the extreme weight of many large commercial trucks means they often require much more room to stop than a typical passenger vehicle. That same weight can be devastating in the event of an accident with a passenger car. In this case, an Atlanta injury lawyer will also look at the road design, to see whether state or local officials should have made changes -- something as simple as a caution sign before the hill crest may have helped prevent such a tragedy.

Regardless, it is incumbent upon the truck driver to maintain assured clear distance ahead. This is one of several recent high-profile tragedies to occur nationwide involving trucks that plowed into stopped traffic.

-Just last weekend, a trucking accident in North Carolina killed five people after a semi plowed into a group of cars stopped for a dump truck accident on I-26. WHKP reported. The trucker faces multiple counts of involuntary manslaughter.

-Earlier this year, what is being called the worst motorcycle accident in Arizona history -- and one of the worst ever to occur nationwide -- happened when a dump truck plowed into eight motorcycles stopped at a red light, Clutch & Chrome reported.

Four of the riders were killed and five others were seriously injured. Some of the riders were dragged more than 50 yards on their motorcycles. Some of the motorcycles burst into flames and three of the riders were still trapped beneath the sanitation dump truck when it finally stopped.

Continue reading "Fatal Georgia trucking accident blamed on congestion; semi slams into stopped traffic near Port Wentworth" »

October 19, 2010

Parents can help teenagers avoid Georgia trucking accidents by talking about dangers during Teen Safe Driving Week

As part of Teen Safe Driving Week (Oct. 17-24) our Georgia trucking accident lawyers urge parents to take a moment to specifically speak with their young drivers about safe driving around commercial trucks, semis, buses and other large vehicles on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also encouraging you to talk with your teenager about other poor driving decisions, including drunk driving, distracted driving, and failure to wear seat belts.
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There may be no worse combination on the road than teens and large truck. Teenagers are involved in about 1 in 8 fatal crashes while large commercial trucks are involved in 1 in 9 deadly accidents on the road.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 20. In 2008, more than 6,400 motorists were killed in accident involving teenagers. Fatal Georgia car accidents involving teenagers claimed 233 lives that year.

CBS Atlanta reports that lawmakers are again debating the need to toughen teen driving laws after a 17-year-old driving a speeding Porsche slammed into a vehicle carrying the daughter and granddaughter of Roy Barnes, the Democratic candidate for governor. As if this is a new issue they are hearing about for the first time.

Meanwhile, 380,000 large trucking accidents killed 4,229 motorists and injured more than 90,000.

A study released for Teen Safe Driving Week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that parents need to do a better job of helping teenagers learn how to handle challenging driving situations, including driving in heavy traffic and bad weather. We would put driving around semis squarely into that category. The extreme weight of a semi makes it unlikely a teenager will survive a serious accident. Their length makes passing them a challenge. And their height makes seeing around them difficult even in the best of circumstances.

The following safety tips are adapted from information provided by Road Safe America, an organization founded by parents who lost a child in an accident with a large commercial truck:

-Use extra caution when approaching a large truck on the road.

-Stay out of a truck's blink spots. If you cannot see a driver's side mirrors, he cannot see you. One-third of all accidents involving semis occur in blind spots.

-Do not attempt to pass a truck on the right when it is turning right. A truck must swing wide to the left to safely make a right-hand turn.

-Do NOT try to cut in front of any large vehicle. They require far longer to stop. And survival in such collision is unlikely for motorists in a passenger vehicle.

-When passing a large truck or bus on the highway, use proper form. Accelerate smoothly and maintain consistent speed while passing. Wait until you can see the entire cab in your rearview mirror before merging back in front of a truck.

-Observe a truck driver's turn signals.

-Give trucks at least 4 to 6 seconds of space.

-Notify authorities of unsafe driving.

-Do not try to cut a truck off to make your highway exit or turn

Continue reading "Parents can help teenagers avoid Georgia trucking accidents by talking about dangers during Teen Safe Driving Week" »

October 15, 2010

Trucker charged with DUI after Georgia semi accident involving deputy sheriff

A trucker is out of a job after a Georgia trucking accident in which he clipped a Georgia deputy sheriff's vehicle in Coweta County, as well as the vehicle the sheriff had stopped for speeding, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

The 36-year-old driver had been employed by Bluefield Transport for about a year but was fired after the Wednesday incident, which occurred on I-85 two miles south of the Moreland exit. The deputy was on the passenger side of the stopped vehicle and was in the process of collecting information from the driver when the rig reportedly sideswiped both vehicles. Other deputies followed his truck to a nearby truck stop and detained him until the Georgia State Patrol could arrive.

This video from Fox 5 Atlanta shows the crash.


The trucker was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs; a search of his truck found several prescription medications on the floorboards. As we have reported on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, truck drivers are unfortunately permitted to consume many types of narcotic pain medication that would be refused to airline pilots on the job. Thankfully, this driver was taken off the road on a driving under the influence charge before someone was killed.

The company said the driver had passed his previous drug screens, which were performed by the company, as well as drug screening required by the federal Department of Transportation.

Continue reading "Trucker charged with DUI after Georgia semi accident involving deputy sheriff" »

October 7, 2010

Sleeping trucker may have caused fatal Georgia trucking accident

A 48-year-old trucker was killed in a Georgia tractor-trailer accident when his tanker truck flipped over on U.S. 27, the Rome News-Tribune reported.

The Lincoln, Alabama man died Tuesday in the single-vehicle accident just inside the Polk County line. He was traveling northbound on U.S. 27 when his truck left the highway, traveled 400 feet through brush, and finally overturned, scattering ash along the pavement, according to the Georgia Highway Patrol.
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Police arrive on the scene shortly before 8:20 a.m. There were no skid marks on the highway to indicate that the driver had ever applied the brakes. Police believe he could have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Thankfully, no motorists were involved in this crash. As our Georgia trucking accident lawyers frequently report, innocent motorists are most often injured or killed in accidents with large commercial trucks. In 2008, one out of nine fatal traffic accidents on the nation's roads involved large trucks. A total of 380,000 large trucks were involved in accidents, killing 4,229 people and injuring more than 90,000, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of those killed, 3,139 were occupants of other vehicles and 413 were non-occupants, such as bicyclists or pedestrians.

A study by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that 78 percent of 159 commercial long-haul truck drivers studied had sleep apnea, a fatigue-causing sleep disorder.

"When 78 percent of the people coming toward you on the road in 40-ton trucks have such a disorder, you have a problem," says psychiatrist William Dement, director of the Sleep Research Centre and senior author of the study.

As far back as 1997, safety advocates have pushed for trucks to be equipped with data recorders to keep track of driving hours and ensure that truckers are not violating laws governing how many hours a day they can drive and how many hours a week they can remain behind the wheel. Those laws are in place to protect the public but compliance, when it is checked at all, relies upon a drivers hand-written log book.

Cost of installing the computers would be less than $1,000 per truck, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Continue reading "Sleeping trucker may have caused fatal Georgia trucking accident" »

September 28, 2010

Study finds distracted truckers are 7 times more likely to be involved in an Atlanta semi accident

SmartDrive Systems found that using a hand-held device, such as a cell phone to text message or a GPS device, is the leading cause of distracted driving among truck drivers.

As our Atlanta semi accident attorneys reported earlier this month on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, haz-mat drivers were recently included in a federal law that bans all commercial truck and bus drivers from text messaging while behind the wheel.
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After hand-held devices, the second most-common form of distraction among commercial truck drivers is eating/drinking/smoking; talking on a cell phone came in third. SmartDrive Systems says the information comes form the 34 million records in the world's larges database of risky driving incidents. The study group included more than 20,000 commercial drivers.

The recent study included an analysis of collisions or near-collisions and what behavior led up to those events. SmartDrive safety evaluators looked at in-cab video in the 15 seconds leading up to the event to determine the most common forms of distracted driving.

Nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration blames about 5,000 deaths a year and 500,000 injuries on some form of distracted driving. An experienced personal injury lawyer or wrongful death attorney can help determine whether a Georgia tractor-trailer accident was caused by distracted driving. Commercial drivers are also subject to compliance with a host of other state and federal rules regarding hours of service and other factors that should also be reviewed by an experienced accident attorney.

The Smart Drive Distracted Driving Index found that 5 percent of new drivers were responsible for about one-third of all distracted driving incidents in a recent three-month period, including 57 percent of all mobile phone incidents and 47 percent of hand-held device incidents. The study found that commercial drivers with the highest incidents of distracted driving behavior were 7.4 times more likely to be involved in a collision or near collision.

Continue reading "Study finds distracted truckers are 7 times more likely to be involved in an Atlanta semi accident" »

September 25, 2010

Lack of trauma centers a serious issue in the wake of a Georgia trucking accident

The lack of Georgia trauma centers is bad news for those involved in a semi tractor-trailer accident south of Atlanta, or other serious traffic collision elsewhere in Georgia, CBS News reported.

Our Georgia trucking accident lawyers frequently report the high risk of serious or fatal injury accidents involving commercial trucks. In 2008, 380,000 large trucks were involved in accidents on the road that claimed more than 4,000 lives, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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More than three-quarters of those killed were occupants of other vehicles. Another 64,000 passenger car occupants were seriously injured. The 179 deaths reported in Georgia make our state one of the nation's deadliest.

But the state has just 16 trauma centers to serve nearly 10 million people. And on the 230 miles stretch from Atlanta to the Florida border, a motorist who suffers life-threatening injuries in an accident is likely to be 50 miles or more from the nearest trauma center.

An initiative on the November ballot will ask whether motorists wish to add $10 to the cost of vehicle registration in order to add more trauma centers across the state and increase the training of first responders. The initiative is estimated to bring in $80 million during its first year.

“We estimate that we need at least 30 (trauma centers) because there are many areas in Georgia that are hugely underserved that do not have access to a trauma center,” trauma coordinator with the Atlanta Medical Center trauma coordinator Rochella Mood told CBS.

She said 700 patients die each year in Georgia because they do not receive treatment fast enough.

Continue reading "Lack of trauma centers a serious issue in the wake of a Georgia trucking accident" »

September 24, 2010

Large Vans Subject to Rollover

The alarming rate of deadly crashes involving 15- passenger vans has been the subject of calls for action by consumer groups for years. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration show there were 1,090 fatalities between 1997 and 2006 in 15-passenger vans, 688 of those in rollovers.

Recently, it was reported that a church van of this type blew a tire and rolled over on the New York state Thruway. Six people were killed in this incident. Fourteen people from a Bronx church, the Joy Fellowship Christian Assemblies, were on their way to a church event near Schenectady when the tire burst and the van hurtled out of control on the Thruway near Woodbury, about 55 miles from New York City. The van rolled over into the grassy median, and several passengers were ejected.

Public safety advocacy groups such as Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety have been advocating for years for recalls, retrofits and redesigns of 15-passenger vans on the grounds that they are unstable.

Ford Motor Co., which made the 1997 Econoline that crashed, said Monday that government research showed the van is safe when properly maintained, driven safely by experienced drivers and when occupants wear their safety belts. Other manufacturers including General Motors Co., and Chrysler also have made 15-passenger vans.

Joan Claybrook, a Public Citizen board member and a former administrator of NHTSA, said it was "a criminal act for the manufacturers to make these 15-passenger vans. They knew they were unstable and could roll over,"

In a 202 letter to NHTSA, which accompanied Public Citizen's report, Claybrook noted that because such vans are often used by churches, schools, sports teams, and eldercare centers. It suggested that manufacturers retrofit such vans with four tires rather than two on each rear axle to improve stability.

Neither the manufacturers nor NHTSA imposed such a requirement.
However, NHTSA has issued safety recommendations for using a 15-passenger van, including checking tires and tire pressure, using drivers with specific training on the vans and seating people near the front when the van is not full.

According to the safety advocacy groups, the 15-passenger vans are inherently unsafe because they have a high center of gravity to start with, and when they're fully loaded it's even higher, so they have a tendency to roll over.

A blown tire can unbalance the vehicle since the blown tire is lower, even just a few inches, and the load shifts toward that point. That shift of weight can be enough to cause a roll over.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a 2002 report on van rollovers after studying 20 years' worth of crashes. It concurred that fully loading such vans affected safety, finding the rollover rate for fully loaded or nearly loaded 15-passenger vans is about three times the rollover ratio of vans with fewer than five passengers.

September 18, 2010

Fewer truckers killed in semi accidents in 2009; number of motorists killed yet to be determined

Fewer truck drivers were killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2009 as the nation recorded the fewest overall accidents since 1950, according to statistics just released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A total of 33,808 were killed on the nation's roads last year, down 9.7 percent from the 37,423 deaths reported in 2008. A total of 33,186 were killed in 1950. Injuries also declined for the 10th straight year, dropping to 2.217 million from the 2.346 million reported in 2008.
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The number of truck occupants killed in large trucking accidents declined to 503, from the 682 deaths reported in 2008. That 26 percent decline was the sharpest drop recorded in any accident category; a 16 percent drop in motorcycle fatalities was second. A total of 17,000 truck occupants were injured in trucking accidents in 2009, also a decline of 26 percent from the 23,000 injured in 2008.

Our Georgia semi accident lawyers will be interested to see the breakout of state-by-state accident rates, which will be released in the coming weeks. While a large part of the decline is likely attributable to the downturn in the economy and fewer large trucks on the road, Georgia, and particularly the Atlanta area, remains a dangerous place for trucking accidents.

And truck occupants are the least likely to be injured in a semi accident. In 2008, fewer than 700 of the 4,229 people killed in accidents with large trucks were truck occupants. The vast majority --3,139 -- were occupants of other cars. Those figures have also not yet been released. That same year, 179 large trucks were involving in fatal Georgia trucking accidents. Only California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas recorded more deadly semi accidents.

“Today’s announcement shows that America’s roads are the safest they’ve ever been," U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "But they must be safer. And we will not rest until they are.”

Accidents remain the leading cause of death for those ages 3 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Continue reading "Fewer truckers killed in semi accidents in 2009; number of motorists killed yet to be determined" »

September 11, 2010

New Hours Of Service Rules Pending In Washington For Truckers

Georgia injury lawyers know well the serious injuries and wrongful deaths people suffer as a result of motor vehicle accidents; however, perhaps the most catastrophic accident is one involving tractor trailers. Some of the reasons for trucking accidents being such horrible accidents are plain to see. The size and weight of the trucks and cargo have the capacity to do tremendous harm if they are driven recklessly, negligently or under dangerous conditions. These accidents happen for a variety of reasons: Unbalanced or shifting loads, brake or steering failures due to improper maintenance, and collision avoidance are just a few plausible scenarios. But all too often the operator of the truck has exercised poor judgment because of fatigue and a desire to push ahead a few extra miles before taking a legally required break.

Because of a persistent push for changes to federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules for long-haul truckers by advocacy groups significant progress for highway safety may finally come about. Under a new rule issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the United States government agency responsible for regulating interstate trucking the nation’s 3.5 million truck drivers will be limited to driving only 11 hours and working no more than 14 hours each day. The new federal rule requires all truck drivers to spend at least 10 hours resting between shifts before being allowed back on the road. Drivers also cannot operate a truck if they have worked more than 60 hours in a given week. Under the new rules , drivers that rest for at least 34 hours can also reset their weekly work schedule.

Unfortunately despite these new rules tractor-trailer accidents will still cause tragedies on Georgia highways and roads. Serious injury victims and families of fatal truck accidents should seek timely advice about their legal options from attorneys who are experienced in truck accident litigation.

Continue reading "New Hours Of Service Rules Pending In Washington For Truckers" »

September 10, 2010

Trucking Technology In Collision Investigation

Tractor-trailers are huge machines. Some can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and, when travelling at highway speeds they can create carnage in a collision, leading to serious injuries and death.

Unfortunately, few people injured in tractor-trailer collisions hire competent legal counsel immediately after the collision. Most trucking companies and their insurers have accident investigation teams which are dispatched immediately after a crash to the scene. These accident investigation teams immediately begin to collect and preserve evidence, identify and take statements from witnesses, and reconstruct the accident. Their entire focus, while ostensibly to determine the cause of the accident, is to protect the trucking company and the insurer.

Our experience has been, that despite the immediate collection of evidence, and accident scene investigation by insurance company and trucking company investigation teams, many instances of undiscovered, undocumented, and destroyed evidence can be found by competent counsel working for injured parties.

Trucking cases are not run-of-the-mill automobile cases. They require attorneys who are skilled and knowledgeable in the mechanics and technology of large trucks, have a working understanding of the trucking industry, and are versed in the federal and state regulations governing large trucks.

Trucking technology, if understood and applied properly, can not only assist plaintiff’s counsel in determining the actual cause of a collision, but in many cases can prevent these deadly collisions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 93% of all accidents involve driver error, with the majority related to driver inattention. NHTSA research also shows that one extra second of warning could prevent up to 99% of rear end collisions.

Advanced accident avoidance systems are available and, and though not presently required by law or regulation, failure to implement the technology could be admissible in the right case as evidence of negligence on the part of the trucking company.

There are several types of warning systems which can provide data as to what warnings were given and what conditions were detected. Unfortunately, these systems can be ignored or rendered inoperable.

In many of our cases, the tractors are equipped with onboard computers, which can tell the speed of the tractor trailer at the time of the collision, which have been rendered inoperable or never activated. If operable at the time of a collision these computers can be downloaded to give critical data about the cause of the collision. Especially important is the speed readings of the vehicle which can be recorded just prior o a hard braking incident or collision.

Forward, side, and rear object detection systems monitor the roadway and potential hazards around the tractor-trailer. These systems sweep the roadway in front, on the side, and to the rear of the tractor trailer. By monitoring these conditions, a truck driver can establish safe intervals ahead of the vehicle. With the many distractions faced by drivers, a warning of an approaching object can save many lives. Also, these systems work in inclement weather, giving the driver a greater ability to see through fog, rain, snow or sleet.

Rear object detection systems monitor a specific area behind a tractor trailer. They detect objects and provide warnings to drivers when they approaching an object behind a vehicle while in reverse. These systems assist the driver in avoiding collisions during backing or parking maneuvers. Loadings and crush injuries can be avoided by monitoring these devices. Most are functional for 20-30 feet behind a tractor trailer.

Lane departure warning systems are in-vehicle electronic systems that monitor the position of the vehicle within a roadway lane and warn a driver if the vehicle deviates or is about to deviate outside the lane. With the increasing dangers presented by fatigued driving, these lane departure warning systems can prevent many deaths on the highways of the United States.

The currently available lane departure warning systems are forward looking, vision based systems that use algorithms to interpret video images, to estimate vehicle position, and roadway alignment. These systems warn the driver of a lane departure when the vehicle is travelling above a certain speed and the vehicle’s turn signal is not in use. In addition, these systems notify the driver when lane markings are inadequate for detection or if the system malfunctions. The systems do not take any automatic action to avoid a lane departure or to control the vehicle. The driver remains responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle. When the vehicle is travelling in close proximity to the center of the lane, it is with the system’s “no warning zone.” In this zone, the system does not issue any position warnings.

Tracking communications systems permit GPS tracking, reconstruction of routes, times, hours of service issues, and they also provide data provided to drivers on the weather and other road conditions. Matching a driver’s log books to satellite positioning data can test the accuracy of the records and perhaps prove that the logs were falsely maintained. This data can include texting data between dispatch and the drivers and can provide documentation of speeding, hard braking, or other safety related issues. These tracking systems also provide safety managers the ability to remotely monitor drivers in the field, and determine their safety habits. Of course, this information is crucial in any tractor-trailer lawsuit.

September 6, 2010

Heavy traffic, Georgia semi accidents a Labor Day danger

Through Sunday, the Georgia State Patrol had investigated 269 Georgia traffic accidents that left 153 injured and killed seven. These numbers represent a significant drop from 2009 numbers, when GSP reported 1,917 crashes involving 867 injuries and 15 deaths, the Georgia Department of Public Safety reports.

But Georgia semi accidents will be a danger through the Labor Day weekend and into the start of the work week, as truckers hit the road after a long weekend, looking to make up for lost time.
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Auto club AAA anticipated a 7.1 percent increase in statewide auto travel this Labor Day, with more than 921,000 Georgia residents traveling 50 miles or more. Travel in the in the South Atlantic region is also expected to tick upward nearly 8 percent, with more than 5.9 million travelers primarily taking to the roads this holiday. “Labor Day typically marks the end of summer travel and we’re seeing more people deciding to take one last summer trip before fall,” said Brent Hubele, Vice President of AAA Travel.

As we noted in a post on our Georgia Trucking Accident Lawyers Blog, the Labor Day weekend is among the deadliest of the year for drivers both statewide and across the nation.

With more than 35 years experience representing Georgia personal injury clients, Finch McCranie truck accident lawyers understand that injuries sustained in a truck or tractor-trailer accident are often more serious and more often fatal due to the force of impact between a truck and passenger vehicle. Aside from more physical damage, truck accident cases are often further complicated by federal and state laws that regulate the trucking industry and can involved multi-state claims with insurance and trucking company ownership.

Continue reading "Heavy traffic, Georgia semi accidents a Labor Day danger" »

August 26, 2010

Heavier Florida semis could mean heavier trucks in Georgia, increased risk of trucking accidents

A new law permits some of the heaviest trucks in the nation to roll down Florida highways, and increases the risk of serious Georgia trucking accidents involving overweight Florida semis.

Road Safe America decried the increase in weight limit -- from 80,000 to 88,000 pounds -- as nothing more than a handout to big business that comes at the expense of motorist safety.
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In most cases, Georgia trucks are limited to 80,000 pounds, though spotty enforcement and small fines often make it worth a driver's risk to increase profits by running heavy.

That 8,000 pounds is a big deal: It adds the weight of two passenger cars to trucks that are barreling down Florida highways at 70 mph. A truck's weight is one of the primary dangers for other motorists on the road. And Florida semis are now heavier than anywhere in America except Idaho, Maine, Washington and North Dakota.

One of nine fatal accidents on the road involves a semi tractor-trailer or other large commercial truck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 380,000 large truck crashes were reported in 2008, leading to the death of 4,229 motorists and injuring more than 90,000 others. Georgia semi accidents claimed 179 lives that year.

Trucking companies claim it makes for more efficient delivery of goods by allowing for fewer trips. Safety advocates aren't buying it.

"The dangers of increasing tractor-trailer truck weights are well known - they are harder to stop, steer and more vulnerable to roll over during a crash," said Tom Guilmet, the Executive Director of the Florida Safety Council. "But, by far, the most compelling objection to heavier trucks is the fact that they will cause more deaths and injuries on our highways."

Continue reading "Heavier Florida semis could mean heavier trucks in Georgia, increased risk of trucking accidents" »

August 20, 2010

Two-week sting faults more than 100 truckers for violating alcohol and drug abuse policies

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced this week that a two-week enforcement sweep has resulted in the removal of 109 commercial bus and truck drivers from the road for violations of drug and alcohol policy.

Our Atlanta accident attorneys have written recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog about the drug testing issue. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has specific requirements for drug testing, including testing in the wake of serious or fatal accidents.
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"If you are a commercial driver or carrier operating in violation of federal drug and alcohol laws, we will remove you from our roadways," said Secretary Ray LaHood. "Parents deserve to know their children are being driven by bus drivers who are drug and alcohol free, and every motorist deserves to feel confident that the drivers of large trucks and buses are safe and sober."

Unfortunately, the issue is more complicated; the federal government continues to permit truckers to work with prescription narcotics in their systems, provided they are under the care of a physician. The same drugs would be refused to an airline pilot. Additionally, while we commend any enforcement effort, we find little solace in the news that a spot check found more than 100 violators.

The crackdown, which ran from June 21 to July 2, will also result in enforcement action against 175 carriers. The government gave no reason why it waited six weeks to issue the results, which were posted on Wednesday.

During the two-week sweep, investigators examined the drug and alcohol records of drivers working for commercial bus and trucking companies, including long-haul truckers, hazardous material transporters, interstate passenger carriers and school bus drivers. The goal was to remove drivers who jump from carrier to carrier to evade testing and reporting requirements.

"FMCSA is committed to ensuring that only safe commercial drivers and carriers are allowed to operate," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "Our annual drug and alcohol strike force is just one of the ways we weed out those 'bad actors' and make our roads safer for everyone."

The more than 100 drivers identified in the sweep could face fines and revocation of their commercial driver's licenses. Both the drivers and the carriers will have an opportunity to contest the charges.

We are curious about whether the FMCSA will follow these cases through to conclusion and report back about how many of these truckers were ultimately prohibited from returning to work. Our Georgia trucking accidents lawyers think it's likely most, if not all, will continue working during the appeals process and will ultimately remain on the road.

Continue reading "Two-week sting faults more than 100 truckers for violating alcohol and drug abuse policies" »

August 15, 2010

Tractor-Trailer Post Accident Drug And Alcohol Testing

Georgia injury lawyers who handle trucking cases know that depending on the circumstances of a tractor-trailer accident, a trucking company is required to have a driver tested for the presence of drugs and alcohol in his/her system. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has specific rules governing when these tests are required.

These regulations provide that a trucking company must perform a drug and alcohol test on a driver whenever he is involved in an automobile accident resulting in a fatality. Testing is also required when the investigating officer issues a citation to the driver involved in the accident and the accident causes bodily injury requiring immediate treatment away from the accident scene or the accident causes disabling damage to any motor vehicle which must be towed from the scene. Disabling damage does not include damage which can be remedied at the scene without special tools or parts, tire damage without any other damage, headlight or taillight damage, or damage to turn signals, horn or windshield wipers. The post-accident testing should occur as soon as practicable after the accident. A motor carrier’s cancellation of a scheduled post accident test is admissible as evidence tending to show that the carrier was trying to conceal the driver’s potential use of alcohol or controlled substances.

Recently, we represented the victim of a tractor-trailer accident in a serious injury case which involved this issue. The truck driver in that case was never tested as required. The trucking company simply told him to go get tested but never took him for the drug test. Accordingly, although they did not “cancel" a post accident drug test, they did nothing affirmative to make sure that he was tested. The regulations clearly put the onus of compliance on the trucking company.

Continue reading "Tractor-Trailer Post Accident Drug And Alcohol Testing" »

August 13, 2010

Woman seriously injured after Newnan, Georgia tractor-trailer accident

A woman was injured Friday morning in a Georgia trucking accident when her car was involved in a collision with a semi, the Newnan Times-Herald reported.

She was transported to an Atlanta hospital in unknown condition following the accident, which occurred at about 9:30 a.m., according to the Georgia State Patrol.

The patrol reports that the 18-wheeler was traveling south on Highway 85 when the driver attempted to turn left onto Highway 16. The tractor-trailer turned directly into the path of the woman's Acura Integra, which was heading north on Highway 85.

The victim was trapped in her car and had to be extricated by emergency personnel. She was transported by medical helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital. The driver of the semi was not hurt.

Unfortunately, this is all too typical of a Georgia semi accident; motorists frequently suffer very serious or fatal injuries while the truck driver walks away unharmed. In 2008, one of every nine fatal traffic accidents in the United States involved a collision with a large truck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

More than 350,000 crashes involving large trucks occur in the United States each year. Fatal trucking accidents have claimed more than 4,000 lives each year for more than a decade. In 2008, a total of 4,066 motorists were killed and more than 66.000 were injured in accidents with large commercial trucks. Georgia trucking accidents killed 179 motorists that year, more than any state except California, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania.

In three-quarters of the cases, those killed were occupants of the other vehicle. Only 16 percent involved a truck occupant (another 10 percent involved a pedestrian or victim other than a vehicle occupant).

Continue reading "Woman seriously injured after Newnan, Georgia tractor-trailer accident" »

August 10, 2010

Use Of Controlled Substances By Tractor-Trailer Drivers

Unfortunately, the use of controlled substances by tractor-trailer drivers, whether prescription drugs or illegal drugs, is more common that one would think. As an example, the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP represented a client who who sustained serious injuries, including a brain injury as a result of a tractor-trailer accident. The client was struck, as a pedestrian, by a tractor-trailer that left the roadway and ran off on the shoulder of the interstate highway. After filing suit against the driver and the trucking company we discovered that the truck driver had sustained a non work related spinal injury months before the collision that left him with low back pain and numbness in one of his legs. He was taking pain medication at the time of the accident.

The regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which governs the operation of commercial trucks, clearly set forth common sense rules prohibiting this conduct. The regulations of the FMCSA provide that a driver cannot use a controlled substance when reporting for or remaining on duty requiring the performance of a safety-sensitive function unless the use of the controlled substance is pursuant to the instructions of a physician, who has advised the driver that the substance will not adversely affect his ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle. A motor carrier may require a driver to disclose any therapeutic drug use related to a medical condition. A driver cannot report for duty, remain on duty or perform a safety-sensitive function if he tests positive for controlled substances. An employer is prohibited from allowing a driver who has used controlled substances or tests positive for a controlled substance to perform or continue to perform a safety-sensitive function.

Continue reading "Use Of Controlled Substances By Tractor-Trailer Drivers" »

August 8, 2010

Commercial Truck Tire Failure - Excessive Heat

Operating a commercial truck, whether it be a tractor-trailer, box truck or a dump truck, with unsafe equipment is a common cause of truck accidents. Catastrophic injuries or death frequently results when negligent behavior or faulty equipment leads to a truck crash.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP recently settled a tragic wrongful death case involving a dump truck that overturned and collided with our client’s car. The collision occurred as a result of a tire blowout on the dump truck. The truck tire failed for two reasons, under-inflation and speeding.

A recent study by The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) demonstrated that the top two types of damage for tire debris fragments found on the roadside were: road hazard (39%) and excessive heat (30%).

It is well known that a primary cause of tire failure is heat buildup. Head buildup in truck tires usually results from under-inflation, overloading, high speed operation or, as was the case in our client’s wrongful death case, a combination of these factors. Also, vehicles operating with low tire air pressure have reduced handling capacity and fuel economy.

Technology in the form of Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) now exists that can monitor tire inflation and warn the driver of unsafe low tire pressure that could result in tire failure. For large trucks that may have a high-pressure air source (air compressor) on board for brakes, a better alternative to TPMS may be central tire inflation (CTI) systems that can automatically keep tire inflated to the proper pressure.

Some of the advances in reducing tire failures on large trucks have begun and this technology will no doubt continue to appear in passenger car tires as time goes on.

August 6, 2010

Unsafe loads a leading cause of Georgia trucking accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has specific cargo securement rules aimed at helping to prevent unsafe loads from causing Georgia trucking accidents and semi accidents nationwide.

Our Atlanta semi accident lawyers frequently address the danger a semi's weight poses to other motorists on the road. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer weighs 80,000 pounds -- about 20 times the weight of a passenger vehicle. And a semi typically takes three times longer to stop.
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What we spend less time talking about are the loads. Each type of load carries its own risk. Liquid loads can be challenging, because of the effects of sloshing, and because of the hazardous materials such cargo may contain. Open loads, dump trucks and flatbeds all contain their own unique risks. Frequently a truck may be carrying more than one load, and the handling characteristics will change after offloading. Delivery of a load at the rear of a trailer may also destabilize a load left aboard, or a trucker may fail to properly secure the remaining load before departing for a subsequent destination.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that loads be capable of withstanding significant forces applied from different directions: deceleration in the forward direction; acceleration in the rearward direction; and acceleration in the lateral direction.

The federal safety agency also has specific requirements and rules for securing loads, including:

-Use of securement devices

-The proper use of tiedowns

-The use of unmarked tiedowns

-The use of unmarked and unrated anchor points

-Cargo placement and restraint

-Minimum numbers of tiedowns

-Commodity specific securement requirements

The securement of specialty commodities is a frequent cause of trucking accidents. These can include logs, metal coils, paper rolls, concrete pipes, intermodal containers, automobiles, heavy equipment, scrap metal, roll-on containers and large rocks.

Improper loads frequently lead to serious or fatal accidents. And the loads themselves can cause havoc on the highway when they break loose and become tumbling projectiles. Truckers and trucking companies have an obligation to the safety of motorists to ensure that these loads are properly secured. A motorist who is seriously injured in an accident caused by an unsafe load should be properly compensated.

Continue reading "Unsafe loads a leading cause of Georgia trucking accidents" »

August 3, 2010

North Georgia Truck Accident - Was Driver Fatigue Responsible?

Yesterday, a tractor-trailer accident in north Georgia blocked traffic for hours. The AJC reported that around 4:00 p.m. the tractor-trailer, which had been traveling eastbound on Ga. Hwy 53, left the roadway near a bridge west of Dawsonville and burst into flames. Fortunately no other vehicles were involved and the driver escaped without injury.

Although the cause of this truck accident has not been reported, as Georgia injury lawyers, we wonder whether driver fatigue may be responsible. Many commercial vehicle accidents are caused by a driver’s inattentiveness or fatigue resulting from the operation of the vehicle for an excessive amount of time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations provide time limits by which drivers and their employers must abide. In addition, drivers are required to keep a Drivers Log documenting driving times and rest breaks. Carriers have a duty to monitor their drivers’ logs through an appropriate log verification procedure and to establish proper control of driving time to ensure compliance with the maximum hours of service regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Continue reading "North Georgia Truck Accident - Was Driver Fatigue Responsible?" »

July 30, 2010

Truckers in Georgia not permitted to use medical marijuana, even if it's legal in their home state

The use of medical marijuana by truck drivers will continue to constitute a violation of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced.

It is an important clarification. As our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, truckers are permitted to use narcotic pain relievers and other prescription medication under a doctor's care. The same medication would be refused to a commercial airline pilot.

An announcement last year concerning the fed's tolerance for medical marijuana left open the possibility that truckers could justify smoking marijuana for medical purposes.

The Department of Justice issued a memorandum that essentially said that prosecutors should not spend federal resources in prosecuting cases involving marijuana in situations where a defendant was legally using the drug in accordance with a state's medical marijuana law.

The clarification means that stance will have no bearing on drug testing for truckers.

"Medical Review Officers will not verify a drug test as negative based upon information that a physician recommended that the employee use 'medical marijuana,'" the Department of Transportation said in the announcement. "It remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation's drug testing regulations to use marijuana."

Fourteen states have now legalized marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

And earlier this week, the federal government announced that veterans would not face loss of VA benefits for using medical marijuana.

Continue reading "Truckers in Georgia not permitted to use medical marijuana, even if it's legal in their home state" »

July 28, 2010

Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accident Seriously Injures Man

The Georgia State Patrol is investigating a tractor-trailer accident that occurred on Interstate 85 in Jackson County last Wednesday morning. Although the cause of the accident has not been announced, officials found a vehicle lodged under the rear of the tractor-trailer.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have represented clients in all types of tractor-trailer trucking cases, including what have been called “under-ride” cases. These accidents occur for a variety of reasons. In some of the cases we have seen, the tractor-trailer is not properly illuminated with working lights and required reflective tape and in some of the cases, the trailer had defective or missing safety equipment.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) address all of these issues, including requiring rear guards on the trailers. Specifically, the regulations require that every trailer must have a rear impact guard to protect against a vehicle going under the trailer during a rear impact collision with the except of pole trailers, pulpwood trailers, low chassis vehicles, special purpose vehicles and wheels back vehicles. The FMCSR specifies the required dimensions of rear guards and requires them to be substantially constructed and attached by bolts, welding, or other comparable means. If it breaks in a rear-end collision the carrier can be held liable for improper welding and attachment of the guard. As with any case, it is important to document the condition of the tractor-trailer with photographs and to preserve any physical evidence that is available, including the rear guard.

July 24, 2010

No cause given for fatal Atlanta trucking accident; data recorders would improve safety, assist investigators

A Texas man has been charged with a fatal Atlanta trucking accident that occurred on I-285, Channel 2 reported.

The 43-year-old driver is accused of crossing over the fog line and striking a minivan that was parked in the emergency lane. The Georgia semi accident happened on I-285 near Riverside Drive.

The crash claimed the life of a 44-year-old Sandy Springs motorist. The defendant is charged with a lane violation and second-degree vehicular homicide.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the woman was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Police say the tractor trailer hit the Toyota minivan as it traveled in a westbound lane.

The media has not reported on what caused this accident.

The leading causes of commercial trucking accidents include prescription drug use, speed, unfamiliar with road, over-the-counter medications, distracted driving, fatigue, illegal maneuvers and aggressive driving. As we reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, some safety advocates argue that treating truckers more like pilots would reduce the risk of serious and fatal tractor-trailer accidents on the nation's roads.

Current law permits truckers to use prescription medication under the advice of a doctor and relies upon paper logbook reporting of hours-worked, maintenance, and other safety requirements. Reducing work-hours, and relying upon automatic recorders -- similar to the black boxes we hear about in airliners -- could go a long way toward reducing the number of Georgia semi accidents.

Continue reading "No cause given for fatal Atlanta trucking accident; data recorders would improve safety, assist investigators" »

July 22, 2010

A Carrier's Duty Of Inspection


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require that all trucking companies “systematically inspect, repair and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, or maintained, all motor vehicles subject to its control.” Obviously, this safety regulation is designed to insure that all trucking companies maintain their vehicles in good working order. Carriers must maintain repair and inspection reports, (which have to be filed each day a vehicle is driven), which records must also evidence periodic inspections of each vehicle owned by the motor carrier. A failure of a trucking company to fulfill its repair and maintenance obligations can be an independent basis of liability against the trucking company. Some courts have held that if a motor carrier does not maintain its vehicles in good working order and as a result of such a breach an accident occurs that this can also be the basis of punitive damages against the motor carrier. Essentially, the courts have recognized that putting an unsafe vehicle on the road is a willful and wanton disregard of public safety which justifies punitive damages.

In any case involving a tractor-trailer accident, counsel should subpoena and obtain from the trucking company all of its inspection, maintenance and repair records for the vehicle involved to make sure that the carrier fulfilled its duties under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

July 20, 2010

Safety Regulations And Adverse Weather


Any driver of any vehicle, much less trucks, knows that when the weather is bad extra precaution must be taken in the operation of the vehicle. This is especially true for large tractor-trailer trucks that are much heavier in weight and therefore more difficult to slow down. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require that drivers of motor carriers use “extreme caution” in the operation of trucks during hazardous conditions such as those caused by snow, rain or any other weather event which adversely affects visibility or traction. Speed must be reduced when such conditions exist.

Most state Commercial Driver Licenses Manuals require that truck drivers slow down at least by one-third (⅓) of the posted speed limit in order to insure the safe operation of their heavy tractor-trailer rigs. Because it takes longer to stop and is harder to do so without skidding or losing control if it is raining or snowing, the driver must slow down from 55 to 35, as an example, on any wet road. On packed snow most commercial drivers’ manuals require that speed be reduced by half (½).

The motor carrier safety regulations are very important in helping to establish negligence of a truck driver who is speeding during adverse weather conditions. Even if a truck driver is traveling within the posted speed limit, he may still be in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations because traveling at 55 miles per hour, which may be the posted speed limit in any particular area, may still be too fast for conditions and under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations is too fast for conditions when the weather is adverse.

In any case involving adverse weather conditions, counsel should investigate very carefully whether excessive speed was involved and/or whether the driver and carrier used “extreme caution” for the safety of the motoring public. If not, a proven violation of these safety regulations can help to establish liability against the trucking company and its driver.

July 19, 2010

Georgia Tractor Trailer Accident on Interstate 85

Yesterday, a Georgia tractor-trailer accident shut down Interstate 85 north near Hamilton Mill Road in North Atlanta. The tractor-trailer, which appeared to be loaded with several steel beams, overturned and spilled its load all over the roadway. Fortunately, no injuries were reported and the reason for the crash has not been reported. Given the size of the truck, the size and weight of the cargo, and the fact that the crash occurred in the middle of an Interstate highway, this accident could have resulted in the wrongful death or serious injury of numerous people.

As Georgia injury lawyers who have handled numerous tractor-trailer accident cases over the span of 40 years, we have seen similar accidents which were caused by the load shifting during transit. Often the load was not properly secured. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations clearly outline the carriers responsibilities for proper loading of a truck. Commercial vehicles must be loaded in such a manner as to prevent its cargo from leaking, spilling, blowing or falling from the vehicle. The cargo must be immobilized or secured to prevent shifting to the extent that the vehicle’s stability or maneuverability is affected. There are also specific regulations that deal with specific cargo such as logs, boulders, concrete pipes, metal coils, etc. The driver of a commercial vehicle is charged with the responsibility of making sure that the truck is loaded in compliance with federal law. A driver cannot operate a commercial vehicle unless (1) the load is properly distributed and adequately secured, (2) the means of fastening the cargo is secured, and (3) the cargo does not obscure the drivers view or interfere with the movement of his arms or legs. The Regulations not only require that the driver of a commercial vehicle check the load before beginning the drive but also requires that he must examine the load again within the first 50 miles after beginning a trip and make any adjustments that are necessary to secure it. In addition, the driver must re-examine the load and the devices securing the load when he makes a change of his duty status, after the vehicle has been driven for three(3) hours or after the vehicle has been driven 150 miles, whichever comes first.

July 17, 2010

Tractor Trailer Accident Injures Georgia Man

A Georgia man was injured in a tractor-trailer accident on Tuesday afternoon when a semi truck slammed into the back of his pickup truck. The Postlight Searchlight reported that the accident occurred the accident occurred about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday on U.S. 84 near Brinson, Georgia. Apparently, the pickup truck was following a slow moving front-end loader as an escort when the Volvo tractor trailer came up from behind. When the semi driver realized that he was going to slam into the rear of the pickup, he tried to swerve to miss him. Upon impact, the pickup truck was pushed into the front-end loader and then off the road where in overturned. The semi continued on across the median and came to rest in a wooded area.

Why the tractor trailer driver failed to see and appreciate the slower moving vehicles in front of him is unknown at present; however, a thorough investigation is warranted. Georgia injury lawyers that there many be many factors from distracted driving to driver fatigue to poor maintenance or training that may have led to or contributed to the crash of this tractor trailer.

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July 14, 2010

Tractor Trailer Accident Results In Death Of Georgia Man

Georgia injury lawyers often file serious injury and wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of families of guest passengers, against their host driver in cases, where the host driver was negligent. Although details of the accident are limited, such may have happened last week in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. The Associated press reported that a Georgia man, 45 year old Morris Hamontree, died last Thursday night in a one vehicle tractor-trailer accident in Interstate 10. According to the article, Hamontree was a passenger in the tractor trailer rig which drove off of the highway into the median. It is though that the driver over-corrected and crossed back over the westbound lanes of I-10 before striking a large tree.

When Georgia injury lawyers hear of circumstances such as what has been reported in this case, we always wonder whether driver fatigue could have been a factor. It is a fact that driver fatigue may be the number one safety problem in the trucking industry today, and is a factor in nearly 40% of all crashes nationwide. No doubt there will be a diligent investigation by authorities concerning all of the circumstances surrounding this tragic accident.

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July 9, 2010

Sleep Apnea And Fatigued Truck Drivers

Some of the more enlightened insurance carriers are well aware of the fact that their greatest exposure to liability claims comes from fatigued drivers. Drivers who operate tractor-trailer rigs for an excessive number of hours on long interstate trips are likely to become fatigued and therefore less careful in their operation of these large trucks. Some insurance carriers have conducted sleep apnea tests and have devices that are used to study those who seem to suffer from the ill effects of this disorder. Whether a driver is overweight, snores too much or otherwise is sleep deprived can all have an effect on what is known as sleep apnea. This condition, which can exacerbate pre-existing fatigue, obviously is potentially a danger to the public.

The federal regulations governing truck drivers provides that no driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle while the driver’s ability or alertness is impaired or so likely to become impaired through fatigue, illness or any other cause so as to make it unsafe for him to begin or continue to operate a commercial motor vehicle. In other words, sometimes the driver causes an accident because he is tired and fatigued. If the injured claimant can show that the driver suffered from sleep apnea and the trucking company was aware of this, the injured claimant may be able to establish that the trucking company failed to take appropriate steps to makes sure that its driver complied with federal law.

Because federal law mandates that no fatigued driver may operate a commercial motor carrier if the driver is fatigued or suffers from a condition that can make him so unsafe as to either begin or continue to operate the motor vehicle due to such impaired condition, counsel in these cases should be on the look out for evidence of sleep apnea by the driver. While sleep apnea, of course, does not have to be proven to establish liability for an accident, if it is proven this would be circumstantial evidence which could form the basis of why a particular collision occurred. Fatigued drivers are dangerous drivers and where fatigue is proven to exist, it is more likely than not that it may have been a contributing factor in a particular collision. Again, experienced counsel should look into these matters so as to protect the rights of innocent victims from trucking company negligence.

July 9, 2010

Treating truckers like pilots could reduce the risk of Georgia semi accidents

Road Safe America, a traffic safety organization founded by parents who lost a son in a trucking accident, is pushing for legal changes in the trucking industry to improve safety and reduce the risk large trucks pose to other motorists on the road.

Our Georgia trucking accident lawyers note with interest the organization's comparison of truck drivers to airline pilots -- both take the lives of hundreds of travelers into their hands each time they climb into the driver's seat.

-Age Limit: Pilots must retire at age 65. No such limit exists for truckers, drivers older than 80 remain on the road.

-Prescription drugs: Pilots are forbidden from consuming some prescription narcotics, while truck drivers are permitted to consume narcotics under a doctor's orders.

-Physicals: Pilots are required to under go a physical every six months. Truckers are required to get a physical every two years.

-Hours of work: Pilots are limited to 1,000 hours a year, or 30 hours a week. Truckers can work four-times longer, up to 4,000 hours a year.

-Electronic Tracking: Work hours for pilots are tracked electronically, while trucking regulations entrust truckers with keeping paper records.

-Deaths: Fewer than 100 people have died in airline crashes during the last three years, while more than 15,000 have been killed in trucking accidents and as many as 400,000 motorists have been injured.


Among the changes in the trucking industry that Road Safe America is pushing for:

-Require all trucks to have speed limiters, which would prevent them from traveling faster than 65 mph.

-Require on-board data recorders that will accurately report a driver's driving time, hours of service and location.

-Increase pay for truckers.

-Improve and standardize training requirements.

-Require use of available safety technologies, including collision warning systems, stability control and active braking.

-Limit the use of cruise control.

-Standardize requirements for intrastate (travel within a state) and interstate (travel across country) truckers.

-Increase insurance requirements.

-Require advanced medical screening of truck drivers.

-Limit the ability of truck drivers to consume prescription narcotics, even with a doctor's note.

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July 8, 2010

The MCS-90: An Important Insurance Endorsement In Trucking Cases

We have blogged before about the problem with so-called independent contractors and the attempt by unscrupulous operators to insulate themselves from the negligence of its drivers. To address this problem, Congress amended the Interstate Motor Common Carrier Act to require that a registered motor carrier assume “full direction and control” of leased vehicles. In order to effectuate this responsibility, federal law mandates that insurance policies for all motor common carriers contain an MCS-90 Endorsement. The required language in the form MCS-90 Endorsement is standardized and applies to the operation, maintenance and use of motor vehicles subject to the financial responsibility requirements of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. In essence, those sections apply to motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce. Thus, insurance companies who insure vehicles owned or leased by interstate trucking companies must include the MCS-90 Endorsement in their policy. This endorsement makes the motor carrier responsible for any leased vehicle, so much so as to practically guarantee that an independent contractor argument will fail where such an MCS-90 Endorsement is proven to exist and a lease agreement between the carriers is involved.

The MCS-90 Endorsement applies to interstate motor carriers operating in interstate commerce. State laws are different, but if there is a interstate carrier involved and an interstate shipment is involved as well, an injured individual may claim the benefit of the MSC-90 Endorsement to claim minimum federal limits of liability insurance coverage which typically are $750,000.00. Because the damages caused by collisions with big tractor-trailer rigs are usually more serious than a routine automobile accident, the MCS-90 Endorsement can become extremely important particularly if a third party leased vehicle is involved and the injuries and damages caused by such a negligent operator are serious.

Because of the importance of experienced counsel in these areas, once again, anyone who is injured by a so-called “independent contractor” should confer with counsel as soon as possible to protect their rights. The MCS-90 Endorsement may be the best protection one can have in this context.

July 6, 2010

Stacking Liability Coverage In A Tractor-Trailer Accident


When a tractor-trailer is involved in a serious collision, serious injuries usually are involved, if not wrongful death. The size of these large rigs usually means that the damage involved in a collision will be significant. Accordingly, obviously, a key issue in all of these cases is the nature and extent of available liability insurance coverage to provide redress to innocent third parties who are injured due to the negligence of tractor-trailer trucking companies and their employees.

If a tractor is hauling a trailer for another party, it may be that multiple policies of insurance can be stacked on top of each other to provide for greater coverage for the innocent victim. If a tractor-trailer company has insurance on its tractor and is hauling a trailer that is also involved in the collision and also inflicts damage then the coverage on the trailer and its owner may be stacked on top of the tractor’s coverage to provide for an additional layer of protection to the injured individual. While these cases are all factually specific, nonetheless, this possibility must be thoroughly investigated, particularly where serious injuries or wrongful death cases are involved. Thus, a factual investigation should be undertaken immediately to determine in whose name the tractor is registered as well as in whose name the trailer is registered. Federal and state inquiries must be made of both owners to determine the extent of their involvement in federal registrations and the extent of their coverages. While there may be available coverage under the tractor’s policy which might be sufficient depending upon the nature of the case, when multiple parties are injured in one of these serious collisions, it may take multiple policies to provide redress for all those injured by the negligence of a large tractor-trailer rig.

July 5, 2010

Suing Insurance Companies For Trucking Companies: A Good Option in Georgia

When a trucking company is sued, typically it is sued on the basis of an employer/employee relationship. The truck driver/employee falls asleep due to fatigue and injures an innocent third party on a highway. A lawsuit can be filed in such a case against both the employee and the trucking company. Here in Georgia, there is a statute (O.C.G.A. § 46-7-12) which also permits the injured individual to file a direct action against the insurance carrier for the trucking company. The legislative intent here was to recognize that the insurance contract between the trucking company and the insurance carrier, was in reality, a contract for the benefit of the innocent member of the public injured by the trucking company’s employee. Thus, in an accident where an innocent member of the public is injured by a trucking company operating in interstate commerce, the injured individual may sue either the truck driver alone, the trucking company and the truck driver or all three or any combination thereof.

For strategic reasons, if the jury knows that there is insurance coverage available to provide redress for the injured victim, this may assist the jury in making sure that the injured individual is adequately compensated for their damages without worrying about the economic impact upon the driver and/or the company. Of course, defense attorneys would argue that the availability of such insurance coverage could drive jury verdicts upwards but, this was considered by the Georgia Legislature when this unique statute was passed. Thus, all practitioners should be aware that they have the right to name in a direct action the insurance carrier at the inception of a lawsuit. In Georgia, this rule is quite different from any other rule because by operation of law as a general proposition, one may never sue an insurance carrier until a judgment is first obtained against the insured covered by the insurance contract. The exception is in the trucking context and in that regard the injured victim does have a right to sue the insurance carrier at the beginning of the lawsuit naming the insurance carrier as a defendant. This option should be exercised in most all cases except where there are legitimate reasons to do otherwise.

Because of these unique provisions of Georgia law, again, an injured individual with a claim against an interstate trucking company should confer with experienced counsel as soon as possible to explore all available options.

July 4, 2010

Trucking Liability For So-Called Independent Contractors

For years unscrupulous trucking companies have utilized the services of so-called independent contractors. An employer/trucking company will “hire” an independent contractor to drive a truck on their behalf. If an accident occurs because the leased vehicle is unsafe or is negligently operated, the hiring employer/trucking company will attempt to distance itself from liability by arguing that the negligent truck driver was “an independent contractor” and not an employee. The good news is that there are laws that protect the public from unscrupulous trucking companies that would seek to avoid liability through these independent contractor arguments. The bad news, depending upon the facts, is that such liability might be limited particularly if the independent contractor/trucking company is involved in intrastate commerce and not interstate commerce.

When a legitimate company hires or leases a truck from another third party, the Federal Trucking Regulations make the leased vehicle a statutory employee of the lessor. Thus the lessor’s coverage would apply because the truck driver, by operation of law, becomes the employee of the employing leasing company. The problem is that if the accident occurs in intrastate commerce minimum limits under state law may apply, whereas, if the accident happens in interstate commerce, then federal limits may apply which typically are far greater than state imposed limits of liability.

Anytime there is a leased vehicle involved counsel should be retained immediately. Insurance companies are likely to seek to avoid liability of at all possible under the independent contractor rule and/or under arguments that the trucking lease arrangement was not interstate in character but rather intrastate, thus seeking to minimize the amount of their insurance obligations. As all of these cases involve factually specific issues, which must be fully investigated, again, any victim of a so-called “independent contractor” trucking company should confer with counsel experienced in these areas as soon as possible.

July 3, 2010

Georgia Tractor-Trailer Overturns After Experiencing Brake Failure

Georgia injury lawyers who have handled serious injury and wrongful death cases against trucking companies closely examine any representations made by truck drivers and this is particularly true when it comes to representations made by the safety departments of trucking companies.

This week, CBS.Com published an article about a Georgia trucker employed by Con-Way Freight who was fired after he had a single vehicle truck accident in his 14-wheeler. According to the driver, as he was exiting the expressway on his way to Knoxville, his brakes failed to work resulting in the tractor and both trailers overturning. The driver claimed that he was unaware of any problems with the brakes until he tried to apply them as he got off of the expressway. Interestingly, the Knoxville police came to the conclusion that the brakes had failed and the driver was not at fault for the accident. Accordingly, the driver was not charged with the accident. When the driver returned to work, he was fired.

When the CBS Atlanta reporter contacted Con-Way Freight to inquire about the incident and the firing, he was referred to their corporate communications department who released a statement that said in part, “if for any reason, a driver has any question about the safe operation of a vehicle, the instructions for what to do are crystal clear: pull the vehicle to the side of the road, park it, call operations, and wait for instructions.”

Although Con-way Freight now claims there was nothing wrong with the brakes, this is completely contradicted by the Knoxville police and their former driver. Our experience has shown that when a motorist claims brake failure at the scene of an accident, the authorities always check the vehicle out for themselves as was no doubt done in this case. Fortunately, no one was injured in this accident; however, had that not been the case, it would have been crucial for an immediate inspection to have been made by an expert to document the condition of the truck and trailer.

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July 2, 2010

Georgia injury lawyers wish each of you a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July

The Georgia trucking accident lawyers at Finch McCranie wish each of you a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday and urge you to celebrate responsibly and stay safe on the road.
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State officials believe that 18 people will not survive the weekend, having been involved in a fatal accident on Georgia roads, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Last year, 15 people died in Georgia car accidents over the Fourth of July holiday.

In all, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety estimates more than 2,000 crashes will injure 1,000 motorists and claim 18 lives between now and Monday.

While not every accident is preventable, there are steps motorists can take to stay safe on the road.

“Most of these crashes aren’t just random events caused by too many cars navigating through too much congestion," said Bob Dallas, director of the GOHS. “Drivers need to pay attention to Georgia State Patrol warnings that alcohol, speed and failure to use safety belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes during the holiday travel periods.”
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Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July have been the deadliest holidays on the nation's roads in recent years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Nationwide Holiday Traffic Fatalities in 2008:

New Year's: 104

Memorial Day: 370

Fourth of July: 437

Labor Day: 423

Thanksgiving: 439

Christmas: 364

New Year's Eve: 37


Fatal Holiday Traffic Accidents in Georgia in 2008:

New Year's: 7

Memorial Day: 12

Fourth of July: 16

Labor Day: 13

Thanksgiving: 17

Christmas: 25

Atlanta trucking accidents remain a real threat through the holiday weekend. As a major trucking center, many rigs are expected to be on the roads, either attempting to get home to be with family, or starting a long haul after a short break. Millions of motorists will also pass through Atlanta on their way to visit family or while returning South after the long holiday weekend.

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June 25, 2010

Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accident Injures Five

A Georgia tractor-trailer accident that occurred at about 4:35 a.m. about 3 miles south of Perry has resulted in injury to five occupants of the car it hit. According to an article on Macon.Com, a northbound Federal Express truck, pulling dual trailers came over a rise on Interstate 75 and rear-ended a Nissan passenger car being driven by 51 year old Marie Richardson of Sunrise, Florida. As a result of the collision, the car was pushed off of the roadway where it overturned into a ditch. Three of the backseat passengers were ejected as the car rolled over. According to police, the driver of the tractor trailer said he did not see the car as he came over the rise. The truck driver was charged with following too closely. The victims were taken to The Medical Center of Central Georgia where one is listed in critical condition and the remaining four are in stable condition. Although it is not known why the Federal Express driver failed to see the passenger car he was approaching, it is entirely possible that speed and/or fatigue could have been contributing causes.

Georgia injury lawyers have long since known that driver fatigue may be the number one safety problem in the trucking industry today, and is a factor in nearly 40% of all crashes nationwide. Unfortunately, it is routine practice for many trucking companies to violate the hours of service and related FMCSR safety rules. In our investigation of tractor trailer truck accident cases involving serious injuries or even death we have found that some truck drivers keep “dual” log books. Greedy, profit-driven motives have made driver fatigue in the trucking industry a vast, largely unchecked problem resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children each year.

Tractor trailer accident victims often sustain very severe injuries and incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, not to mention thousands in lost wages. In these cases, it important to retain legal counsel as soon as possible so that a very thorough investigation can be done to discover and document crucial evidence.

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June 25, 2010

Georgia trucking accident seriously injures 5 members of Florida family on I-75

Five people were taken to the hospital after being injured in a Georgia trucking accident on Thursday, Macon.com reported.

The Georgia State Patrol reports that the Perry semi accident happened on I-75 shortly after 4:30 a.m. A 27-year-old trucker, who was driving a Federal Express double-trailer truck, was cited for following too closely. The truck crested a rise in the road and slammed into the back of a Nissan hatchback driven by a 51-year-old Florida woman.

The woman's 55-year-old husband was in the front passenger seat. The couple's two children, ages 20 and 22, were riding in the back with a 69-year-old aunt. All three were ejected as the car rolled into a ditch. The son remained in critical condition Thursday at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. The other family members were reported in stable condition, according to the patrol.

The truck driver was not injured and said he did not see the car as he came over the rise. The height of a semi is one of the many dangerous factors that frequently lead to Georgia tractor-trailer accidents. A truck's extreme weight -- typically more than 20 times the weight of a passenger car -- means motorists don't stand a chance in an accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 1 in 9 fatal accidents in the United States involved a large truck. In 2008, more than 380,000 large trucks were involved in traffic accidents that killed 4,229 people. More than 90,000 were seriously injured.

Georgia semi accidents killed 179 motorists that year. Only California (304), Florida (269) and Texas (421) reported more fatal accidents involving large trucks.

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June 21, 2010

What Is A "Large Truck" and Are They Subject To Higher Accident Rates

Truck accidents are very frequent in the Atlanta, Georgia area, as the highways see very large volumes of truck traffic. One question which we are often asked is “what is a large truck?”

The federal government defines large trucks as those which weigh more than 10,000 pounds and can be either single-unit vehicles or combination vehicles consisting of a single-unit truck or tractor pulling one or more trailers.

The federal commercial vehicle maximum weight standard on the interstate highway system is 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, unless a higher maximum weight existed on the state level before July 1, 1956.

Off the interstate highway system, states may set their own commercial vehicle weight standards. In most states, the maximum permitted length for a single trailer is 53 feet. Tractors pulling two 28-foot trailers are known as twins or western doubles.

Trucks that are even bigger than western doubles are allowed to travel on some roads. These trucks, called longer combination vehicles, either have three trailers or at least two, one of which is 29 feet or longer, or the tractor and two trailers have a combined weight exceeding 80,000 pounds.

Longer combination vehicles are prohibited in many states and are allowed only in states that permitted them prior to June 1, 1991.

Another question which we are often asked is whether large trucks have a higher accident rate.

According to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, on average, drivers of large trucks travel many more miles than passenger vehicle drivers, and a high proportion of those miles are on interstates, which are the safest roads.

In 2008, large trucks accounted for 4 percent of registered vehicles and 8 percent of miles traveled. Per unit of travel, large trucks are involved in more fatal crashes than passenger vehicles — 1.7 crashes per 100 million miles traveled in 2008 for large trucks, compared with compared with 1.4 for passenger vehicles. Large trucks have a much lower rate per mile traveled of crashes resulting in injuries or property damage only compared with passenger cars and light trucks.

Multiple-trailer trucks have more handling problems than single-trailer trucks. In general, the additional connection points contribute to greater instability, which can lead to jackknifing, overturning, and lane encroachments. But the relationship between multiple-trailer trucks and crash risk is not firmly established. A study in Washington state found that doubles (tractors pulling two trailers) were two to three times as likely as other rigs to be in crashes, but a study in Indiana found that doubles did not show increased crash risk except on roads with snow, ice, or slush. One mitigating factor may be that doubles often are operated by drivers with good safety records working for large companies with active safety programs.

June 18, 2010

Georgia trucking company embroiled in injury lawsuit involving 34-vehicle semi accident

The family of a California trucker continues to struggle nearly three years after a horrific 34-vehicle accident, the L.A. Times reported. Authorities blame the crash on a speeding trucker who was driving a tractor trailer with a faulty brake for a Georgia trucking company. The fatal 2007 crash killed 5 in a freeway tunnel near Santa Clarita, California.

This case illustrates the complex nature of personal injury and wrongful death litigation involving serious or fatal semi accidents. A Georgia trucking accident attorney experienced in handling cases involving multiple victims and out-of-state truck drivers and trucking companies should always be called to represent victims of semi accidents in Atlanta or elsewhere in Georgia.

In this case, the victim had scrimped and saved more than $30,000 to buy his own semi and support his family. Now, the family is trying to survive on $60 a day the wife earns as a housekeeper while their personal injury lawsuit is tied up in the California court system. Their attorney said victims in 34 vehicles and the State of California are now involved in the case and "there are so many lawyers in the courtroom it takes half an hour just to read all their names."

Atlanta semi accidents frequently involve out-of-state truckers and trucking companies as well as complex state and federal regulations. But, when multiple victims are involved, hiring an experienced and aggressive law firm becomes critical to fighting for the compensation you and your family deserve.

The Times reports that Saia Motor Freight Line, a Georgia trucking company, has not offered a settlement to the victim's family or the family of two others killed in the crash -- including a father and his 6-year-old son. Now the judge has imposed a stay that prohibits the case from moving forward. The company told the Times that other speeding drivers bear some of the responsibility in the crash, and also claimed that the tunnel was poorly designed.

As one party put it: "Delay is always on the side of the defense."

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June 13, 2010

Atlanta Truck Accident Kills Two-Year Old Child

On June 1st of this year, a young child, age two, by the name of Zion Curney was tragically killed when a tractor-trailer truck crashed into 3 parked cars at an Auto Zone dealership located in northwest Atlanta. While the collision is still under investigation, from news reports, it appears that a private passenger vehicle traveling in the opposite direction from the tractor-trailer crossed the centerline of the road forcing the tractor-trailer to swerve to avoid a head-on collision. The tractor-trailer driver lost control and ended up crashing into the parked vehicle occupied by the child at the Auto Zone store. Not only was 2-year old Zion Curney killed, but according to news reports, his 14-year old cousin was seriously injured.

It is not known why the private passenger vehicle lost control and crossed the centerline. The operator of that vehicle, a Kelly Canty, was arrested and charged with failure to maintain her lane, reckless driving and first degree vehicular homicide. What also is not known is whether the tractor-trailer truck involved in this tragedy was speeding, which could have had an impact on whether the driver was able to properly control his vehicle after the near collision with the Canty vehicle. (While there is an indication that the tractor-trailer may have been struck by the Canty vehicle as it crossed the centerline, some of the photographs in the news media are ambiguous in this regard.) Although it is not entirely clear whether the tractor-trailer was struck by the Canty vehicle or whether the tractor-trailer was merely attempting to avoid the collision, either way, the speed of the tractor-trailer vehicle may have been a contributing factor, which is obviously one reason why the case remains under investigation.

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June 5, 2010

Expert Testimony On Trucking Regulations

The Georgia Court of Appeals issued an interesting opinion this week in a truck wreck case, PN Express v. Zegel.

Among other things, the Court of Appeals addressed the issue of expert testimony regarding the meaning of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Standards.

In many cases, defendant trucking companies have successfully argued that expert testimony regarding the meaning of federal regulations was not susceptible to expert testimony. The reasoning behind these rulings was twofold. The first rationale was that the court could charge the language of the regulation to the jury, and, as such, the regulation was self–explanatory. The second rationale was that the testimony went to the ultimate issue of liability and was beyond the scope of admissible expert testimony.

In Zegel, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court which allowed such testimony. In that case, the plaintiffs’ expert witness testified that the federal regulations held that once a carrier has shared its DOT number with a driver or employee, the carrier was responsible and liable for the actions of the driver or employee.

The defendant argued that the testimony was inadmissible because it addressed the ultimate issue of liability.

In rejecting the defendant’s argument and upholding the trial court, the Court of Appeals ruled that testimony of an expert, even as to the ultimate issue, is admissible where the conclusion of the expert is one which jurors would not ordinarily be able to draw themselves.

The Court of Appeals went on to hold that the expert’s testimony related to his knowledge of federal trucking regulations which were unfamiliar to laymen.

This holding should resolve this issue concerning expert testimony regarding federal trucking regulations.

April 30, 2010

Georgia Pickup Truck Drivers Will Now Be Required To Buckle Up

Georgia injury lawyers know that many victims of automobile accidents and trucking accidents would not have sustained serious injured if they had been wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision. Unfortunately many deaths have resulted from the failure to buckle up. Years ago Georgia passed legislation requiring seat belt use for occupants of automobiles and vans; however, pickup trucks were exempted. This week however Georgia's lawmakers passed a seat belt bill requiring even drivers of pickups to buckle up. For many years, such legislation was defeated by pressure brought to bear from legislators who represented rural constituents.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have represented people seriously injured in automobile accidents for over 45 years. If you or a loved one has been injured, call us today for a free consultation.

April 28, 2010

Georgia House & Senate Pass Ban On Texting While Driving

It does not take a Georgia injury lawyer to appreciate the dangers of texting while driving. Each day in Atlanta and elsewhere, we see people glued to the screen on their phones, even during rush hours. Many serious automobile accidents, truck accidents and motorcycle accidents are caused by people texting or reading text messages. Tragically, many wrongful deaths result from such conduct. Fortunately the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Senate have passed SB 360 by a 131 to 19 vote. The bill bans all texting and driving; and cell phone use altogether by young drivers. The Senate version of the bill, HB 23, which passed unanimously, would ban cell phone use by all drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 and those with a Class D license. Any offender in that category, causing an accident while texting or using a cell phone would be suspended for 90 days or until the person turns 18 for the first offense and they would be fined. There are some differences between the House version and the Senate version and these will have to be ironed out but it is a step in the right direction.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an automobile accident as a result of someone texting or talking on a cell phone, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP to discuss your rights.

April 21, 2010

Georgia Man Critically Injured In ATV Crash

As a Georgia injury lawyer who owns an all terrain vehicle (ATV) I read about ATV accidents involving serious injury and sometimes death. Today the Gainesville Times reported that a Lula, Georgia man was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital yesterday with critical injuries. According to the article, the Georgia State Patrol said that 44 year old Joseph Turner was riding his ATV along the shoulder of Old Cornelia Highway about 9:15 p.m. when he turned his Honda ATV left into the path of a Chevrolet truck.

Although this case does not involve the negligence of a third party, many ATV accident injuries and deaths result from adults allowing minor children to operate ATV’s with passengers. Many of these adults turn children loose on ATV’s with no supervision and by so doing, expose themselves to liability for the serious injuries or wrongful death of the passengers.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been representing injury victims and families in wrongful death cases for over 45 years. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident of any kind, call us at 1 (800) 228-9159 to learn and protect your rights.

April 20, 2010

Georgia Motorcyclist Death Raises Many Questions

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP are always receiving articles via the internet, about Georgia automobile accidents, tractor trailer trucking accidents, bus accidents and motorcycle accidents. Today I read about a Georgia motorcycle crash that resulted in the death of a young man. The crash involved a retired GBI agent whose son is a current Gwinnett County police officer. What was interesting about the case was the investigation of it by the Gwinnett County police.

The Gwinnett County Post article revealed that on a November evening the motorcycle rider and his best friend finished up their dinner at a pizza restaurant and got on I-985 heading north. One friend was on his motorcycle and the other one was in his Mustang. Allegedly, the motorcycle was speeding. When the motorcycle rider got a mile or so north of Ga. Highway 20, the retired GBI agent, according to the article, merged over into the lane occupied by the motorcycle and the two collided. The motorcyclist was ejected and died of internal injuries at the scene.

What happened after that is nothing short of astonishing. The former GBI agent drove on and did not stop for almost five (5) miles when he alleged he became aware there had been a collision! Given the fact that there was apparent substantial damage to the car, including the vehicles back window smashed, one has to wonder why it took 5 miles for him to come to that realization. Notwithstanding those circumstances no sobriety tests were administered. The mother of the motorcyclist claims that at the scene, police denied that there was even another vehicle involved and she only became aware of the retired GBI agent’s involvement by a family friend who works Gwinnett’s fleet management. Gwinnett police say that the investigation was through and unbiased.

If nothing else, this case highlights why it is important for the victim of an automobile accident, tractor trailer trucking accident, bus accident or motorcycle accident to seek legal counsel immediately. The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been representing injury victims and families in wrongful death cases for over 45 years. Many of these cases involved suing local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. We currently have several pending cases wherein we represent the families of innocent motorist who have been killed as a result of police chases. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call us at 1 (800) 228-9159 to learn and protect your rights.

April 19, 2010

Georgia Truck Accident Results in Three Deaths

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have seen many tragic automobile accidents and trucking accidents involving serious injury or death but some of the worst are the ones involving burn injury.

On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that an adult and two children died on Interstate 75 when their pickup truck, pulling a U-Haul trailer, struck a construction barrel and caught on fire. The victims were burned beyond recognition according to the article. There were no other details reported; however, as a Georgia injury lawyer, I wonder about the placement of the construction barrels. Were the barrels and baracades safely placed by the construction company or the Georgia Department of Transportation? Many times the cause of an accident is not readily apparent until a good investigation is completed. The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been representing victims of automobile and truck accident for over 45 years. In fact, we currently have several cases involving serious accidents that have occured on a strech of I-85, between Newnan, Georgia and Atlanta, Georgia. which has been under construction for years.

If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident or trucking accident, call us for a free consultation at (800) 228-9159.

April 12, 2010

Atlanta Motorcyclist Killed By Hit-And-Run Driver

Late Saturday night, a Georgia motorcyclist, James Springer, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. Fortunately the collision which caused his death was witnesses by an off-duty Georgia Highway patrolman. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the motorcyclist had run out of gas and was waiting for help in the merge area between I-20 westbound and the I-285 on-ramp. As he waited, a 19 year old from Long Beach, California Dexter Cathey, struck him as he merged onto I-20. When the driver failed to stop, Trooper Mark Campbell pursed him in his personal vehicle until Cathey finally gave up. He is now facing serious criminal charges.

Cathey will also face major civil litigation for causing the wrongful death of James Springer. In fact, based upon the evidence, one cannot imagine a case where a judgment for punitive damages would be more justified. The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been representing victims of automobile accidents, trucking accidents and motorcycle accidents for over 45 years. If you or a loved on has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, call us to learn about your rights at 1 (800) 228-9159.

April 5, 2010

Texting While Driving Will Be Banned in Georgia

Georgia drivers using cellphones and other devices to send and receive text messages often cause automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents and truck accidents which result in serious injury and even death to innocent victims. Not a morning goes by in Atlanta that Georgia injury lawyers don’t see people on the expressway texting or scrolling through emails on their way to work. A recent article in U.S. News & World Report stated that an estimated 20 percent of drivers are sending or receiving text messages while behind the wheel, according to a Nationwide Insurance study. It also said that according to another poll, that number skyrockets to 66% amongst drivers 18-24 years of age. Currently only two states actually ban texting while driving, Washington and New Jersey; however, similar bills banning the practice are currently pending in several other states.

The Georgia Senate has just passed Senate Bill 360 to amend O.C.G.A. §40-6-241 which will ban texting while operating a motor vehicle. The new statute which goes into effect on July 1, 2010, provides as follows:

“A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle, provided that the proper use of a radio, or citizens band radio, or the proper use of a mobile telephone for purposes of engaging in spoken communication shall not be a violation of this Code section.”
“Any conviction for a violation of this Code section based on the use of a mobile telephone for writing, sending, or reading a text based message or other purpose unrelated to engaging in spoken communication shall be punished by a fine of not more than $150.00."


April 1, 2010

Georgia Senate Passes Bill Requiring Occupants Of Pickup Trucks To Buckle Up

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP know that many automobile accidents and truck accidents result in serious injury or even death when the driver or occupants are not wearing seatbelts. Up until now, Georgia has required only drivers and passengers of automobiles, vans and sports utility vehicles to wear seatbelts; however, this week, the Georgia Senate approved legislation requiring the occupants of pickup trucks to wear seatbelts. Although this issue has been debated for years, rural legislators opposed such legislation because their rural constituents did not think the use of seatbelts was necessary out in the country and because it was inconvenient to do so while tending to farm land. Proponents of the Bill argued that the majority of pickup truck related deaths involved occupants who were not belted. The new law does not apply to off-road vehicles or pickups used for farming purposes.

March 25, 2010

Severe ATV Injuries Are On The Rise

As a Georgia injury lawyer who owns an ATV, I am always reading articles about ATV accidents around the country. A Google search will revealed that an astounding number of deaths are related to the use of these recreational vehicles.

This month Business Week reported on two new studies. Both report a high rate of amputations, spinal injuries and death, especially amoung children who ride or operate all-terrain vehicles. The findings were presented this month at the annual meeting of the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, in New Orleans.

The first study involved the review of emergency-room records at a trauma center in California for all patients who had been involved in accidents of off-road vehicles from January 1, 2005 through the end of 2007. There were a total of 110 patients. The study found that people involved in in multi-rider ATV were 10 times as likely to require an amputation as those involving a single rider ATV. The second study found that almost 4500 children were injured in ATV accidents in 2006, with 7.4% sustaining a spinal injury. According to the study that figure represents a 140% increase in the overall number of children injured since 1997 and a 467% increase in spinal injuries.

These figures are consistent with the many articles about ATV accidents the Georgia injury lawyers have read about in the last couple of years. We have written before about the hazards of riding passengers on ATV's and the potential liability parents expose themselves to by allowing children to ride passengers.

If you or a loved one have been injuried as a result of an ATV accident, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP to discuss your rights. Our injury lawyers have been representing injury victims in automobile accidents, trucking accidents, and motorcycle accidents for 45 years.

March 18, 2010

Tractor Trailer Hit-And-Run Accident Injured Georgia Man

This week Fox News reported on a hit-and-run tractor trailer accident accident that occurred on Wednesday morning at about 9;00 a.m. on Interstate 85 northbound near Newnan, Georgia. The victim, Joshua Chapman, age 25, was travelling in the lane between the concrete median wall and a tractor trailer truck. As he was driving northbound, the tractor trailer swerved over and ground its tires into the side of this car. As a result, his car struck the median wall and then crashed on the other side of the highway. Chapman was transported to the hospital with back injuries. Unfortunately, the tractor trailer kept going and has yet to be identified.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have represented injury victims of automobile accidents and truck accidents for over 45 years. Many of these crashes were caused by hit-and-run drivers who were never able to be identified. In many of those cases, we presented the claims to our client's insurance company under the "uninsured motorist" coverage of the policy. There are certain requirements for making such a claim and you are well advised to seek legal counsel to make sure that you comply with all of the requirements. If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by a hit-and-run driver, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP to learn about your rights.

March 11, 2010

Deadly Bus Crash Involved Illegal Bus Operator

Deadly bus crashes are becoming too common on the roadways of Georgia and across the United States. Our attorneys have successfully handled many of these cases, including the well-known Bluffton bus crash in Atlanta several years ago.

A recent deadly bus crash in Arizona has brought to light the illegal practice of bus companies operating without federal and state approval, thus allowing them to avoid strict safety guidelines.
The bus entered the United States from Mexico at El Paso, Texas on March 5, 2010. It was headed to Phoenix to change drivers when it hit a pickup truck, veered onto the left shoulder of the road and rolled on Interstate 10 on the Gila River Indian Reservation. The impact crushed the roof and knocked out the windows.

Six passengers were killed and more than a dozen passengers remained hospitalized over the weekend.

A federal judge has ordered the bus company involved in the Arizona crash that killed six people and injured more than a dozen others to cease interstate operations. The order was issued against the bus company Tierra Santa Inc. and its owner, Cayetano Martinez. Martinez had already signed a consent decree prohibiting him or any affiliated company from hauling passengers without U.S. Department of Transportation authority, which is required to take passengers from one state to another.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had demanded that Tierra Santa stop operating the day of the crash and the judge's order makes the shutdown enforceable by the court.
A federal complaint is expected to be filed against the company which alleges that the motor carrier administration previously shut down Martinez, who then attempted to reestablish himself as a new carrier that unsuccessfully sought Department of Transportation operating authority.

Tierra Santa applied last April for operating authority to haul passengers across state lines. The Department of Transportation notified the company that it could not conduct interstate transportation during the review. When the agency sought more information for the application, the company never responded.

March 9, 2010

Jury Awards $7.5 Million To Two Women Seriously Injured In Bus Accident

As is usually the case with truck accidents, bus accidents on Georgia roads and highways many times result in serious injury and sometimes death for passengers. The sheer size and weight of theses vehicles make them inherently more dangerous than lighter vehicles.

Just this week, the NY Daily News reported on a bus accident. They reported that the New York City Transit has been ordered by a jury to pay two women a total of $7.5 million in damages after finding that the bus ran a red light and careened into the women’s car seriously injuring both. Interestingly, the bus company could have settled the case prior to trial for $3 million dollars but chose to take their chances with the jury.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured as a result of being involved in an automobile accident, a truck accident or a bus accident, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP to discuss your rights. We have been representing clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases for over 45 years.

March 5, 2010

Death of Woman In Georgia Truck Accident - Alcohol Related

Georgia injury lawyers know that an innocent guest passenger can sued a host driver for serious personal injuries caused by the negligence of the host driver. Likewise, the family of a deceased guest passenger can sue a host driver for the wrongful death of their loved one if the host driver was responsible for the death.

Just last week, a Georgia truck accident involving alcohol resulted in death for one passenger and serious injuries to five others in the truck. The truck accident occurred before 3 a.m. on Friday in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 near Macon, Georgia. Investigators say that the truck involved, left the roadway and went over a guardrail before crashing. Shannon Hendricks, 29 years old was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. According to an article in the Macon Telegraph, none of the victims were wearing seatbelts and investigators are still trying to determine which one of the individuals was operating the truck at the time of the deadly accident.

If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident or truck accident, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP to discuss your rights. We have been representing clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases for over 45 years.

March 4, 2010

Tire Comes Off Van Resulting In Death Of Innocent Georgia Hyundai Driver

Today WSBTV reported on a tragic automobile accident that occurred on Interstate 285 near Bouldercrest Rd. A white van somehow lost a tire which bounced across the concrete median wall and struck a Hyundai Sonata automobile going westbound on the interstate. The impact of the tire caused the death of the driver of the Hyundai.

From the standpoint of a Georgia injury lawyer, this is a case that needs immediate and through investigation to determine why the tire came off of the van. From the photograph of the van on the internet, it appears like the van may be a commercial vehicle. Had the van recently been serviced? Had the tires recently been rotated? Was there a catastrophic mechanical defect? Is there a product liability case? In any event, this van needs to be immediately inspected by experts to determine what happened.

I remember years ago as a high school student when I was working in a friends garage. A woman drove her car into the shop complaining about a noise. As it turned out, she had recently had her tires rotated at another garage. Unfortunately, they had finger tightened the lug nuts on one tire but had failed to tighten them with an impact/air wrench. Over the course of the day, the lug nuts began to work themselves loose. Fortunately for her and others, she had some warning about what surely could have been a terrible accident.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been representing victims of automobile accidents, truck accidents and defective product cases for over 45 years. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of the negligence of someone, call us to discuss your rights. It is always in your best interest to get your lawyer involved in the case immediately.

March 2, 2010

Georgia Automobile Accidents Often Caused By Drivers Who Are Texting

Georgia injury lawyers are well aware that use of cell phones and other hand held devices cause a significant number of automobile accidents and truck accidents. Just this morning I witnesses a near collision because a woman changing lanes was too glued to her cell phone to turn her head to make sure the lane was clear. Worse yet are “gotta stay connected type A types” who are constantly checking emails or texting while driving. The Georgia Legislature needs to get their act together and pass legislation to try to remedy the problem.

The Associated Press reported this week that the Florida Legislature is expected to consider several bills during its upcoming session that would ban drivers from using their cell phones or texting while driving. According to the article, the National Safety Council released a report in January that claimed 28 percent of all traffic collisions (1.6 million crashes a year) are caused by drivers using cell phones or texting.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP routinely subpoena phone records from cell phone companies when we have reason to believe that our client’s have been injured in automobile accidents or trucking accidents by drivers using cell phones or other hand held devices.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of being in a Georgia motor vehicle collision caused by a driver who was using one of these devices, call us to learn about your rights. We have been representing people in serious injury cases and wrongful death cases for over 45 years.

February 22, 2010

Single Vehicle Truck Accident Results In Death Of Georgia Man

When Georgia injury lawyers hear about single car automobile accidents or single vehicle truck accidents, we always wonder whether the cause of the accident may have been related to a product defect, such as a defective tire or front end part. Today for instance, the White County News today reported that a Cleveland, Georgia resident, Marcus Carl Chambers, age 30, was killed early Friday morning when his pickup truck veered off Ga. 115 west of Cleveland. According to the article the 1999 GMC Sonoma truck was traveling westbound on Ga. 115 when it ran off the road and overturned, ejecting the driver. Chambers, who had not been wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are reportedly continuing their investigation.

While the cause of this crash may have been something as simple as the driver falling asleep, it is always prudent to look for other causes when investigating automobile accidents and truck accidents. The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have represented many families in wrongful death cases which involved defective products. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in an accident involving a potential products liability case, call us for a free consultation.

February 17, 2010

Government Demands Production Of Documents From Toyota

This week the Transportation Department served Toyota with legal documents demanding that they produce certain documents related to the recent massive Toyota product recall in the United States. The government wants to know when and how Toyota learned of the safety defects in millions of its vehicles involving the entrapment of gas pedals by floor mats and "sticky" gas pedals. Toyota has 30 -60 days to respond to the government's request for the production of the documents.

Although Toyota has denied any electronic defect which would cause sudden engine acceleration, many believe that neither the floor mat issue or "sticky" gas pedals would cause a vehicle to accelerate to high speeds. Many Toyota owners have testified that the gas pedal did not stick but rather that there was a sudden, sustained and unexplained acceleration of the vehicle. It has been estimated that since 2000, there have been in excess of 30 automobile accidents resulting in death as a result of this problem.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of being involved in an automobile accident or truck accident involving a Toyota product, call one of the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP.

February 16, 2010

Why You Need An Experienced Georgia Injury Trucking Lawyer

Compared with automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents or pedestrian accidents, trucking accidents can be significantly more complicated. One of the biggest mistakes a lawyer can make is treating a trucking case like a typical automobile accident case. First, the number of parties involved is generally more than two in case of truck accident. These parties involved in the case of a truck accident may include the drivers, the owners of the truck, the truck manufacturing company, the brake maker, etc.

Second, commercial vehicles are heavily regulated by both federal and state governments and determining fault in a truck accident requires the parties to not only be aware of all the applicable regulations, but the ability to effectively determine if any were not followed. A competent Georgia injury lawyer will be familiar with the regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Many rules and states have differing statutes of limitations that only an expert attorney can deal with. It is very important to choose a lawyer who knows in and out of truck law.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one of the leading causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue, coupled with alcohol and/or drug use. However, how can you determine if the trucker was speeding or fatigued? An experienced attorney will know who to question, how evidence needs to be immediately preserved and gathered, and have access to experts who can piece together what happened and why.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of being involved in a truck accident, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP. We have over 45 years experience representing people who have been seriously injured and families of those whose injuries have lead to the wrongful death of their loved ones.

January 31, 2010

Head-On Collision in Palmetto Could Have Resulted In Death

As Georgia injury lawyers we see all types of automobile accidents and truck accidents but yesterday's collision in Palmetto, Georgia between a Ford Mustang and a Dodge four-wheel drive pickup truck came close to becoming a wrongful death case.

The collision between the two vehicles occurred on U.S. Highway 29 at about 7:15 a.m. According to Palmetto police, the driver of the Dodge truck, crossed over the centerline of the highway into the northbound lane and collided head-on with the Ford Mustang. Because the Dodge truck was jacked up so high, it literally rode over the Mustang and came to rest on top of it. Fortunately, neither driver had any life-threatening injuries.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been representing the victims of serious injury accidents for over 45 years. We have also represented families of victims involved in motor vehicle collisions which have resulted in the death of their loved ones. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of the negligence of others, call us today to discuss your rights.

January 30, 2010

Driving While Texting May Soon Be Illegal In Georgia

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP commute into the City of Atlanta everyday. In doing so, it is astounding to see how many people are sending text messages on cell phones, Blackberries and other PDA’s while driving. Many of these drivers cause automobile accidents, truck accident, bus accidents and even motorcycle accidents which result in serious injuries and sometimes the wrongful death of innocent victims.

Texting while driving is a rising problem among teenagers and adults and is a leading cause of traffic accidents. When someone texts while driving, they are endangering their own lives as well as other drivers and pedestrians they may pass. Last week two members of the Georgia House of Representatives introduced Bills that would ban the practice of texting. If a Bill passes, Georgia would be the 20th state in the nation including North Carolina and Tennessee, to ban texting while driving. Just today I read that similar legislation is being proposed in South Carolina and it is expected to pass.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident as a result of the negligence of a driver who was texting or operating other communication devices, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP who have been representing injury victims for over 45 years.

January 28, 2010

A Rear-End Automobile Crash Can Produce Serious Injury

Georgia injury lawyers that handle automobile accident and trucking accident cases know that a rear-end collision is no laughing matter. Although the term “whiplash” immediately evokes a negative reaction, it is a serious, painful and many times a permanent injury. Unfortunately, a rear-end crash can, and often does, result in disc herniation and other spinal injuries. In some cases such a collision can result in a brain injury if the head strikes a solid object such as a rear window in a pickup truck.

The experts will tell you that a rear-end crash can cause the occupants in the vehicle that is struck to propel their heads forward at a speed that is 10 times or greater than the force of gravity. Rear-end crashes can cause back injuries, neck injuries, shoulder injuries, whiplash, cervical spine injuries, disk injuries, nerve injuries, joint injuries, ligament injuries, and other serious injuries. Anyone who has had one of the injuries, knows that they are very painful and debilitating. A rear-end car crash victim may have to undergo surgery, take pain medication, and spend months in physical therapy.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of being rear-ended in a motor vehicle collision, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP who have been represent victims of these crashes for over 45 years.

January 25, 2010

Georgia Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Sometimes Need To Be Creative To Obtain Full Compensation

Georgia injury lawyers know that when there is a motorcycle accident, the injuries are usually serious. Motorcycles are by their very nature far less crash worthy than closed vehicles and crashes frequently result in catastrophic injuries or death. In 2000, I spent two weeks in the trauma unit of the Orlando Regional Hospital (a fantastic hospital) where my daughter was a patient. Throughout the day and night, helicopters landed on the roof with critically injured motorist, most of which were involved in motorcycle crashes. Sadly, many died as a result of brain injuries and other serious injuries.

Recently, I went to the Georgia DOT website to locate some recent statistics on motorcycle crashes. For reasons unknown to me, the latest posted data was from 2003. According to their study:

. There were 2,851 total motorcycle crashes, 2123 involving injury crashes, and 101 fatal crashes.
. Motorcycle crashes accounted for 7% of traffic fatalities, but only about 1% of the crashes.
. Of all motorcycle riders in crashes, 56% had at least visible or more severe injuries compared to only 4% of passenger cars occupants involved in a crash.
. Males represented 87% of the injuries and fatalities in motorcycle crashes.
. Motorcycles made up 2% of all registered vehicles.
. Half of the motorcycle operators (50%) involved in fatal crashes did not have a valid Class M license or permit.
.
Because of the seriousness of the injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents and because many of the motorist who cause these accident are under-insured, Georgia injury lawyers need to be creative when representing riders. It is imperative that the victim’s attorney examine all potential avenues of recovery so that the client can be fully compensated. Other areas to review include failure of the motorcycle’s mechanical systems, failure of other motorcyclists to observe the motorcyclist, failure maintain the roadway and debris on the roadway from trucks, including tire tread separation.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile accident, truck accident or motorcycle accident, consult the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP. Our firm has been representing personal injury victims for over 45 years.

January 22, 2010

Teen's Alledged Reckless Driving Resulted in Death Of Student

An automobile accident in Dekalb County, Georgia has claimed the life of a young woman this week, Dekalb County police officials have reported that charges are pending against 17-year-old Shaeed Saunders stemming from the death of Tanesha Williams - age 14. Authorities have reported that on Wednesday, Saunders was attempting to pass another vehicle around a curb at a high rate of speed when he lost control of his vehicle, ran up on the sidewalk and struck Williams and 2 other students. The 2 students were injured but are expected to recover. The collision occurred near Stone Mountai High School where Saunders was a student.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have represented the families of victims of automobile accidents, trucking accidents , motorcycle and and bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents who have died as a result of the negligence of others for over 45 years. If you have lost a loved one as a result of the negligence or carelessness of someone, call us today for a free consultation.

January 20, 2010

Chrysler Recalls Vehicles Over Brake Safety Issue

Georgia injury lawyers close attention to dangerous product recalls. In a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chrysler Group LLC announced the recall of 24,177 vehicles due to a potential defect in a brake system that could result in automobile accidents from sudden brake failure.

The recall includes 2010 model Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger and Nitro, and Jeep Liberty, Commander and Grand Cherokee SUVs. The recall also applies to 2009-2010 model year Dodge Ram trucks.

According to Chrysler, the clip retention tab on the brake pedal pin on some of the vehicles was improperly formed, or not installed, during the manufacturing process. Although Chrysler is unaware of any automobile accidents related to the defective product, it could result in sudden brake failure.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been representing injured victims of dangerous products for over 45 years. Many of these cases involved serious injury and some involved the wrongful death of the client. If you or a loved one have been injured by a dangerous and defective product of any kind, contact us for a free consultation at (800) 228-9159.

December 19, 2009

Is Dangerous Cell Phone Use While Driving Being Encouraged?

Cell phone use and texting while driving are major problems on the Georgia roads and nationwide. Our Atlanta automobile injury lawyers see far too many cases in which drivers distracted by cell phone use are causing serious injury and death.

Even though the police are too seldom required to determine whether cellphone use was involved in an accident, the data about texting or phoning while driving is alarming. Harvard researchers estimated that drivers on cellphones cause about 2,600 fatal crashes a year and 570,000 accidents. Hands-free devices do not eliminate that risk. Other studies show that someone legally drunk could outperform a person texting behind the wheel.

While a large measure of the responsibility for these accidents lies with drivers, consumer groups are now questioning the role of the wireless phone industry in the problem, and why the industry has fought against restrictions on the use of these devices.

Last week an article in the New York Times alleged that the industry was intentionally blinded by massive profits to the dangers. The article pointed out how the industry has continually promoted the use of phones while driving. It specifically cited one ad showing a businessman on the phone and asking, “Can your secretary take dictation at 55 m.p.h.?”

In California, the mobile industry fought off bans on talking while driving for years, at one point arguing that they were looking out for consumers.

Congress has slowly begun to focus on this issue and proposals for bans are now circulating in both houses. None seem to be a priority, and it appears that individual states will have to address this growing danger. The lawyers at Finch McCranie LLP urge you to contact your elected representatives in an attempt to move this issue to the front of the legislative agenda. The problem will only continue to grow worse and innocent people will be seriously injured and killed simply because a driver is distracted by cell device.

December 10, 2009

Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Resulted In Amputation of Toes

A few months ago, a collision between a motorcycle and a car in Atlanta, Georgia left a client, the rider of the motorcycle, seriously injured and without three of his toes. The motorcycle accident occurred when an SUV, driven by an Atlanta physician, ran a red light on Marietta Street, striking the side of our client’s motorcycle. Fortunately, there were witnesses who came forward. Paramedics, who arrived on the scene transported him to a nearby trauma center where three of his toes and part of his foot was amputated. The motorcycle accident resulted in our client incurring thousands of dollars in medical bills, substantial lost wages and a permanent injury, which will affect his mobility for the rest of his life.

If you or a loved one has been injured or if your loved one has been killed in a Georgia motorcycle accident, contact the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP at 800-228-9159. We have over 40 years of experience in representing injured victims of automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents and truck accidents.

November 30, 2009

Driver Fatigue Often A Factor In Serious Trucking Accidents

According to the 2008 NAFTA Safety Statistics, 4,341 people were killed, and an additional 81,200 people were injured in connection with truck crashes involving a commercial vehicle. Unfortunately, many of these accidents were the result of driver fatigue which is wholly preventable. Truck drivers are at a significant risk of fatigue due to long, monotonous hours spent behind the wheel. Fatigue negatively impacts overall driving performance, slows reaction times, decreases situational awareness and impairs judgment. A study by the Adelaide Centre for Sleep Research found that drivers who had been awake for 24 straight hours have an equivalent driving performance to a person who has a blood alcohol level of 0.10, which would exceed the legal level of intoxication in most states. Commercial truck drivers and motor carriers are under a duty pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to maintain various records associated with their operation, such as driver’s logs. Not surprisingly, these logs are often incomplete, inaccurate and sometimes completely fabricated. When representing clients who are injured as a result of tractor-trailer accidents, it is important for the victims attorney to obtain all documents that can be used to verify and/or challenge the accuracy of these logs. Trucking litigation presents a unique set of issues and it is the attorney’s obligation to work to both preserve and discover information about violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of a truck accident, contact the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP, who have been representing victims of these accidents for over 40 years.

November 24, 2009

JURY AWARDS $6.5 MILLION TO BOY SERIOUSLY INJURED BY FORD DEFECTIVE SEATBELT

The Georgia injuries lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been representing victims of dangerous products for over 40 years. Some of those victims died as a result of injuries they sustained in automobile accidents from defective seat belt designs. Remember the cars with the separate shoulder strap that automatically came across as soon as the car was started. It was a novel, but dangerous design. Recently the Commercial Appeal reported that a 14-year old boy, who was left paralyzed below the waste from a 2002 automobile wreck, has been awarded $6.5 million by a Memphis jury. The boy, who was 6-years old at the time of the accident, was in the backseat of his grandfather’s 1995 Mercury retrained by an adult seatbelt. The shoulder strap was behind the boy because it did not fit. When his car was struck head-on by the second car, the boy was seriously injured. The accident resulted in the wrongful death of the boy’s father, grandfather and driver of the other car. Ford Motor Company was found to be 15% liable for the total $43.8 million judgment for an adult seatbelt that was defective and not suitable for a child.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident , tractor trailer accident or been seriously injured as a result of using a dangerous or defective product, contact the experienced Georgia injury attorneys at Finch McCranie, LLP. For a free evaluation of your case, call us at 1-800-228-9159.

November 18, 2009

Jury Awards Millions To Family In Tractor-Trailer Wrongful Death Case

Georgia injury lawyers are well aware of how often preventable truck accidents occur because trucking companies are negligent in either the hiring or retention of dangerous drivers. Recently, we took the deposition of the owner of a trucking company who testified that he had never run a motor vehicle report on one of his drivers because he had known him for such a long time, that it was "not necessary". Had he done so, he would have discovered that the driver had more than 20 traffic citations which included speeding and racing. Incredibly, the owner of the trucking business promoted the driver to a position in charge of safety. His duties include making sure that the company is in compliance with the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration!

The Charlottesville Daily Progress recently reported on the trial of a wrongful death case involving negligent supervision of a truck driver. They reported that a Virginia jury has ordered the owners and driver of a tractor-trailer to pay more than $5 million to the family of a 16-year old girl who was killed in a 2008 trucking accident. Following a two-day trial, jurors found that Don Swisher Trucking Corp. and McCann Delivery Service were negligent for failing to supervise the driver and allowing him to drive a truck with defective parts.

If you or a loved on have been injured as a result of a trucking accident, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP who have been representing the victims of truck accidents in serious injury and wrongful death cases for over 40 years.

October 30, 2009

Verdict Against Michelin In Defective Tire Case

http://www.georgiainjurylawyers.net/Truck-Accidents.htmlWhen a truck accident or automobile accident causes serious personal injuries or wrongful death, you may have a tort or wrongful death claim that you can bring against the vehicle owner and driver. In some cases, you may have a claim you can bring against a negligent third party such as a tire manufacturer. As Georgia injury lawyers, we always investigate motor vehicle collision cases carefully to determine whether there is a negligent third party to sue. We recently read that on September 10, 2009, a jury in Willacy County, Texas, returned a verdict against Michelin and awarded $11,964,000.00 in damages. The care arose out of an incident when a Ford F-250 pickup suffered a partial left front tread belt detachment of a BF Goodrich All-terrain TA Tire. The tire had been built in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The tread belt detachment caused the F-250 to travel into oncoming traffic causing a head-on collision with a Chervolet Suburban. All six (6) people in the Suburban were killed and a young passenger in the F-250 was left a paraplegic. Several manufacturing defects, which allowed moisture and other contaminants into the time components prior to manufacture, were alleged by the plaintiffs. It appears the moisture came from a leaky roof in the Tuscaloosa plant. Testimony revealed that moisture created a blister of trapped air or steam that caused a defect in the finished tire and caused the tread to separate. Evidence at trial also showed that misplaced or poorly spliced belts affected the real world performance of the tire and in this case caused the tread to separate.

If you are a victim of a truck accident or an automobile accident, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of wages, pain and suffering and medical bills. Contact Georgia injury lawyers Finch McCranie, LLP Toll Free 1-800-228-9159 to learn about your options for your truck accident or automobile accident injury recovery.

October 13, 2009

Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accident Results In Death of Driver

Georgia injury lawyers who represent victims of tractor trailer accidents have long since known that driver fatigue may be the number one safety problem in the trucking industry today, and is a factor in nearly 40% of all crashes nationwide. These crashes almost always lead to the serious injury or wrongful death of innocent people. On Monday, a Georgia trucker, 47-year-old Michael Stinson of Williamson, Georgia was killed in a fiery crash on a south Georgia interstate. The accident occurred on I-75 near Lake Park around 12:30 am. Although the Georgia State Patrol Specialized Crash Reconstruction Team is still investigating, it appears that Stinson’s truck slammed into the back of another tractor trailer, overturned and caught on fire. Other truckers speculate that Stinson could have dosed off.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry and places limits on the number of hours a truck driver can be in service. Based upon current regulations, a driver carrying property cannot drive more than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off-duty. A driver cannot operate a commercial vehicle for any period after having been on duty for 14 hours following ten consecutive hours off-duty.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP has been representing the victims of fatigued truck drivers for many years. If you have been injured or you have lost a loved one as a result of a trucking accident, call our experienced trial lawyers at (800) 228-9159 to discuss your rights.

September 29, 2009

Truck Drivers Engaging In Dangerous Activities

Many truck drivers on the roads of Georgia and other states engage in dangerous activities many times a day. Hundreds of thousands of long-haul truckers use computers in their cabs to get directions and stay in close contact with dispatchers. While they are supposed to only use these devices while stationary, many truckers admit that almost nobody does.

The trucking industry supports use of the devices since they save time for the truckers and help loads arrive faster. The industry contends the devices can be used safely, posing less of a distraction than portable devices such as cell phones, and therefore should be exempted from legislation that would ban texting while driving.

There is currently pending in Congress a bill that would force states to ban texting while driving if they want to keep receiving federal highway money. The legislation will be discussed at a conference on distracted driving in Washington, starting tomorrow, organized by the Transportation Department.

The American Trucking Association has taken the position that while the industry does not condone texting while driving, the computers used by truckers require less concentration than phones. They contend that banning the use of such devices while driving will not improve safety.

Safety advocates and researchers say the computers present precisely the same risk as other devices, such as Blackberries and Iphones. And, they point out the risk may be even greater because of the size of 18-wheel tractor trailers and the longer time required for them to stop.
Some truckers say they feel pressure to use their computers even while driving in order to meet tight delivery schedules.

After videotaping truckers behind the wheel, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that those who used on-board computers faced a 10 times greater risk of crashing, nearly crashing or wandering from their lane than truckers who did not use those devices.

The study found that truckers using on-board computers take their eyes off the road for an average of four seconds, enough time at highway speeds to cover roughly the length of a football field.

September 17, 2009

Jury Awards Tractor-Trailer Accident Victim $1.4 Million

A Georgia man has been awarded almost $1.4 million for injuries he sustained in a tractor-trailer accident last year. The jury agreed with the injured victim that the truck driver suddenly and without warning pulled into his path. The victim’s injuries included a fractured femur, broken pelvis, broken ribs, a lacerated liver and a fractured elbow. The jury was out for approximately 2 hours before returning their verdict which included a $75,000.00 award for the man’s wife on her loss of consortium claim. If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor trailer truck accident or a commercial bus accident, call the experienced Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP for a free consultation.

September 16, 2009

Augusta Truck Accident Results in Wrongful Death of Passenger

The Augusta Chronicle reported today that two Augusta, Georgia men died from injuries they sustained when their Dodge pick-up truck rolled several times after hitting the median on Gordon Highway. According to the Richmond County Coroner, the truck accident occurred when the driver of the truck overcorrected when changing lanes resulting in his loss of control. This is the second case in Augusta in the last several days where the negligence of a host driver has resulted in the wrongful death of a guest passenger.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have over forty years experience handling wrongful death cases. If your loved one has died in an automobile accident or a truck accident, call us at (800) 228-9159 for a free consultation.

September 12, 2009

STUDY SHOWS UNSAFE TRUCK AND BUSES STILL OPERATE ON AMERICA'S HIGHWAYS

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have handled many tractor trailer truck accidents and bus accidents, many of which were caused by defective equipment, including tires and brakes. Although there are plenty of federal regulations designed to force owners and operators of such vehicles to maintain safe vehicles, the regulations are often ignored. The Associated Press obtained a recent study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found that hundreds of tractor-trailer and bus companies which had been order to shut down because of federal safety violations ranging from suspended licenses to possible drug use have stayed on the road by using different names. The GAO report found that a number of the commercial bus companies that had been fined and ordered out of service in 2007 and 2008 by federal regulators evaded compliance by setting up business under a new name. Unfortunately, the investigation found offenders in at lease nine (9) states, including Georgia. Accordingly to the GAO’s investigation, violators owe tens of thousands of dollars in past due fines and had many violations. Another 1,073 commercial trucking firms are also believed to have evaded compliance by reorganizing the company under a new name, often using the same address, owner’s name, employees and contact numbers. According to the report, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says that it has put in place new oversight measures, including a computer matching process to compare new applicants to various motor carriers dating back to 2003. The study by the GAO came about a year after an unlicensed charter bus carrying a Vietnamese-American Catholic group blew a retreaded tire installed on a steering axle and skidded off a Texas highway resulting in the death of 17 people. The use of recapped tires on the steering wheels is a violation of federal regulations. Tractor-trailer and bus companies that operate in violation of federal safety laws pose a significant threat to the motoring public. It is believed that at least 300 wrongful deaths occurred last year from bus crashes alone.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor trailer truck accident or a commercial bus accident, call the experienced Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP for a free consultation.

September 1, 2009

Dangerous Trucks And Unsafe Practices By Motor Carriers

Georgia has thousands of unsafe and dangerous trucks and tractor trailers operating on its highways and roads. A new study has revealed the extent of dangerous and unsafe truck companies operating in Georgia and the United States. As nearly 30 million Americans travel U.S. roads during the Labor Day holiday, a new analysis of government data reveals that more than 28,000 motor carrier companies, representing more than 200,000 trucks, are currently operating in violation of federal safety laws.

In an original analysis of data not previously available to the public, The American Association for Justice found motorists are sharing roads with trucks that have incurred thousands of safety violations – such as defective brakes, bad tires, loads that dangerously exceeded weight limits and drivers with little or no training or drug and alcohol dependencies.

AAJ obtained data on the safety performance of U.S. trucking companies through the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), which is maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Over a million lines of data were analyzed in an effort to pinpoint just how many unsafe trucks might be on the road.

West Virginia, North Dakota, Nebraska, Vermont and Iowa had the highest rate of companies in violation of federal safety requirements. The effects of these violations are deadly. While truck accidents occur for a variety of reasons, many are preventable, and often a direct result of trucking companies violating safety standards to cut corners and maximize profits.

The attorneys at Finch MCCranie LLP are involved on a daily basis with cases in which dangerous trucks and unsafe practices by trucking companies have caused death and serious injury. Most of these involve multiple violations of state and federal motor safety regulations.

For a full copy of the AAJ report please visit the AAJ at:

http://www.justice.org/resources/Truck_Report_Final_082109.pdf

August 31, 2009

$3.5 MILLION AWARDED IN WRONGFUL DEATH LOGGING TRUCK ACCIDENT

An Alabama jury recently awarded $3.5 million to the family of a man killed when the van he was driving was crushed between 2 logging trucks according to the Montgomery Advertiser. The truck accident occurred when one of the logging trucks rear-ended the victim’s van forcing it into the logs on the truck in front of him. As a result, the logs came through the windshield and killed the victim. In this wrongful death case, the jury found that the tractor trailer truck that rear-ended the victim had defective brakes and was speeding.

This case reminds me of a similar tractor-trailer truck accident case. The Georgia injury attorneys at Finch McCranie, LLP recently settled a wrongful death case of a woman who ran into the back of an improperly lighted logging truck. The light was placed in such a way that it was impossible for it to be seen when the truck was turning making a turn after dark. As a result, the victim struck the logs which came through the windshield. To make matters worse, the driver left the scene.

If you have been in an accident or have lost a loved one in an truck accident, it is important to make sure that you understand your legal rights. You may be able to recover money for medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, as well as compensation for wrongful death or permanent disability. Contact the experienced Georgia injury attorneys at Finch McCranie, LLP for a free evaluation of your case at 1-800-228-9159.

August 26, 2009

STUDY SHOWS DANGEROUS TRUCK AND BUSES STILL OPERATE ON AMERICA'S ROADS

Georgia injury lawyers handling tractor trailer accident cases involving serious injury or wrongful death cases are well aware of the dangerous trucks on Georgia highways. Recently, the Associated Press obtained a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found that hundreds of tractor-trailer and bus companies which had been order to shut down because of federal safety violations ranging from suspended licenses to possible drug use have stayed on the road by using different names. The GAO report found that a number of the commercial bus companies that had been fined and ordered out of service in 2007 and 2008 by federal regulators evaded compliance by setting up business under new names. Unfortunately, the investigation found offenders in at least nine (9) states, including Georgia. Accordingly to the GAO’s investigation, violators owed tens of thousands of dollars in past due fines and had many violations. Another 1,073 commercial trucking firms are also believed to have evaded compliance by reorganizing the company under a new name, often using the same address, owner’s name, employees and contact numbers. According to the report, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says that it has put in place new oversight measures, including a computer matching process to compare new applicants to various motor carriers dating back to 2003. The study by the GAO came about a year after an unlicensed charter bus, carrying a Vietnamese-American Catholic group, blew a retreaded tire installed on a steering axle. As a result, the bus skidded off a Texas highway resulting in the death of 17 people. The use of recapped tires on the steering wheels is a violation of one of many federal regulations. Tractor-trailer and bus companies that operate in violation of federal safety laws pose a significant threat to the motoring public. It is believed that at least 300 fatalities occurred last year from bus crashes alone.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or lost a loved one as a result of a truck accident, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP at 1 (800) 228-9159. We have over 40 years experience pursuing wrongful death lawsuits.

August 5, 2009

The City of Atlanta is Hosting the National Biker Roundup

This week the City of Atlanta is hosting the National Biker Roundup for motorcycle enthusiasts. Unfortunately, on the second day of the event, one motorcyclist has been killed and five others injured. One remains in critical condition. The motorcycle accident occurred on August 5th involving 2 SUV’s, 2 18-wheelers and the 3 motorcycles. All total nine people were injured in this tragic collision. Whether there is a wrongful death case due to the negligence of one of the truckers or others is presently unknown. The news accounts are sketchy but all too often, when motorcycle riders are killed, wrongful death claims are oftentimes present. Approximately 40,000 motorcycle riders are expected to attend the week long event here in Atlanta which began on August 4th and concludes on August 9th. Because the City of Atlanta has terrible traffic and many 18-wheelers on the highways coming into and out of Atlanta, safety is paramount for all motorcycle riders and other motorists on the road. Regrettably, the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have handled many motorcycle accidents over the years involving wrongful death and serious injuries. We can only hope that there will be no further tragedies during this otherwise fantastic event for motorcycle enthusiasts. Be careful if you are out there. Have fun – but be safe!

August 1, 2009

Georgia Jury Awards $2 Million to Georgia Truck Driver

Georgia injury lawyers often see automobile accidents involving tractor trailer trucks but it is more unusual to see collisions between semi trucks. Nonetheless, a DeKalb County, Georgia jury has awarded $2 million to a Georgia truck driver to compensate him for medical bills after his tractor-trailer was rear-ended on Interstate 285 by another 18-wheeler. The accident occurred in February of 2004. As the man was driving his 1995 International tractor-trailer on I-285 near the Covington Highway exit, he was rear-ended by a second tractor trailer truck, according to court documents. The man suffered injuries to his left eye, neck and lower back and later underwent back surgery because of a herniated disk. The driver of the other truck claimed that he was cut off by another driver.

If you have been in a Georgia automobile accident or truck accident, its important to make sure you understand your legal rights. You may be able to recover money for medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, as well as compensation for wrongful death or permanent disability. Contact the experienced Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP for a free evaluation of your case at 1-800-225-9159.

July 28, 2009

Georgia Automobile Accident & Truck Accidents - Cellphones and Texting Devices Often The Cause

As a Georgia injury lawyer who drives into Atlanta every morning, I see numerous people everyday on the highway who are either talking away on a cell phone or, worse yet, texting on some handheld device. Many of the ones on a cellphone can barely turn their head enough to make sure that there is nothing in the lane next to them before changing lanes. I have personally witnessed many “near-misses” from people who are hunting for keys on a texting device rather than looking where they are going. Unfortunately some of these people are tractor trailer and commercial truck drivers. Although it is not yet against the law to drive with these devices, it is negligent to do so and if you cause an automobile accident or a tractor trailer truck accident while using such a device, you may pay for it. Your cellphone records can be subpoenaed from your carrier to determine when you were utilizing the device and to whom you were communicating. Many automobile accidents leave victims with serious, life-altering injuries, including brain injuries. Sadly many negligent drivers who are pre-occupied with cellphone conversations and texting cause the wrongful death of innocent victims.

The New York Times published an article last week about this issue. They reported that in 2003 researchers at a federal agency proposed a long-term study of 10,000 drivers to assess the safety risk posed by cellphone use behind the wheel. Unfortunately the study or data from the study was never made public because the researcher’s agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration apparently didn’t want to anger Congress.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of an automobile accident or tractor trailer truck accident, call the Georgia injury lawyers of Finch McCranie, LLP at (800) 228-9159. We have been standing up for the rights of injured people for over forty years.

July 28, 2009

Study of Truck Accidents While Drivers Texting

The first scientific study of car and truck crashes which occur while drivers are texting has revealed surprisingly data that indicates the risks far exceed previous estimates. Furthermore the risk posed by texting drivers far surpasses the dangers of other driving distractions.

The new study, conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, involved outfitting the cabs of long-haul trucks with video cameras over 18 months. It found that when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting.

In the moments before a crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices. That is enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field.

Even though trucks take longer to stop and are less maneuverable than cars, the findings generally applied to all drivers, who tend to exhibit the same behaviors as the more than 100 truckers studied, the researchers said. Truckers, they said, do not appear to text more or less than typical car drivers, but they said the study did not compare use patterns that way.

The trucks were equipped with video cameras and tracked for three million miles as they hauled goods across the country. Even as frightening as the results is the fact that the truck drivers knew they were being recorded and continued to text while driving.

Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech institute, said the study’s message was clear. Texting should never be done while driving.

Thirty-six states do not ban texting while driving;

July 27, 2009

Georgia Truck Accident Kills Four People

A Georgia truck accident has resulted in the death of four people. The truck accident occured on Saturday when the truck going the wrong way on Interstate 95 collided head on with a minivan travelling from New York to Florida. According to the Georgia State Patrol, the truck was headed north in the center southbound lane. The truck driver was killed as were three of the six occupants of the minivan. Fortunately three children in the minivan survived the crash.
Authorities believe that alcohol was involved given the fact that the truck was going the wrong way on the interstate and was found to contained bottles of alcohol.

If you have been in a Georgia automobile accident or truck accident, it is important to make sure you know your legal rights. Contact the experienced Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie.LLP for a free consultation at (800) 228-9159.

July 27, 2009

Georgia Tractor Trailer Accident Injures Two Women

Tractor trailer accidents on Georgia highways can result in serious injury or death to innocent motorists. Yesterday, a North Carolina truck driver slammed his vehicle into the back of a pickup truck on GA-2. The tractor trailer pushed the pickup truck across the centerline into the path of another pickup truck according to the Georgia State Patrol. Two women were injured and taken to a local hospital. The driver of the tractor trailer was charged with following too closely, driving too fast for conditions and driving without a drivers license on his person. This collision could have very easily resulted in the wrongful death of the two injured women as well as other innocent victims.

If you or your loved ones have been injured in a tractor trailer truck accident, call the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP who have represented injury victims for over forty years.

July 20, 2009

Defective Truck Tires & Other Equipment - A Cause Of Some Truck Accidents

Georgia truck accident lawyers know that many times a tractor-trailer truck accident occurs as a result of defective equipment, including truck tires. Just this week, the executrix of the estate of a Tennessee man killed in a tractor-trailer accident filed a $10 million wrongful death suit against the employer of the man driving the a truck involved in the accident. It was reported that the victim was driving a southbound on Interstate 75 when a northbound tractor-trailer blew out a tire and collied with the center median wall. The collision sent the trailer flying over the median where the victim struck it head-on and was killed. The lawsuit alleges that the driver and his employer, the owner of the truck, had been negligent for not maintaining the truck and trailer, specifically inspecting and replacing the tires on the vehicle, including the tire that failed and caused the crash.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations provide that no commercial vehicle may be operated on any tire that (1) has body ply or belt material exposed through the tread or sidewall, (2) has any tread or sidewall separation, (3) is flat or has an audible leak, or (4) has a cut to the extent that the ply or belt material is exposed. Any tire on the front wheels of a bus, truck or truck tractor must have a tread groove pattern depth of at least 4/32nd of an inch at any point in a major tread groove. All other tires must have a tread groove pattern depth of at least 2/32nd of an inch when measured in a major tread groove. Motor vehicles cannot be operated with loads that exceed a weight greater than the tire’s capacity.

If you have been in a Georgia truck accident, it is important to make sure that you understand your legal rights. You may be able to recover money for medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, as well as compensation for wrongful death or permanent disability. Contact the experienced Georgia truck accident attorneys at Finch McCranie, LLP for a free evaluation of your case at 1-800-228-9159.

July 18, 2009

Tractor Trailer Accidents - Driver Fatigue Often The Cause

Georgia injury lawyers have long since known that driver fatigue may be the number one safety problem in the trucking industry today, and is a factor in nearly 40% of all crashes nationwide. Unfortunately, it is routine practice for many trucking companies to violate the hours of service and related FMCSR safety rules. In our investigation of tractor trailer truck accident cases involving serious injuries or even death that some truck drivers keep “dual” log books. Greedy, profit-driven motives have made driver fatigue in the trucking industry a vast, largely unchecked problem resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children each year.

Tractor trailer accident victims often sustain very severe injuries and incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, not to mention thousands in lost wages. In these cases, it important to retain legal counsel as soon as possible so that a very thorough investigation can be done to discover and document crucial evidence.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a accident or wreck involving a truck, call one of the experienced truck accident lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP.

July 16, 2009

Truck Accident Results In Death of Georgia Man

As a Georgia injury lawyer for over 20 years, I have represented the dependants of many workers who have died as a result of on-the-job accidents. These Georgia workers compensation claims for death benefits arise from every imaginable type of industrial accident. As an example, I read that a Macon, Georgia man died in a gravel truck accident that occurred on Monday afternoon in Dodge County. The man was reportedly unloading gravel for road construction on Georgia Highway 117. According to Georgia State Patrol, the dump truck trailer was parked on a slope and apparently fell over on him. There were apparently no witnesses to the accident; however, a customer at a nearby store noticed the overturned truck which led to the discovery of the worker’s body. If the deceased worker had dependants they may be entitled to benefits which are available under the Georgia Workers Compensation Act.

Since 1966, the Georgia Injury Lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have tried and won countless worker’s compensation claims for Georgia victims of on-the-job injuries. We always offer free, no obligation consultations. To speak to a Georgia worker’s compensation lawyer at Finch McCranie, LLP, call us today at 1-800-228-9159.

July 8, 2009

Georgia Truck Accident Results In Wrongful Death of Teen

A truck accident near Albany, Georgia has resulted in the wrongful death of a 17 year old Wisconsin teenager. His 16 year old sister was seriously injured and remains in critical condition in an Albany hospital. The boy died after his family's SUV was struck by a truck northeast of Albany, Georgia on Saturday afternoon. The family was returning to Wisconsin from a vacation. It is reported that the driver of the truck died in the crash.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been representing the survivors of automobile accidents and trucking accidents for over 40 years. If you have a loved one who has lost his or her life as a result of the negligence of another driver, consult the experienced injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP.

June 29, 2009

Highway and Road Defects - Who Is Liable?

Georgia injury lawyers know that many times automobile accidents and tractor trailer truck accidents result from defects in either the design of a roadway or the existing dangerous condition of a roadway. This is particularly true if the roadway is under construction. Last week in Georgia, it was reported that a woman driving southbound on Interstate I-85 near Newnan, Georgia got a wheel off the edge of the pavement resulting in her losing control of her vehicle, crossing the highway median and hitting a tractor-trailer rig head-on. Sadly, the accident resulted in the woman’s death. Depending on the facts, the Georgia Dept of Transportation can be held liable for highway defects which cause injury of death.

The LA Times recently reported that a jury has ruled that the California Department of Transportation was partially negligent in a crash that killed two teenagers. According to the lawsuit, the agency knew that the rolling mountain road was unsafe prior to the accident. The jury agreed and awarded $6.3 million in damages to the families of those killed and a survivor injured in the accident.

The Georgia Injury Lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have over 40 years of experience pursuing wrongful death lawsuits, some of which have involved highway and road defects. If you have lost a loved one and feel you have a wrongful death claim, call our experienced attorneys at 1-800-228-9159 for a free consultation.

June 24, 2009

Tractor-Trailer Accidents and Driver Fatigue

A 70-year old north Georgia man burned to death Saturday after his tractor-trailer left the roadway and caught on fire. Rescue workers attempted to pull the man from the burning truck but were unable to do so in time to save him. Authorities did not know why the truck ran off of Interstate 85 and did not know whether the driver fell asleep .

Many tractor-trailer accidents are caused by a driver’s inattentiveness or fatigue resulting from the operation of a tractor-trailer for an excessive amount of time. Federal regulations prohibit a trucking company from allowing a driver to operate a tractor-trailer while the driver’s ability or alertness is impaired by fatigue, illness, or any other cause which would make it unsafe for the driver to operate the vehicle. These regulations also prescribe a maximum number of hours that a driver can be on duty during any day or week and require a driver to maintain a daily log of his work status. Georgia lawyers who handle serious personal injury and wrongful death cases against tractor-trailer companies know that a complete investigation of such a case involves the careful scrutiny of these log books.

If you or a loved one have been involved in an automobile accident or a tractor-trailer accident, consult the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP who have been handling serious injury and wrongful deaths for over 40 years.

June 22, 2009

Tractor Trailer Accidents and Driver Fatigue

Georgia citizens continue to suffer serious injuries and death in ever increasing numbers on a stretch of Interstate 85 near Newnan, Georgia. Most of these accidents involve tractor-trailers. According to authorities today, one person was killed and another person seriously injured on Monday afternoon in an accident on the northbound side of Interstate 85. Shortly after the initial fatal accident, a second major accident with injuries occurred when a northbound tractor-trailer rear-ended another that had stopped for the first wreck. Many of these accidents have occurred as a result of dangerous conditions existing upon the roadway which has been under construction for at least the last two years. The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP currently represent the family of an individual in a wrongful death case that resulted from vehicles hydroplaning on that stretch of road. The three most common reasons for hydroplaning are speed, condition of tires and excessive water on the roadway.

The Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have been handling serious injury and wrongful death cases for over 40 years. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of the negligence of someone else, call us for a free consultation.

June 13, 2009

Tire Failure Ruling Defeats Manufacturer's Attempt To Conceal Documents

Our Atlanta lawyers recently completed a case involving a tire failure on a truck.. This past Tuesday, in a case being watched nationwide by product-liability attorneys, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court a ruling that allows a wide-ranging review of Cooper Rubber & Tire Co. records.

The case in which the ruling was issued, involves Cooper made the tires on a Chrysler 15-passenger van, which rolled several times after the left rear tire blew as Utah State University students were headed back to campus from a field trip in northern Utah's Box Elder County. Eight students and an instructor died in the Sept. 26, 2005, crash, and two students survived with severe injuries.

The survivors and the families of all but the instructor and another student are plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, filed a year after the accident. The families settled their claims last year against DaimlerChrysler Corp., the maker of the van.

The lawsuit alleges that Cooper Tire knew the design and manufacture of its tires were faulty and did not fix the problems. The plaintiffs’ attorneys wanted to see documents pertaining to the design and manufacture of similar Cooper Tires.

A United States Magistrate Judge initially ordered that Cooper Tire afford wide access to company documents requested by lawyers for the victims of the crash and their families. His ruling was later affirmed by the United States District Court. Cooper Tire then appealed the order and argued at a hearing last year before the Denver-based 10th Circuit that it would require the company to divulge trade secrets and other proprietary information.

The appeals court rejected Cooper’s argument that the order was too broad. The lawsuit, brought in U.S. District Court in Utah a year after the accident, had been stalled for 15 months while the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals considered Cooper Tire's appeal.

May 6, 2009

Workers Compensation Injury - Is There A Third Party Liability Case

When the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP represent an injured employee in a workers compensation case we always look to see if there is a liable third party that can be sued. Under Georgia law, workers compensation benefits are limited and rarely, if ever, fully compensate an injured worker for all of the injuries and damages sustained.

Recently I read about a Chicago area wrongful death case involving a BMW car salesman who was killed in an automobile accident while accompanying a 20 year old potential car buyer on a test drive of a BMW automobile. According to court testimony, the driver was driving at 95 miles per hour when he crashed the car, killing the car salesman. The family of the salesman sued and a Chicago jury returned a verdict of 13.7 million dollars in their favor.

Other potential third party cases might involve defective or dangerous products that a worker might be using that cause serious injury or death. If you or a loved one has been serious injured in an on-the-job injury you should consult with the workers compensation lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP to protect your rights.

April 29, 2009

Liability Insurance Limits for Commercial Trucking Companies:

Liability insurance limits for your typical tractor-trailer company, as mandated by federal law, is $750,000.00 in coverage for the protection of innocent members of the motoring public who might be unfortunate enough to be injured by a large tractor-trailer rig. In any serious collision in which the innocent third party victim is hit by a tractor-trailer, it does not take much imagination to realize that $750,000.00 will not go very far, particularly with the increasing cost of healthcare. If someone has numerous orthopaedic injuries and requires surgery, for example, $750,000.00 might not go far enough, particularly if the innocent victim has to lose time from work and/or is permanently disabled.

The current required liability limits for commercial motor carriers was enacted by way of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. These limits have not been increased therefore for almost thirty (30) years. Such limits need to be doubled, if not tripled, at a minimum, in order to protect the innocent members of the motoring public. The chief reason for this is because of the devastating damage usually done by a big tractor-trailer rig when it is involved in a collision. The injuries, damages, lost wages, permanent disfigurement and wrongful deaths one sees in the context of tractor-trailer accidents certainly would seem to militate in favor of increased liability limits.

Now that we have a new Congress and a new President, one can only hope that a law that was enacted in 1980 is amended so that innocent members of the motoring public may receive the protection they need if involved in a collision with a commercial motor carrier. While the increase in premiums might result in increased costs for the trucking business, they have avoided these costs for the past thirty (30) years and it is now time that the liability limits for commercial motor carriers be increased.

April 26, 2009

Trucking Companies Subject to Stricter Penalties

Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers see many instances in which trucking companies simply ignore or pay little attention to safety rules and regulations designed to protect the motoring public. During the past 15 years, the three-strikes-you're-out rule has become a key aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system. The policy generally holds that repeat offenders are given mandatory life sentences when convicted of committing particularly egregious crimes like kidnapping and aggravated assault.

This concept has been adapted and adopted by other government units and applied to all sorts of regulatory requirements and enforcement actions, including by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Now, the FMCSA has thrown out its three-strikes policy for assessing maximum fines for motor carriers found to have committed a pattern of violations of "critical or acute" safety rules and gone to a two strikes rule. This basically tells trucking companies and drivers that on the second strike a large fine will follow. The change went into effect April 1.

The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, which created the FMCSA, mandated the agency assess maximum civil penalties on anyone who committed a "pattern of violations" of important safety regulations, or to have "previously committed the same or a related violation" of critical regulations.

Five years later, the agency clarified its enforcement policy by adopting a three-strikes rule that defined both the "pattern of violations," and "previously committed the same or related violation," as three cases of violations occurring within the previous six years.

Within a year or two of adopting that policy, the agency began coming under fire from members of Congress and others who contended its enforcement efforts were too weak. Congress ordered the Government Accountability Office to examine the agency's enforcement practices.

In 2007, the GAO issued a report that said the FMCSA three-strikes policy had failed to assess maximum penalties against serious safety-rules violators and hadn't achieved the 1999 law's intent that maximum penalties be imposed when there had been two distinct patterns of violations or repeat violations.

Now, with a new administration in charge, the agency has revised its policy and issued a two-strikes rule. When the agency discovers two or more critical and/or acute violations in each of three or more different regulatory parts it can assess maximum fines.

A rogue carrier will be subject to the maximum fines when the pattern of critical or acute violations is discovered after the operator has had "previous contact" with the FMCSA, a state motor carrier safety enforcement agency, or other FMCSA-designated representative acting on behalf of FMCSA.

This new policy should lead to stricter enforcement of safety regulations, encourage lax companies to adopt better safety standards, and hopefully reduce the rate of injuries and deaths caused by unsafe trucks and unsafe driving practices.

April 25, 2009

Injury Victims of Automobile & Truck Accidents and Abusive Bill Collection

As Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP representing victims of trucking accidents, automobile accidents, and workers compensation accidents we often see our clients who cannot work because of serious injuries, fall behind in paying their bills. When that happens they often start getting calls from collection agencies and even lawyers attempting to collect. Sometimes these collections people cross the line and violate the law.

This week I read an article about a man with a disabling brain injury and no money who told a debt collection lawyers that the time for seeking payment had expired and that the suit that had previously been filed to collect the debt had been dismissed. Notwithstanding that conversation, the law firm sued him anyway, trying to collect a credit card debt on behalf of the creditor. He hired a lawyer, got the collections suit dismissed and then sued the collection