Catastrophic Injury in a Semi-Truck Crash » What You Need to Know

There’s a multitude of reasons for truck crashes on Georgia roads. A crash may occur due to a driver’s inexperience, reckless driving, distracted driving, lack of sleep, health issues, substance abuse, or vehicle system failure.

Because semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles often carry heavy loads of equipment and supplies, the size and weight of the vehicle can mean devastating consequences for other drivers if involved in an accident. Because of their heavy weight, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces strict laws to ensure the safety of other drivers in Georgia. Some of those laws involve truck maintenance, weight limits, background checks, and limitations on employee hours.

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a semi-truck, it’s possible the trucking company or driver failed to follow state or federal regulations. This type of negligence isn’t always obvious, so it’s important to review and learn commercial trucking regulations. If there’s ever a question as to whether a commercial truck or van that struck your vehicle is following proper regulations, our truck crash attorneys at Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. are available to answer any questions you may have.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Implements Laws for Commercial Trucks to Protect Other Motorists

The FMCSA is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry. The FMCSA’s primary goal is to help reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses in the U.S.

How an Inefficient or Absent Background Check May Contribute to Truck Crashes in Georgia

In the State of Georgia, there are statutes and federal regulations requiring trucking companies to conduct a pre-employment background check on all drivers. Trucking companies must ensure that unsafe drivers with poor records, and those with substance abuse problems, are not hired to drive tractor trailers on Georgia roads. An inefficient or absent background check of drivers is a good indication that a motor carrier company has an inadequate safety department or management team.

Some issues that may arise in a background check that could contribute to future truck crashes include:

  • A poor driving record
    • Past crashes
    • Speeding tickets
    • Reckless driving tickets
    • Distracted driving tickets
    • Various other citations
  • Improper licensing
  • Lack of experience that requires training
  • A criminal record (may include motor vehicle or substance abuse convictions)
  • An invalid license
  • Poor physical health
  • Sex offender status (sex trafficking and other human trafficking convictions)

While a pre-employment background check doesn’t always prevent future crashes, it can help deter them if trucking companies use due diligence in the hiring process. A poor driving record may indicate a driver isn’t equipped to properly control a large truck on the highway. A lack of experience or improper licensing means a trucking company should invest in proper training and licensing before sending a driver out on the road – or it should hire someone who is efficient and already trained and licensed. Criminal records are not only helpful in judgment of character of a potential driver but may indicate a red flag of substance abuse such as a DUI or motor vehicle convictions like a hit and run, failure to yield, or even vehicular homicide. Poor physical health of a driver could indicate they aren’t healthy enough to drive for long periods of time or are susceptible to blood clots or even a heart attack.

Just because the FMCSA requires specific pre-employment background checks for truck drivers, doesn’t always mean companies adhere to the rules. If a semi-truck crashes into you and the company failed to run a background check on the driver – or hired the driver despite a red flag on the background report – it should be held accountable for negligent hiring practices to ensure it follows proper regulations in the future, which helps prevent crashes. The truck accident attorneys at BBGA are experienced with investigating whether a trucking company completed a background check on a specific driver or whether a trucking company ran a background check but hired a high-risk driver despite their flawed report. Contact us today for a free consultation at 706-354-4000 or fill out our contact form.

An 18-Wheeler Crashed into Me Because of A Faulty Tire

Another cause of a truck crash may be system failure, which can include faulty tires. A tire blowout can cause a driver to lose control of a semi-truck, which may cause them to crash into other vehicles. Due to the size and weight of the truck and its load, and because large trucks often haul hazardous materials, a crash can cause catastrophic injuries and devastation to the person or persons involved.

The FMCSA requires large trucks and buses to pass visual tire inspections in an effort to keep tire blowouts from happening. If an inspection of the tires reveals any of the tires have faults, trucking companies are required to repair or replace them. Learn more about tire requirements here.

Types of Tire Defects

A Semi-Truck Hit Me Because of System Failure

Big trucks like 18-wheelers, garbage trucks, and cement trucks often have a complex make-up. Safety guidelines may vary from state to state and company to company, depending on the type of business or truck involved, but system failure on a big rig or other heavy commercial vehicle can cause accidents with dire consequences for all parties involved. That’s why the federal government has implemented inspection and maintenance laws for trucking companies. Here are few potential system failures that may cause an accident:

  • Brake failure
  • Tire problems
  • Electrical issues
  • Engine failure

Other risks are improper loading and not following safety guidelines. Also, the older the truck the more likely it is to have issues.

Because system failures are inevitable, federal law requires Georgia truck drivers to undergo routine inspections.

Insurance Laws for Semi-Trucks and Motor Carriers

Georgia and the FMCSA has implemented specific insurance laws for semis such as minimum liability insurance levels. The laws were established in the 1980s by congressional legislation to hold trucking companies responsible in case of damages from crashes. The levels have not been changed since being implemented nearly 30 years ago.

View more about the financial responsibility regulations for liability minimums on this PDF on the FMCSA site.

The FMCSA website goes on to report that “Whether the cutoff is made at $1 million or $10 million, there are still a few crashes at even higher cost levels. Thus, regardless of how high the insurance minimum, there will always be some crashes above that level. There is no realistic dollar amount that will necessarily ensure that every possible crash victim is fully compensated.”

Because of higher cost levels, it’s important you have an experienced attorney on your side. While insurance levels may be set at a lower cost level, a skilled attorney can build a case for you that includes compensation for injuries, time lost at work, future medical costs, pain and suffering, and wrongful death.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck crash, we can help. BBGA truck accident attorneys are well-versed in Georgia trucking regulations and can assist you in determining whether a trucking company is up to code with Georgia standards and regulations. We help truck crash victims across the state of Georgia to hold trucking companies responsible for negligent truck operations. Tell us about your truck crash on our free contact form here or call us at (706) 354-4000. There is no cost for an initial consultation, and we can help you determine if the truck company or driver who hit you is negligent in following proper regulations.

BBGA has offices in Atlanta, Athens, and Lake Oconee and we help truck crash victims across the State of Georgia.