Being involved in a trucking accident that you did not cause can be extremely frustrating. The physical injury alone can change your life. You will also need to resolve the damage to your own vehicle or property, ensure you can continue working, and handle the trauma in the aftermath.
Determining liability is critical in truck accident cases to identify who should be held responsible for the resulting damages and injuries. In Georgia, liability is primarily based on the legal principle of negligence.
We previously discussed how to prove liability, the injured party must demonstrate four key elements of negligence: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. In this installment, we’ll review causation and damages.
A party can be considered negligent if they caused an accident by violating safety regulations put in place by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This is known as causation and it is particularly relevant in trucking accidents; as truck drivers and companies must adhere to numerous state and federal safety regulations, including:
- Hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. These are the number of hours a motor carrier and driver can be in service at a time. These hours are set forth by the FMCSA and a state’s Department of Transportation.
In Georgia and Tennessee, there are specific driving rules for property-carrying operations and passenger-carrying operations. A certain amount of time off-duty is required before a driver can get behind the wheel again. Different increments apply to each type, and can range from 10 to 16 hours in one day and 60- and 70-hour rules within a week.
HOS regulations also address sleep and break requirements, and exceptions for adverse driving conditions.
- Vehicle inspection/maintenance requirements. FMCSA General Rule § 396.3(a) explains: “Every motor carrier shall systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles subject to its control.” The rule also addresses that parts and accessories must always be in proper condition.
- Blood alcohol content (BAC) limits. In the U.S. the legal BAC limit is .08%. If someone’s BAC is above this level, the driver is presumed intoxicated in every state (except Utah, where the limit is .05%).
- Specialized licensing and certification requirements. The responsibility of driving a commercial motor vehicle requires special skills and knowledge. Most drivers must obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) through their home state (it is illegal to have a license from more than one state). Special endorsements may also be required for driving many trucks.
The plaintiff must provide evidence of the economic and non-economic damages suffered as a result of the accident. Economic damages include the cost of medical treatment and lost wages. Non-economic damages are non-monetary losses such as inconvenience and diminished quality of life. These expenses can quickly add up, and a GA Trucking lawyer can help you compile and itemize them.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses for treating and rehabilitating injuries.
- Costs of long-term care and support, particularly if the accident caused permanent disability.
- Compensation for lost income during the recovery period.
- Damages for diminished earning capacity if the victim can no longer work as before.
- Financial reparation for physical pain and suffering resulting from the accident.
- Compensation for permanent scarring and disfigurement.
- Reimbursement for vehicle repair, replacement, and related expenses, including car rentals, if applicable.
Economic damages are easier to quantify since they involve financial transactions. Always keep receipts and invoices to demonstrate how the accident is impacting your finances.
Non-economic damages can be more difficult to quantify. Some examples include:
- Emotional distress experienced due to the traumatic event.
- Decreased quality of life and loss of enjoyment.
- Certain instances of physical pain and discomfort.
- Mental anguish.
Non-economic damages may not always have a dollar amount attached to them. Keeping a regular journal of your experiences can help represent your financial losses as a result of the trucking injury. Your Georgia trucking accident injury lawyer can provide effective examples of logging non-economic damages.
Your GA/TN Trucking Accident Injury Lawyer
Understanding liability in trucking accidents is crucial for victims seeking fair compensation for their injuries and losses. In Georgia and Tennessee, truck accident cases involve intricate legal considerations, and multiple parties may share potential liability.
If you or a loved one were injured in a car or truck accident due to the negligence of another, our attorneys are here to help. The mission of Pritchard Injury Firm is to provide you and your family with the highest quality of legal help available and a professional, stress-free experience. Contact us today.