Trucking companies and truck drivers are subject to complicated federal and state laws and regulations. An experienced Lake Harbin truck accident attorney can evaluate how the laws apply to a victim's case. The Law Office of Shane Smith can help preserve essential evidence and help victims receive compensation from the truck driver, the trucking company and/or their insurance carriers.
Georgia law dictates that truck driver on state highways, just like any motor vehicle operator, is responsible for all injuries resulting from the negligent or careless operation of the vehicle. A driver who operates a vehicle with mechanical problems can be found negligent when the mechanical problems make that vehicle a roadway hazard.
The truck's owner is responsible for maintaining the vehicle such that it would not create a roadway hazard. The owner would be liable for the accident's resulting injuries or death if maintenance neglect is the cause of the fatal accident.
Evidence that a truck was not properly maintained or had preventable mechanical failures could cause the truck driver, the trucking company and its insurance carrier to be found legally responsible for a victim's injuries and damages, including wrongful death. This may include loss of wages, medical expenses and property damage.
A trucking company may be liable for an accident under certain circumstances:
- Negligent inspection and maintenance
Georgia statutes and Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require that commercial carriers conduct periodic inspections and perform regular maintenance and necessary repairs.
- Lease liability
A truck must display the trucking company's placard if a commercial carrier leases a driver and truck. Courts have found this to be similar to the employment concept of respondent superior (a Latin term meaning "let the master answer") where an employer is held responsible for an employee's actions.
- Trucking regulation violations
Trucking regulations impose wide-ranging safety standards regarding driver training and background checks, substance testing, truck maintenance and repairs, driver logbooks and hourly driving limitations.
- Employer liability
If the truck driver is employed by the trucking company then the concept of respondeat superior may apply. Trucking companies frequently claim that drivers are independent contractors but company records may indicate otherwise. A Georgia truck accident attorney can request the necessary evidence to prove a case.
- Negligent hiring
Regulations specify how trucking companies must do background checks for all drivers. A trucking company may be held responsible if it knew that a driver had moving violations or had substance abuse violations.
Trucking companies are only required to keep specific records about cabs, trailers and drivers for limited amounts of time. An attorney can put a trucking company on notice that it must preserve evidence related to the accident because an accident victim has a claim against the company. The accident-related evidence may subsequently be requested by the victim's attorney.
Preserved evidence may be used to prove that a trucking company or the truck driver in the accident did not follow federal mandates about resting times. Paperwork may indicate that a trucking company neglected warning signs about hazardous cab or trailer conditions.
If you or someone you know has been hurt in a truck accident, meet with a Lake Harbin truck accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Shane Smith by calling (770) 487-8999 today.