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As anyone who travels the I-85 through Atlanta on a regular basis, traffic can be heavy, and it seems as if you can’t go more than a mile without seeing at least one commercial truck sharing the road with you. As with any busy interstate, commercial truck vs. cars happen almost on a weekly basis.
Being involved in an accident with a commercial truck can lead to serious injuries, and, in some cases, death. Georgia State Patrol usually dispatches officers with better training and in many cases, they send the SCRT unit to completely reconstruct the crash and to determine if a crime occurred. The problem is, they do not always have the victim’s best interests at heart. Their decision to charge or not is really an analysis of whether the prosecutor can make the case stick to justify all the work that goes into the investigation. Just because a crash is not prosecutable from a criminal perspective does not mean there is not a civil wrong and a valid negligence case against the driver.
Here are some examples of recent crashes and the legal analysis that an attorney would bring to the situation. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident with a tractor-trailer in Atlanta, the law offices of Christopher Simon urges you to seek out the assistance of a qualified Atlanta truck accident attorney who specializes in tractor-trailer accidents.
In April of 2018, a 40- year old man was killed on I-85. A semi-truck was broken down in the far-right lane and stopped. The driver of the truck had placed warning signals. A man driving a pick-up truck didn’t realize the tractor-trailer was stopped and crashed into the rear end of the semi at high-speed. The man died at the scene. The driver of the semi wasn’t injured. On its face, this appears to be the fault of the driver for hitting the truck, but that is not the end of the analysis.
We handled a fatality case in Macon for a truck driver who ran into another truck that was stopped in a travel lane at night due to a minor, prior side-swipe collision. Although liability was denied, our investigation revealed that the vehicle had been in the lane of travel for at least 10 minutes and there was no reason for it to be still in the roadway.
On the i-85 crash, the fact that it occurred in daylight will hurt the plaintiff’s claims, but there remain issues to be explored such as 1) why didn’t the tractor-trailer driver steer the truck onto the emergency lane and 2) were the warning signs placed far enough back to give sufficient warning.
A woman was killed, and 3 others suffered serious injuries when their sport utility vehicle was forced from its lane by a semi-truck and into another truck.
Witnesses to the accident stated that the tractor-trailer was changing lanes to get into the lane occupied by a Nissan Pathfinder, and forced the Nissan into a box truck. Once the collision occurred, the Nissan struck a steep hill between I-85 and the ramp at Steve Reynolds Boulevard.
The Nissan flipped several times ejecting the woman who was in the front passenger seat. The driver of the box truck cooperated with police, but the tractor-trailer driver didn’t stop. The police investigation unit later located the tractor-trailer in Cobb County and interviewed the driver.
Tractor-trailer drivers will often claim that they did not know they were involved in a crash and just keep driving. While this is sometimes true, oftentimes they are fleeing the scene because they don’t want to risk their license being suspended or losing their job. In this case, the police work to track down the ghost truck is excellent.
On I-85 south, a police officer and FedEx semi-truck driver were injured in a crash. According to reports, the FedEx truck was heading south when it hit a patrol car that was performing a traffic stop.
The officer had walked up to the car he’d pulled over and as he was walking back to his patrol car, the FedEx tractor-trailer crashed into his vehicle shattering the glass. The impact of the crash caused the patrol car to hit the policeman in the leg, but he wasn’t injured seriously.
The FedEx tractor-trailer overturned off the road leaving the driver trapped inside. Crews used the jaws of life to extract him from the cab of the truck and he was airlifted to a local hospital.
Georgia has a law requiring vehicles to pull out of the lane of travel to the left when an officer has pulled a driver over for officer safety. The truck driver will likely be charged in the crash and is at fault.
In late May of 2018, a car ran into the rear of a tractor-trailer that was stopped on an exit ramp. The person driving the car was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident is still being investigated by the Georgia State Patrol but the key issues are whether the tractor-trailer was legally stopped for traffic or using the ramp emergency lane for a rest, which many drivers do. Tractor-trailer drivers are subject to a multitude of federal and state rules on safety and driving habits. A case that may seem hopeless at first can be cracked wide open with good lawyering and detective work.