After experiencing any kind of car accident, you’re likely to have a lot of questions. Things can get even more confusing when a tractor trailer is involved. Trucking companies and truck drivers follow a different set of rules than other drivers, and due to the nature of their work and the vehicles they use to do it, they have a much higher duty of care than other drivers.
Below you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions posed to the team at Butler Wooten & Peak LLP about trucking accidents in the Atlanta area and throughout Georgia.
This is probably the most common question among new plaintiffs, and there is no direct answer. In any personal injury lawsuit, you can recover the damages inflicted upon you by the accident in question as well as other damages under certain conditions. For example, a plaintiff’s medical bills and property damage following an accident may only total $20,000, but if the nature of the injuries is serious, prolonged, or otherwise life-altering, a judge may award an additional $15,000 for pain and suffering. In this case, the plaintiff receives much more than the tangible losses involved in the incident.
Your attorney will advise you about your case’s value early. If you don’t stand to win enough to cover your possible legal fees, then it may not be worth pursuing a lawsuit. However, if your damages and losses are extensive it is more than likely worth filing suit.
The defendant in your case will be the person or party responsible for causing the accident. If a truck driver was operating his or her vehicle under the influence of alcohol, the driver will more than likely be the defendant in your case. If a trucking company failed to maintain their vehicles in accordance with industry regulations, the trucking company may be the defendant. If a defective vehicle part caused the accident, you may need to seek compensation through a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Some accidents may lead to multiple defendants. For example, a truck driver operating his vehicle under the influence swerves and startles another driver who then accelerates to a dangerous speed to avoid the truck, but causes an accident. In this situation both the truck driver and the driver of the other car share liability for the accident, and you may have to file a third-party claim against the other driver in tandem with a claim against the truck driver who was driving under the influence.
Georgia operates under a comparative negligence law, meaning that plaintiffs can still recover their losses from accidents they partially caused. A judge will assess the facts of the case and determine whether or not the plaintiff shared in the fault for the incident. If the judge deems the plaintiff to have some percentage of fault, the courts will lower the plaintiff’s case award by that percentage. For example, a plaintiff found 25% at fault for a $100,000 case would only receive $75,000 due to his or her fault percentage.
Most truck accidents fall under the purview of personal injury law, and many personal injury lawyers operate using a contingency fee billing structure. This means that you only have to pay legal fees if you win your case. If an attorney has a different fee structure, make absolutely certain that you are comfortable with how he or she bills before agreeing to representation. Some lawyers charge hourly rates for their time, and a case lasting months or years can be very expensive.
The attorneys at Butler Wooten & Peak LLP believe in aggressively pursuing justice on behalf of our clients, and we offer free case evaluations to potential clients. If you have any concerns about a recent trucking accident or simply want to know your odds of securing compensation for your losses through a lawsuit, reach out to our team to meet with one of our attorneys. During your free consultation, we will assess your situation and let you know how we can help and what type of compensation you can expect from your case.