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Truck Accident FAQ

Accidents that involve trucks can often be very serious and lead to major injuries or even death. If you were involved in a truck accident, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind that you would like to have answered. That's where talking to a personal injury attorney can help. The attorneys at Slappey & Sadd have represented many victims who were involved in truck accidents. We can answer questions about your situation and provide guidance on how to proceed. Below are a few of the most common questions we are asked by truck accident victims, followed by our answers.

Who is Responsible for my Accident?

Although it might seem like the truck driver individually was responsible for your accident, liability in these cases most often is linked to the trucking company that employed the driver. This is due to the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which essentially means that employers are liable for their employee's negligent acts. This rule often works out in favor of truck accident victims, since trucking companies have much deeper pockets to pay settlements than individual drivers.

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What if This Accident was Partially my Fault?

You can still recover even if you were partially at fault for the accident. This is because the state of Georgia adheres to the modified comparative negligence doctrine, which holds that a plaintiff can recover whatever portion of the damages they were not at fault for, as long as their fault is less than 50%. For example, let's say you are involved in a truck accident in which the driver sideswiped you while you were passing them on the right. Your damages are $10,000. A jury determines that you were 25% at fault for the accident and the truck driver was 75% at fault. Under Georgia's modified comparative scheme, you would be entitled to collect the portion of the damages for which you were not liable-in this case, $7,500.

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Who can I Seek Compensation From?

In a truck accident case, there are several parties who could be found liable for the accident. These parties can include the trucking company that employed the driver, a mechanic who worked on the truck, the manufacturer of a component part of the truck, or the shipper that loaded the freight onto the truck. If the truck accident was caused by a defective part, then your action would likely be based on products liability.

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How Much can I Recover?

Damages are awarded to the plaintiff in a personal injury case in order to make him or her "whole," and are thus compensatory in nature. The damages awarded are intended to put the plaintiff in the same position they would have been in had the accident not occurred. In some scenarios, this isn't possible, but the compensation should reflect this effort.

Some examples of compensatory damages in a truck accident case include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement

Because these damages are compensatory, the actual dollar amount you could receive in a truck accident case depends upon how seriously you were injured. The more severe your injury, the higher your damages award will be.

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How Long Will it Take to Reach a Settlement?

It depends. Insurance companies are usually willing to offer an initial settlement shortly after the accident takes place. However, these offers are generally "lowball" offers and likely will not compensate you for the full value of your damages. If that is the case, we will begin the pre-trial process, which consists mostly of obtaining evidence from all opposing parties through discovery. The discovery process involves interviews, depositions, and requests for documents. Depending on how responsive the other side is, this process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. Often, the defendant will offer to settle the case during the discovery process if it becomes clear that the plaintiff has a strong case.

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Will my Case go to Trial?

Probably not. The Justice Department estimates that fewer than 3% of all civil cases ever make it to the trial stage. However, this doesn't guarantee that your case won't go to trial. If the plaintiff and the defendant are unable to come to an agreement in the form of a settlement, then one party may force the other into court in order to let a judge decide the issue.

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What Happens if I Lose my Case?

Slappey & Sadd operates on a contingent fee basis, which means that you only pay our attorneys' fees if we win your case. With a contingent fee arrangement, the lawyer will agree to accept a certain percentage of the recovery as payment for his or her legal services. If you win the case, the attorneys' fees will be paid out of the money awarded to you. If you lose the case, you will not receive an award, which means you will not be required to pay your attorneys' fees.

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How Common are Accidents Like Mine?

Unfortunately, accidents between trucks and passenger vehicles are extremely common. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), of the approximately 415,000 police-reported crashes involving trucks in 2015 (the latest year for which statistics are available), 20% (or 83,000) were injury crashes, while 1% (3,598) were fatal crashes. There is also evidence that the frequency of truck accidents leading to injuries is increasing. According to the same FMCSA report, the number of injury crashes involving large trucks or buses decreased steadily from 89,000 in 2005 to 60,000 in 2009 (a decline of 33%). Unfortunately, this was followed by an increase of 62% from 2009 to 2015. Thus, you are far from alone in experiencing these kinds of accidents.

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Contact an Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney

If you have any questions about truck accidents in general or have questions and concerns about your specific situation, we would be happy to assist you. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 888.474.9616. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Columbus, Fort Benning, and Loganville.

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