What To Do After A Truck Accident
In Georgia, the laws that apply to an accident between a commercial truck and a privately-owned passenger vehicle are different than the laws that pertain to accidents between private vehicles. If you should have the misfortune of loss or injury resulting from an accident involving a commercial truck, then know there will be procedures and actions taken that will be very different than those relating to an accident with another passenger vehicle.
Before setting forth the specifics, let’s be clear that this blog is written within the context that the driver and the passengers in the personal vehicle can gather information on their behalf immediately after the accident. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case.
Given the weight and size of a commercial truck against that of a private vehicle, regardless of fault, there are often serious injuries to those in the passenger vehicle. It is common that the gathering of information and the identification of witnesses will be handled by the first responders at the scene. This information, along with the police report, must be obtained as soon as practicable after the accident on your behalf.
First and most important, Georgia law provides that accident reports must be filed if an accident caused an injury or death, or if property damage may exceed $500 to repair.
Another point for clarification is Georgia’s definition of a commercial truck. Generally, all tractor-trailers fall under the definition of commercial trucks. The lighter-weight trucks used to transport freight or passengers for compensation qualifies as commercial trucks. A wrecker and tow truck are also recognized as commercial trucks.
The definition of a commercial truck is not limited to the 18-wheeler tractor-trailers.
An accident involving a commercial truck will fall under the jurisdiction of Georgia and Federal laws. The Federal rules regulate the companies owning tractor-trailers operating in multiple states and carrying freight across state lines. Georgia has adopted these Federal rules to regulate commercial trucking in the state.
In most commercial truck accidents, both the Federal and the Georgia rules will apply. There are technicalities and procedures at both the Federal and the State levels that need to be known and followed.
What To Do at the Scene
The following are standard actions taken at the accident’s scene:
- Dial 911 for first responders and emergency vehicles
- Check the condition of your passengers and others involved in the accident
- Obtain relevant information on the truck driver and the owners of the truck and the cargo
- Identify any witnesses and obtain their information
Again, these steps will be performed by the first responders at the scene, and all information will be made available to you and your attorney soon after.
There is more information to be gathered at the scene of a truck accident than the contact information for the truck driver. There will be information gathered as to the compliance with Federal and State laws prior to the accident. Inquiries need to be made as to the owner of the truck and of the cargo. Often, these are different parties carrying different insurance policies. Information needs to be gathered as to the manufacturer of the truck and those responsible for its maintenance if mechanical failure is suspected as the cause.
For your position to be protected and adequately represented, it is imperative to retain a personal injury attorney experienced in representing the injured in a truck accident. Due to the layered applications of the Federal and State laws and the identification of the responsible parties, the attorney’s expertise is essential for your representation.