The path of destruction that fatal truck accidents leave behind is a long road of recovery for the surviving loved ones of the victims involved. And, unfortunately, these truck accidents happen too often in the Macon area and throughout Georgia, whether because of driver error, tire blowouts, or speeding.
If you have a family member who was killed in a truck accident, you are probably shocked and confused about what to do next during this challenging time. An experienced Macon fatal truck accident lawyer can give you vital advice and help you decide the best course of action to strengthen your lawsuit against the negligent party.
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Truck Traffic and Accidents by the Numbers
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 3.5 million commercial truck drivers are on U.S. roadways each year, delivering 70% of the nation’s shipments for a profit of $700 billion. Despite those whopping numbers, the trucking industry makes a minimal amount on every dollar earned.
So does that mean trucking companies are cutting corners (and causing accidents) to make tight deadlines and improve profitability? The FMCSA reports that, out of the approximately 510,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2019, there were 4,479 fatal crashes.
The FMCSA’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System factors in a truck company’s fleet size, the number of drivers employed, and its CSA (Compliance, Safety, and Accountability) score. This is all assigned out to rate a company’s:
- Accident rates
- Out-of-Service (OOS) rates
- Enforcement cases
- Safety violations
Combined, these factors are a good sign of a company’s overall safety record, with an OOS showing the percentages of failed vehicle inspections.
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Why a Fatal Truck Accident Lawyer in Macon Is Needed
Truck accident lawsuit cases in Georgia are severely defended by the trucking companies because, despite the numbers discussed above, they (and their insurance carriers) know that Georgia’s comparative negligence law can work in their favor when cases are arbitrated to avoid or reduce injury claims.
When a two-vehicle truck accident case in Macon results in each driver being 50% at fault, both drivers can be denied a legal claim for their injuries and property damage. This law is why it is imperative that you have an aggressive personal injury attorney in Macon on your side when filing a claim after a truck accident.
Why Trucking Companies Should Be Held Responsible
Your experienced wrongful death attorney understands how responsible trucking companies should be for accident prevention. Large trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or up to 80,000 when fully loaded are known to be difficult to maneuver. Georgia state law sets the maximum length of these large trucks to 75 feet, which can include:
- Gas trucks
- Big rigs
- Garbage trucks
- Dump trucks
- Delivery trucks
Trucking companies are also responsible for hiring drivers who can operate these massive vehicles safely and properly training them to do so, maintaining their fleets, enforcing safe practices when loading and unloading, ensuring that safety inspections are not hurried, making sure employees are not driving on hazardous roads or extreme weather conditions, and never pressuring drivers to violate the hours-of-service rules. In Georgia, the hours-of-service rules are:
- Commercial truckers cannot drive more than 11 hours after taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Commercial truck drivers cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming off duty, which does not include breaks for eating or refueling.
Common Causes of Fatal Truck Accidents in Macon
If trucking companies do not follow the state or federally regulated safety laws, it could lead to a fatal truck accident. The most common causes include:
- Speeding to meet tight deadlines
- Fatigued drivers on the road for long distances or a long time with little rest
- Drunk or drugged truck drivers
- Inadequately trained drivers
- Poorly maintained vehicles – especially the brake system
- Improperly loaded cargo that does not follow the weight, size, and hazardous cargo regulations
Filing a Claim for Wrongful Death in Macon
According to Georgia law, only certain people can file a wrongful death claim against a trucking company and their insurance carrier for someone killed in a fatal truck accident. The settlement can compensate the living relatives to help them cope with the financial hardships experienced after losing their loved one.
It is highly recommended to go through this complicated process with the guidance of an experienced Macon fatal truck accident attorney before the company’s insurance carrier tries to settle for less. The defendant must be proven to be negligent.
Who Can File for Wrongful Death Benefits in Georgia
Those who are eligible for wrongful death benefits include:
- Surviving spouse and children (under the age of 18) of the deceased
- Surviving adult children, in the absence of the spouse
- Parents of the deceased, if the victim was not married
- An estate representative named in the will to distribute assets
Other relatives, like grandparents, step- or half-siblings, aunts or uncles, or cousins, typically cannot file a wrongful death claim for their loved one, unless they are named estate administrator for the deceased.
Georgia’s Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations to file wrongful death claims in Georgia is two years from the time of death. Compensation that is rewarded to the families of the fatal truck accident victim can be used to pay for:
- The full value of life damages, both economic and non-economic, such as how much money the deceased would have made, including wages, pensions, and other benefits, as well as intangible losses, like pain and loneliness.
- The estate claim, which covers expenses the family had to pay for their loved one’s injuries and eventual death, like medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and pain and suffering.
Contact a Fatal Truck Accident Attorney in Macon
You need strong legal representation to prove a trucking company and driver were negligent in your loved one’s death from a truck accident. Contact a fatal truck accident attorney in Macon to get started in gathering evidence and proof to seek justice from the negligent driver and maximum compensation for the fatality.