With their terrifying weight and size taking up massive amounts of space on roads, trucks are like accidents waiting to happen. If you’re a pedestrian or a car driver in a collision with a truck, the consequences may even be more catastrophic than a typical crash.
In fact, by comparing the numbers in 2016 and 2020, the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety revealed that large trucks, both commercial and noncommercial, accounted for 15% of the state’s fatal crashes. Between 2019 and 2020, large truck fatalities also increased by 15%.
For this reason, having heightened awareness and knowledge of both state laws, as governed by the Department of Public Safety, and federal regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration could help establish your case in the event of a deadly truck accident.
Follow trucking laws
Truck drivers must comply with these laws while operating their vehicles to ensure their and the road’s safety. If you’re the victim in your current situation, you may also consider the following rules to identify liability and recover compensation.
- Hours of service: Georgia follows federal laws on hours of service. Commercial truck drivers carrying property cannot exceed 14 consecutive driving hours. During duty, drivers must also allot 30 consecutive minutes for a quick break after driving for eight consecutive hours. Upon going off-duty, they must spend ten consecutive resting hours before hitting the road again. Also, those with passengers cannot go beyond the 15-hour cumulative driving limit.
On a weekly basis, commercial truck drivers cannot go over 60 driving hours during duty. They can only restart their workweek after 34 consecutive off-duty hours.
- Speeding: The state’s speeding laws depend on the location, road conditions and other relevant factors. But generally, 70 miles per hour on state highways is the maximum speed limit, which may reduce on specific areas, like schools and hazardous construction sites. Federal laws, on the other hand, base limits on the truck’s dimensions. For trucks weighing beyond 10,000 pounds, 65 miles per hour is the maximum limit.
- Lane usage: When driving on roads or highways with three lanes, commercial truck drivers must only operate on the right-hand lanes, unless they’re about to make a left turn. Similarly, on roads and highways with two lanes, they still cannot operate on the left lane, unless to overtake or turn left. Also, commercial truck drivers can only operate on specifically designated lanes on interstates with four or more lanes.
If the truck driver who hit you or your vehicle violated any of these laws, it may help solidify your case. But proving liability in a truck incident only gets more complex as you go. Under Georgia’s modified comparative negligence system, the truck driver’s and trucking company’s insurance teams may argue that you’re 50% or more to blame, which could mean you may not receive any damages for your injuries and other losses.
Stakes are high
Too much is on the line, especially now with the involvement of multiple parties and several laws under consideration. It is then urgent and crucial that you obtain legal services to have someone explain all the complexities to you, advocate for your rights and afford you the compensation you deserve.