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Marietta Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Stay safe on the road in autumn

When Georgia residents hit the road in the autumn, they may not consider the fact that there are new hazards they need to be aware of. There are a few hazards specific to this season and it is good for people to be aware of them before they start driving.

Some people may think they only need to worry about sun glare in the summer. The American Association of Retired Persons says that people usually still need to think about glare once autumn hits. This is because the sun gets nearer to the horizon during this season. People tend to experience more glare because the changed angle means the sun can reflect off more buildings and cars. Because of this, it is important for people to make sure they have good visibility and keep their sunglasses within reach. Additionally, the road may sometimes be more slippery because of the falling leaves. It is a good idea for people to slow down when they drive down roads covered with leaves, especially if the road is also damp.

When truckers are pressured to perform

It may be easy for you and others in Marietta to view driving a semi-truck or tractor-trailer as a lifestyle other than hat it truly is: a profession. This may be the reason why so many of those that come to see us here at Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli, LLP following a truck accident are so quick to assign all of the blame to the driver. Truckers face many of the same professional pressures that you do, including the pressure to perform. If such pressure is being applied by a motor carrier, you might be right in asking whether or not it too might be liable if and when an accident occurs. 

Like you, truck drivers may push themselves (and their vehicles) to and sometimes even beyond their limits in order to please their employers. While you (and them) may simply be trying to be the best employee you can be, oftentimes such exertion can be due to employers requiring it. Indeed, when researching the various factors that cause truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that drivers often cited work pressure from their employers as a reason why they operated their vehicles in a manner that led to accidents. 

Recognizing dangerous teen driver tendencies

When one is involved in a car accident caused by a teenage driver in Marietta, he or she may want to give the youthful motorist a pass due to said teen's inexperience behind the wheel. However, the expenses that can often accompany such an accident may make it necessary for him or her to seek compensation. While a teen would likely not have the resources needed to help cover one's accident costs, his or her parents might. Yet in order to hold a parent responsible for the actions of a teen driver, one must typically apply the legal principle of negligent entrustment to his or her case. 

Negligent entrustment allows liability for an accident to be placed on a third party in certain situations. In a recent ruling issued by the Court of Appeals for the state of Georgia, two elements were recognized as having to be present in order for this doctrine to apply. First, it must be proven that the owner of a vehicle entrusted it to a driver knowing that the driver was inexperienced and/or incompetent. Next, it needs to be shown that the incompetent driver's negligence was the proximate cause of an accident. 

Improper braking can cause tragic truck accidents

A jackknife truck accident is one of the scariest crashes that can occur on Georgia highways because of its potential to involve multiple other vehicles and their occupants. The length of a tractor-trailer and the truck pulling it can cross several lanes of traffic as it slides out of control, blocking other lanes and causing vehicle after vehicle to crash into it and each other. The results are often catastrophic, as many can remember was the case two years ago, when four tractor-trailers and a pickup truck were involved in an accident that killed both occupants of the pickup.

HowStuffWorks explains that jackknifing essentially is a loss of traction, which can happen easily on slick roads. If the tires begin skidding and the driver panics and slams on the brakes, they can lock and leave wheels without the traction needed to stop. If the wheels lock on either the tractor or trailer, the traction loss allows the rig to swing sideways, coming up alongside the tractor in an L-shape, or jackknife.

Is whiplash a real injury?

If you are like many people in Georgia, you may well have been in a group where someone has made a joke about whiplash. This is one of those injuries that somehow many people fail to take seriously yet it can be a real problem and definitely requires medical attention. It is one reason why close observation of someone after even a seemingly minor fender bender accident may be important.

As explained by WebMD, a person who has been in an accident in which their head is suddently jolted in a to and fro motion may not exhibit any symptoms of whiplash immediately after the crash. Onsent of symptoms may be delayed even though the injury has already taken place. Being hit from behind in a vehicle is a classic situation that may result in a whiplash injury.

Richmond Hill accident leaves one dead, others injured

Thanks to their massive size, the semi-trucks and tractor-trailers seen traveling on the roads in and around Marietta can cause extensive devastation if and when they are involved in accidents. For this reason, truck drivers are well-trained in the control of their vehicles. On top of that, they are versed in safe and defensive driving techniques, essentially assuming the added responsibility of protecting others from the risks their vehicles cause. A failure to fulfill that responsibility might result in tragedy, as well as added criminal and civil culpability being assigned to the responsible truck driver. 

A recent multi-car crash in Richmond Hill may serve as a sad reminder of what might happen when a trucker's apparent negligence affects others on the road. The vehicle in question was reportedly forced into the center lane of I-95 into order to avoid colliding with the slower-moving traffic ahead of it. This resulted in a collision with another semi-truck, which ultimately triggered a chain reaction that saw a nearby SUV pushed over a concrete barrier onto the adjacent railroad tracks, another SUV being rear-ended, and still a third being pinned against the concrete barrier and ultimately bursting into flames. Sadly, the woman driving the burning vehicle was unable to make it out. Her male passenger was (though he did sustain burns in the process), as did the driver of the vehicle thrown onto the train tracks. 

Holding truck companies liable for accidents

The damages that result from an accident with a semi-truck or tractor-trailer in Marietta can be massive. Often, accident victims are left with little choice but to seek compensation from those responsible due to auto insurance payouts not covering all of their expenses. Liability can certainly be placed on truckers who cause accidents, yet what about the companies they work for? Given that truckers are acting as the agents of motor carriers, then one might assume that those companies should share in the liability

The legal principle of respondeat superior allows for this. Per the Cornell Law School, "respondeat superior" is defined as a form of vicarious liability assigned to employers for accidents caused by employees while those employees are in the course of fulfilling their job responsibilities. In the case of a truck driver, if he or she causes an accident while completing a delivery or route, it can certainly be argued that such actions are within the course of his or her employment. This would (in theory) allow accident victims to also seek compensation from the motor carriers that the truckers work for. 

How distracting is eating while driving?

Imagine the following scenario: you are driving along when suddenly, another car plows into you. While you are able to avoid injury, the damage to your vehicle is extensive enough that you know it will be costly. As you walk up to speak with the driver that hit, you notice food wrappers strewn about his or her front seat, and fresh grease and condiment stains on his or her shirt, no doubt indicating that he or she had been eating something when the accident occurred. 

If you do not need to imagine this situation due to it already having happened to you, then one question likely remains fixed in your mind: was the person who hit you being negligent by eating while driving? With all of added attention being placed on distracted driving recently, it seems surprising that eating while driving has been overlooked in this argument. Perhaps it is because of the assumption that eating is such a natural act that it hardly seems distracting. 

Detailing truck driver hours-of-service regulations

A truck accident in Marietta can leave you and your family devastated and demoralized, with a mountain of medical and repair bills waiting for you once you are able to get over the shock the so often accompanies such incidents. Several of the clients that we here at Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli, LLP have worked with in the past have faced this same situation. Like you, they also wanted to know what may have caused their accidents. Like them, you might be even more perturbed than you currently are if you find out that your accident could have easily been avoided.

While truck drivers undergo rigorous training before they are allowed to get behind it wheel, it should be remembered that they are still subject to the same stresses and issues that you and other motorists must endure. One of those is fatigue. Indeed, drowsy driving has been a problem that has plagued the trucking industry. Federal regulations have been created to stop truckers from stretching themselves too thin. These include hours-of-service regulations, which (according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) include:

  •         Limiting diving shifts to 11 hours after having spent 10 hours off duty
  •         Limiting overall driving periods to 14 consecutive hours (again, after having spent 10 hours off duty)
  •         Only allowing drivers to drive between 60-70 hours over a period of 7-8 days
  •         Prohibiting drivers from driving more than 8 consecutive hours without taking a 30-minute break

How many crashes are caused by vehicle problems?

Traffic collisions have many different causes, such as distracted driving, drowsiness, intoxication, and carelessness, to name a few. However, some accidents are the result of vehicle problems, such as faulty brakes or a blown-out tire. Unfortunately, many people drive around in vehicles that are not safe and should not be on the road, putting innocent lives at risk and threatening their own well-being also. As a result, it is crucial for drivers to understand just how many accidents happen because of problems related to vehicles.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration states that 15,000 motor vehicle crashes were estimated to have been caused by problems with tires between 2005 and 2007, according to data they collected. During this same time frame, an estimated 10,000 accidents involved brake problems, while an estimated 17,000 involved unknown or other vehicle problems. It is clear that problems with a vehicle play a major role in the number of motor vehicle crashes that happen every year.

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