Tractor-trailer collisions / Commercial vehicle accidents
We have all experienced the tractor-trailer driver who nearly swerves into our lane on the highway or almost runs off the shoulder of the expressway at night. Often times, this type of dangerous driving is created by the ‘dollar over safety’ culture that resonates among the large trucking companies that supervise these drivers. Drivers and their companies both have a vested interest in seeing their load arrive at its destination in the fastest way possible. Federal motor carrier safety requirements are frequently avoided, disregarded or intentionally violated by these drivers and their companies in furtherance of their business interest.
Given the sheer weight and size of most tractor-trailer rigs, most collisions involving a motor carrier usually result in severe personal injuries to the victim in a passenger vehicle. Injury victims of tractor-trailer collisions need a lawyer who is comfortable wading through the endless trucking documents produced in discovery and the numerous federal regulations that trucking companies and their drivers must follow.
Mr. Houghton’s legal career began working as an associate attorney for one of the premier trucking plaintiff law firms in the country, Fried Rogers Goldberg LLC in Atlanta (www.frg-law.com) Mr. Houghton has litigated numerous cases across the state of Georgia involving commercial vehicles and tractor-trailers, and was an associate editor on the 2ndedition of his former firm’s publication Understanding Motor Carrier Claims (http://www.thetruckingattorneys.com/html/documents.html)
Trucking cases are quite unique and most practitioners make the mistake of handling a trucking case like a simple auto wreck case. Often times, punitive conduct can be revealed through extensive discovery requests and well-prepared depositions of the Defendant and Safety Personnel for the Defendant company. Under Georgia law, trucking companies are considered responsible for the actions or inactions of their drivers, and most commercial vehicles carry extensive liability insurance. Drivers are often incentivized by their company to falsify driver logs so that their hours appear to conform to federal requirements. Destruction or falsification of these logs gives rise to a legal presumption that the original unaltered logs would have revealed punitive conduct of the Defendant driver in purposefully violating these regulations. JB Hunt Transport Inc. v. Bentley, 427 S.E.2d 499 (Ga. 1993)
The right attorney will work tirelessly to reveal any aggravated conduct by the driver or the company as a whole through the discovery process and will prepare the case to be in a good posture for jury trial. The Houghton Law Firm is currently a counsel of record in numerous trucking cases in both state and federal court.
TIPS FOR VICTIMS OF TRACTOR-TRAILER COLLISIONS*
- Do not submit to a recorded statement by the trucking company or its insurer until you have consulted with legal counsel.
- Take numerous photos of property damage and injuries at the scene. Do not hesitate to use your camera phone.
- Always be courteous and respectful to the investigating officer at the scene; give the investigating officer a description of the facts and circumstances surrounding the collision and be careful to avoid opinions as to liability.
- Avoid any discussion with the truck driver regarding fault or liability