Though heavy trucks are a vital part of the Georgia economy, their presence does pose a significant risk to others on the road. A lot of the danger arises from the simple fact that these trucks are so large - a fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs just 4,000 pounds. This great disparity in size means that even a low-speed collision between a car and a semi-truck can have disastrous consequences.
Georgia trucking companies and truck drivers have a duty to prioritize safety and minimize the risk of accident. Part of this duty includes a responsibility to maintain their vehicles in reasonably safe condition.
A recent truck accident in Atlanta shows just how devastating the consequences can be when this responsibility isn't met. Last summer, an 8-year-old Georgia boy was killed when a piece of a transmission broke loose from a semi-truck and crashed through the windshield of an SUV in which the boy was riding. His mother and sister were injured as well.
After the accident, it became clear that the company that operated the broken truck had a long record of safety violations. According to federal safety officials, the company had previously been cited for a whole string of violations including loose wheels, missing wheel fasteners, defective axles, unsecured brake hoses and other mechanical problems. Federal records show that the company's vehicle maintenance record was worse than 94.6 of comparable trucking companies.
An investigation into the accident is still pending, so no official statements have been released regarding how and why the part came loose. However, the facts of the accident, combined with the company's poor safety record, indicate trucking company negligence and failure to maintain the truck may be to blame.
Georgia Trucking Accidents
Sadly, poor vehicle maintenance is a problem all across the trucking industry. Some of the most common defects include inoperative lamps and turn signals, defective warning lights, worn out tires and oil leaks. All of these things make it more likely for a serious accident to occur, either because the truck breaks down or because the driver cannot react appropriately to hazards in the road.
When an accident does happen, it is important for injured victims to understand that they have rights. If the accident was caused by truck driver or trucking company negligence, the victims may be able recover financial compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
However, trucking company negligence isn't always obvious in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Instead, the negligence only becomes evident after an investigation is launched, either by law enforcement or by the victims' attorneys.
As such, it is important for Georgia trucking accident victims to take steps to protect their rights soon after the crash. If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident with a tractor trailer, an Atlanta personal injury attorney can help you understand your options.