What are your compensation rights if you’ve been injured while driving a truck in Georgia?
Driving a truck is not an easy task, especially when doing long-distance hauls. Despite this, many trucking companies exert tremendous stress on their drivers. This pressure pushes some drivers to take unnecessary risks to fulfill their quotas. Not only is it mentally straining but it can also significantly increase the likelihood of a truck accident.
In 2012, 317,000 large truck motor vehicle accidents were reported in the United States, and more than 700 truck drivers lost their lives that year.
Truck accidents can result in severe damage. Even if the victim recuperates, they may live with a severe injury, such as spinal cord injury (SCI) that may lead to lifelong disability. Therefore, if you or a relative sustained a workplace truck accident injury, you might need to file for workers’ compensation.
Unfortunately, filing a work injury claim in a work-related truck accident may be more confusing and difficult than it should be. The overall procedure may take longer due to legalities and ongoing investigations. Furthermore, insurance companies may provide inadequate benefits that don’t cover the accident’s costs entirely.
If you or a loved one were injured as a truck driver, our Macon workers’ comp attorneys will provide the optimal legal representation to help secure the full compensation you deserve.
What are the common causes and types of truck accidents?
Every day, truck drivers across America put their lives on the line each time they sit behind the wheel. While safety measures, such as seat belts and airbags, may mitigate some damage, a high-speed collision will often result in some form of injury.
Here are the common causes of truck accidents across Georgia.
- Poor truck maintenance. Like all vehicles, big rigs and commercial trucks require proper maintenance to function correctly. However, some companies may ignore the need to service their vehicles in order to save a couple of bucks. This negligent behavior ends up putting the lives of their drivers in jeopardy. For example, worn brake pads, oil leaks and an overheating engine can increase the possibility of an avoidable truck accident.
- Truck driver negligence. Aside from technical difficulties, most truck accidents in Georgia are caused by truck drivers’ irresponsibility. Being alert and driving under the correct mindset is an essential part of road safety. However, some drivers ignore such principles and engage in reckless driving, tailgating, speeding and distracted driving. Other factors contributing to accidents include poor nutrition, substance abuse and fatigue.
- Overloading cargo. Controlling a massive 18-wheeler on its own is not an easy task. Yet, logistic companies that are looking to boost profits may encumber trucks with an excess load. This overload causes weight issues, disrupting the truck’s center of gravity and hydraulic system and adding more pressure on the wheels. If a tire were to blow, this could lead to an accident as the driver struggles to regain traction on the road.
- Bad weather conditions. Bad weather is another common cause of truck accidents in Georgia. Slick roads from rain, ice or snow result in less traction, making it difficult for large trucks to maneuver and brake on time. This can be dangerous when cutting corners or braking behind other vehicles. In addition, high winds can completely topple a tractor-trailer on its side.
- Tire blowouts. Despite having many wheels, the loss of a tire during transit can be disastrous to the driver and nearby motorists. Tire blowouts can occur anytime without warning and cause the driver to lose control of their rig.
Common truck driver injuries
About 23 percent of commercial truck accidents are fatal to the driver. Typically, the driver and passengers of the other small vehicle involved in a truck accident suffer more injuries; however, truck drivers can also be hurt. During a collision, truck drivers may sustain many physical injuries, including bruises, shattered bones, concussions and fractured vertebra.
Below are some of the most common truck driver injuries sustained after an accident:
- Broken ribs
- Trauma to the head
- Sprained/fractured legs or pelvis
- Back and spine injuries
- Neck injuries
- Torn tendons
- Internal bleeding
Depending on the severity of the injury sustained, truck accident victims may have to undergo amputation, plastic surgery or cope with a crippling disability for the rest of their lives. Aside from the physical effects, many survivors may deal with the ongoing emotional and mental turmoil, developing psychological disorders.
Are truckers eligible for workers’ compensation in Georgia?
Georgia law requires most companies with at least 3 employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Therefore, most truck drivers are permitted to collect compensation from their employer’s workers’ comp insurance company following a workplace injury.
To be eligible for coverage, you must be employed by a company that carries workers’ compensation and prove that you sustained a work-related injury.
If eligible, workers’ comp in Georgia provides the following benefits:
- Compensation for emergency medical treatment
- Ongoing medical care and therapy
- Disability benefits (such as PPD and PTD for permanent injury)
- Lost wages
- Funeral costs (in the event of a fatal truck accident)
What about truck owner-operators and independent contractors?
Truck owner-operators and independent contractors are typically not counted as employees under Georgia law. Instead, truckers who fall into this category will be required to secure workers’ comp for owner-operator coverage in order to obtain benefits.
However, employers and insurance companies often misclassify independent contractors in order to avoid paying out benefits. For this reason, it’s vital that you speak with a local truck accident attorney who can review your contract and the details of your employment in order to determine whether or not you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
When to consult experienced Georgia work injury attorneys
At the Georgia law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, we pride ourselves in offering dedicated and wholehearted legal representation for all injured truck drivers in Georgia. Consult our team of professional attorneys and attain the compensation and justice you deserve.