Big Truck Accidents
Reduced Contingency Fee
If you have a family member who was killed due to the negligence of the driver of a tractor-trailer, we offer a reduced contingency arrangement. For any individual who retains the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel under this circumstance, we offer a contingency fee of 25% of the gross amount recovered for any wrongful death trucking case that settles before a lawsuit is filed. If a lawsuit has to be filed, our contingency fee will be only 30% of the gross amount recovered. We are able to provide a reduced contingency fee because we are confident that we will maximize your recovery for your family’s wrongful death claim related to a claim against a big truck company.
Attorney Walter Gabriel has built a career representing the interests of those who have been harmed in various personal injury scenarios, including accidents that involve big trucks. He has worked on multiple sides of a dispute — as a prosecutor and now as a plaintiff’s-side attorney — and is therefore well-positioned to develop creative solutions to a challenging accident case.
How Attorney’s Fees Are Normally Charged in Trucking Accidents
A contingency fee is an arrangement that exists to level the playing field between the individual who is injured and what is often the multi-million dollar corporation that is the defendant in the case. Under a standard hourly fee agreement, the client is charged more as the attorney works more on the client’s case. This means that the client would owe the client’s own attorney several thousands of dollars for work done on the case before the case settles or ends with a jury verdict. This arrangement would cause most personal injury cases not to proceed with a plaintiff’s attorney, as the out-of-pocket cost into the thousands would be too costly for most people.
Under a contingency agreement, the attorney represents the client with no upfront legal fee. The attorney represents the client under the basic premise that if no money is recovered for the client, no legal fee is owed to the attorney. And if money is recovered on behalf of the client, the legal fees come directly from the settlement. So regardless of whether money is recovered on behalf of the injured client, money does not come from the client’s funds to the client’s plaintiff’s attorney.
For trucking accidents, many attorney contingency arrangements provide that the attorney’s fee is 33% of the gross amount recovered pre-suit, and 40% of what is recovered after a lawsuit is filed. The concept of a contingency agreement works for the client for a number of reasons. First, if nothing is recovered on behalf of the client, nothing is owed to the law firm representing the client. Second, the financial interests of the law firm and client are directly aligned, as when more money is recovered on behalf of the client, that means the law firm representing the client earns more money as well.
Atlanta Tractor-Trailer Lawyer
Truck accidents — particularly those involving “big trucks,” or “18 wheelers” such as a trailer truck or large passenger bus — expose others on the road to unique dangers. Though negligent operation of a vehicle is always dangerous, the negligent operation of a truck may lead to an accident that has a higher chance of causing catastrophic injuries, or even death. Big trucks are not only less maneuverable than smaller vehicles, but the force of impact tends to be significantly greater due to the massive size and weight of these vehicles. As such, the injuries suffered by the victims of a truck accident are more likely to be severe, and even in some cases catastrophic.
Crash data seems to support these conclusions. According to a recent report conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2016 alone, there were 4,400 fatal crashes and 119,000 injury crashes involving large trucks. Tractor-trailer operators are subject to a number of federal regulations that place strict regulations on how they operate their tractor-trailers. Some items that are regulated include speed, roadways that they are able to drive on, and driving time per day.
If you’ve been injured in a big truck accident, we encourage you to contact the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC to learn more about how we can help you secure the compensation you deserve.
Factors Contributing to Truck Accidents
A number of factors can contribute to truck accidents, including but not limited to:
- Failure to properly maintain equipment
- Driver is unlicensed (or has an expired or inadequate license)
- Improper loading
- Negligent operation of vehicle on sharp turns
- Poor weather conditions
- Reckless driving
- Intoxicated driving
- Distracted driving (i.e., cell phone use)
In the trucking industry, it’s quite common for employers to impose challenging schedules (and incentives) on their drivers. As such, drivers are often fatigued and sleep-deprived, and they use stimulants to help tackle their schedule. This can expose others to an unreasonable risk of harm.
How Big is the Problem
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) defines a large truck as is any medium or heavy truck, excluding buses and motor homes, with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds. These large trucks can include commercial and non-commercial vehicles. According to the NHTSA, seventy-nine percent of the large trucks involved in fatal traffic crashes were heavy large trucks (GVWR > 26,000 lbs.) in 2017.
The NHTSA reported that fatalities in crashes involving large trucks increased by 9.0 percent from 4,369 in 2016 to 4,761 in 2017. Over a 10-year period there was a 12-percent increase in the total number of people killed in large-truck crashes, from 4,245 fatalities in 2008 to 4,761 fatalities in 2017. Of the fatalities in 2017:
Liability Issues in Big Truck Accident Lawsuits
Big truck accidents often involve commercial vehicles in which the driver is an employee acting within the course and scope of their employment. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to sue and recover damages from their employer pursuant to various theories of liability. When vicarious liability is established, this means the accident victim is potentially entitled to receive substantially more money for his/her case, as the company owing the truck often has several millions of dollars of liability insurance coverage on their vehicle.
According to Georgia state law, “[e]very person shall be liable for torts committed by… his servant by his command or in the prosecution and within the scope of his business, whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily.” O.C.G.A. § 51-2-2. This Georgia statute imputes liability upon employers in a broad set of circumstances, which includes liability on behalf of trucking companies when their employees cause a trucking accident.
In Georgia, as in any other state, a person who sustains injury from being hit by a driver of a commercial vehicle is much more likely to sustain severe injury. Also in Georgia as in other states, employers are strictly liable for damages caused by their employees during the course and scope of their employment (i.e., while performing the functions of their employment, such as driving a truck). If you are injured due to the negligence of a truck driver, then you have a right of action against their employer for damages, so long as the truck driver was acting in the course and scope of employment.
Negligent Hiring, Training, Supervision
The state of Georgia also recognizes an independent negligence claim brought against the employer for failing to adequately hire, train, or supervise an employee (thus contributing to the plaintiff’s injuries).
How does this work?
Suppose that you are seriously injured by a truck driver who was intoxicated at the time of the accident. After securing the assistance of an attorney, you discover that the truck driver was employed by a shipping company. If the shipping company knew that the truck driver was a struggling alcoholic, then they could arguably be held liable for negligently hiring and supervising the driver because the company should have refused to hire the driver after learning of the issue, or the employer should have prevented them from driving until the issue was resolved.
Contact the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC for a Free and Confidential Consultation
The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC is a personal injury firm with extensive experience handling motor vehicle accident claims, including those that involve “big trucks” category vehicles — 18-wheelers, vans, buses, and other large vehicles. Successfully litigating such disputes requires a deep understanding of the hierarchies of responsibility that contributed to or otherwise influenced the accident.
We are a fundamentally client-oriented firm. We closely collaborate with our clients and take the time to learn about their goals and concerns. This informational advantage enables us to act swiftly and decisively when opportunities arise in litigation.
Find out if you have a case. Call 404-549-6742 or submit a case evaluation form online to request a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Atlanta personal injury lawyer at the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC today.