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Semi-Truck and Commercial Vehicle Accidents – Know Your Rights

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Accidents involving large commercial vehicles such as a “semi-truck” or “18-wheeler” often have devastating consequences for the victims. The sheer size and weight of large trucks greatly increases the likelihood injuries or death will occur as the result of a collision.

Federal and State Regulations

Truck accident cases also pose a host of complicated legal issues for the personal injury attorney that normally are not present in a small vehicle crash, including numerous federal and state regulations that affect large commercial vehicles. These regulations, known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), affect everything from how the vehicles should be maintained to requirements for the health and driving history of the operators. A thorough knowledge of these and other statutes are crucial to proving liability for the accident and winning the case.

Most large commercial trucks traveling through Georgia are subject to a set of regulations by both federal and state agencies. The Georgia Public Service Commission adopts the rules for trucks traveling within the state of Georgia, which are enforced by the Georgia Dept. of Public Safety.  These rules incorporate most of the national regulations effecting commercial vehicles, the FMCSR.  There are also special rules for trucks hauling certain types of cargo, especially if they are classified by the FMCSR as a “hazardous material.”

Typically, the state and/or federal regulations will affect any vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds that is engaged in a commercial enterprise.  These vehicles are required to register with the Georgia Dept. of Transportation or the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, and are identifiable by a registration number, which must be displayed on the vehicle. As a general rule, if a crash involves a truck that has a U.S. DOT number visible it is likely the state and FMCSR regulations will apply to the accident. Gathering facts about how and why the vehicle operator and owners may have violated these regulations is critical to proving liability for the accident.

Insurance Coverage on Commercial Vehicles

Commercial vehicles also usually carry large liability insurance policies to cover potential accidents. A thorough knowledge of Georgia insurance law is necessary for the attorney working these cases, as well as the diligence to find every source of possible coverage to pay for damages caused by the accident. These types of cases also present issues of vicarious liability by the owners of the vehicles, opening the door to possible liability on behalf of the company who employs the driver or maintains the vehicle.

If your crash involves a vehicle that appears oversized it may be subject to at least some of the regulations affecting commercial vehicles. You need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with these issues and knowledgeable of Georgia and Federal regulations affecting commercial vehicles. Not all personal injury attorneys are familiar with the unique issues posed in a truck accident case.  Contact the attorneys at Jarrett & Price at (912) 401-8880 for a free consultation, and one of our attorneys will return your call. Our personal injury attorneys represent clients injured by commercial vehicles throughout northeast Georgia at our Habersham County office location in Clarkesville, Georgia. We also have offices servicing White County in Cleveland, Georgia, as well as an office serving all of southeast Georgia in Savannah.

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