If you've suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one, an Atlanta injury lawyer can help answer your questions on how to win your personal injury claim in a Georgia personal injury court!
At S. Burke Law we are here to help give answers to these important questions. Our Frequently Asked Question database covers the common questions you may have regarding what to do after a serious accident, how to file a claim in personal injury court, and tips on how to win your personal injury claim. When researching information on the legal process following a serious accident you want legitimate advice from a source you can trust.
When you’ve suffered serious losses and damages from an accident due to the negligence of another you aren’t alone. An Atlanta injury lawyer from our office is always available to answer additional questions not addressed on our page. Contact us for a FREE consultation and get the answers you need to seek compensation for your losses!
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What Is Respondeat Superior?
Respondeat superior holds an employer liable when an employee, acting within the scope of his or her employment, causes your injury. Respondeat superior is the legal doctrine that may allow you to sue the trucking company when you are involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, for example.
How Respondeat Superior Works in Georgia
Georgia law makes an employer liable for the acts of an employee within the scope of the employer's business. If you suffer an injury in an accident with someone who is an employee, you need to prove that the employee acted negligently to hold the employer liable for your injuries.
Examples of Respondeat Superior
An employer may be liable for an accident caused by its employee if the employee was acting within the scope of employment at the time of the accident.
- A truck driver causes an auto accident while making a delivery.
- An office employee causes a wreck while driving to the bank to make a company deposit.
- A bouncer assaults a patron while working at a bar.
If the employee caused your injury while performing these or other work-related duties, you may be able to sue his or her employer.
Joint Liability When an Employee Causes Your Injury
To hold the employer liable for your injury under the doctrine of respondeat superior, you must prove three things:
- The employee owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused your injury.
- The person who caused your injury was an employee of the employer.
- The accident occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment.
Proving the Person Responsible for Your Injuries Was an Employee
You must prove the party that caused your injury was an employee.
Unfortunately, some employers try to argue that the person who caused your injury was an independent contractor. For example, the person may be working for a construction company or for a hospital under a contract. Generally, a company is not liable for the acts of independent contractors.
However, a lawyer at S. Burke Law can review the circumstances of your accident and the defendant’s employment. If the defendant is under the immediate direction and control of the company, he or she may be an employee even if a contract says otherwise.
What factors show that a company exercises direction and control over a person?
- The company controls the hours the person works.
- The company controls the details of the person’s work.
- The person cannot accept other jobs while working for the company.
These just a few scenarios that might suggest the person is an employee, not an independent contractor.
How a Lawyer Can Help
A personal injury lawyer can help you pursue legal action under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Your lawyer can investigate your accident and help you file a lawsuit or insurance claim seeking compensation for your damages.
To get help after a serious injury, call a personal injury lawyer at S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838.
How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Drive?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows truck drivers to drive a maximum of 11 hours per day.
Other hours of service regulations cargo truck drivers must follow include:
- A truck driver may only drive that maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of being off-duty.
- A truck driver can only remain on-duty for 14 hours.
- A truck driver cannot drive after 60/70 hours on-duty in seven/eight consecutive days and can only restart his next seven/eight-day work schedule after being off-duty for 34 or more consecutive hours.
- Truck drivers can only get behind the wheel if has been less than eight hours since they were off-duty or spent at least 30 minutes in the truck’s sleeper berth.
The FMCSA enacted these regulations to promote driver safety. It found in a 2007 study that 13 percent of large truck crashes involved driver fatigue.
Why Do Truck Drivers Stay Behind the Wheel Longer than Is Safe?
There are many reasons why drivers may attempt to drive beyond these limitations. Two of the most common include:
- The driver may want to complete his shipment ahead of schedule. In some cases, drivers receive payment per shipment, so they get more money if they can squeeze in another delivery.
- The driver feels pressured by his employer to stretch himself a bit further. In some cases, employers force their drivers to skip breaks to stay on schedule.
Why Is It So Dangerous for a Truck Driver to Operate a Rig While Fatigued?
A large truck is ungainly and can weigh 80,000 pounds. Safely operating a truck requires the utmost caution and alertness. If a driver is fatigued, he may not be able to perform a necessary evasive maneuver or safely navigate the road. This could lead to a deadly accident.
What Happens If a Driver Does Not Follow Regulations?
If a driver fails to follow regulations and causes an accident, he can be liable for any injuries or losses.
However, per Georgia’s vicarious liability laws, a trucking company can be liable for any actions its drivers take behind the wheel. If a truck driver chooses to drive longer than allowed, the truck driver will be liable for any accidents.
The trucking company can also be directly liable if it pressured its drivers to operate their rigs past allowable hours of service.
This is often good news for you because trucking companies have larger insurance policies than individual drivers. It also means you will be dealing with a large trucking company and an experienced insurance company. The team at S. Burke Law will not back down when faced with a trucking company and its insurer. In fact, Sheryl Burke used to work as an insurance adjuster so she knows how they operate.
How Can I Prove a Driver Was Fatigued When He Caused My Accident?
Most drivers will not readily admit they were fatigued or fell asleep behind the wheel. To prove a driver was drowsy, we can use:
- The driver’s logbooks: All truck drivers must fill out logbooks detailing how long they spent behind the wheel, when they took breaks, and when they slept and for how long. Truck drivers can either keep a manual log in a notebook or they can use the truck’s electronic data recorder.
- Surveillance video: Many trucking companies install cameras in the cabs of their trucks. If the truck involved in your accident was outfitted with a camera, we can watch the surveillance video and determine whether the driver was showing any signs of fatigue (e.g., yawning, rubbing his eyes, nodding off, or even falling asleep at the wheel).
- Eyewitness testimony: If an eyewitness saw the driver swerving, yawning, or driving recklessly directly before the accident, we can use them to back up our allegation of fatigue.
- Photos of the scene: We will examine photos of the scene for evidence of evasive maneuvers, such as skid marks. A lack of skid marks can show that the driver was asleep and did not attempt to brake or avoid the accident.
Unfortunately, most of this evidence is in the hands of the trucking company. This is why we will send a spoliation letter immediately to preserve and obtain the evidence we need.
Call Now for a Free Consultation
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident in the Atlanta area, discuss your case with the team at S. Burke Law. If we believe the driver was fatigued, we will gather the evidence necessary to prove it.Call us today at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation.
Truck Accident Without Insurance: What do I Do?
If you were in a truck accident without insurance, you may still be eligible to recover compensation.
Recovering Compensation for a Truck Accident While Uninsured
You must be able to prove the other driver was at least 50 percent at fault to be eligible for compensation. This is due to Georgia’s comparative negligence law which allows an injured party to recover compensation even if they contributed to the accident. However, they must also be less than 50 percent at fault for a crash to qualify for compensation.
How the Comparative Negligence Law Applies
For example, say a truck driver rear-ended you after you slammed on your brakes to avoid debris in the road. The truck driver was following you too closely, so the investigation found the trucking company liable for 90 percent of the damages. However, because one of your taillights had burnt out, the investigation found you 10 percent at fault.
You would be eligible for 90 percent of your damages demand. For example, if you requested $100,000, you would be able to recover $90,000. Unfortunately, you would be responsible for paying that last $10,000 out of pocket because you do not have insurance.
Holding the Truck Carrier Liable for Your Truck Wreck
As we stated above, you would hold the trucking company liable for your injuries. This is due to vicarious liability laws which state that an employer is responsible for any actions its employees take within the scope of their employment.
Holding the Truck Carrier Vicariously Liable
If a truck driver causes an accident while performing work-related duties, the truck carrier will likely be your liable party.
The truck carrier may be vicariously liable in any of the following situations:
- The truck driver was fatigued, intoxicated, or distracted
- The driver was driving recklessly (e.g., speeding, following too closely, etc.)
- The driver was negligent in any other way (e.g., failing to adequately check blind spots before changing lanes)
Holding the Truck Carrier Directly Liable
In some cases, the truck carrier can be directly liable. This is common in cases of negligent hiring or situations in which a driver felt pressured to drive past the legally allowed hours.
For example, say a truck carrier knew of an applicant’s history of driving while intoxicated. Even though the carrier knew another state had revoked the driver’s commercial license for a time in the past for DUI, it decides to take a chance on the driver. If that driver operates his truck under the influence and causes an accident, the truck carrier can be liable for negligent hiring.
An employer can also be liable for negligent hiring in other situations. A carrier can be liable if it did not:
- Adequately check references
- Conduct a sufficient background check
- Conduct a drug test before offering the driver a job
- Conduct a skills test
- Conduct a credentials check
A carrier can also be directly liable if it pressured or forced drivers to violate hours of service rules or to disobey traffic laws such as driving faster than posted speed limits to finish a delivery more quickly.
How S. Burke Law Can Help You Recover Compensation
Our team will handle your entire case from start to finish.
Building a Robust Case
We will build your case from the ground up, creating a convincing argument that establishes the truck carrier’s liability. We will gather all necessary evidence to prove the driver caused the accident.
Defending You Against Accusations of Liability
In addition to establishing the truck carrier’s liability, we will attempt to mitigate your own responsibility for the crash. This is important as every percentage of liability on your part decreases the compensation to which you are entitled. As truck crashes often lead to catastrophic or fatal injuries, even 10-percent liability on your part could cost you thousands or more.
Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
Accidents are complex in normal circumstances. But being involved in a crash with a commercial truck when you are uninsured takes that to another level. You likely feel like you are in a hopeless situation right now.
However, our team prides itself on representing personal injury victims with different stories and circumstances. Our truck accident lawyer can walk you through the details of your case, help determine who you can file a claim against, and ultimately help you get the compensation you need right now.
If you would like to hear more about how our law firm can help you, do not hesitate to call us at 404-842-7838 right now for a free consultation.