Runaway Truck Accidents

Georgia Runaway Truck Accident Lawyers, Lawsuits and Settlements

Being on the road with a runaway truck in Georgia is a frightening event. Fortunately, many roads have truck turnoffs and ramps so that if the driver has lost control of the truck, there is an opportunity to stop the 18-wheeled missile before it kills, maims, or severely injures someone. Truck drivers must be aware of the possibility that their brakes might fail when going downhill and know how to extricate themselves from the situation without causing harm. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.

In fact, GDOT provides specific instructions about how a truck driver in Georgia should control his vehicle when descending steep grades and how to control the truck with the engine brakes. GDOT’s regulations specifically state that the driver should use the truck brakes only to assist slowing the vehicle down in conjunction with the engine brakes. Exclusively using the pedal brakes will cause them to overheat and fail.

Irrespective of whether the situation involves a dislodged trailer or a tractor-trailer whose brakes have failed, the event could have been avoided if the driver performed the appropriate checks and inspections during a pre-trip check or an inspection while en route to its destination. In Georgia, the Department of Transportation (GDOT) announced regulations that require a truck driver to inspect all braking systems, the tires, air pressure, suspension, as well as the fifth wheel and trailer connection.

GDOT’s regulations discuss the driver’s responsibility to inspect the coupling device and trailer combination thoroughly. Pursuant to the regulations, a driver must:

  • Check for missing or broken parts,
  • Make sure the fifth wheel is adequately greased otherwise the driver will experience steering problems,
  • Ensure the safety handle is in the auto-lock position,
  • Inspect the kingpin to be sure it is free of bends, breaks, and other damage,
  • Check the fifth wheel after coupling to make sure it is in the locked position,
  • Connect airlines and emergency lines,
  • Inspect air brakes on trailer,
  • Inspect coupling by getting under the fifth wheel to make certain the jaws of the fifth wheel are securely fastened around the kingpin, and
  • Test anti-lock braking systems.

Following these procedures carefully should ensure that the trailer does not separate from the tractor. Failure to do so could cause the trailer to comes loose after striking a pothole, swerving to avoid an obstacle or a sudden load shift. The impact can free the trailer from the hitch and send the trailer out of control.

Liability for the damages caused by a runaway tractor or trailer will be apportioned according to the fault of the entities involved. For example, the driver and the trucking company could be liable for damages. Additionally, truck manufacturers and parts manufacturers could be liable for damages if a defective product they manufactured caused or contributed to the accident.

People injured by runaway tractors or trailers may be entitled to receive compensation for their damages. In Georgia, a victim of a runaway tractor or trailer may receive compensation for medical bills caused by the accident, compensation for future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, compensation for a lost limb or paralysis, as well as pain and suffering. If a loved one died in a runaway truck crash in Georgia, then the estate or the next of kin of the deceased victim can receive compensation for the wrongful death of their family member.

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