Georgia Truck Accident Lawyer

This video features Christy Childers, a Personal Injury attorney based in Georgia.

Who is Liable for 18-Wheeler Crashes?

Video Transcript:

Christy Childers: 

There's all kinds of pressuring factors, but the good companies face the same pressures, and they put safety first. And that's, as the motoring public, what we have to expect and demand.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Are trucking companies putting you and your family at risk on the roadways by pushing their drivers to unsafe limits? We're gonna find out right now. Because that's what we're going to ask on this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest is Georgia attorney, Christy Childers who's based in Macon, Georgia. And I wanna remind you right up front, if you wanna ask Christy any questions about your situation, just go to askthelawyers.com. Click the button at the top that says Ask a Lawyer. It'll walk you right through the very simple process. Or of course, you can always call the phone number you'll see on the screen during our conversation. Christy, thank you so much for helping us out today. I appreciate it.

Christy Childers: 

I'm glad to be here.

Rob Rosenthal: So let's just get this right off the top. Truck drivers are essential workers. People appreciate what they do. And these days, the last couple of years, now more than ever. Tell me just a little bit about your experience in your practice working with truck drivers, both as clients and against them as defendants. Tell me a little bit about your experience there.

Christy Childers: 

So I've represented lots of safe truck drivers. And they're some of my favorite clients. Because they are professionals. Most of the time, they have really great driving records, which helps me on their cases. And a lot of times those are tractor-trailer versus tractor-trailer crashes. On the other side of things, I have run up against unsafe trucking companies that do push their drivers beyond the limits.

Rob Rosenthal: 

And when you come across these accidents, say truck versus passenger vehicle, is it often the truck driver is just a bad driver? What's usually the cause of those in your experience?

Christy Childers: 

So when you have a tractor-trailer versus passenger car wreck, part of what we do right out from the beginning is determine fault. And so it's not a real easy answer to the question. But the reason why you need a lawyer is because it's not an easy question. We get to work right off the bat, downloading all of the data we can from all the various sources, both on the tractor-trailer and in any outside sources that the company may have. We send a letter of preservation of evidence called a spoliation letter in Georgia, and get them to preserve that evidence. So that if they don't, if they start throwing evidence out the window, we then can go back and use that as a presumption in your favor to prove that it was not your fault. But most importantly, that I wish more people knew is that there's a different standard for passenger car drivers than there is for truck drivers. It is a profession. They are taught to look out for hazards on the road. And that's why so often it is the truck driver's fault.

Rob Rosenthal: 

And tell me a little bit about more of that. You've talked about gathering evidence. Tell me a little bit about some of that evidence is available. You said on the truck or outside... And most of them, do they have cameras these days? What's some of that evidence you can gather?

Christy Childers: 

Yeah, so a lot of the tractor trailers now are equipped with onboard recording systems, both driver-facing and forward-facing. Now there are some companies that won't do the driver-facing. And I have seen instances where even when they have 'em, the driver will put a little piece of black tape on top of it for privacy. But there's all kinds of technology now that good companies are using to help make sure that their drivers are, for example, not getting fatigued. Every year when we go to our national symposium, we see videos and this technology that can watch them as they fall asleep. It tracks their eyes. But GPS is very important. It helps us to determine whether or not they're telling the truth about their hours and where they were at a certain time. And of course, we get the electronic log books now, so that we can go through those, sometimes with an expert, to make sure that they're following the rules and not getting too sleepy out there on the road.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Let's talk about those rules and regulations. From what I understand, there's no small number of rules and regulations for commercial drivers. What are some of those as far as... Well, there you go. [laughter]

Christy Childers: 

This is my book, which is heavily tabbed. So, I keep this handy, anytime we do an intake on a new case. 'Cause that's the number one place that you start, is what was the rule? What should they have done? And then you go to, what do they do? And why that resulted in an injury or death to my client. I know one question that a lot of people have is how long are they actually allowed to drive? And sometimes people are shocked by the fact. And it depends on whether they're carrying property or passengers. And all of that is in part 395, which is a huge section. But generally speaking, you're allowed to drive 11 hours if you're in a tractor-trailer carrying property with a limit of 14 hours per day, work day. It's like a daily limit. And then they can work up to 70 hours or even 80 hours, depending on how many days a week the motor carrier operates. And so you and I are probably not on the job for that many hours. And I can't imagine even though if you're off-duty time... Your on-duty time isn't always driving, just imagine being at work for that many hours, week after week. So to be a tractor-trailer driver, you have to be passionate.

Christy Childers: 

It has to be a way of life for you. But you also wanna work for a company that's not gonna push you. "Oh, well, you can do one more. You can do one more. You're not met your limit." That limit should not be there every single week, week after week. It should be a maximum. And I know there's lots of politics involved with, "You gotta make money." But we also wanna make sure that our roads are safe, so that we don't have drivers that are too sleepy out there.

Rob Rosenthal: 

And in your experience, Christy, have you found that there are companies that push their drivers to that limit or maybe beyond those limits? And what can be the consequences then?

Christy Childers: 

So you don't have to take my word for it. All you have to do is go to any number of truck driver blogs. And you can look it up. And there's truck drivers who actually now, with the internet, which is great, they can say, "This company pushed me too far and too long." And you can look up companies that, let's say your relative was hurt or killed in a semi-truck crash. You can actually look up that company and see what drivers are saying. And it's mostly anonymous. Because they can just create a handle. So we do have to do a little deeper dive, and of course, see if it's true. Because you don't want somebody who's just mad. But a lot of times, we do verify that and find that routinely, the same trucking companies do push their drivers.

Rob Rosenthal: 

And what's the motivation for...

Christy Childers: 

Beyond what they should.

Rob Rosenthal: 

What's the motivation for the companies... And this may be a dumb question. The motivation for the companies to push their drivers to those limits and beyond. Is it purely money?

Christy Childers: 

So of course, money is a big factor. But I think that you also get pressure in the industry to run your routes. And also we as consumers, now we expect things to come quickly and on time. And so there's all kinds of pressuring factors, but the good companies face the same pressures, and they put safety first. And that's, as the motoring public, what we have to expect and demand. And if not, then we've got to hold them accountable.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Absolutely. Lots of really helpful information, Christy. Thank you for making time to answer our questions.

Christy Childers: 

I'm glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Rob Rosenthal: 

That's gonna do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Georgia attorney, Christy Childers. I remind you, if you wanna ask Christy questions of your own, go to askthelawyers.com. There's a button on the top that says Ask a Lawyer. You click on that, and it'll walk you through a very simple process. It doesn't cost you anything to ask your questions. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with Ask the Lawyers.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.


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