Handling tractor trailer accident cases on behalf of injured people and their families across Georgia, I often see reports in which I think, “there but for the grace of God” would be a catastrophe. This week there have been four news stories of metro Atlanta crashes involving  tractor trailers. I don’t know the causes at this time, but usual suspects include speed, space management, fatigue and distraction. There are other factors that can come into play but I will not speculate about them.

Interstate 75- Fulton County

An accident involving a jackknifed semi-truck and another vehicle blocked all lanes of northbound I-75 in Fulton County before Cleveland Avenue during the morning commute Thursday.

One person was injured in the incident and taken to a local hospital. It is unclear from which of the vehicles the person was taken and the extent of that person’s injuries. The lanes were all re-opened around 8:30 a.m.

Highway 20- Cherokee County

One victim remains hospitalized after Sunday’s three vehicle accident on Highway 20 & Knox Bridge involving a tractor trailer, which slowed traffic to a standstill in a very busy area of Cherokee County. A 72-year-old woman from Canton was reported in critical condition at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta after her 2006 Nissan Pathfinder was hit head-on by an 18-wheeler.

The tractor trailer, driven by Roman A. Tinajero, 40, from California, was traveling westbound on Highway 20 when it left the roadway as it tried to negotiate a curve. Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said Tinajero overcorrected, crossed the centerline and hit Barber’s vehicle, which overturned off the roadway.

A Toyota Camry driven by an 18-year-old male from  White County, then struck the tractor trailer after the crash. Two people in his vehicle were also transported to Kennestone for treatment.

The truck driver was charged with failure to maintain lane, driving too fast for conditions, and driving on the wrong side of the roadway Georgia State Patrol spokesperson Tracey Watson said Monday.

I-285 & I-20 ramp.

A tractor trailer loaded with beer overturned on a ramp at I-285 south and I-20 east at about 2 AM.  No injuries were reported but crews had to clear beer from the side of the road. I wonder if there were crowd control problems with folks trying to make off with spilled product.

Worth County, Georgia

Last Friday night in Worth County, two people died in a collision with a semi-truck. A man celebrating his 23rd birthday died at the scene at the intersection of Highway 112 and Shingler Road. An 81-year-old man was airlifted to a hospital in Macon where he died later Friday night.

Investigators say one of the victims pulled into the path of the semi that was heading north on Highway 112. The 18-wheeler crashed into that driver’s pickup and then the oncoming pickup truck that the other victims was driving.

We often see this pattern where a truck driver swerves in reaction to a vehicle emerging from a side road, crashing on the opposite side of the road. Commercial truck driver training ideally should include a trained reflex to go straight or swerve right in order to avoid chasing down the emerging vehicle on the other side of the road or, as in this case, crashing head on into an innocent motorist coming the other way.

A tractor-trailer, a construction truck, and a Nissan Maxima also were involved in the wreck, which happened around 6:20 p.m. Three other people, whose names were not released, were transported to local hospitals for treatment, Coloma said. Their conditions were not known as of Thursday.

1-285 was closed at Clark Howell Highway throughout Wednesday evening and drivers were diverted onto Riverdale Road. All lanes reopened overnight before the Thursday morning commute.

Ken Shigley is past president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12), double board certified in Civil Trial Advocacy and Civil Pretrial Advocacy by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, and lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice.  His Atlanta-based civil trial practice is focused on representation of plaintiffs in cases of castastrophic personal injury and wrongful death.