Last week, a tragic accident on a busy north Georgia highway left one dead and over 40 people injured. A charter bus with 48 passengers on board was traveling north on Georgia Highway 515 in Gilmer County when it collided with a large truck that was attempting to turn left across the northbound lanes. This particular stretch of road is busy during the autumn months, as it is one of the main thoroughfares to the north Georgia mountains from the metro Atlanta area to the south. The charter bus was on its way to a North Carolina casino before the untimely crash. The driver of the bus was killed as a result of the collision, and dozens more reported injuries, though none of those appear to be life threatening. No one has been charged, and the investigation into the crash is still ongoing
While newsworthy in its own right, we highlight this particular wreck for its application to other matters that we routinely see in many other cases. First, though no one has been charged with any criminal violations, I would anticipate that the driver of the truck attempting to turn onto the southbound lanes of GA 515 from a secondary road will be cited for failing to yield while turning left. He had a duty to make sure he had enough time to complete his turn across the northbound lanes before executing that maneuver, and it appears as though his calculations were incorrect. Nevertheless, I would be shocked if the trucking company did not try to defend this case by trying to place some of the blame on the bus driver himself. Their argument will be that he was speeding or not paying close enough attention because he should have been able to react more quickly when seeing a massive tractor-trailer beginning its turn across his lane. Thus, despite this seeming like a clear liability crash, the bus driver’s death claim will face issues of comparative negligence that could work to reduce the amount of money to which he is entitled.
Second, this crash reinforces the importance of the need to carry as much uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as you can afford. Though tractor-trailers and commercial vehicles typically carry high limits of liability insurance, even millions of dollars spread out among dozens of potential claimants doesn’t leave very much money per plaintiff. It’s highly probable that there will not be nearly enough money available from the liability policies of the trucking company and the charter bus to cover every injury claim that could be brought as a result of this incident. Having UM coverage will protect you and your family in the event you are ever involved in a situation like this, and there is not enough liability insurance available to cover your losses.