Tractor Trailer Accident on South Coffee Road: Legal Analysis of Local Issues

  • Carr & Weatherby Discuss Local Tractor-Trailer Accident on South Coffee Road involving Ashley Johnson and Clint TottenNews Report on Tractor-Trailer Accident On South Coffee Road in Berrien County

According to the Valdosta Daily Times, an accident involving a tractor-trailer resulted in the passing of Ashley Johnson and her 3-year old son, Clint Totten. The alleged driver of the tractor-trailer, Decobe Marbury, was reportedly not injured in the accident. The news article states that the tractor-trailer allegedly “failed to stop at a stop sign at an intersection.”

This incident is a tragedy, and it will very likely result in a claim of wrongful death and pain and suffering by the family of Ashley Johnson and Clint Totten. In the section below, we discuss the law that may apply to a tractor-trailer accident like this one, so that all persons can be prepared if they are involved in a traffic accident similar to this.

  • Overview of the law.

Georgia law applies to traffic accidents in the state. In addition, when an accident involves a tractor-trailer, the tractor-trailer is subject to the Regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These regulations govern things like how many hours the driver is permitted to drive in a day and week. They also regulate the tractor trailer itself including, for example, regulations related to inspection.

Georgia has a number of traffic laws that could apply here. This includes the requirement to obey a stop sign or yield sign. The Georgia Code Section on this is O.C.G.A. § 40-6-72. It states in part:

Except when directed to proceed by a police officer, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line.

If the Valdosta Daily Times report is correct, then driver of the tractor-trailer may have violated this traffic law. If true, the claimant could argue that the driver was negligent per se (as a matter of law) based on the violation of this statute.

However, determining negligence is not always as easy as it appears from a news article. There are defenses that the driver may assert, including sudden emergency, unexpected illness, intervening accidents of third parties, unforeseeable mechanical failure, among others. As with all areas of the law, there are many overlapping rules and regulations. Navigating that requires an experienced attorney to review the case and analyze the facts and the law.

If a lawsuit is asserted under a case like this one, it will most likely include a claim for wrongful death and pain and suffering. A claim for wrongful death, under Georgia, includes damages for the full value of the loss of the life of the deceased, without deduction for damages for the pain and suffering of the deceased after the injury and prior to death. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1. In addition, under Georgia law, the Estate of a deceased person may recover for medical, funeral, and other expenses, as well as conscious pain and suffering proximately caused by the defendant. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5.

  • Choosing a lawyer.

There are many different types of lawyers that specialize in a variety of areas, one of these areas is tractor-trailer accidents. While a person may be tempted to represent themselves in a tractor-trailer accident, in any serious case, an individual is very strongly advised to hire an experienced and able attorney. This is because trucking law involves a series of interrelated and complex regulations.

In addition, in serious trucking accidents, there may be a need for expert engineering assistance relating to issues from speed, skid marks, computer data, breaking, and more. There may also be important information that needs to be preserved at the scene, in the claimant’s possession, and in the driver’s possession.

A wise person would be suspect of an unknown lawyer calling them out of the blue. This conduct may be prohibited by the Georgia Bar. This is a complex area of law so some contact is allowed under certain circumstances. A complete reading of the rule is available on the Georgia Bar’s website.

  • What is this blog?

We, at Carr & Weatherby, maintain this blog for informational purposes. We are proven trial lawyers, who represent both plaintiffs and defendants in serious personal injury matters like this one. Our hope is to inform people about legal issues. If you have any questions about this blog or any legal issues related to serious accidents including trucking accidents, please contact us for free at 404-442-9000 or