Georgia Specific Trucking Rules

By Attorney Brian T. Mohs
Fried Goldberg, LLC

Below are some of the basic rules that apply when you are representing a person or persons who were injured in a crash involving a commercial motor vehicle in Georgia.

Georgia’s New Direct Action Statute

Georgia’s old direct action statutes allowed people having a cause of action against a motor carrier to join in the same action the insurance company. See O.C.G.A. § 40-1-112(c) and O.C.G.A. § 40-2-140(d)(4).

However, these statutes were recently amended, and for causes of action accruing after July 1, 2024, plaintiffs can only name the insurance company in very limited circumstances. The updated direct action statutes now include the following language: 

“It shall be permissible under this part for any person having a cause of action arising under this part to join in the same action the motor carrier and the insurance carrier, whether arising in tort or contract only when:”

A: One or more motor carriers related to the cause of action are insolvent or bankrupt; OR

B: Personal service cannot be effected after reasonable diligence:

                                (i) on the driver; or

                                (ii) the motor carrier

If one of the pre-requisites above applies to a case against a motor carrier, plaintiff now has the right to amend their complaint and add the insurance carrier, and the insurance carrier shall have 30 days to answer the amended complaint. See O.C.G.A. §§ 40-1-112(c)(2) and 40-1-112(c)(3). The amended complaint shall relate back to the date of the filing of the original complaint in this situation. Id.

It is always helpful to be aware that there are 2 definitions of motor carrier that apply to Georgia’s direct action statutes:

Motor Carrier means: 

“Every person owning, controlling, operating, or managing any motor vehicle, including the lessees, receivers, or trustees of such persons or receivers appointed by any court, used in the business of transporting for hire persons, household goods, or property or engaged in the activity of nonconsensual towing…for hire over any public highway in this state”

O.C.G.A. § 40-1-100(12)(A) (this definition applies to O.C.G.A. § 40-1-112(c)(2))

“(A) Any entity subject to the terms of the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement pursuant to 49 U.S.C. Section 14504a whether engaged in interstate or intrastate commerce, or both; or

(B) Any entity defined by the commissioner or commissioner of public safety who operates or controls commercial motor vehicles as defined in 49 C.F.R. Section 390.5 or this chapter whether operated in interstate or intrastate commerce, or both.”

O.C.G.A. § 40-2-1(6)(this definition applies to O.C.G.A. § 40-1-112(c)(3))

Note: Private Motor Carriers are required to register with the Georgia Department of Public Safety under the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) Plan as adopted by Georgia. Accordingly, this definition applies to private motor carriers and for hire motor carriers alike.

  • Altman v. Arch Insurance Company, et. al. (Judge Emily Brantley February 15, 2021 Order; Gwinnett State Court; Civil Action File No. 21-C-02854-S1)
  • Dejournett v. Staples, Inc. and Ace American Insurance Company (Judge Dax Lopez March 24, 2018 Order; DeKalb State Court; Case No. 17A67325-6)(holding definition of motor carrier contained in O.C.G.A. § 40-2-1(6) applied and private motor carrier fell under that definition)

Venue is Proper in the County Where the Collision Occurred in Cases Against Motor Carriers in Georgia

In addition to bringing the cause of action in the county where the defendant truck driver resides or the county where the motor carrier maintains its registered agent, a plaintiff in Georgia can bring their cause of action “against any…motor carrier for damages…in the county where the cause of action or some part thereof arose.” See O.C.G.A. § 40-1-117.

Georgia’s Definition of Commercial Motor Vehicle

  • Commercial Motor Vehicle means any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate or intrastate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle –

(1) Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 10,001 pounds or more; or

(2) Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or

(3) Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or

(4) Is used in transporting hazardous materials.

See O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(8.1); 49 C.F.R. § 390.5; Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 515-16-4-.01

  • Tractor-trailers are not the only vehicles that meet the definition of CMVs
  • This definition includes box trucks, many construction vehicles, garbage trucks, landscaping vehicles, some pickup trucks, etc.

Interstate v Intrastate

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSRs”) contained in 49 C.F.R. § Subchapter B (Parts 350 – 399) are applicable to all employers, employees, and commercial motor vehicles that transport property or passengers in interstate commerce. See 49 C.F.R. § 390.3(a).
  • The FMCSRs contained in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations Parts 350, 382, 383, and 390 through 397 have been adopted under Georgia law. See Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 515-16-4-.01; Solano-Rodriguez v. State, 295 Ga. App. 896, 896, 673 S.E.2d 351, 352 (2009).
  • “All references to “interstate” commerce in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations adopted hereby shall be interpreted for the purposes of this Chapter 515-16-4 to mean “intrastate” commerce in Georgia.” See Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 515-16-4-.01

Important Recent Georgia Trucking Caselaw

  • Quynn v Hulsey, 310 Ga. 473 (2020):
    • Respondeat Superior Rule: A defendant who concedes vicarious liability is entitled to summary judgment of claims for negligent entrustment, hiring, training, supervision, and retention unless plaintiff has valid grounds for punitive damages for employer’s negligence
    • Georgia Apportionment Statute (O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33) requires the elimination of Respondeat Superior Rule because all fault must be considered by jury

Prior to this ruling, Georgia followed the Respondeat Superior rule meaning that trucking company defendants who admitted their drivers were in the course and scope of employment or agency could avoid direct negligence claims for things such as negligent hiring, qualification, training, retention, supervision, and entrustment. This ruling is significant because it means that in a CMV case, your client can introduce evidence at trial to show that the collision itself was the truck driver’s fault and simultaneously present evidence that the motor carrier was also negligent. 

  • Aspen American Insurance Company v. Landstar Ranger, Inc., 65 F.4th 1261 (11th Cir. 2023):
    • Shipper hired Landstar as a broker to hire a motor carrier to transport a load
    • Landstar mistakenly turned shipment to a thief posing as motor carrier
    • Shipper’s insurance company sued Landstar for negligent selection
    • FAAAA (49 U.S.C. 14501(c)(1)) “States may not enact or enforce a law…related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier…,broker”
    • State law negligence claims are preempted by FAAAA

Many plaintiffs in trucking cases are investigating whether a broker was hired to select the motor carrier to haul the load in question and whether the broker was negligent in selecting the motor carrier based on their poor safety history or other similar finding. This case will likely be cited by the defense in any broker cases as support that the cause of action is completely prohibited under the FAAAA. Remember that this case is not authoritative for state court claims in Georgia (but it is persuasive).

  • Golden Peanut Company, LLC v. Miller, 363 Ga.App. 384 (2022):
    • Trailer owner did not lease trailer to motor carrier
    • Driver & Motor Carrier hired by Trailer owner through a broker (Driver was independent contractor of Trailer owner)
    • 390.5 statutory employer doctrine does not apply where there is no lease

This case essentially rejects logo liability in Georgia. Plaintiffs used to be able to make claims against owners of CMVs whose logo was on the vehicle involved in the crash. Most states have outlawed this as a basis for liability and know following the statutory employer doctrine which states that motor carriers are legally responsible for drivers who are operating CMVs under their motor carrier authority including independent contractors who have their own motor carrier authority. See 49 C.F.R. § 390.5.

Georgia’s Minimum Intrastate Insurance Requirements

  • All Motor Vehicles used in the transportation of property: $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident
  • Passenger Carrying Vehicles (12 passengers or less): $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident
  • Passenger Carrying Vehicles (Over 12 passengers): $100,000 per person / $500,000 per accident

See Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 515-16-11-.03

Georgia’s Lane Restrictions for Trucks/CMVs

  • Unlawful for trucks to operate in lanes other than 2 most right lanes on roads/streets/highways with 3 or more lanes in the same direction
  • Unlawful for trucks to operate in the left-hand lane on roads/streets/highways with 2 lanes in the same direction (except when passing or turning left)
  • DOT may designate specific lanes that prohibit or allow trucks on interstate highways with 4 or more lanes

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-52

  • “Any motor vehicle with more than six wheels and commercial motor vehicles as defined by Code Section 40-1-1 shall not travel on any portions of Interstates 20, 75, 85 or Georgia Highway 400 that are located within the arc of Interstate 285 unless the driver of such motor vehicle is:”

(A) Engaging in a pickup to or from a shipper located inside perimeter;

(B) Traveling to or from motor carrier’s terminal located inside perimeter;

(C) Traveling to or from a repair facility located inside perimeter; or

(D) Traveling to or from driver’s residence located inside perimeter

                O.C.G.A. § 40-6-51(a)

  • “The Department of Transportation by order and local authorities by ordinance may regulate or prohibit the use of any controlled-access roadway within their respective jurisdictions by any class of vehicle or kind of traffic which is found to be incompatible with the normal and safe movement of traffic.”

 O.C.G.A. § 40-6-51(a)(2)

Contact a truck accident lawyer at Fried Goldberg LLC

Navigating the nuances of truck accident litigation requires a thorough understanding of the specific rules and regulations governing commercial motor vehicles. At Fried Goldberg LLC, we are deeply familiar with these regulations and continuously work to improve safety guidelines and policies related to truck crash law.

For instance, Attorney Brian T. Mohs recently hosted a webinar on Georgia Specific Trucking Rules, which is available in our archive. The slide deck is also accessible in our Lawyer Portal.

If you or someone you love was injured in a truck wreck, you need an attorney who will fiercely fight for your rights and help you hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Get aggressive and effective legal representation that’s been proven to achieve meaningful results and drive real change in the trucking industry. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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