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Who’s Liable in a Commercial Vehicle Accident?

Understanding Commercial Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents involving commercial vehicles such as buses, trucks, taxis, limousines, and more, can be complicated because they often involve more complex issues of liability. Since many different parties are involved in commercial vehicles’ operation and maintenance, there are several entities that may be held liable in the event of an accident.

Learn more about commercial vehicle accidents and how to protect your rights after going through one.

What’s Different About a Commercial Vehicle Accident?

The main difference between a typical car accident and a commercial vehicle accident is determining who is responsible for damages. In a traditional passenger vehicle accident between two motorists, it’s usually not that hard to determine who was at-fault for the crash. Once fault is determined, the at-fault driver and their car insurance company pay for the damages sustained during the accident (in at-fault states).

In a commercial vehicle accident, on the other hand, identifying all liable parties can prove more difficult. Commercial vehicles—including most trucks, buses, taxis, and limousines—are owned and operated by a company for business purposes. As such, many different parties in the company are responsible for maintaining the vehicle and ensuring it operates safely on the road.

With a commercial truck, for example, the liability for an accident may fall with the truck driver, the trucking company, the cargo loaders, or all three. Below are the situations in which each of the aforementioned parties may be held liable for an accident.

  • The truck driver: If the truck driver deliberately drove while drunk or distracted, or intentionally violated federal hours-of-service regulations that limit how long truckers may drive without a break, and this negligence led to an accident, then the truck driver may be held liable for damages.

  • The trucking company: If the trucking company hired a driver who should not have been on the road (such as a driver with multiple driving infractions) or did not schedule regular inspections for their vehicles, and this negligence led to an accident, then the trucking company may be held liable for damages.

  • The cargo loaders: If cargo loaders do not load a truck’s cargo evenly and securely, and a subsequent cargo shift led to an accident, then the cargo loaders may be held liable for damages.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Due to their frequency and potential for catastrophic and fatal injuries, we’ll continue using truck accidents as an example during our discussion of commercial vehicle accidents.

Truck accidents are so prevalent due to the following:

  • Required braking distance: Due to trucks’ size and weight, they require much greater braking distance than traditional passenger vehicles. This makes them a dangerous hazard when traffic conditions change suddenly.

  • Poor maneuverability: Trucks’ size and weight also make them difficult to control in the event of sudden traffic changes, poor weather, or hazardous road conditions.

  • Large blind spots: Trucks have large blind spots directly in front, directly behind, and on either side of them. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you cannot see the truck driver’s face in the truck’s side-view mirror, assume the truck driver cannot see you.

Additionally, in a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), researchers found that driver error caused 87% of the 141,000 truck accidents during the study period. Examples of driver error include falling asleep, experiencing a disabling medical event, being inattentive, driving too fast for conditions, and more.

Common Injuries Resulting from Truck Accidents

Truck accidents often result in catastrophic or fatal injuries for passenger vehicle occupants. Some of the common injuries that victims experience include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Whiplash

  • Broken bones

  • Burns

  • Injuries requiring amputation

Many victims of a truck accident are left with injuries that require expensive medical treatment and long-term rehabilitative care. They often face costly medical bills and weeks, months, or years of lost wages. As such, it’s important for you to understand all of your options so you can recover the compensation you need and deserve in the wake of such an accident.

What to Do After a Commercial Vehicle Accident

The proper steps to take following a truck accident are similar to those you would take after a car accident, but involves a couple of additional steps since the vehicle involved is a commercial vehicle.

After getting into an accident with a commercial vehicle, make sure to take the following measures to protect your rights:

  • Check to see if anyone requires medical attention. Make sure to call the paramedics if anyone needs emergency assistance.

  • Contact the police. A police report will help bolster your side of the story and prove the other driver was at-fault.

  • Exchange information with the other driver. Make sure to obtain the other driver’s license information, vehicle information, insurance information, and company information.

  • Take photos of any injuries and damages sustained at the scene. Take photos of anything that may display what the accident cost you, no matter how minor.

  • Contact your car insurance company. Discuss the details of the accident to the best of your ability.

  • Contact an experienced personal injury attorney. When it comes to commercial vehicle accidents, working with a qualified attorney is your best chance at recovering the compensation you deserve from all liable parties.

Injured in a Commercial Vehicle Accident? Contact Us Today

An accident with a truck or another commercial vehicle can forever alter a victim’s life. Often, the injuries they sustain are so severe that they can no longer live independently or earn an income.

At Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, our Louisville personal injury attorneys are passionate about helping those who have been injured due to negligence. We have the experience and financial resources needed to take on large trucking companies.

Contact us today at (502) 242-8872 to learn how we may assist you.

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