Commercial vehicle accidents differ from other types of motor vehicle accidents, such as car accidents or motorcycle accidents, in some very important ways. Although the same negligence standard generally applies and the same type of damages are generally available, both the accident itself and pursuit of compensation may be different in that:
- Injuries in a commercial vehicle accident are often more serious, and fatalities are more common, since large trucks and other commercial vehicles are so much heavier than most vehicles on the road
- Liability in a commercial vehicle accident may be more complicated, since there may be multiple responsible parties such as the driver, the trucking company, and the equipment manufacturer
- Commercial motor vehicle accident cases require an understanding of a complex mix of state and federal laws, since commercial drivers are subject to regulations not applicable to the drivers of personal cars and light trucks
Because the risk of serious injury or death is so much higher in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, and the injuries are typically suffered by drivers and passengers of the other vehicle, commercial vehicle operators are generally required to carry significantly more liability insurance than drivers of personal passenger vehicles.
What is a Commercial Vehicle?
Any vehicle may be considered “commercial” if it is used for commercial purposes such as transporting goods or carrying passengers for a fee. In addition, certain types of vehicles are commercial vehicles by definition, regardless of present use. For example, a vehicle that is designed to carry more than 15 passengers is always considered commercial, as is one with a weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more.
Some common types of commercial vehicles include:
- Delivery trucks
- Work vans
- Taxi-cabs and limousines
- Tanker trucks
Preserving Evidence in a Commercial Vehicle Case
One of the most significant challenges in building a strong case after an accident involving a commercial vehicle is gathering evidence. Certain types of commercial vehicles, especially semi-trucks and tankers, often travel cross-country. That means that the truck driver and his employer may be headquartered in a distant state. In addition, commercial vehicles are typically in regular service, and are subject to regular maintenance, meaning that defects may be repaired and other evidence lost in the ordinary course of business.
Damages in a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawsuit
Two different types of claims may arise from a commercial motor vehicle accident: personal injury claims and wrongful death claims. Often, there is also a property damage claim relating to the vehicle the injured party was driving at the time of the accident, but this claim will generally be asserted in connection with the more significant claim.
Depending on the specifics of the accident and the injuries sustained, a plaintiff may have a cause of action for personal injury, wrongful death, or both. For example, if one spouse is killed and the other seriously injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, the surviving spouse may have both a personal injury claim relating to her own injuries and a wrongful death claim with regard to the loss of her husband.
Damages will vary depending on the type of case and the extent of injuries, but often include compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship
The Benefits of Working with an Experienced Commercial Accident Attorney
When you’ve been seriously injured or recently lost a loved one, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of your next steps. Moving forward can be all the more daunting when you’re facing complicated issues like those involved in a commercial vehicle accident case.
Working with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the applicable state and federal laws and knows how to obtain the evidence necessary to build a strong case on your behalf can take the pressure off. Take the first step toward getting a dedicated, seasoned advocate on your side right now. Just schedule your free consultation to learn more about how we can help you pursue the compensation you need to rebuild.