19 Jun Getting In An Accident With A Commercial Vehicle
Having an auto accident is bad, and often complicated and confusing. When the other vehicle involved is not a personal vehicle, but a commercial vehicle, the rules are a little different. You cannot and should not treat it like a normal car accident. What steps should you take? Here is our advice for what to do if you get in an accident with a commercial vehicle.
What’s the Difference?
Some commercial vehicles are sized like normal personal vehicles. More often, commercial vehicles are much larger. These might include tractor trailers, tankers and delivery trucks. The potential for damage and serious injury is a lot greater.
The other, more pertinent aspect is that if you need to sue for compensation due to injury or damages, the commercial involvement gives you more opportunities to collect.
If you get in an accident with another person in their personal vehicle, it is that other person that you would sue for damages. With a commercial driver, you have multiple options. An experienced attorney can help you decide the best route.
It Can Get Complicated
Several parties are involved. These include the driver, the vehicle owner, the company who leases the vehicle, and the company whose goods are being transported. Those may all be the same person or company. Other times, that can be four different parties!
A personal injury lawyer will typically counsel you to pursue the trucking company, not the driver. This is because their objective is obtaining compensation for you, not justice. A lawyer works to maximize your compensation for injuries. If your case goes before a jury, your odds of winning are better when the company is the target. Jurors are more likely to sympathize with the driver, a human being, than with a “faceless” trucking company.
If the truck driver if an independent contractor without a formal employer, he may be the target of the suit. Your lawyer will obtain and review the driver’s contract thoroughly to understand the agreement between contractor and company.
Sometimes a mechanical problem leads to an accident. In this case, an attorney might seek to establish a case that maintenance was inadequate. This situation would shift responsibility toward the vehicle owner.
A vast number of laws and regulations apply in these situations. Your lawyer will have a lot of options to work with.
So if you do get involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, here are some tips on how to proceed.
- Anytime you have an accident, check everyone for injuries.
- Look over your body for injuries and don’t move if you discover you’re seriously hurt.
- If you’re okay, make sure the other party is safe and take care of any serious injuries on their end, too.
- Check the vehicles for damage that could be dangerous.
- If you smell gasoline, move away.
- If you can safely move your car out of the danger of other traffic, do so.
- Call 911 and report the accident. Insist that police come to the scene.
- Document the accident with photographs.
- This is not a time to determine fault.
- Photograph weather conditions, lighting, skid marks, damage to the vehicles and any visible injuries.
- Collect information. Write it on paper and, if possible, use your phone to record audio as a backup. Get the names of the:
- Vehicle’s owner
- Leasing company
- Company hiring the transportation
- Work with the police and emergency workers. Follow their instructions.
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
- If an insurance adjuster contacts you, find out which party and company they work for.
Cases of Shared Fault
Many people anticipate an all-or-nothing finding with regard to blame. However, there is a concept called contributory negligence. If you share some portion of the blame, sometimes the judgment is proportionally divided among the parties.
Not a Windfall
Sometimes when the discussion is, “who are we supposed to sue?” it starts to sound like greed. Remember, you are seeking fair compensation for damages and injuries caused by the accident. This is not the same as winning the lottery. It is an attempt to restore you to the condition before the accident.
Nevertheless, don’t sell yourself short. Your compensation should include payment for income lost because of missed work. If you decide to file a lawsuit, your truck accident lawyer will review all potential damages and help you make sure what you are seeking is correct and fair.
To speak with an attorney experienced in commercial vehicle accidents, call us at (513) 892-3400. Click here to learn more about our work in this area.