Accidents are always frightening, but when they involve a large commercial vehicle they’re often devastating to those in smaller passenger cars. If you’ve had an accident with a commercial vehicle, you could be facing serious injuries, sometimes with life-altering consequences to your ability to earn a living and perform your daily routine. Even less serious injuries can quickly cause financial hardship for families with only a single missed paycheck and medical expenses. All accident claims involving injuries and other expenses are complicated in fault-based insurance states like Texas, which require injury victims to prove the at-fault driver’s liability to recover compensation, but in accidents with commercial trucks, identifying the liable party is even more complicated and often requires a personal injury attorney in Plano with years of experience in this area of accident liability law.
Determining Liability in a Commercial Truck Accident
Accidents involving commercial vehicles such as large commercial trucks, utility vehicles, buses, and delivery vans are more difficult to navigate because it takes an investigation to determine both the negligent or reckless action that caused the accident, and then what party bears liability. Unlike accidents involving private vehicles, the driver of the commercial vehicle may not be the liable party even if they made an error or acted negligently or recklessly behind the wheel. Liability in a commercial vehicle accident could lie with any of the following:
- The driver if they are an independent contractor and acted negligently
- The trucking or bus company if they engaged in negligent hiring, training, or monitoring practices, or because they directly employ the driver
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle part
- A negligent truck, utility vehicle, or bus maintenance company
- A negligent freight loading company
In less common cases, liability could also lie with a third-party driver or a negligent road maintenance agency. It takes a diligent investigator to determine the negligent action that caused the accident, identify the correct liable party, and draft a compelling demand letter to the appropriate insurance company for the injury victim’s damages, including property damage, medical expenses, lost income, and compensation for pain and suffering. If the accident resulted in a loved one’s death, a wrongful death claim could bring compensation for close family members.
Proving Liability After an Accident With a Commercial Vehicle
In a claim for damages after an accident with a commercial vehicle, proving liability requires documenting evidence to show the following:
- That the at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injury
- They breached this duty through an act of negligence
- Their negligent breach of duty directly caused injuries
- The injury victim suffered significant economic and non-economic damages from the injury
Once the evidence meets the burden of proving liability through a preponderance of the evidence, the insurer is likely to offer an ample settlement for the victim’s damages.
What to Do After an Accident With a Commercial Vehicle
Those involved in accidents with a commercial vehicle can help protect their physical and financial futures by documenting important evidence at the scene before law enforcement moves the vehicles to restore traffic flow. Victims with severe injuries should remain in place to avoid causing further injury, but if an uninjured person can use a cell phone, after calling 911 to report the accident they can collect critical evidence by doing the following:
- Snap photos of the damaged vehicles
- Take a photo of the truck’s logo and any identifying logos
- Take photos of the accident scene, including anything relevant like skid marks, an intersection, or traffic signals
- Take photos of visible injuries to prove they occurred in the accident
- Add the contact information of eyewitnesses as well as involved drivers
Always go to a hospital after an accident and have a thorough evaluation as well as emergency care for obvious injuries. Ask for a detailed medical report.
In the days after the accident, obtain a copy of the police report and the medical report and contact an experienced accident attorney before speaking to insurance company representatives.