Texas roads and highways are filled with all kinds of commercial vehicles – from semi-trucks carrying produce to construction vehicles building new homes to salespeople visiting local stores and clients. These drivers, their employers, and vehicle owners must maintain safe vehicles and make sure drivers are operating them responsibly when they are on the road. Accordingly, commercial drivers typically do everything they can to ensure their vehicles, passengers, cargo, and those around them are safe.
Nonetheless, commercial accidents are such a common occurrence that crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When companies or their employees fail to meet safety standards and cause injuries or damages, they must be held responsible.
If you have been injured or your loved one was killed in a collision involving a commercial motor vehicle, it’s essential to work with an experienced commercial truck accident lawyer or commercial car accident lawyer like the trusted attorneys at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund. Our skilled attorneys can answer all your questions and fight aggressively on your behalf for the maximum amount you need to recover.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Company Vehicle Accidents?
When a crash involves a company vehicle, a wide range of parties can be held responsible. However, it can be complicated to figure out who is liable and how to get fair compensation for your losses. A business might be liable if it owns the vehicle or even if an employee or contractor was operating a personal vehicle while they were “on the clock.” Liability for businesses is classified in many different ways, including:
- A business can be deemed responsible if an employee was acting within the scope of their job when the accident happened, and the employee was partially or fully at fault for the crash.
- A business might be found accountable for negligence associated with the vehicle’s condition if the state of the vehicle contributed to the accident.
- A business can be liable for negligent lending of a vehicle if it knew the employee was not fit to drive since the person had not been adequately trained, was not licensed, or was taking medication that could impair his or her driving.
- A business can be held responsible for negligent hiring or retention if it did not conduct a thorough check of an employee’s background and driving record or if it knew about negative marks on the employee’s record and allowed the person to drive anyway.
The employee or contractor might also hold personal responsibility for the accident if they behaved negligently or were doing something they were not employed to do at the time of the crash, such as running a personal errand or engaging in criminal activity. Also, if the accident was caused by equipment failure or loose cargo, the people who loaded the cargo, the mechanic, or even the manufacturer might be liable.
Other drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists might also be liable if their irresponsible actions contributed to the crash. If the negligent driver was operating a car owned by someone else, the car’s owner could be liable.
Lastly, a government entity or contractor might be liable if dangerous road conditions contributed to the crash. In these cases, working with an experienced attorney is particularly important because claims against the government must follow an additional set of strict procedures and requirements.
Compensation After a Commercial Vehicle Accident
Commercial vehicle accidents can cause life-threatening or fatal injuries. If you were injured in a commercial vehicle accident or lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of a company vehicle, you might be entitled to compensation. While no amount of money can make up for the anguish you’re facing from this accident, financial compensation can help you pay for current and future expenses stemming from the crash.
A personal injury claim can help you pursue compensation for:
- Current and future medical bills
- Therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Costs to repair or replace your vehicle
- Pain and suffering
Families who have lost a loved one in a commercial motor vehicle accident may be able to demand compensation and justice through a wrongful death claim.
How Are Commercial Accidents Different?
Commercial accidents are more complicated than crashes involving two passenger vehicles owned by individuals. Injuries and property damages from these types of incidents can be devastating because many commercial vehicles are much larger than personal vehicles. Trucks that weigh several tons are incredibly dangerous and even lethal objects when they are not handled safely.
It is also challenging to get fair compensation in a commercial vehicle accident. Since so many different parties might be liable, these parties’ insurance companies and lawyers will try to shift blame to protect their clients’ reputation and to avoid paying damages. In the case of commercial trucks, the truck and the trailer might even be owned by two different companies – each with separate insurance policies.
Additionally, depending on the terms and limits of the company’s insurance policy, they might have to pay out of pocket for damages instead of from their insurance policy – something the company will rigorously try to avoid. It’s also confusing if the driver’s employer is headquartered in another state because this could force the case to a federal court, which involves complex requirements and regulations.
What to Do If You Are Hit by a Company Vehicle
If you’ve been involved in a commercial vehicle accident, the first thing to do is call the police. The responding officers will document what happened and ensure everyone receives the help they need. The accident report that the officers file can also be helpful in your personal injury claim.
You should also seek medical attention immediately. If you didn’t see a doctor when the incident occurred, have a medical professional evaluate your injuries as soon as possible. This is important for your health, and the doctor can help document your injuries, which will be a vital piece of evidence if you file a lawsuit.
Next, document all parts of the accident scene. Take pictures of each vehicle involved in the crash, as well as relevant road markings, such as traffic lights and signs. Gather as much information as you can about the other driver and his or her vehicle. Make a note of whether the driver was on the job at the time of the crash, the name of the employer, the owner of the vehicle, and the respective insurance companies. Additionally, collect contact information for witnesses and drivers involved in the crash.
Companies might try to hide critical evidence of negligence or wrongdoing, so it’s also crucial to contact a trusted commercial vehicle law firm immediately. Don’t speak with the insurance companies without your lawyer, as they might try to talk you into a low settlement or trick you into saying or disclosing information they can use to fight against your case. Experienced commercial vehicle accident attorneys can help make sure all the proper evidence is collected and fight on your behalf for justice and fair compensation.
What Are the Leading Causes of Commercial Vehicle Accidents?
Common causes of commercial vehicle crashes include:
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Aggressive driving
- Reckless driving
- Improperly loaded cargo
- Poorly maintained vehicles
- Failure to obey traffic signals or signs
- Mechanical failure
- Unsafe lane changes
- Failure to reduce speed in poor weather conditions or construction zones
- Driver error caused by improper training
- Failure to maintain a safe distance
- Pulling into traffic without appropriate acceleration
- Vehicle defects
- Road hazards
No matter the cause of your accident, if you believe negligence was a factor, you should talk to an attorney about your legal rights.
What Is Considered a Company Vehicle?
A commercial vehicle is any type of vehicle that is owned by a company or is being operated by an employee who is on the job. Some examples include:
- Big rig, semi-truck, 18-wheeler, or tractor trailer
- Dump truck, cement mixer, or another type of construction vehicle
- Agricultural truck
- Garbage truck
- Ice cream truck
- Delivery vans or mail carriers
- Passenger bus, car, or van
- Corporate car or fleet vehicle
- School bus
- Car carrier
- Taxicab or rideshare vehicle
- Catering truck
- Wheelchair transport bus or van
- Utility company truck
- Moving trucks or vans
Talk to a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer Now
When you have been injured in a crash, you need skilled representation from the powerful personal injury lawyers at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund. We have helped clients recover from a wide range of commercial vehicle accidents and have won millions of dollars for our clients’ injuries and suffering. For this, our law firm has been recognized by our clients and industry leaders alike with glowing testimonials and accolades, such as being ranked as one of the country’s best law firms by U.S. News and World Report.
At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, we are committed to helping our clients demand the full and fair compensation they deserve. Call us today at 855-981-9052 or fill out an online contact form to set up a free consultation and learn how we can help with your case.