Commercial Vehicle Accidents & Claims: How These Cases Are Different & Why It Matters to YouMarch 21, 2019
Commercial vehicles, as well as the drivers and companies operating them, are regulated by a different set of rules than the motorists who drive passenger vehicles. That can mean that, when a commercial vehicle accident occurs:
- Multiple forms of negligence can be involved in causing a single wreck.
- A number of parties may be liable for the wreck, including some who were not immediately present when the crash occurred.
- Claims against businesses can arise, and this may present unique elements that don’t arise in car accident claims against motorists (i.e., individuals).
Elaborating more on this, the following answers some frequently asked questions about commercial vehicle accident cases. To get answers related to your crash and potential claim, simply contact the Amaro Law Firm.
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Who Is Liable for Commercial Vehicle Accidents?
Liability is determined by the events and evidence surrounding a particular accident. This generally requires conducting careful, thorough investigations to identify which parties are at fault.
For wrecks involving commercial vehicles regulated by federal law, this can result in a federal investigation by agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) and/or the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in addition to an investigation by police or highway patrol.
These investigations may uncover liable parties like (but not limited to):
- Commercial vehicle drivers if their failure to comply with traffic laws, their impairment, or other forms of recklessness caused the wreck
- Companies operating commercial vehicles if their failures to abide by trucking regulations, like by hiring unsafe drivers or failing to maintain their vehicles, contributes to accidents
- Motor vehicle manufacturers or equipment makers if they’ve designed or made vehicles and/or auto parts that are inherently dangerous or defective, resulting in crashes
- Shippers or brokers if they have hired unsafe drivers or motor carriers to transport goods and the driver or motor carrier is directly responsible for causing a crash
- Cargo loaders if their failures to properly and safely load cargo play a role in causing an accident.
Here, it’s important to note that any combination of the above (and/or other) parties can share liability for a single commercial vehicle accident. For example, an unsafe driver, along with the motor carrier and cargo loader, can be liable for a single crash.
How Do I Prove Liability in a Commercial Vehicle Accident Claim?
Similar to claims for passenger vehicle accidents, cases arising from commercial vehicle crashes can rely on evidence like (and not limited to):
- Witness statements
- Accident scene photos
- Police reports
- Cellphone records.
Beyond that evidence, there may be other essential items that are also crucial to holding negligent parties accountable in commercial vehicle wreck cases. These items can include (and may not be limited to):
- The driving record of the commercial vehicle operator
- Company or motor carrier records, like hiring and personnel records, records of driver drug tests, and other compliance records
- Vehicle inspection, maintenance, and repair records
- Bills of lading.
When it comes to gathering records from motor carriers, shippers, and others, sending a “spoliation letter” can be essential. These letters are formal requests to preserve certain evidence associated with the accident. This can be essential to preventing other parties from hiding, destroying, and/or tampering with evidence that may be helpful or critical to these claims.
What Type of Compensation May Be Available for Commercial Vehicle Accident Claims?
When these claims are successful, compensation can be similar to the financial recoveries for car accident claims. That’s because victims can be entitled to compensatory damages covering losses like:
- Past and future medical bills
- Permanent disability or impairment
- Past and future lost wages
- Property damage
- Mental suffering.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, victims of commercial vehicle wrecks may also be able to request punitive damages. These damages:
- Do not typically come into play in claims that only involve the liability of passenger vehicle drivers
- Are intended to punish the liable party for a history of negligence or for an especially outrageous act of negligence.
Hurt in a Commercial Vehicle Accident? A Houston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm Can Help You
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a commercial vehicle crash or any traffic wreck, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Houston motor vehicle accident lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm. We’re ready to provide you with for exceptional advocacy in the pursuit of justice and possible financial recovery.
Call (713) 352-7975 or Email our Firm for Your FREE, No Obligation Consultation.
This one call or email can be the key to protecting your rights, as well as the value, strength, and outcome of your claim.