Commercial Vehicle Accidents

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 What Is Personal Injury Law?

In a claim for personal injury, a plaintiff claims that they have sustained an injury due to an act or failure to act by the defendant. In response, the court may award the plaintiff money damages for personal injury. The events which form the basis of a personal injury claim may also form the basis of criminal charges. An example of this would be how a defendant may face a civil lawsuit for assault, as well as a criminal assault and battery charge.

A personal injury damages a plaintiff’s emotional health, physical health, or both. Mental health injuries include emotional pain and anguish, while physical injuries include injuries to organs, limbs, or other parts of the anatomy. The injury sustained by a personal injury plaintiff does not need to manifest itself instantly, and may develop over time.

Examples of events or accidents which may form the basis of a personal injury claim include:

What Is A Negligence Personal Injury Claim?

A negligence personal injury claim is one in which a plaintiff claims that the defendant injured the plaintiff by breaching a duty of care that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. The duty of care that is owed to a plaintiff largely depends on the circumstances; however, a defendant is under a legal duty to exercise that same degree of care that an ordinary person would use under a particular set of facts.

Whether a duty of care to a plaintiff exists depends upon the foreseeability, or predictability, of harm that may result if the duty is not exercised. The test for whether a plaintiff is owed a duty of care questions whether an average person, in the position of the defendant, foresees that the type of injury sustained by the plaintiff was likely to occur.

When yes, the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care. As such, if the defendant breaches that duty which causes an injury resulting in damages, the defendant has committed personal injury through negligence. When no, then no duty is owed, and the defendant cannot have committed negligence.

What Is An Auto Accident?

Automobile accidents generally occur when two or more vehicles collide into each other. However, an auto accident can also occur when a motorist hits a pedestrian, or an object and causes property damage.

After an auto accident has occurred and a person has been injured, it is important to establish what party is at fault, so that the injured party can recover damages. Once fault has been determined, the injured party can likely recover from the other driver’s insurance company.

If law enforcement was called to the accident, or if they arrived at the scene of the accident, they will make a written accident report. In order to obtain a copy of the police report as evidence, either of the parties involved can usually contact the department where the accident occurred. However, in some jurisdictions, there is a small fee to receive a copy of the report.

There are some accidents in which another driver is found at fault almost 100% of the time, and their insurance company will typically not dispute the issue. An example of this would be how in a rear end collision, the driver in the rear car who hit the first vehicle from behind is nearly always at fault. A person who is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is generally always at fault for any accidents which occur.

However, there are some circumstances in which a person may be liable for another’s driving. In these cases, the law assigns fault to a person even though they were not driving the vehicle at the time the accident occurred. An example of this would be how in an employer-employee relationship, fault may be established when an employee is driving while performing their job duties in the course of their employment. The employer may be liable for the employee’s wrongful acts, including negligent driving.

Family members may also be liable for other family members’ driving under the theory of negligent entrustment. This theory establishes liability for a parent when they lend a vehicle to a minor, knowing that the child is inexperienced, rekcless, and/or incompetent. The family purpose doctrine provides that when a vehicle is purchased for general use by the family, the owner of the vehicle is subsequently liable for the negligent driving of any family member who uses the vehicle.

If one person lends their vehicle to another person whom they know is reckless, unfit, or incompetent, they are liable for their negligent driving if they cause anaccident under the legal theory of negligent entrustment. The party who files a lawsuit based on this theory must show that the person who lent the vehicle knew, or should have known, that the driver was incompetent at the time they gave permission to use their vehicle.

What Is A Commercial Vehicle Accident?

A commercial vehicle, such as an eighteen-wheeler or bus, is used to professionally transport goods or people. When an accident occurs between a passenger and commercial vehicles, responsibility for the injuries depend on which party is negligent. Some common examples of commercial vehicle accidents include:

  • Rear-end accidents;
  • Accidents involving a commercial vehicle slowing down or pulling over; and
  • Accidents involving parked commercial vehicles, which are especially common when loading or unloading.

Due to the nature of commercial vehicles, accidents can be considerably more severe than those involving regular personal-use vehicles. This is because commercial vehicles are substantially larger and heavier than regular non-commercial automobiles. As such, these types of accidents can result in significant property damage.

To reiterate, negligence occurs when a driver fails to use the same amount of care that a driver would use in the same or similar circumstances. In other words, a driver has a duty not to cause harm to pedestrians and other drivers.

An injured party must show that the commercial driver was negligent by proving:

  • The defendant owed the injured person a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing injuries;
  • The defendant failed to exercise reasonable care;
  • The defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused the injury suffered by the victim; and
  • The victim’s injuries resulted in damages such as lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

A common example of a lack of reasonable care would be when a commercial vehicle driver disregards speed limits, causing a crash. Another example would be when the commercial driver is intoxicated or drunk while they are on a work route.

Is The Commercial Driver Always Liable For A Commercial Vehicle Accident?

The commercial driver may not be solely liable for the accident, even if they caused the accident. As was previously discussed, respondeat superior is a liability theory that holds the company responsible for the vehicle accident.

An employer may be responsible for an employee’s wrongful actions if the actions were unintentional, and/or done within the scope of employment. The company’s liability may increase if they gave the driver specific instructions that were unsafe or dangerous.

An example of this would be how the driver’s company might be held liable if they received specific instructions to drive a certain speed limit that was either too fast or too slow, or if they were instructed to drive under unreasonable driving conditions.

In such cases, the company could be held liable for the injuries and costs associated with the accident, rather than the driver themselves. If the problem is widespread throughout the company, it could result in a class action lawsuit or further investigation into the company’s operating practices.

Do I Need A Lawyer For Help With A Commercial Vehicle Accident?

You should immediately contact an automobile accident attorney if you were involved in a commercial vehicle accident, because there may be more than one possible defendant involved. Your lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific laws, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.

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