A commercial vehicle, such as an eighteen-wheeler or bus, is used to professionally transport goods or people. When accident occurs between a passenger and commercial vehicles, responsibility for the injuries can depend on which party is negligent. Some common commercial vehicle accidents include:
- Rear-end accidents
- Accidents involving a commercial vehicle slowing down or pulling over
- Accidents involving parked commercial vehicles (this is especially common when loading/unloading)
- Various other types of accidents
Due to the nature of commercial vehicles, accidents can sometimes be more severe than those involving regular personal-use vehicles.
This is because commercial vehicles can often be substantially larger and heavier than regular non-commercial automobiles. These types accidents can result in significant property damage as well.
What is Negligence in Commercial Vehicle Accidents?
Negligence occurs when a driver fails to use the amount of care 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 person must show 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 (this is referred to as a breach of duty);
- The defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused the injury suffered by the victim; and
- The victim’s injuries led to damages such as lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
A common example of a lack of reasonable care is when a commercial vehicle driver disregards speed limits, causing a crash. Another example is where the commercial driver is intoxicated or drunk while making on a work route.
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Is the Commercial Driver Always Liable for the Automobile Accident?
In some cases, a commercial driver may not be solely liable for the accident even if he caused the accident. “Respondeat superior” is a liability theory holding 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
Also, the company’s liability may increase if they gave the driver specific instructions that were unsafe or dangerous. For instance, the driver’s company might be held liable if they received specific instructions to drive a certain speed limit (too fast or too slow), or if they were instructed to drive under unreasonable driving conditions.
In such cases, the company, rather than the individual driver might be held liable for the injuries and costs associated with the accident. If the problem is widespread throughout the company, it could lead to a class action lawsuit or a deeper investigation into the company’s operating practices.
Should I Meet with an Attorney Regarding My Commercial Vehicle Accident?
You may need to contact a personal injury attorney if you were involved in a commercial vehicle accident. These types of vehicle accidents are complex because there can often be more than one possible defendant involved. You can speak attorney to understand more about your case and to receive legal advice and representation for your claim.