There were over 400,000 accidents involving large trucks in 2020. Over 100,000 of these accidents led to injury, and nearly 5,000 resulted in death. The danger of these large vehicles can’t be overstated.
But heightened danger aside, what else is different about a commercial vehicle accident compared to a typical car accident?
The Zimmerman Law Firm P.C. regularly represents clients injured in truck and bus accidents. We know the specific challenges of these lawsuits and are ready to help you. Contact us today to share your story.
How Commercial Vehicle Accidents Differ From Car Accidents
Dealing with a truck or bus accident is nothing like a regular car accident.
Understanding these differences will help you prepare for the process of getting compensation after a commercial vehicle accident.
Increased Damage and Injuries
Commercial vehicles are larger and heavier than typical passenger cars. This size and weight difference often leads to more severe accidents when they collide with smaller vehicles.
The increased force of impact can result in greater property damage and more serious injuries.
In over 70% of accidents, passengers in vehicles colliding with the truck are injured. These injuries can include anything from whiplash to life-altering conditions like paralysis.
Moreover, severe truck accidents are becoming more common. The amount of deaths caused by large trucks has increased by 47% in the last ten years.
Several Possible At-Fault Parties
Determining fault after a commercial vehicle accident can be complex. Many parties can share the blame, such as:
- The driver
- The driver’s employer,
- Maintenance companies, and
- Manufacturers who built the truck.
Determining fault can be difficult, especially if multiple parties share some responsibility. Also, the damages you can recover may be limited depending on the amount of fault each party shares.
Different Laws to Consider
In most personal car accidents, the drivers only need to comply with state law. It’s usually straightforward for a lawyer to navigate the legal elements of a regular car crash.
On the other hand, commercial vehicles must follow specific regulations and safety standards that do not apply to regular passenger cars. These government regulations ensure the safe operation of commercial vehicles.
Violating these laws can be a key factor in determining liability in a commercial vehicle accident. Therefore, attorneys need to spend more time researching these laws and reviewing court decisions.
Lawsuits Can Take More Time
Filing a claim against a commercial vehicle driver and their company will be a lengthy process. Normal car crashes usually only involve one other driver and their insurance company.
In commercial accidents, all the possible at-fault parties can have their own lawyers and insurance companies. They will do everything they can to avoid liability, which can slow down the process.
Steps to Take After a Commercial Vehicle Accident
If you are unfortunate enough to be in one of these situations, there are some steps you can take to stay safe and prepare yourself for a lawsuit.
Move Away from the Accident
Accidents tend to distract other drivers. They might look away from the road to see the crash, which makes the scene more unsafe.
After the collision, try to move your car to the shoulder of the road. If that’s not possible, check for traffic and then attempt to walk as far away from the road as possible.
After you are safe, call 911 to report the accident. You may want to request an ambulance, even if you don’t notice any injuries.
It’s common for people to only notice their injuries days after the accident. In cases like concussions, this late diagnosis can be very dangerous.
You will want as much evidence as possible if you file a claim against the other driver. Photograph everything you can see, including the vehicles, road conditions, and any injuries.
Your attorney might use these photos to demonstrate that the other driver is at fault for the crash.
Collect Witness Contact Information
Eyewitnesses can be very helpful in building a strong claim. Try to speak with anyone who saw the accident.
If they are willing, collect their contact information so they can speak with your attorney. You never know who’s testimony might help you win your case.
Visit a Doctor
Try to see a doctor as soon as possible after the commercial vehicle accident. Most importantly, you want to get all injuries diagnosed and treated.
But at the same time, you want medical records that document these injuries. These records can help prove damages and get you compensation.
Filing a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawsuit
You should hire a personal injury attorney shortly after the accident. They will build a strong case for you and help you get compensation for your injuries.
Reviewing Your Case
Your attorney will meet with you to discuss the accident. They will listen to your story, review any documents you have, and offer advice.
An attorney can often assess the strength of a case based on this conversation. They might tell you what aspects benefit you and what factors can hurt your case.
If you have a strong case, your attorney will submit your claim to the other side and their insurer. The insurer will investigate the accident and review the evidence gathered by all the other parties.
Evidence can include accident reports, witness statements, and potential violations of commercial vehicle regulations. Attorneys might also hire experts to recreate the accident and offer their opinions.
Negotiating a Settlement
Even when liability is clear, insurance companies often hesitate to agree to a suitable settlement. Damages in commercial vehicle accidents are often severe, and some may be hard to calculate.
Insurers might dispute the value of your claim and try to pay as little as possible.
Your attorney might go back and forth with the insurance company for months until reaching an acceptable settlement.
Taking a Case to Trial
The other parties and their insurers might refuse to settle your claim. In these cases, your attorney will file a lawsuit and appear in court on your behalf. Your lawyer will present all the evidence to the judge and jury that shows why you deserve compensation after the accident.
Fortunately, most commercial vehicle accident lawsuits settle before they go to trial.
Speak with a Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorney
The Zimmerman Law Firm excels in holding commercial vehicle companies liable after accidents. Our attorneys fight hard to get compensation for our clients. In one case, we recovered $2.75 million for a client after a commercial vehicle accident. Call us today to speak with an attorney about your case.