Commercial Truck Accidents: Who has Liability and Other Facts You Should Know
The number of accidents involving commercial trucks has been growing and often these accidents result from negligence. They may be due to driver fatigue or unsafe and careless operation of the commercial vehicle. Other factors include poor maintenance, defective equipment or improper loading that causes the vehicle to be unstable.
If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident, you should know about your rights and the responsibilities of the others involved.
What are the responsibilities of a commercial truck driver?
Operators of commercial motor vehicles have a wide range of responsibilities to ensure the safety of themselves and the public including.
- Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- Obtaining special endorsements of they are transporting hazardous materials or oversized cargo
- Receiving training in driver qualification requirements, driver wellness, whistle-blower protection, alcohol misuse,
- Complying with state and federal regulations
- Ensuring that all vehicle parts and accessories are in good condition to ensure safe operation and following laws, regulations, and industry practices.
How do you define a commercial truck?
A commercial truck is a commercial vehicles that transports goods or people for profit, helps provide commercial services, and is used by businesses regularly for work. They can also be classified as light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty trucks based on their weight and vehicle class.
Examples of commercial trucks include:
- Armored trucks
- Tow trucks
- Forklift trucks
- Big rig trucks (18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, or semis)
- Moving trucks
- Chemical or biohazard trucks
- Construction vehicles (like concrete mixers, cement trucks, etc.)
- Delivery trucks (Amazon, FedEx, UPS, etc.)
- Tanker trucks (gasoline or fuel trucks)
- Dump trucks
- Livestock trucks (carrying bees, deer, pigs, cows, etc.)
- Log trucks
- Plow trucks
- Septic tank or sewage trucks
- Snowplow trucks
- Train trucks
Who regulates commercial trucks?
The agency responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of the trucking industry is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) develop and enforce safety regulations and harnesses safety information systems. Their goal is to reduce bus and truck-related accidents.
Who has liability if someone is injured in a truck accident?
Determining who is liable in a truck accident can be very overwhelming and frustrating. It can help to have a truck accident attorney or personal injury attorney involved to assist with the process. A thorough investigation is necessary in most truck accidents to determine what happened and why. More than one of party may be held accountable for the accident: whether it is truck driver, truck driver’s employer, owner of truck, truck maintenance company, or cargo owner.
What damages may be awarded in the case of a truck accident?
Truck accidents can result in serious injuries, expenses, loss wages, and permanent loss of function. Typically, the court will award damages to a successful plaintiff for an amount related to both intangible and tangible losses. The intensity of the impact is a major factor in the number of damages awarded because that increases the amount of pain and suffering you go through due to the severity of your serious injuries. It is okay to be worried about your family’s financial future. If the accident involved drunk driving, you may be able to request punitive damages. It’s important to note that every case is different, therefore the amount of compensation will depend on the severity of your damages.
What should I do if I have been injured in a commercial truck accident?
If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident, you should follow the following steps:
- Identify and ensure all parties are off the road and safe
- Immediately seek medical attention and keep records of any tests, treatments and follow-up appointments
- Report the accident immediately
- File a police report and make sure to get a copy
- Promptly file your insurance claim
- Provide only the basic facts of your accident to insurance adjuster (if needed)
- Do not provide any tape recorded or written statement until after talking to an experienced lawyer
If possible, take photos of the truck accident scene. And, make sure to document the accident including the timeframe and scene of the accident. Some things you will want to record are:
- vehicles involved
- license plates
- weather conditions
- road conditions
- road signs nearby
- any other relevant details.
How do I know if I should consult an attorney?
You should contact an attorney if you, your passenger, or a pedestrian has been injured in a collision with a truck. You should also contact an attorney if you have property damage from a collision with a truck that is not covered by your own insurance policy.