When you are in a car accident with another driver, the issue is usually pretty simple. It might not feel easy to deal with insurance companies, but there are no questions of law. If someone hits you in your car, their insurance would cover the damage to your car, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. In a majority of cases, you will make a third-party claim and reach a settlement agreement with the insurer.
But when you are hit by a commercial vehicle, the issues of who is at fault and how you can recover get trickier. In this case, it is better to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on your rights, research the situation, and guide you toward recovery – whether that is through an insurer or a lawsuit.
Defining a Commercial Vehicle
In essence, a commercial vehicle is any car, van, truck, bus, or other equipment operated for a commercial purpose. You can think of the vehicle as a part of a business, and it is out on the roads for the purpose of that business. Some typical commercial vehicles on Georgia roads are delivery vans, taxis, semis, and hotel shuttles.
Differences in a Commercial Vehicle Collision
In most cases, the commercial vehicle is driven by an employee. This is why an issue of liability arises. Who is responsible for the accident: The employee, the employer or both? It can depend, but you will likely recover from the employer as they are generally responsible for the actions of their workers.
If the employee was driving their work vehicle off hours, you will likely seek to recover from the driver’s insurance or the driver directly. However, there are exceptions to this general rule and an attorney can help discover the facts to ensure you are fully compensated.
In some situations, there are disagreements as to whether the employee was working at the time of the accident, such as if the worker was on call but not driving directly to or from a work task. This question may cause you to need to go to court instead of settling with an insurer, and a jury will decide the point.
Additionally, many commercial drivers need a specific license and are subject to certain federal regulations. In this case, the drivers must follow federal laws regarding how much they can drive within specific periods of time and a variety of other restrictions about the condition of their vehicle, their use of alcohol and drugs, and the medical and physical requirements to operate a truck. Your attorney may investigate and find that the commercial driver broke these laws. This can be proof of the driver, and therefore the employer’s, fault.
You can usually recover a variety of damages after an accident with a commercial vehicle, including:
- Property damage
- Medical bills since the accident
- Future medical expenses
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Lost income or profit
- Lost future wages from additional time you need away from work
- Change of lifestyle, such as remodeling your home for accessibility
Like personal drivers, companies have auto insurance as well. They often even have higher policies limits, which enables victims to recover more for their injuries.