In 2018, more than 10 percent of all auto accidents in Florida involved commercial vehicles. This includes accidents involving 18-wheelers and tractor trailers, as well as accidents involving smaller commercial trucks (such as trash trucks and utility trucks), delivery vans, and other vehicles used for business purposes.
For Florida residents injured in accidents involving commercial trucks and vans, it is important to understand what makes these cases different from cases involving collisions between two passenger vehicles. Although there are many aspects that are similar, the differences can have a significant impact on the process of securing a financial recovery.
3 Important Differences Between Accidents Involving Commercial Vehicles and Ordinary Passenger Vehicle Collisions
1. Determining the Cause of the Accident
While all modern vehicles are extraordinarily complex, with commercial vehicles, there is potentially even more that can go wrong. From driving errors (such as turning too sharply or failing to maintain control during sudden braking) to loading errors (such as exceeding a truck’s weight capacity or failing to properly secure cargo) to vehicle defects (such as issues with cargo straps or hydraulic suspension systems), there are numerous additional factors that can potentially cause or contribute to commercial vehicle accidents.
2. Identifying the Party (or Parties) Responsible
In most accidents involving commercial vehicles, there will also be more parties that are potentially liable for victims’ injuries. In addition to the driver of the vehicle, other parties that may be liable include:
- The driver’s employer
- The owner of the vehicle (if different from the driver’s employer)
- The shipping company that loaded the truck or van
- The vehicle’s manufacturer
- The manufacturer and installer of any modifications (or “upfitting”) designed to adapt the vehicle for commercial purposes
3. Dealing with Commercial Defense Lawyers
In a typical auto accident case, you will deal with your own insurance company with regard to your personal injury protection (PIP) claim, and you will deal with the other driver’s insurance company if your injuries are significant enough that you are entitled to bodily injury liability (BIL) compensation. In a case involving a commercial vehicle, however, you may also have to go through the liable party’s defense lawyers.
Although insurance companies will often handle commercial vehicle accident claims, there are a number of circumstances in which commercial parties may choose to defend personal injury claims directly. This adds a layer of complexity (and difficulty) to securing just compensation for accident-related injuries. In addition to disputing the merits of your claim, the liable party’s defense lawyers are likely to challenge your claim from various other angles as well, and you will need to be prepared to respond to these arguments effectively in order to obtain a settlement or win a verdict at trial.
Discuss Your Case With a Crestview Personal Injury Lawyer in Confidence
Our personal injury lawyers provide experienced legal representation for commercial vehicle accident claims in Crestview and throughout the Florida Panhandle. If you have been injured and would like to speak with an attorney, we encourage you to call 850-682-2757 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.