What Types Of Vehicles Are Involved In Commercial Vehicle Accident Cases?
Commercial vehicle accidents usually involve medium to large non-passenger vehicles that are classified solely as trucks, such as delivery or panel trucks and semi-tractor trailers. Commercial vehicles with trailers are generally used for the interstate transportation of goods and products, such as oil, gasoline, food, livestock, and products for home heating.
Are These Larger Vehicles Subject To Different Rules Or Regulations On The Road?
In order to operate a commercial vehicle, an individual must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which requires a background and medical record check and is therefore more difficult to obtain than a non-commercial driver’s license. Because commercial vehicles are involved in the interstate transportation of goods, they are generally subject to a high level of regulation from the federal government as opposed to the state government. However, sometimes these regulations are not complied with- fully or in part.
What Are the Common Causes of Accidents Involving These Larger Commercial Vehicles?
In most cases, commercial vehicle collisions are caused by some type of operator error. As one might imagine, operators of much heavier commercial vehicles have smaller margins of error. For example, it is more difficult and will take longer for a heavy vehicle to come to a complete stop than a lighter passenger vehicle, which makes speeding in commercial vehicles particularly dangerous; this is often true even if the brakes are in perfect working condition.
Operator errors can occur due to the fact that many operators are under pressure to meet certain schedule demands, and as a result, they often don’t get enough rest. Medical conditions may also lead to commercial vehicle accidents. For example, I once handled a case that involved an operator who went into diabetic shock while driving; this caused a horrendous collision involving multiple cars. Deferred or improper maintenance can also lead to accidents, such as failing brakes. Regardless of the cause of an accident involving a commercial vehicle, the damage caused is likely to be severe due to the size and weight of the commercial vehicle.
Who Can Potentially Be Held Liable In An Accident Involving A Commercial Vehicle?
Determining liability in a commercial vehicle accident sometimes requires a fairly detailed investigation. The operator of the vehicle will generally be held liable to the extent that he or she was negligent by changing lanes improperly, speeding, or otherwise violating a rule of the road. Some operators are classified as independent contractors, which allows for the owner of the company or the commercial vehicle to attempt to remain free from liability in the event of a collision. However, the company will usually be held liable if the operator was driving the vehicle with permission and caused an accident while within the course and scope of employment, or if it otherwise can be established that the operator was an agent of the vehicle owner. If an operator caused an accident while driving a commercial vehicle that they personally own, then they would likely be the only party held liable for the accident, although a thorough investigation would still be necessary in order to confirm that the accident was not caused by a mechanic’s improper or inadequate repair.
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