Commercial vehicle accidents often present unique challenges compared to standard car collisions. Due to their size and function, commercial vehicles, such as trucks, buses, and taxis, can cause more severe damage and injuries. Additionally, liability can extend beyond the driver, implicating companies or employers, adding layers of complexity to such incidents.
What Is a Commercial Vehicle?
A commercial vehicle is primarily used for transporting goods or passengers for business purposes. This category encompasses a range of vehicles including trucks, buses, taxis, and vans. Their operation often requires special licenses and they are typically subject to specific governmental regulations. The primary distinction from personal vehicles is their intended use for commerce or profit.
Common Causes of Commercial Vehicle Accidents
- Driver Fatigue: Many commercial drivers work long hours, leading to exhaustion and decreased attention on the road.
- Inadequate Training: Some commercial drivers may not receive proper training for the specific vehicles they operate.
- Overloaded Vehicles: Exceeding a vehicle’s weight limit can make it hard to maneuver and increase the risk of accidents.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: Failure to maintain a commercial vehicle can lead to mechanical failures and accidents.
- Distracted Driving: Using phones or other devices, eating, or not focusing on the road can result in mishaps.
- Speeding: Due to delivery or schedule pressures, some drivers might exceed speed limits, compromising safety.
- Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol or drug use impairs a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely.
- Poor Weather Conditions: Commercial vehicles, especially when heavy, may struggle in adverse weather, leading to accidents.
Injuries Resulting from Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Commercial vehicle accidents, due to the sheer size and weight of the vehicles involved, often lead to more catastrophic outcomes than standard passenger car collisions. The momentum and force exerted during an impact can result in severe injuries, even at relatively low speeds. Victims might face issues like broken bones, internal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Moreover, given the elevated structure of many commercial vehicles, like trucks, they can cause under-ride accidents, where a smaller car might get trapped underneath, leading to devastating consequences.
Another common injury from commercial vehicle accidents is spinal cord trauma. The intense jolt or compression from the collision can harm the spine, leading to potential paralysis or chronic pain. Burn injuries can also occur, especially if the commercial vehicle is carrying flammable materials and there’s a fire post-collision. Even if one escapes physical harm, the psychological trauma from such a significant accident can be profound, causing anxiety, PTSD, or other emotional challenges. It’s important to recognize the multifaceted impact of commercial vehicle accidents on victims.
Understanding Liability in Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Commercial vehicle accidents introduce a more complex arena of liability than typical passenger car incidents. One primary reason is that, besides the driver, multiple parties might be held responsible. For instance, if a truck driver is involved in a collision, the trucking company they work for might also be deemed liable, especially if they failed to ensure that their drivers followed mandated rest periods or if they encouraged unsafe driving practices to meet tight delivery schedules.
Additionally, the chain of responsibility might extend further to include entities responsible for vehicle maintenance or those who loaded the vehicle. For example, if an accident occurred due to a mechanical failure, the company responsible for maintaining that vehicle could be at fault. Similarly, if a truck was loaded improperly or beyond its capacity, causing it to tip over, the party responsible for its loading might be held liable.
Moreover, determining liability becomes even more complicated when considering the contractual relationships between parties. Some drivers might be independent contractors rather than employees, changing the dynamics of who’s at fault. As these scenarios show, pinpointing liability in commercial vehicle accidents often requires thorough investigation and a comprehensive understanding of the relationships between all involved parties.
Compensation after a Commercial Vehicle Accident
After a commercial vehicle accident, victims may face a myriad of financial burdens. Medical bills can quickly mount, especially if the injuries sustained require long-term care, surgeries, or rehabilitation. Moreover, if a victim is unable to return to work immediately, the lost wages can further strain their financial stability. In some tragic cases, families might also face funeral and burial expenses in the event of a fatality.
In light of these challenges, seeking compensation becomes crucial. Compensation can cover medical costs, lost earnings, property damage, and even intangible damages such as pain and suffering. It’s also worth noting that if the accident was due to the gross negligence of a commercial entity, punitive damages might be awarded to deter such conduct in the future. Having good legal representation can ensure that victims and their families obtain the full extent of compensation they’re entitled to.
Importance of Hiring an Experienced Attorney in Los Angeles
Hiring an experienced attorney after a commercial vehicle accident is paramount. These cases often involve multiple parties, intricate regulations, and substantial documentation, which can be overwhelming for individuals to handle alone. An experienced attorney can skillfully navigate the complexities, ensure that victims’ rights are protected, and advocate aggressively to secure the maximum compensation possible. Their expertise can make a significant difference in the outcome of the case.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a commercial vehicle accident, securing the right legal representation is vital. Ardalan & Associates is dedicated to fighting for your rights and ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation and let us champion your cause.
Ardalan & Associates, PLC is a personal injury law firm based in Thousand Oaks, serving all of Southern California including Los Angeles, Ventura, Kern, and Orange Counties. We are committed to helping our clients involved in commercial vehicle accidents seek justice and navigate their legal journey.