Most can agree: there’s no such thing as a “good” car accident. Still, some car accidents are worse than others in severity or in the amount of paperwork required to handle the fallout. Getting involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle can result in serious physical damage, and unfortunately, often takes a lot of follow-up with insurance companies to see a settlement. Whether you’ve been hit by a bus, a truck, van or other vehicle driven for commercial purposes, an insurance headache can last far longer than your scrapes.
Thankfully, regardless of what kind of vehicle struck you, the law is fairly straightforward. When fault is clear, your odds of receiving adequate compensation go up significantly. When fault is in question, though, you may want to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. Regardless, there are a few first steps every driver involved in a crash with a commercial vehicle should take.
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As you would with any other accident, check to see if everyone involved in the wreck is safe from additional harm. After confirming, move the vehicles off the main roadway and call the police. Request an ambulance for anyone injured and offer assistance to them while you wait.
Resist any urge you have to be polite and apologize for your role in the crash. Even if you believe yourself to be responsible in some way, do not offer an explanation or apology. Instead, exchange insurance information with the driver. Use your cell phone to snap photos of the damage done, including both your car and the commercial vehicle. If any witnesses were nearby when the accident occurred, ask them to recount what they saw on video. Be sure to get their contact information, too.
Remember to remain calm, no matter how much your adrenaline might be pumping. Be sure to collect a copy of the police report and visit a doctor for a full examination, even if you’re not feeling hurt. Many accident injuries take days or even weeks to become evident. Call your insurance company to report the incident as soon as it is safe to do so. They will direct you about next steps.
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How Commercial Accidents are Different
Commercial vehicles might drive on the same roads as other motorists, but they abide by slightly different rules. At both the state and federal level, commercial drivers are held to a different standard than your average motorist. Because the commercial driver is an employee, liability becomes more complicated. The employee, the company or both may indeed be liable for the damage done in the wreck.
Generally speaking, you will likely recover damages from the employer of the commercial driver. They are responsible for their workers’ actions on the road. The exception to this is when a driver is using their work vehicle while off the clock. In such cases, you should seek recovery from the driver’s insurance company.
Commercial vehicle insurance is likely to have much more coverage than average. This means you won’t need to settle for anything less than what you deserve because of policy limits. When more money is at stake, however, the insurance company may be more likely to defend their case. Because of this, commercial vehicle claims often take a long time to settle.
Seek Legal Help
In many cases, the driver of the commercial vehicle is distracted, drowsy or drugged behind the wheel. Truck drivers, for example, work on tight deadlines and frequently opt not to take federally-mandated breaks for rest. Unfortunately, though, these suspicions can be difficult for an individual to prove. If you suspect the commercial driver involved in your crash was breaking the law at the time of the incident, you may want to talk to an attorney.
A lawyer can help investigate a driver’s safety record, their schedule and their cell phone records to determine if the driver was indeed making bad choices at the wheel. A lawyer can help negotiate with the insurance company, should they offer too low a settlement, and escalate things if a reasonable figure cannot be agreed upon. By bringing on an attorney, you have a better chance at receiving the maximum compensation possible for medical bills, repairs for your vehicle and psychological treatment for the pain and suffering you endured from being hit by a commercial vehicle.
If you’re curious about how much your accident claim could be worth, Lawsuit Info Center’s injury reward calculator can give you some valuable insight. Though not a guaranteed amount, the figure can give you a ballpark idea of what a settlement could look like. While you’re crunching rough numbers, consider contacting us for a consultation. Our team can help connect you with a personal injury lawyer in your area. Request this free service today.