In 2020, 4,842 large trucks were involved in fatal traffic accidents throughout the U.S.
Collisions involving commercial vehicles can be catastrophic. These vehicles are often large and heavy, meaning that the smaller motor vehicle – and its occupants – often suffer extreme harm in a collision. The more you know about commercial vehicle accidents, the better you can protect your rights as a victim.
What Is Considered a Commercial Vehicle?
Nevada Revised Statutes Section 706.036 gives the state’s definition of a common motor carrier, which is another term for a commercial motor vehicle. It defines it as any person or operator that transports passengers or property by vehicle from place to place, either upon fixed route or on-call operations.
A more specific definition is given for “commercial vehicle” in Section 14.46.010 of the Clark County Code of Ordinances: a vehicle designed, maintained or used primarily for the transportation of property or passengers for the purpose of commercial enterprise, except for a taxicab.
Commercial motor vehicles can refer to many different vehicles used for the purpose of transporting people or property. This includes large trucks, tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, 18-wheelers and big rigs. It can also include cargo vans, buses and other heavy vehicles.
What Should I Do Immediately After an Accident With a Commercial Vehicle?
If you get into a traffic accident involving a commercial vehicle, take the following steps to protect your safety, health and legal rights as much as possible:
- If you are able, move your vehicle to a safe location near the crash scene.
- Call 911 to report the commercial vehicle accident.
- Check yourself and others for any injuries and render aid, if possible.
- Exchange information with the commercial vehicle driver and others involved in the crash.
- Document evidence at the scene, such as taking photographs.
- Give your version of events to the police and ask for your police report number.
- Get professional medical treatment at a hospital right away.
- Call your own car insurance company first to report the crash, then call the insurance carrier of the commercial vehicle company to file a claim.
- Don’t admit fault or give a recorded statement to the insurance company.
- Contact a commercial vehicle accident attorney for advice before accepting a settlement.
Don’t worry if you cannot complete all of these steps. A lawyer in Las Vegas can help you fill in the gaps after a commercial vehicle crash.
Who Is Liable in a Commercial Vehicle Accident (Driver or Company)?
Commercial motor vehicles are subject to unique laws and safety rules. These rules are enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and span many different topics, from driver training protocols to vehicle maintenance requirements. For public safety reasons, it is critical for common carriers and their drivers to obey these laws. Unfortunately, not all companies fulfill this responsibility. Many cut corners and ignore safety rules to save time or money.
If a commercial vehicle company violated a federal law, it can be held liable for a related accident. For example, a company could be held financially responsible if it contributed to a crash by hiring unlicensed or incompetent drivers, failing to train employees, neglecting commercial vehicle maintenance, or improperly loading and securing cargo. If an investigation finds that the company fell short of any of its duties of care to the public, it will be liable for a related accident.
If, however, an investigation finds that the commercial vehicle driver is at fault for texting and driving, speeding, breaking traffic laws, or otherwise behaving negligently behind the wheel, the driver may be held liable. Many commercial vehicle operators are independent contractors or owner/operators. In these cases, the driver may pay for the accident through his or her insurance company. If the driver was an employee of a common carrier, however, the company can be held vicariously liable.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney in Las Vegas
Determining liability for a commercial vehicle accident, as well as taking all the other steps that are necessary to recover fair compensation, is easier with an experienced attorney by your side. For more information about what to do after a commercial vehicle accident in Las Vegas, contact Koch & Brim, LLP to request a free consultation with an attorney.