One of the main questions potential clients have for commercial vehicle wreck attorneys is, "How is this case different from a typical accident claim?" There are 5 factors that may make a case involving a commercial vehicle significantly different from a normal claim involving two cars or even a pick-up truck and a car.
Risk of Catastrophic Injuries
One of the biggest differences is that most commercial vehicles are rather big compared to the ones they collide with in accidents. Given that commercial vehicle cases frequently include everything from box trucks on local deliveries to 18-wheelers pulling loaded trailers, there's a lot that can go terribly wrong.
Identifying the Liable Party
Another major issue that has to be confronted is sorting out who is the liable party. This especially becomes a problem when there is an owner-operator contracted to do a job and the contracting party wants to dump responsibility in that person's lap.
The contract structure for the job is one of the first things commercial vehicle wreck attorneys will look at. If the vehicle was still pulling a load, the contracted driver usually is covered by the contracting party's insurance. Things get a little trickier if the truck is in a so-called "bobtail" configuration, meaning the truck is returning home without a load. In those cases, the operator is the one who is usually financially liable for claims.
Lack of Insurance
Some very large fleet operators may be self-insuring. This introduces a particular problem because insurance companies are generally motivated to appoint an adjuster and settle a claim so long as it appears to be valid. Self-insuring parties may decide it's in their interest to drag a case out, and that might mean you end up having to sue them and go to court to get compensation.
Mixture of State and Federal Laws
Most commercial vehicles are governed by both state and federal laws. This is a plus for clients in many instances because it means there are potentially more demonstrable violations that may prove fault in the case. The downside, though, is that it also means parsing more legalese to arrive at answers.
Logs and Employment Info
Among the biggest upside in pursuing a claim against a commercial vehicle operator is that detailed records are almost always kept. Commercial vehicle wreck attorneys can easily nail down when maintenance was and when the truck was last inspected. Similarly, questions about drug testing and background checks can be used to assert liability against a fleet operator.