What to do if a Commercial Vehicle Hits You
If you were hit by a tractor trailer or other type of commercial vehicle, you may be experiencing catastrophic injuries and concerned about how you will recover both physically and financially. A crash with a larger commercial vehicle, such as a tractor trailer, can be catastrophic. If you’ve been involved in such an accident, you’ll need to know what to do if a commercial vehicle hits you.
Commercial Vehicles Definition
For a vehicle that travels on the interstate, it is defined as a commercial vehicle if it has a gross or combined weight of at least 10,001 pounds, if it is used to transport hazardous materials, or if it transports at least 8 passengers for compensation or 16 passengers without compensation.
Commercial Vehicle Drivers
Anyone who drives a vehicle fitting the definition of commercial vehicle above can be considered a commercial driver, even if they aren’t required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). So, anyone who drives a commercial vehicle is subject to the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These regulations govern how the vehicle is to be maintained and operated and covers issues such as inspections, hours in service, etc.
Commercial Vehicle Liability
When a commercial driver causes an accident, the company that owns the vehicle is usually considered to be responsible or “liable” for its employee’s actions. There are several exceptions to this, however, such as the employee must have been working at the time of the crash. Basically, when a commercial driver causes an accident and was working at the time, the company that owns the vehicle will likely be found at least partially liable for any injuries caused as a result of the accident.
What to do if a Commercial Vehicle Hits You?
Now that you know the essential definitions of a commercial vehicle and driver, here are several important steps if you are ever hit by a commercial vehicle:
- REPORT THE CRASH. If you are hit by a commercial vehicle, first make sure to call the police, report the incident, and request that an accident report be filed. If the crash occurred on private property, such as a parking lot, the police officer may not file an accident report, as it would be considered a non reportable crash. In that case, make sure that the officer obtains all contact and insurance information from the commercial driver.
- DON’T GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT. Don’t ever agree to a recorded statement with the insurance company without talking to a lawyer first. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation. That consultation is your chance to ask questions and get information about how to handle such things as the recorded statement. Many times, insurance adjusters will ask trick questions or try to lead you into answering their questions in a way that could hurt your case. Because of this, we generally tell our clients not to give recorded statements and to tell any insurance representative who contacts them to call us directly. When you’ve been injured in an accident and are focused on your recovery, the last thing you need is an insurance adjuster asking you to give a recorded statement.
- ACCIDENT SCENE INVESTIGATION. After a crash with a commercial vehicle, you or someone on your behalf should conduct an investigation of the accident scene and of the commercial vehicle itself, if warranted. This will include taking photos, measuring any skid marks (especially in a rear-end collision), retrieving data from any black box, etc. It is often very difficult for the injured party to conduct such an investigation. However, the insurance company covering the commercial vehicle will not waste any time conducting its investigation and assigning the case to its team of lawyers. You will need to act quickly to make certain that you have someone on your side compiling all of this information and making certain that the trucking company or insurance company doesn’t destroy any vital evidence.
Talk with a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one are involved in a collision with a commercial vehicle, knowing your rights will be of utmost importance. It will be important for you to understand how to receive compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages, and to understand how pain and suffering are determined. These are usually questions that you’ll want answered by an attorney who is experienced in handling commercial vehicle cases. Even if you decide not to hire a lawyer to help with your case, most attorneys offer free consultations to help answer your questions.
If you’ve been injured in a collision involving a tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle, the Ritchie Law Firm is here to help. DON’T GET HURT TWICE!! We have helped thousands of injured people get the money they deserve.
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Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.