What is a Commercial Vehicle?
Auto collisions that involve a commercial vehicle tend to be much more deadly, and cause much more serious injuries than auto accidents involving smaller vehicles. A commercial vehicle is defined as any type of vehicle used primarily for commercial or business purposes. This can include:
- Delivery trucks
- Commercial buses
- Hazmat carriers
- Vans used for commercial purposes
- Any other large vehicle used for commercial purposes
Tractor-trailers that transport cargo across the United States are the most common type of commercial vehicle, followed by the large trucks used for delivery of packages and other cargo, such as UPS and Fed-Ex trucks. Because commercial vehicles can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, and because of the hazardous cargo that trucks sometimes transport, the consequences of a commercial vehicle accident can be catastrophic.
Fatigued Truck Drivers Lead to Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Although many laws have been passed over the years to regulate the conduct of large commercial vehicles, their drivers, and the companies who own the vehicles, there remain many concerns regarding these vehicles. Truck driver fatigue is a serious issue. Despite laws that limit the number of hours that a long-distance truck driver can be behind the wheel to eleven hours at a stretch, quite often, truckers exceed those hours in an attempt to deliver loads on time.
Those who have ever driven for eleven hours at a stretch know just how exhausting it can be, yet semi-truck drivers routinely drive those hours at least five times every week. Commercial drivers of package delivery trucks and commercial buses also drive long hours; however, their driving is primarily done within a busy city, which brings its own set of hazards. While fatigue may not be as big of a concern for these drivers as it is for long-distance truck drivers, many commercial vehicle accidents are the result of driver fatigue. Other factors involved in commercial vehicle accidents include:
- Distracted drivers
- Poor maintenance
- Poorly secured cargo
- Roadway design defects
- Impaired drivers
- Roadway hazards
- Reckless drivers
Proving Your Case Following a Georgia Commercial Vehicle Accident
Many times following an accident involving a commercial vehicle, the company who owns the vehicle will immediately attempt to place blame on the driver of the passenger vehicle. For this reason – as well as several more – you must speak with a qualified Georgia personal injury attorney who has experience in commercial vehicle accidents. The main legal theory regarding liability in a commercial vehicle accident is, of course, negligence. To establish negligence, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the driver of the commercial vehicle did not exercise reasonable care under the circumstances at hand. Further, it must be shown that the truck driver failed in his or her duty of care, and that failure was the direct cause of the resulting accident and injuries.
Investigating a Georgia Commercial Vehicle Accident
An investigation must be instigated as soon as possible following the accident. A commercial vehicle attorney has the necessary experience to know what evidence to look for. Your attorney will have access to experts who can fully investigate the scene of the accident. Experts will also examine the required maintenance records from the trucking company, and the logbooks of the truck driver, in order to determine whether he or she was driving over the hour limit.
Witnesses to the accident who can potentially shed some light on the cause of the accident, including police officers and first responders to the scene, will be interviewed. If necessary, forensic experts can be brought in to reconstruct the accident and more definitively assign fault. Many times, the most critical piece of evidence in the case can be the vehicle’s event recorder, or black box, which records data from before, during, and after the accident. Often, these records must be subpoenaed by your personal injury attorney before this critical evidence is destroyed.
The Many Defendants in a Commercial Vehicle Accident
There are many potential defendants following a commercial vehicle accident:
- The driver can be held liable if he or she was driving in an unsafe manner, was distracted by a cell phone or from another issue, or was driving with less than the recommended amount of rest.
- If some type of mechanical failure caused the accident, the company who owns the vehicle may be held liable for failure to perform necessary maintenance items.
- If the accident was caused by a defect on the commercial vehicle, then the actual manufacturer may be held accountable.
- The company who owns the commercial vehicle may also be held liable if it placed an inexperienced or untrained driver on the roadways, or if it failed to conduct a comprehensive background check on the driver.
- In the case of a semi-truck, the company who loads the cargo could be responsible for the accident.
How Evans Litigation and Trial Law Can Help
Alfred Evans has defended cases for trucks, automobiles, and premises liability for over thirteen years. He has great insight into the mindset of the insurance industry because he worked for insurance companies.
If you have been injured in a commercial vehicle accident, it is extremely important that you contact a Georgia commercial vehicle accident attorney who has a history of successfully handling cases involving commercial vehicles. Many companies with commercial drivers may look the other way regarding driver fatigue in order to increase profits, or even hire drivers who should never have been placed behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle. The injuries sustained from a commercial vehicle accident are likely to be severe, and it is important that you receive the medical treatment and rehabilitation that you require in order to return to your day-to-day life, when possible. Contact Evans Litigation and Trial Law today at 1-404-334-8009 or fill out our confidential contact form.