Commercial vehicles are used for shipping goods or transporting passengers for the profit of a business or individual. In other words, they are company vehicles rather than personal cars or trucks. Liability for commercial vehicles in an accident can affect how an accident victim seeks compensation.
Examples of commercial vehicles include:
- Pickup trucks
- Travel trailers
If you were hurt in an accident with a commercial vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages (per Georgia Code § 51-1-6). However, the details matter. You will need to know who caused the accident, which the company employs the driver, and the insurance they carry.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the key factors when commercial vehicles get into an accident.
How Fault Works with Commercial Vehicles in an Accident
When an accident occurs involving a commercial vehicle, it’s not always easy to determine who is at fault.
When two personal vehicles crash, fault typically lies on one of the two drivers—or both. The at-fault driver(s) would then be liable for damages. In most cases, this means their car insurance company actually covers the costs.
With a commercial vehicle accident, liability can fall on the driver, the company employing the driver, or sometimes a third party like a manufacturer or mechanic.
When the Company is Liable
Any company that utilizes vehicles for their business should hold commercial auto insurance coverage for accidents they or their employees might cause. This insurance is meant to pay damages if you file a personal injury claim against them.
Most of the time, the company is liable in an accident their driver caused. This falls under a legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior,” which is a Latin term meaning employers are legally on the hook for what their employees do while on-the-job.
The employer’s insurance policy protects them from having to directly pay for injuries and property damage caused by an employee.
When the Driver Is Liable
There are a few situations where the commercial driver is responsible for damages in an accident they caused. The driver may be liable if they:
- Are an independent contractor who uses their personal vehicle on behalf of the company
- Were using the commercial vehicle for non-business purposes or while “off-the-clock”
- Committed a crime while using the commercial vehicle
- Were using the vehicle for personal uses, even if it was within business hours
Whether or not the employee is liable will depend on the details of their contract and what they were doing when the commercial vehicle accident happened.
Either way, insurance companies do not like to pay out large settlements in an accident. If you were hurt after a crash with a commercial vehicle, it’s best to contact a personal injury lawyer right away. They can help you investigate fault in the accident and fight for your rights to recovery.
When Other Parties Are at Fault
Sometimes, more than one party shares responsibility for a commercial vehicle in an accident. For example, if the accident is caused by faulty tires, the manufacturer of those tires may hold some of the blame. Or, a mechanic who worked on the vehicle may have been negligent, causing issues that led to the accident.
This is another reason to work with a lawyer who understands commercial vehicle accidents. They can help investigate out where the problem originated so you know where to file a claim or lawsuit for damages.
Talk to a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer for Free
At John Foy & Associates, we know how painful and stressful an accident with a commercial vehicle can be. Many of these automobiles are large trucks that can cause serious, even life-threatening damages.
The details can leave you wondering what to do first. Let us help—starting with a FREE consultation. Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online now for your FREE consultation.