Commercial Vehicle Accidents
In 2021, vehicle crashes injured more than 5.2 million people. Unfortunately, another 46,020 died in car accidents. Some of these crashes involved commercial vehicles.
When a large commercial vehicle hits a passenger car, the injured parties are usually the ones in the car. A passenger vehicle is no match against the size and weight of a commercial vehicle on the road.
What Is a Commercial Vehicle?
The United States Code defines a commercial vehicle as one that is used on the highways to transport property, passengers or hazardous materials. It weighs more than 10,000 pounds. Some commercial vehicles you may be familiar with include:
- Semi-trucks or tractor-trailer trucks
- Dump trucks
- Tow trucks
- Delivery vans
- Construction vehicles
What Can Happen in a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
A commercial vehicle can cause significant damage in an accident because of its massive weight and size.
Commercial Vehicles Are 20-30 Times Heavier Than Your Passenger Car
The average weight of a car is about 4,000 pounds. Your car, passenger truck or SUV are hardly a match for a CV. Add in the fact that many commercial vehicles transport heavy or hazardous materials, and your risk increases if a CV hits your car.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a commercial vehicle is often 20-30 times the size of a passenger vehicle. Trucks and buses are harder to maneuver. Their weight and size make them harder to speed up, slow down, and steer.
Commercial Vehicles Are Taller Than Your Passenger Vehicle
Tall commercial vehicles have a higher center of gravity. The physical difference makes them more susceptible to rollovers, especially on sharp curves and ramps. Their height and size create wind gusts capable of pushing smaller vehicles into other driving lanes.
Commercial vehicles often have a high ground clearance. Sometimes, a smaller car can be pulled or pushed underneath the CV in an accident.
When a CV is in a crash, the chances of a severe outcome are greater. Vehicle damage, personal injury and fatalities are all more likely to happen when a commercial vehicle hits a passenger car.
Who Is Responsible for a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
When a commercial vehicle causes an accident, the driver or company may be at fault. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration outlines the regulations commercial drivers must follow when they operate a CV. However, accidents can still happen, even when you are watching out for them.
Sometimes drivers and employers bend or break the rules. They may be trying to meet a quota or delivery deadline. They may just forget to double-check a load before leaving, or they may be intentionally careless. Whatever the reason, there are no good excuses for failing to follow the law.
Commercial Driver Requirements
To obtain a commercial driver’s license in Utah, drivers must meet specific medical requirements outlined by the FMCSA. They must also pass a physical exam, vision screening and color blindness test. Once drivers meet the medical conditions, they must pass a three-part driving skills test:
- Pre-trip inspection
- Basic controls
- Road skills
Drivers must also follow hours-of-service regulations restricting the number of hours they are allowed to drive in a given period. The number of hours varies whether they carry passengers or property.
Commercial drivers are also responsible for the inspection, maintenance and repair of their vehicles as required by FMCSA.
Consequences of Failing To Meet Requirements
When a driver does not adhere to the required working schedule or fails to keep up with vehicle inspection, disastrous consequences can occur.
Crashes can also take place when a driver is distracted or fatigued, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving carelessly in hazardous road conditions.
Accidents can result if drivers or employers do not load a vehicle properly or fail to secure its cargo. Improperly secured loads can cause a commercial vehicle to become unsteady or drop some of the shipment.
Why Do You Need a Commerical Vehicle Accident Lawyer?
The laws surrounding vehicle accidents and personal injury in Utah are sometimes complex. Navigating the system can be difficult, especially when you are facing the big companies that own commercial vehicles.
Utah’s “No-Fault” Insurance Rule
Utah is one of about a dozen states that require vehicle owners to carry personal injury protection insurance. It pays for expenses if you’re injured in an accident, including lost income, medical bills and other related costs.
Your insurance pays regardless of who was at fault. However, you cannot receive compensation for pain and suffering or other non-monetary damages. Utah requires car owners to carry a minimum amount of $3,000 in PIP insurance.
As the coverage name implies, the no-fault insurance requirement applies to personal injury, not vehicle damage claims. If you have a damaged or totaled vehicle, you can make a claim against the at-fault driver or company in Utah.
Meeting Utah’s Thresholds
When the victim’s injuries are deemed too severe, the case can step outside of the no-fault threshold. The injured parties must have incurred more than $3,000 in medical bills from the accident. Furthermore, they must meet an “injury threshold” consisting of certain serious injuries:
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent impairment
If your injuries meet these specifications, you are able to file a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. When you meet this threshold, you can file for non-monetary losses, including pain and suffering. A commercial vehicle accident lawyer can evaluate your case and determine a course of action based on your circumstances.
Modified Comparative Fault
Multiple parties can be deemed at fault in a Utah car accident. A lawsuit can be filed against the other at-fault party in this instance. The amount of damages awarded to you is based on the percentage of fault assigned. If you are determined to be 50% or more at fault, you cannot receive money for your damages.
Statutes of Limitations
Utah personal injury cases are subject to certain statutes of limitations. It means you have a specified time window to bring your case to court. In most instances, the time frame begins on the day of the accident.
Car accident injuries have a four-year statute of limitations. However, if the accident killed someone, the statute of limitations is only two years. Property and vehicle damage lawsuits must be filed within three years of the accident date.
It may seem like a long time to file a claim at first glance. However, it is a good idea to call an attorney immediately to ensure your case is filed within the statute of limitations and complete the process correctly.
Because of the complexities surrounding Utah’s laws, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress by working with a commercial vehicle accident lawyer.
Where Should You Turn After a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
Siegfried and Jensen has served the people of Utah and surrounding states since 1990. We know that the insurance companies can try to get away with offering you the lowest compensation. We have more than 30 years of experience dealing with insurance companies and the commercial vehicle companies they represent.
Call or visit us today for your free case review. We promise you never have to pay us anything out of pocket. Let the attorneys at Siegfried and Jensen see what we can do for you.