Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorneys in Pittsburgh
Our Lawyers Are Here to Help You After an Accident
More than 36,500 Americans died as a result of vehicle accidents in 2018—a decrease over previous years, but still an astonishing number. In a society where driving is routine for many, we are lucky that number is not higher.
If you’ve been in a car accident, you know how scary the experience can be. Insurers are there to step in when things go wrong on the roadway, but getting a fair settlement can be difficult if you’re not used to negotiating with adjusters. The same is true for commercial vehicle accidents. However, in these cases, the first challenge is often figuring out where to file your claim.
Types of Commercial Vehicles
Not all commercial drivers are long-haul truckers. In fact, some may drive cars just like yours—using them to earn extra money by providing ridesharing services. Aside from gig workers, many companies rely on transportation services, using vehicles large and small. Professions that require employees to spend time on the road include:
- Passenger buses
- Limousine services
- Shipping companies and delivery
- Towing or roadside assistance providers
- Garbage or recycling collection
Though they may have to complete extra training or even get a specialized license or endorsement, these drivers can still make mistakes on the road, or fall prey to unsafe road conditions. Companies that employ drivers carry additional insurance for the inevitable accident claims they will face. There are restraints on what commercial driver insurance covers, though, so if you’re in an accident, make sure you know whose insurance covers what.
Who’s Liable if the Commercial Driver Caused the Accident?
If another car hit you after you blew through a stop sign, you’re still at fault, even if you collided with a commercial vehicle. If the commercial driver was the one who blew through the stop sign and hit you, that’s when you’ll need to start gathering details to guide your next steps. As always, you should get the other driver’s information; if they’re on the job, you’ll also want to get the name of their employer. The context of the accident will determine whose insurance you should file with.
Employers Are Responsible for Their Workers’ Behavior
If a driver is performing work duties at the time of the accident, the law requires their employer to answer for their actions. The reason for this is that if an employer puts a poor driver on the road, the fundamental negligence lies within their hiring process. In some cases, employers may even put drivers in dangerous situations through mismanagement. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lays out guidelines regulating the amount of hours a driver can work without rest. If a pushy employer pressures a driver to go beyond their allowed limits, it’s easy to see how they can be held liable.
Drivers May Hold Liability in Some Situations
Just because a driver is in their work vehicle doesn’t mean they’re actually on the job. Some may use their work vehicle to get to and from work (or other engagements), or to run errands during a break. If a driver is not on the clock and/or not acting within the scope of their job, an employer may argue that the accident is not their fault, leaving the driver to involve their insurance. Likewise, if a driver was acting recklessly at the time of the accident or deliberately used their vehicle to cause damage, an employer may try to release themselves from liability.
Further complications arise if the driver is an independent contractor. This is common among long-haul truckers, and among Uber and Lyft drivers as well. The two rideshare companies do offer some insurance to cover accidents. However, most companies working with contractors will refuse to pay at all. Individuals contracting as commercial drivers should have their own commercial insurance. If they don’t, recovering compensation may become difficult very quickly.
Mechanical Defects Implicate the Vehicle Manufacturer
Sometimes a driver may lose control of their vehicle through no fault of their own. Mistakes or low-quality work by manufacturers can have dire consequences when they affect vital vehicular systems. Should they cause an accident, all parties involved would need to file claims against the manufacturer’s insurance—including the driver and company using the faulty vehicle. They may be directed at the company whose name is on the front of the vehicle or at the manufacturer of a certain part, such as a tire, that failed.
Looking at Third-Party Liability
In multi-vehicle accidents, often the person you hit (or the one who hits you) isn’t directly responsible for what happened. The driver(s) who caused a chain accident will be responsible for the damages of everyone involved. If fault is shared, you may find yourself making claims against both personal and commercial insurances. Balancing two cases can be overwhelming on your own.
Get Answers to Your Questions at Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C.
Our experienced commercial vehicle accident lawyers can provide the support and advice you need in the aftermath of a wreck. Dealing with commercial insurance can be difficult if you’ve never done it before. Don’t let them refuse to pay the bills that result from their client’s negligence. Work with a team that’s won over $1 billion for our clients.