Accidents with large commercial vehicles like semi-trucks can be especially dangerous for people in passenger vehicles. The weight and size disparity between a truck and an ordinary car can leave the car badly mangled and the people inside severely injured. For the driver of the truck such accidents not only threaten personal injury but can also put a career at risk. After being in an accident with a commercial vehicle there are a number of steps a driver should take:
- Get medical attention. Anytime someone is injured in an accident the first step is always to ensure that injuries are stabilized. If possible, tell nurses and doctors about the accident. The information gathered by medical professionals about the nature of the injury can become vital evidence in future litigation.
- Get the truck driver’s details. Like any car accident, the drivers involved in a wreck involving a commercial vehicle should exchange contact information and share insurance details.
- Get the name and contact information of the driver’s employer. In addition to finding out the name of the truck driver, it’s important to also find out the name of the driver’s employer and get as much information as possible about the employer. Chances are good that the driver’s insurance is carried by the employer, not the driver personally, and any lawsuit that follows the accident will probably name the employer as a defendant.
- Report the accident. Nevada law requires parties involved in an accident to report the incident to the Department of Motor Vehicles. In crashes where police were involved in the initial post-accident response this report may not be required, as the police prepare the necessary paperwork as part of their process. The insurance companies of both drivers should also be contacted.
- Consult with an accident attorney. Even if a driver’s insurance carrier will be pursuing legal action on behalf of the driver, it’s often important to have independent legal counsel. Insurance companies have an inherent conflict of interest whenever a claim arises: their profits depend on denying claims and aggressively seeking reimbursement for any costs they incur. Even if the insurer’s interests are aligned with the injured driver’s, the driver should have independent advice to protect against unlawful or dishonest behavior by the insurer.
Accidents involving commercial drivers typically open questions about the legal relationship of the truck driver with the business for which he or she was driving at the time of the accident. Truck drivers may fall into one of several categories:
- Sole proprietors who operate the truck as a business and are personally liable for damages caused in an accident.
- Independent contractors who are working for another business. Independent contractors may be treated as sole proprietors from a legal liability standpoint, but their liability will be subject to the terms of their relationship with the “client” business.
- Employees of a trucking company.
Regardless of the legal form of the relationship between the truck driver and the trucking business, the injured plaintiff’s attorneys will probably seek compensation from the business as well as, or instead of, the truck’s driver. The business may have good arguments for why it is not responsible for the driver’s negligence, but in a typical situation a business is responsible for the wrongdoing of its agents, regardless of whether the agents are independent contractors or employees.
GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in auto accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, please give us a call today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.