Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Anyone who has ever sat in a traffic jam on the Dan Ryan Expressway, or who has tried to get through the intersection at Stony Island Avenue and South Chicago Avenue during the 11 seconds the light is green, knows that Chicago can be a frustrating and even frightening place to drive. It’s a big, busy place, and the Census Bureau reports that it’s one of the top commuter cities in the nation. That means a lot of people trekking into and out of the city each day, battling for space on the city’s streets, roads and highways with buses, taxis, trucks and delivery vans. Inevitably, drivers who are in a rush, or who are tired at the end of a work day, or haven’t had their morning coffee, or just plain aren’t paying attention, run afoul of each other and collide.
Dealing with a car crash can be confusing enough when it’s just you and another driver in his or her personal vehicle. But when you get involved in a wreck with a commercial vehicle, that can open up an entire other set of legal issues and problems. Figuring out who is responsible for making you whole after your vehicle is hit by a commercial vehicle can be complicated. Chances are you may end up going through the driver’s employer or the company that owns the commercial vehicle to seek compensation instead of dealing directly with the at-fault driver. And that company may try to turn it back on the driver, leaving you in the middle of a tangled legal mess when you just want your medical bills paid and your car fixed.
The best way to deal with a car accident involving a commercial vehicle is to hire an experienced Illinois commercial vehicle accidents lawyer who can handle the complex nature of the personal injury process on your behalf.
What is a Commercial Vehicle?
The term “commercial vehicle” can have a lot of different meanings. A commercial vehicle could be someone’s company car, a taxi cab, a delivery van, a tow truck, a semi-truck, a hotel shuttle, or even a piece of construction equipment that also is a vehicle. Basically, a commercial vehicle is a vehicle operated for commercial purposes. It doesn’t necessarily have to be driven by someone holding a commercial driver’s license, but often may be. Usually a commercial vehicle is owned by a business or operated for business purposes, and is covered by a commercial liability insurance policy.
How is a Commercial Vehicle Accident Different?
There are some ways that a Chicago car crash involving a commercial vehicle can be different than one involving someone driving their own personal vehicle on their personal time. For the most part, the process of investigating the crash and filing a lawsuit, if necessary, is the same. However, some different legal principles can be involved when it comes to determining who should be responsible to compensate you for your injuries and damages incurred caused by the crash.
In a crash involving two personal vehicles, the at-fault driver is the person you pursue a claim against. But when a commercial vehicle is involved, you may need to pursue a claim against the driver’s employer, if he or she was driving while doing business for his or her employer, or you may have to pursue a claim against the company that owns the vehicle if that entity is different than the driver’s employer.
If the driver was a truck driver, bus driver, taxi driver, or some other kind of driver who has to maintain a commercial driver’s license, there may be particular sets of rules that driver has to follow. For example, truck drivers under federal regulation are only allowed to drive for so many hours per day. If the trucker exceeded the allowed number of hours and crashed into you because he or she was tired, that opens up an additional way that you may be able to prove your case for negligence and convince an insurance company or a jury to award you compensation.
Recovery in Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Because commercial vehicles often are larger and heavier than your personal vehicle, damage to your car and injuries to your person can be much greater in this kind of crash than in other types of motor vehicle accidents. You may have significant medical expenses that you’re worried about paying, and your car may be heavily damaged or totaled. If you had to pursue a claim against an individual driver who only has the minimum insurance coverage required by the state, you could be in a bad spot in terms of financial recovery. However, commercial liability policies often have much higher limits. If you are successful in making a claim against a commercial policy, the odds of being fully compensated are better.
The types of damages you may be able to recover include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of normal life
- Disability or disfigurement
How an Illinois Commerical Vehicle Accidents Lawyer Can Help
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, an experienced Illinois commercial vehicle accidents lawyer can help you by investigating the facts, determining the responsible parties, and making the arguments designed to get you the best possible settlement. A lawyer with experience pursuing claims against commercial liability policies will have a thorough understanding of the different kinds of issues in this type of accident, and what legal principles or rules apply in your specific situation. We have represented clients for commercial vehicle accidents throughout the Chicago area, and would be happy to discuss your situation in a free legal consultation. You can reach us at (312) 236-2900.