Truck AccidentsHit By a Company Vehicle: What Should I Do?

July 9, 2021
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When you are hit by a company vehicle, it’s normal to wonder about your rights. Moreover, if you lose a loved one in a motor vehicle collision, you deserve justice. When you want to understand your legal options, it’s essential to work with a personal injury lawyer Houston trusts. 

What Is a Company Vehicle?

Any vehicle owned by a company and operated by employees is a company vehicle. This includes any van, truck, bus, or company car. Oftentimes, these vehicles haul goods or transport workers. 

Generally speaking, commercial insurance policies cover these vehicles. Additionally, these vehicles fall under a specific set of legal requirements and roadway laws. As such, being hit by a company car is very different from your typical car accident. 

This also means that it requires specialized knowledge because your auto accident attorney deals with different insurance rules, providers, and agents. 

Auto Accidents with Company Vehicles

Together, these different laws, policies, and requirements for commercial vehicles make your claim more complex. When you are hit by a company vehicle, it’s important to pursue damages. If someone’s negligence causes you harm, it’s important to remember your rights. Moreover, it’s essential to work with an attorney who understands the nature of these cases. 

Commercial insurance providers utilize extensive resources to protect their interests. This ranges from insurance adjusters to legal teams. Above all, their goal is to preserve profit and avoid paying out damages after a collision. 

With this in mind, it’s essential to seek aggressive representation from a lawyer who offers personalized attention. Injured Texans need advocates to take on large companies. With the right advocate, you have a better opportunity to secure the compensation you deserve. 

Hit By a Company Car? Here’s What to Do

When an employee operating a company vehicle causes a wreck, there are plenty of causes. As with any auto collision, there’s an array of reasons people lose control of vehicles. 

  • Drunk driving 
  • Distracted driving 
  • Excessive speeding 
  • Slow driving 
  • Improper training 
  • Poor vehicle maintenance

Collisions with smaller company vehicles range from minor to extensive damage. In the worse accidents, people sustain severe injuries. Some lose their lives to motor vehicle collisions as well. 

In a crash with a larger commercial vehicle, people sustain catastrophic injuries. Moreover, fatalities are far more common. This is due to the size difference between the average passenger vehicle and commercial trucks, vans, and 18-wheelers

Company Responsibility 

Typically, a company is responsible for the actions of any employee who is “on the clock.” This means that when you are hit by a company vehicle, working hours matter. If a negligent driver is on the clock at the time of an accident, the company is at least partially liable for damages. 

Fault is essential in these cases. That’s why insurance companies and legal teams work diligently to determine fault and negligence in car accidents. Within hours of a collision, representatives flock to the scene. They begin to gather any possible evidence to determine the cause of the accident. 

Oftentimes, they also offer an immediate, lowball settlement to victims. Generally speaking, it’s important to consult a personal injury attorney before you accept or sign anything from the company. With a lawyer, you have someone to offer advice on whether you have a case. 

They evaluate your claim and tell you whether there’s potential to recover additional damages. This is essential because when you accept a settlement, you are no longer eligible for any additional compensation. 

As they investigate the accident, adjusters and attorneys place a great deal of importance on the moments just before the collision. That’s because this often points to the how and why of the accident. Once they establish the facts of the case, they work to determine compensation for the claim. 

When negligence factors into a commercial vehicle accident, it’s possible in some instances to hold the driver liable. This is in addition to the company that employes them. 

Work-Related Collisions: Fault & Liability

In a work-related collision, the person responsible is pivotal to your claim. After being hit by a company vehicle, fault determines liability. As such, it determines who deserves compensation and who pays those damages. 

“Commercial Vehicles” and Collisions

Oftentimes, the umbrella of “commercial vehicles” is larger than people realize. Beyond 18-wheelers and delivery vehicles, it also extends beyond vehicles operated solely for compensation. 

From flower delivery trucks to airport shuttles, it’s a complex matter of what’s included. Additionally, the fact that not all commercial vehicles require a commercial driver’s license further complicates the matter. This means that the rules and laws that apply to these claims are patchworks at best. 

State Lines When Hit By a Company Vehicle

When you are hit by a company vehicle with routes that cross state lines, there is a set of criteria that establishes what is a commercial vehicle. 

  • Gross weight of at least 10,001 pounds
  • Design intended to transport at least 8 passengers, including the driver, in exchange for compensation 
  • OR design intended to transport 16 passengers without compensation 
  • Used to transport an amount of hazardous materials that requires a placard

Within Texas, the laws vary. 

  • Gross vehicle rating of 26,001 pounds – with exceptions 
  • Tow trucks 
  • Farm vehicles that weigh at least 48,000 pounds

When a vehicle fits this legal definition, it is a commercial vehicle. This is true regardless of whether the job requires a commercial driver’s license. 

As such, the driver is subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. For instance, they require vehicle inspections before and after trips, regular maintenance checks, and compliance with limits on hours of service. 

When you are hit by a company vehicle where the driver is not in compliance, it’s possible to hold both the driver and the employer accountable.

Fault in an Accident with a Company Vehicle

When an accident involves a company vehicle, that company invests in resources that help it avoid financial responsibility. Thus, the company’s legal team and insurance representatives examine the claim very closely. 

That means they look into you as well as the driver of the company vehicle. In doing so, they determine whether anyone practiced negligence at the time of the collision. When they prove negligence, they tie responsibility and liability to that person. 

Hit By a Company Vehicle: Common Causes of Commercial Accidents

Here are a few examples of the common causes behind commercial collisions. 

Excessive Speeding

When drivers operate a company vehicle beyond the speed limit, this is negligent behavior. Similarly, this applies to speeds considered unsafe based on adverse weather or road conditions.

Distracted Driving

When drivers ignore cell phone laws that apply to truck drivers, we consider it distracted driving. However, this category extends well beyond technology. Anything that pulls a driver’s focus away from the road inhibits their ability to drive defensively and safely. This includes talking to someone else, looking at a map, or eating. 

DWI or DUI

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are both major causes of accidents. This is true across all types of motor vehicle collisions. Additionally, Texas in particular takes drunk driving quite seriously. 

Oftentimes, drivers feel pressure to meet deadlines or quotas. This leads to many commercial drivers using drugs and medications to stay awake. In some cases, they abuse alcohol to cope with the stress. 

Adverse Weather & Road Conditions

From rain and sleet to potholes and construction, drivers must adjust their behavior on the road to match the conditions. Unfortunately, adverse conditions lead to many accidents with company vehicles. 

Hit By a Company Vehicle in Their Personal Time: Who’s Liable?

As we stated earlier, whether someone is “on the clock” matters when you’re hit by a company vehicle. Unfortunately, it grows more complex. Was the driver behaving “within the scope of employment”?

This means whether what they were doing was a work-related duty at the time of the accident. If the answer is yes, the employer bears some liability. That’s because the company bears responsibility for the employee’s actions on company time. 

However, if the driver is off the clock, it’s not so straightforward. In short, when someone uses a company vehicle in their personal time or for personal activity, it’s a little hazy. It’s possible that the company shares some liability for the accident. 

More likely, the driver bears liability for the accident. Because this depends on the circumstances of your claim, it requires a detailed investigation. That’s another reason why it’s essential to engage a personal injury law firm. 

Hit By a Company Vehicle? Work With Personal Injury Attorneys Houston Trusts

If you are hit by a company vehicle, it’s essential to act quickly and seek representation. This is especially true if you lose a loved one in a commercial vehicle accident. When a company employs a driver and owns a vehicle, they likely have legal resources. That means their investigation begins within hours of the collision. 

Moreover, they work to minimize the risk for the company. For you, that means they want to reduce your settlement as much as possible. Contact a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. 

With an attorney, you have an advocate on your side. Your representation guides you through the accident claim process(read more here). With the right representation, you have someone to protect your rights and pursue the justice you deserve. 

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