Commercial Vehicle Accidents
There is no doubt that are more vehicles on U.S. roads than ever before. And in rural and urban areas alike, many of these cars and trucks are commercial vehicles. A commercial vehicle is any type of motor vehicle that is used for transporting goods or paying passengers. In cities like Atlanta, taxicabs are one the most common commercial vehicles you will see. On state highways, motorists must share the road with more dangerous commercial vehicles, such as large trucks hauling everything from livestock to gasoline. Box trucks, semi-trailers and other types of delivery trucks are also widely seen on all of Georgia's many highways as well as in the city limits.
If you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, the issue of liability can be complicated. This is because commercial vehicles generally are not owned by the person driving them,. Instead, there is generally a chain of responsibility when a commercial vehicle driver causes an accident—the driver is linked to a transportation company, which may be linked to a manufacturer or shipper. The legal team at KWFDM is prepared to handle these potentially complex cases.Commercial Classification
In the United States, a vehicle is designated as “commercial” when it is titled or registered to a company or corporation. A vehicle may also be considered a commercial vehicle if it meets any of the following criteria:
- It is used for business, even if it is in an individual’s name, such as a sole proprietor.
- It is a leased vehicle and in the name of the financial institution that owns it.
- It is designed to carry more than 15 passengers.
- It exceeds a certain weight or class, and therefore is classified as commercial even though it may not be commercially used or commercially owned. A weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more is always considered commercial.
- It is used to haul any hazardous material.
Under this broad definition, commercial vehicles may be company cars, tour buses, fleet vehicles, vans, or any other vehicle used for business.Liability in Commercial Vehicle Accidents
After an accident involving a commercial vehicle—even if it’s clear that the driver of the commercial vehicle caused the accident—it is not always easy to determine who is legally liable for a victim’s injuries and damages. In many cases, the driver’s employer may be held liable for an accident if it occurred within the scope of employment, such as while the driver was making a delivery. The driver's employer can also be found liable if they accident was caused by a driver employed through negligent hiring practices. This can include incomplete background checks on the driver, negligent driver training, and improper maintenance of driver or company records.
In some cases, the manufacturer or shipper of hazardous materials carried by the commercial vehicle may also be held responsible for damages caused, or made worse by, the vehicle’s cargo. This usually relates to the manufacturer’s duty to inform the driver or transportation company of the potential dangers of the materials being hauled.Contact KWFDM After an Accident Involving a Commercial Vehicle
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, contact the legal team at Katz Wright Fleming & Dodson, LLC in Atlanta. We have the skill and experience to handle your case. Call (404) 460-0101