Hit by a commercial vehicle – Here’s what to do

It’s frightening and stressful to get hit by any vehicle, but all the more so with commercial ones.

Perhaps you’re certain the other vehicle or driver played a role, yet you feel like you’re up against a corporate Goliath, with a room full of lawyers itching to pin all the fault on you.

Even so, we’ve helped dozens of commercial collision victims like you collect their rightful compensation.

If you’ve been hit by a commercial vehicle, then here’s what you need to know:

  • Even if the other driver denies any fault, that still does not mean it’s on you. Collisions often involve factors behind the scenes, like vehicle maintenance or loading, which don’t always come to light without expert counsel.
  • Don’t automatically assume that a settlement offer is in your best interest. Rather, review it with your legal team to make sure it reflects every penny you deserve.
  • Washington law generally allows three years to file a claim, but it’s still important to act quickly. Investigation and insurance negotiations can be slower than we’d like, plus courts are backlogged as they catch up on criminal matters that were delayed during the pandemic. We have the resources to ensure your case gets heard as soon as possible and expedite the compensation you deserve.

What Exactly Is a Commercial Vehicle?

By Washington law, a commercial vehicle is “any vehicle the principal use of which is the transportation of commodities, merchandise, produce, freight, animals, or passengers for hire.” This includes obvious examples like tractor-trailers, but also taxis, buses, and even test vehicles in some cases.

That covers more than you might think, and does leave a little room for legal interpretation. It isn’t always obvious whether the vehicle that hit you was “commercial” under state law, so it’s important to talk to an attorney who specializes in accident and injury law.

Establishing Fault

As always, your claim hinges on who’s at fault and how much they contributed to the collision. That’s because Washington observes something called pure comparative negligence, meaning any contribution to the accident will affect compensation.

In commercial vehicle collisions, both the driver and their employer may be at fault. That isn’t always cut and dried, since details like the time of the collision or the nature of any cargo also affect liability. That’s another example of why it’s essential to seek counsel from a team of accident and injury specialists.

Common Factors in Commercial Vehicle Collisions

Our team realizes this event has disrupted or even altered your life, so we will leave no stone unturned in getting to the root of it.

Of course, bad behaviors—like speeding, recklessness, or intoxication—do occur. But some additional collision risks are unique to commercial vehicles. These may have contributed to your collision even if they weren’t obvious at the time.

Below are just a few of the factors we may pursue.

Commercial drivers are often subject to background checks followed by additional licensing and training requirements. Any gaps—whether accidental or deliberate—may have endangered you by putting an unprepared or untrustworthy driver behind the wheel.

Along the same lines, driver rest rules affect how many hours some commercial drivers may spend behind the wheel. Fatigue makes it exponentially harder to drive safely, so these rules are in place for everyone’s protection. Unfortunately, they’re sometimes disregarded, perhaps with disastrous results.

Commercial vehicle inspection and maintenance is another common factor. They often rack up high mileage with heavy cargo, so even small oversights come with high stakes. What’s more, maintenance problems can show up unexpectedly, at which point the driver’s best efforts still may not prevent a collision.

If you’ve ever loaded a moving van, for instance, you might recall how load and weight distribution can turn a steady vehicle into an unwieldy one. The same goes for commercial vehicles. Most companies have loading protocols in place, but the unfortunate reality is they’re not always observed. Heavy and unbalanced loads may directly endanger other road users like you.

Many other circumstances are rarer but no less impactful. For instance, a vehicle may hold hazardous materials that its operator was not warned about. In that case, the consignor (sender) may be responsible for the extent of damages, if not the collision itself.

Your Next Steps

If you were hit by a commercial vehicle, then you may be entitled to significant compensation for what you’ve suffered.

However, it can be complicated to figure out who’s legally at fault for commercial vehicle collisions. And without dashcam footage, you’re all the more susceptible to others’ allegations.

We’re here to stand in your corner, navigate legal complexities, straighten out conflicting accounts, and win a meaningful claim on your behalf.

In fact, our team has won compensation for dozens of victims of commercial vehicle accidents.

To learn more about your legal rights and possible steps forward, please contact us today.

Remember, building a robust claim takes time, and courts are more delayed than we’ve ever seen, so we urge you to act promptly.