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Accidents caused by company vehicle

I was in a serious accident caused by a driver in a company vehicle (such as an 18-wheeler or other commercial motor vehicle). What should I do?

In the case of a personal injury associated with a commercial motor vehicle accident, it is critically important to seek medical attention as needed. Common injuries of the neck and spine, or even a concussion, may not present with any symptoms immediately; these may arise in the days and weeks after an accident. Being examined by a skilled medical diagnostician is important both for physical recovery and potential legal evidence of injury. Experienced personal injury attorneys continuously work with medical experts to ensure that a case is comprised of sound evidence.

Injuries associated with commercial motor vehicles such as delivery trucks, buses, or tractor trailers, and UPS or postal service vehicles are often severe, leading to long and complicated recovery times. Those who operate them are under pressure to execute the duties of their employment quickly, which may lead to compromised safety. They may be distracted and/or sleep deprived, causing impaired judgment. Even moderate or mild injuries, however, when associated with a commercial motor vehicle incident often require the skill and expertise of a legal professional.

Commercial motor vehicles and the operation thereof are highly regulated at the state and federal levels by a network of laws and standards. Navigating this network without specialized expertise is exceedingly difficult. Moreover, those industries that depend on commercial traffic for profit are highly motivated to protect themselves against any and all legal action, including and especially a personal injury claim. For this reason, they often acquire multiple different kinds of insurance policies, placing integrated layers of bureaucracy between themselves and a personal injury victim. The primary purpose of an attorney in such a case of personal injury is to navigate the client through these layers of bureaucracy. In so doing, the attorney ensures that the client is not deterred from seeking compensation for injury and loss.

Among the first steps that a personal injury attorney takes in the case of a commercial motor vehicle accident is to issue a Letter of Preservation asking responsible parties for various forms of documentation and evidence. This evidence includes logs and records pertaining to the vehicle, eyewitness testimonies collected by first responders at the scene of the crash and any other documentation generated by the 911 authorities, clean-up crews from the scene, and records kept by emergency service providers. Important evidence may also be retrieved from an Engine Control Module (ECM) or Event Data Recorder (EDR), which function like the black box computers of an air plane, capturing the events and circumstances leading up to a catastrophic accident. In catastrophic incidents involving an employee operating a motor vehicle, a person driving while “on the clock,” a personal injury attorney’s central function is to investigate the multiple, interconnected companies or organizations involved, the policies and standards governing their industry, the insurance structures that protect them, and then to assess the issue of liability. Determining liability, which is the attorney’s first task taking on a personal injury case, is imperative to establishing a strong case on the client’s behalf.