Though any motor vehicle collision could potentially result in severe, catastrophic, or even fatal injuries, the risks increase when a commercial vehicle is involved. Because trucks, vans, and other vehicles used for commercial purposes are often larger and heavier than others on the road, they have the potential to inflict devastating damage when they collide with smaller passenger vehicles.
The Alabama commercial vehicle accident lawyers at Stokes Stemle, LLC focus exclusively on personal injury cases. Therefore, our clients can count on us to provide skilled representation for each case we take. We fight for the rights of those injured in commercial vehicle accidents. If you’ve been injured, we want to help. Call us or reach out to us online for a free consultation.
What is Considered a Commercial Vehicle?
A commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is any vehicle owned or operated by a business and is used by the business’ agents or employees. Taxis, rideshare vehicles, and corporate cars all qualify as commercial vehicles under this definition. Some other common examples of commercial vehicles include:
- Commercial vans
- Delivery vans
- Utility vans
- Company vehicles
- Construction vehicles
- Buses, including school buses
- 18 wheelers
- Tanker trucks
- Moving trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Cement trucks
- Logging trucks
- Mail trucks
What Is a CMV Accident?
A CMV accident is one in which a commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle collide. In these accidents, the resulting injuries can be devastating, and the property damage can be significant. Several factors make commercial vehicle accidents distinct from other types of crashes, such as:
- Increased risk of serious injury — Commercial vehicles may weigh 10 to 20 times more than typical passenger vehicles. They’re also taller and sit higher off the road. All these factors make serious injuries more likely if you’re struck by a commercial vehicle.
- Higher medical bills — Because commercial vehicles accidents often involve more severe injuries, victims may incur costly medical bills. These bills, along with missed wages and other benefits, can put a significant dent in your finances.
- Truck drivers and companies are subject to additional regulations — Commercial drivers and their employers must follow state and federal regulations that don’t apply for most drivers. Driving a commercial vehicle requires specialized training, and most drivers are required to carry a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The companies that own the vehicles are also responsible for hiring, training, and supervising their drivers and keeping the vehicles well-maintained to protect others on the road. If a driver, company, or other entity involved is negligent and causes you harm, you could hold them accountable for your injuries and other losses.
- More potentially liable parties — In many car accidents, the only party who can be held liable for your injuries is the driver who hit you. Depending on the facts of the case, though, there can be multiple parties who are liable for your injuries in a commercial motor vehicle accident, including the truck driver, the trucking company, the maker of the truck, maintenance workers, cargo loaders, and government agencies.
What Are the Reasons for Most Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Alabama?
Some of the most common causes of commercial vehicle crashes in Alabama include:
- Driver fatigue — Semi-truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators often work long, irregular hours, placing them at greater risk of driving while severely fatigued. A tired driver may have slowed reflexes and impaired judgment. They may also fall asleep behind the wheel.
- Impaired driving — Commercial vehicle drivers who drink or abuse drugs on the job are more prone to risky behaviors that could cause a crash. Driving while impaired also affects a driver’s reflexes and cognition, increasing the chances of an accident.
- Distracted driving — As with all drivers, talking on the phone, texting, and other distractions take a commercial vehicle operator’s focus off the road, which could cause them to miss an impending hazard and cause a crash.
- Speeding — Commercial drivers who speed give themselves less time and space to react if an emergency happens on the roads, making an accident more likely.
- Aggressive driving — Commercial drivers who make unsafe turns, merge or change lanes carelessly, follow too closely, make sudden stops, and engage in other aggressive driving behaviors increase their odds of being involved in a crash.
- Inexperience — Learning how to handle a large, heavy commercial vehicle takes time, and inexperienced drives are much more prone to make sloppy errors.
- Shifting cargo — Cargo that shifts can throw off the balance of a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle, making it hard to drive the vehicle safely.
- Mechanical issues — If a critical part of a commercial vehicle (steering, brakes, engine, etc.) fails at the wrong moment, it may be impossible to avoid a crash.
- Bad weather — Precipitation on the roads can make it harder for commercial vehicles to stop or slow down safely, increasing the chances of a crash.
- Poor road conditions — Potholes, uneven roads, and debris in the roadway can increase the chance of a commercial car accident.
Common Injuries from Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Commercial vehicle accidents frequently result in severe injuries, such as:
- Broken and fractured bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Loss of limbs
- Back, spine, and spinal cord damage, including paralysis
- Psychological distress, such as heightened anxiety, nightmares, or PTSD
Can You Sue a Commercial Vehicle Driver?
Alabama law allows you to sue a commercial vehicle driver or any other negligent party after they cause an accident. With help from a commercial vehicle attorney, you could claim compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Damaged personal property
- Medical bills related to the crash
- Lost income and reduced earning potential
When To Get a Montgomery Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer After a Crash in Alabama
You need to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after a commercial vehicle accident. Key evidence, such as records from a truck’s electronic data recorder, can disappear if you don’t act quickly. You also have a limited window to take legal action after an accident, so it’s in your best interest to hire an Alabama commercial vehicle accident attorney right away. Contact Stokes Stemle, LLC today for a free initial consultation.