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Who is liable in a commercial vehicle accident?

Robert F. Spohrer

It’s a horrible situation to find yourself in: You’re driving to get to work or home when a semi suddenly comes into your lane. You have nowhere to go, and they move over so quickly that you end up being hit and forced off the road.

This kind of crash is fairly common. Sideswipe and side-impact collisions are more common with large trucks because they have many blind spots along their sides where the driver may not be able to see others on the road.

Despite the fact that there are blind spots or areas where a driver may not see you, it is still their responsibility to take steps to alert you that they’re planning to move into your lane. On top of that, they should give you time to move forward or back, so that they can pass into the lane safely.

Who is liable if you’re hit in a commercial vehicle accident?

If you are hit by a truck in a commercial accident, the driver or their employer could be liable. Employers are liable through vicarious liability, which means that they are held responsible for employing someone who caused a collision through reckless or negligent behavior. An employer may have to cover your financial losses, such as the cost of medical care, lost wages and other financial impacts.

If the driver is not employed but is instead an independent contractor, then you will be able to pursue a claim against them directly instead. The driver should have an insurance policy that will help you cover losses like the cost of medical care, damage to your vehicle and more.

There are cases where third parties could be liable, too. For example, if the driver of the truck loses control because of a mechanical error, then the truck’s manufacturer or mechanic might be to blame for the collision. This is also something to keep in mind if you plan to make a claim after a crash.

With multiple entities and individuals who could be responsible for covering your losses, it’s a good idea to take a look at the big picture and to make sure that you hold everyone responsible who played a role in the crash.