A CMV accident is an accident that involves a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), such as a bus or semi-truck. When a commercial vehicle strikes a passenger vehicle, the occupants of the passenger vehicle may suffer significant injuries. This is because many CMVs can be much larger and heavier than smaller cars, trucks, and SUVs driven by individuals.
This type of accident can be especially dangerous for those in passenger cars. Even in relatively low-speed accidents, traumatic injuries are possible. This could include serious, permanent injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and internal injuries.
Types of Commercial Motor Vehicles
According to United States Code (USC) Title 49 §31132, CMVs include vehicles over 10,001 pounds, vehicles designed to transport 16 or more people, or vehicles designed to transport certain hazardous materials.
CMVs are frequently used to transport goods, passengers, or equipment for commercial purposes. Some common examples of CMVs include:
- Tractor-trailer trucks, semi-trucks, and 18-wheelers
- Delivery trucks and vans
- Garbage and recycling trucks
- Dump trucks
- Tow trucks
- Buses and coaches
- Construction and landscaping vehicles
Negligence That Can Cause CMV Accidents
While the drivers of these vehicles are generally on the clock while they are behind the wheel, this does not mean they cannot make careless mistakes and cause traffic accidents. In some cases, the fact that they are working increases the risk of an error.
A driver, mechanic, or the company that operates CMVs needs to follow state regulations for behavior on the road or for maintenance. By not adhering to laws, the chances of a serious CMV accident increase. Negligence can involve:
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving while distracted
- Driving carelessly during extreme weather or road conditions
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to properly secure cargo or load the trailer
- Failing to maintain a CMV
- Failing to properly train or license their drivers
Vicarious Liability and Other Laws in a CMV Accident Case
In general, the way you may pursue damages for a CMV accident does not differ dramatically from how you may seek compensation in any other type of collision. However, instead of filing the personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit against the CMV driver, you may be filing it against their employer under the legal principle of vicarious liability.
In addition to being responsible for their negligent actions while working, special regulations apply to CMV drivers as well. This includes:
- The possession of a valid commercial driver license
- Hours of service limits imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- A blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.04% for driving under the influence of alcohol
These factors may be relevant in establishing liability for a CMV accident.
Damages Available in an Insurance Claim or Civil Suit for a CMV Accident
Depending on the nature of your accident, your injuries, and the laws of the state you are in, the following damages may be recoverable in a car accident case:
- Current and future treatment, medical care, and other expenses
- Current and future lost income and any related benefits
- Diminished earning ability from long-term injuries
- Repair or replacement of your damaged vehicle
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident
- Pain and suffering damages
- Other intangible losses
The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits
Each state has a statute of limitations, or legal deadline, for filing a personal injury lawsuit. These include:
- New York: a general three-year statute of limitations, per New York Civil Practice Law & Rules (CVP) §214
- New Jersey: a general two-year statute of limitations, per New Jersey Revised Statutes (NJ Rev Stat) §2A:14-2
- Pennsylvania: a general two-year statute of limitations, per Title 42 §5524
Failing to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations that pertains to your case could result in your lawsuit’s dismissal and you could lose the opportunity to collect compensation.
Protect Your Rights after a CMV Accident
Just like in a passenger car crash, if you’ve been injured in a commercial vehicle accident it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your rights. If you were involved in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle, make sure to:
- Stay at the scene
- Check on all drivers and passengers and see if anyone needs medical attention
- Contact the police since there is evidence of property damage, injury, or death
- Get the names, phone numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information from all drivers involved and the commercial driver’s employer
- Call your personal injury lawyer to help you with the next steps
- Inform your insurance company
- Collect evidence, such as the police report, detailed accounts of how the accident occurred, and pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and property damage
- Seek medical attention and keep records of appointments, medications, and treatments
CMV accidents are complicated, but these steps can help ensure your rights are protected. A qualified commercial motor vehicle accident attorney can help ease the stress of this process and improve your chances of recovering maximum compensation.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Make a Difference
It is worth having a personal injury lawyer on your side. They can make all the difference in your case. They will do the research necessary to prove you weren’t at fault, and they have experience guiding clients through each step of the process. Working with a legal professional is an accident victim’s best bet for recovering everything you deserve from the crash.
In addition, the resources and investigators that come with an experienced law firm could mean more monetary compensation and a fast, stress-free legal process.
Call Morelli Law Firm Today to Get Started With Free Case Review
If you were hurt in a CMV accident, Morelli Law Firm may be able to help you. We take on CMV collision cases in:
A member of our team can review your case for free if your accident occurred in one of these areas. Call to get started today and get the results you need.
If you qualify, Morelli Law Firm can handle your case on a contingency-fee-basis. This means you will not need to pay us anything for our legal services unless and until we recover a settlement offer or court award in your collision case.