Many big corporations deal in logistics or require logistics. Transporting of goods and services from one place to another is a necessary task. But with usage of such heavy tonnage of trucks for transportation comes the risk of unfortunate and unexpected accidents. Driving these heavy vehicles heaped with cargo and large loads is not an easy task and definitely, if an accident does occur the damages are usually more difficult to control. When a corporate vehicle is involved in an accident the corporation as well as the driver in his individual capacity, may be held liable for any claims. Hiring an attorney will allow you to explore all possible options and maximize your remedies.
Most companies which deal with frequent transportation and logistics services will insure themselves from any accidents or damages by carrying liability insurance. The typical Commercial Carrier insurance in for One Million Dollars, but ranges from $100,000 to 25 million. There may also be umbrella policies which may provide additional insurance coverage.
When commercial trucks are involved in accidents involving third parties or another vehicle such as a car, the counterparty might be underinsured and the personal injury protections (otherwise known as PIP) can easily be exhausted as the typical PIP policy in Florida is for $10,000.00 with a $2,000.00 deductible. Hence commercial vehicle insurance is a useful risk management tool used by corporations to cover their risks in the commercial endeavors of their respective services.
Who is Liable?
Although similar in nature, there are many Differences between a commercial vehicle accident as compared to a regular person to person accident. Most of the difference is attributable to the person who is liable for damages and for compensation. Firstly in an accident involving a commercial vehicle the following parties may be liable.
- The Driver
- The Contractor (individual / entity hiring the driver)
- Commercial Vehicle Manufacturers
- The company which is using the vehicles.
- Other third parties which may have contributed to the accident.
There are many factors involved when deciding who is responsible for the claims. In case the accident occurs due to the cargo which the vehicle is carrying i.e flammable material, etc then the company is liable for damages and claims. In case it arises due to the driver’s negligence, which is not attributable to the company in any manner, then it is solely the driver’s responsibility with the company also bearing joint responsibility due to the law of respondent superior. Third party claims also exist in case the accident was bought about due to action or inaction by a third party individual or entity such as bad lighting etc.
Of particular concern in commercial accidents is that oftentimes, the company involved in the accident is from a different State than where the accident occurred. If such is the case, and the damages of the accident exceed or could reasonably exceed 75,000.00 than the company is entitled to move the case from a State Court and into Federal Court. Because Federal Court and State Courts have very different procedures and processes, it is important that if your accident involves a commercial vehicle, that you seek the advice of an experienced attorney who is very familiar with the Federal Court System.
A Company can be held liable in cases involving commercial vehicle accidents when
- The driver is on the payroll of the company and his scope is related to transportation and driving. This means that a driver hired by the company is a suitable case whereas another office employee, whose main role for the company may be a desk job, is an unsuitable case.
- When the accident occurs during working hours or overtime and not afterwards or on unauthorized trips.
- Accidents occurring even during short breaks can be considered to be during working hours
In cases of commercial vehicle accidents, the coverage amount is multiple times higher than regular vehicles and hence your compensation may be a lot depending upon the criticality of the case and the damages that have been incurred, as well as the effectiveness of the lawyer.