Commercial vehicles are typically much larger than ordinary cars and trucks. The majority of 18 wheel commercial trucks are 10,000 pounds or more (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). That immense weight and size makes commercial vehicles significantly more dangerous in motor vehicle accidents. They cause more injuries and deaths than any other kind of automobile. Because of this, commercial vehicles are subject to special laws on the federal and state level. They must adhere to certain requirements to promote the safety of other drivers.
Commercial vehicles are defined in North Carolina as those that weigh over 10,000 pounds, are designed to transport 11+ passengers, and/or are used to transport hazardous materials in large quantities. These vehicles are required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance in North Carolina. If the truck makes trips between states, then it may also be governed by federal laws and regulations.
This is why there are truck inspection stations on the highways to review the commercial driver’s licenses, up-to-date medical certificates, valid shipping papers for hazardous materials, up-to-date log books, and compliance with truck safety requirements and features like hazardous materials safety supplies, vehicle components (brakes, steering, suspension, frame, body), mirrors, lights and horn, fuel and exhaust systems, tires and wheels, and emergency equipment. If a truck driver is in violation of any of these regulations, then finds and citations may be issued.
When accidents occur involving commercial vehicles, the victims may find that they face injuries like internal wounds, brain injuries or concussions, fractures, burns, spinal injuries, and more. If this has happened to you, then you need to get a full medical evaluation and contact an attorney to assist you in filing your claim. There may be multiple responsible parties, such as the employer of the driver or the owner of the truck. An attorney can help you to establish liability.
Some things you’ll need to consider when it comes to liability include the speed of the driver, the driving conditions, and compliance with laws and regulations of the road and commercial vehicles. You may discover that the driver’s employer was negligent if travel logs are incomplete, if the driver’s need for rest was not prioritized, or if the driver was burdened with a dangerous expectation of an unreasonable schedule. In these cases, you may also have a claim against the employer of the commercial driver.
Finally, a commercial truck accident might be caused by poor maintenance or malfunctioning parts. In such circumstances, whomever owns the truck may also be liable for your damages. Anyone who owns a tractor trailer, for example, is responsible for maintaining that vehicle, including any and all safety measures mandated by federal and state regulations. If an accident occurs where these rules were not followed, an attorney may be able to help you seek compensation from the owner of the commercial vehicle. It can be challenging to do this, so you should have adequate legal representation, rather than facing the case alone.