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What Are Your Rights When Injured by a Commercial Vehicle?

What Are Your Rights When Injured by a Commercial VehicleIt seems like vehicle accidents are always more complicated than they need to be. That is especially true if you were in a crash with a commercial vehicle. If you sustained a commercial vehicle accident injury, it is essential to understand what your are rights. When injured by a commercial vehicle, the driver of the vehicle may not be the only liable party. An experienced commercial vehicle accident attorney can help protect your right to receive the compensation you deserve. 

What Is a Commercial Vehicle?

Commercial vehicles are generally defined as all motor vehicles intended for the commercial transport of passengers or goods. They are usually considered to be large trucks and other vehicles for heavy product transportation, but they can also be other vehicles used for business purposes:

  • Tractor trailers,
  • Larger Taxis,
  • Tow trucks, 
  • 18 wheelers, and 
  • Buses.

In 2021, around 10.9 million commercial vehicles were produced in North America. This number generally pertains to large long-haul trucking vehicles. Commercial vehicles under 3.5 tons may be considered “light” commercial vehicles.

What Are Your Rights When Injured by a Commercial Vehicle?

Any time you are in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you might be eligible for compensation. Both Oregon and Washington are “at-fault” states, which means that it matters who caused the accident. You may file an insurance claim against the negligent party to receive compensation for your commercial vehicle injury and property damage. 

It is not uncommon for accident victims to accept insurance settlements that are below the reasonable value of damages, so it is crucial that you understand the actual value of your claim. You do not have to accept an unfair settlement. Depending on the extent of your injuries and the parties involved, filing a lawsuit may be the best legal strategy. 

An experienced commercial vehicle accident injury attorney can help you determine the value of your claim, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and advise on the best way to receive the compensation you deserve. 

Why Are Commercial Vehicle Accident Injury Claims Different?

The majority of vehicle accident claims are typically brought against the negligent driver, but in the case of commercial vehicle accidents, you may be able to hold the driver’s employer liable as well. This is called vicarious liability. 

It is important to understand your legal rights after a commercial vehicle accident. The party you file your claim against matters. Your financial recovery may be limited by the driver’s insurance policy. A business is likely to have a larger policy and deeper pockets, in which case your compensation may be greater. Your personal injury attorney can advise you on the best legal strategy for your commercial vehicle injury.  

How Much Is Your Commercial Vehicle Injury Claim Worth?

The amount of compensation depends on several factors, but the most important one is the severity of your injuries. The more significant their impact on your finances and overall quality of life, the more you are entitled to. Because each accident is unique, there is no way to determine average settlement or verdict amounts. Most commercial vehicle accident victims are eligible to receive both economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic Damages

The financial impact of an injury can be devastating. Economic damages cover the costs associated with your injury so that you maintain the same financial status you had before the accident. Cost covered by economic damages may include:

  • Emergency medical care, 
  • Surgery or other treatment, 
  • Doctor visits, 
  • Physical therapy, 
  • Medication, 
  • In-home care, 
  • Lost wages, 
  • Lost earning potential, and
  • Any other financial hardships. 

It is important that you keep all records of expenses associated with your injury. This could include bills, invoices, and previous pay stubs. The sum of these current and projected expenses makes up the economic damages you are owed. 

Non-Economic Damages

Though more difficult to quantify, non-economic damages can be significant. They compensate for the physical, mental, and emotional hardships caused by the injury. Compensable non-economic damages may include but are not limited to:

  • Pain and suffering, 
  • Depression, 
  • Anxiety, 
  • Post-traumatic stress, 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, and
  • Disfigurement

A serious accident can change your life, and though compensation can never make up for those changes, it is the best the legal system can do. 

Statute of Limitations in Washington and Oregon

When trying to understand what your rights are when injured by a commercial vehicle, it is important to know how long you have to file a lawsuit. In Oregon, you have two years from the date of the accident to make a move. If you fail to meet this deadline, you will be barred from legal recovery. If you are filing a lawsuit in Washington State, you have three years from the date of the accident.

As with any personal injury case, you are best served by seeking legal counsel as soon as possible. Over time it can become more challenging to obtain evidence or track down witnesses. 

The ability to acquire proof of fault is a crucial component of cases in Oregon and Washington. Both states allow cases to be brought even if the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident. The award or settlement will then be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if you received a $100,000 award but were found 25% at fault, you would receive $75,000. 

Do You Need an Attorney for Your Commercial Vehicle Injury?

If you were in an accident with a commercial vehicle, it is likely that the company involved has its own legal counsel or deep enough pockets to obtain legal counsel. You do not want to take them on alone. 

The experienced lawyers at D’Amore Law Group can help you from beginning to end by conducting an independent investigation into your case, determining the value of your claim, negotiating with insurance companies, and preparing to litigate, all while working with you to ensure that we are meeting your expectations of communication and representation. 

We have over 30 years and 2,000 cases of experience in the Pacific Northwest. In one notable case, we obtained a $26.4 million jury verdict in a semi-truck accident case, making it one of the highest trucking verdicts in Oregon history. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.

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