Las Vegas Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorneys
What Happens If A Truck Driver Gets In An Accident in Nevada?
Nothing is more terrifying than seeing an enormous truck hurtling uncontrollably toward your vehicle. The size and weight of any commercial vehicle can make a crash especially catastrophic, with many drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles suffering significant and long-lasting injuries. Some even result in death.
Commercial truck drivers have a legal obligation to drive safely and responsibly. When their negligence leads to an injury-causing accident, victims deserve to be compensated. However, because trucking companies tend to operate across multiple states and employ independent contractors, many will attempt to avoid accountability.
Our Las Vegas commercial vehicle accident lawyers at Pitaro & Fumo, Chtd. are familiar with the tricks trucking companies and other commercial businesses will sometimes use to avoid paying the compensation you deserve when seriously injured due to their driver’s negligence. We have many decades of combined experience handling personal injury claims for clients throughout Nevada and can leverage our knowledge and resources to help you seek maximum possible damages.
What Does Nevada Consider a Commercial Vehicle?
It is important to understand the legal distinction between a “commercial vehicle” and a consumer automobile. Whether a commercial vehicle was the cause of your injuries influences who you can sue for compensation. If you are injured in an automobile accident, you can still recover damages if you experienced injuries as a result of another driver’s negligence.
In the state of Nevada, a commercial vehicle is defined as any vehicle “used primarily for the transportation of property in furtherance of commercial enterprise.” In other words, any vehicle that is transporting goods on behalf of a business probably qualifies as a commercial vehicle. This can include trucks, buses, semis, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, construction vehicles, and security vehicles.
Why Federal Law Matters in a Nevada Commercial Vehicle Accident
Because they cross state lines, drivers operating commercial vehicles are subject to federal regulations in addition to state laws. Federal law defines commercial vehicles slightly differently than the state of Nevada, though there is a fair amount of overlap.
Under federal rules, a vehicle is “commercial” is if it is used on the highway in service of interstate commerce and meets one or more of the following conditions:
- The vehicle’s design accommodates 8 or more passengers, including the driver, and is intended to transport passengers for compensation
- The vehicle’s design accommodates 15 or more passengers, including the driver, and is not intended to transport passengers for compensation
- The vehicle and its contents weigh a combined 10,001 pounds or more
- The vehicle is transporting material determined by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous
Federal law imposes numerous requirements and restrictions on drivers of commercial vehicles and the businesses that employ them. For example, all commercial truck drivers must pass certification tests, and attain sufficient rest before operating their vehicle. They cannot drink, use drugs (including many types of prescription drugs), or text on their phone while driving. Truck motorists must also abide by rules restricting the maximum number of hours that they can drive in a given period before taking a rest break.
Businesses that employ commercial vehicle drivers must also ensure the safety of their vehicles, the material that they are transporting, and the safety of how it is stored. They are legally responsible for training their drivers and maintaining reasonable delivery schedules that avoid abuse of driving maximums.
These state and federal rules are in place to help prevent accidents. When commercial vehicle drivers and companies that employ them violate these rules, they demonstrate negligence, and should those violations result in an accident that injures you, they can be held accountable.
Federal commercial vehicle laws are also especially important because they can help overcome the “independent contractor” defense. Companies that ostensibly employ commercial vehicle drivers will sometimes claim that a negligent driver that caused an accident is merely an independent contractor, not a full-time employee, so the company is not liable to pay any damages. Federal law states that all drivers are considered employees for purposes of insurance and personal injury lawsuits, regardless of any classification as “independent contractors.”
If you are injured in a commercial vehicle accident and are getting the runaround from the driver’s employer on this or any other basis, our Las Vegas commercial vehicle accident attorneys can help. We can evaluate your situation and determine whether the vehicle involved in the crash qualifies as a commercial vehicle under state and federal law. Our team will then work to enforce your rights and pursue the compensation that you are owed.
Pursuing Legal Action Following a Nevada Commercial Vehicle Accident
The statute of limitations for all types of automobile accidents in Nevada is 2 years. This means that you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If a commercial vehicle accident resulted in wrongful death, you have 2 years from the date of the victim’s passing. If you are exclusively looking to recover damages for property damage, such as a totaled car or its contents, you have 3 years from the date of the accident.
Unlike a typical automobile accident personal injury lawsuit, you can potentially pursue legal action against multiple parties when commercial vehicles are involved, including the owner of the vehicle itself. Every incident is different, and the circumstances and causes of the crash will determine who should be sued. We can help determine the appropriate course of action.
In Nevada, you can potentially recover damages from the following parties after a commercial vehicle accident:
- The driver of the commercial vehicle
- The business that owns the commercial vehicle and/or employs the driver
- The manufacturer of the commercial vehicle if a defect contributed to the accident
- The owner of the property where the accident occurred if defective roads or other conditions contributed to the accident
In a personal injury lawsuit involving commercial vehicles, you will need to prove that the driver’s negligence led to the accident. Should the case go to trial, a judge and jury will follow “comparative negligence” rules and assign a percentage of blame to each party involved in the accident. You can still recover damages if you are found to be partially at fault, but your total damage award will be reduced.
A personal injury lawsuit involving commercial vehicles can help secure compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost or missed income
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Long-term disability care and other forms of medical treatment
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering
Our Las Vegas commercial vehicle accident lawyers at Pitaro & Fumo, Chtd. can help you seek both economic and non-economic damages when you are injured by a negligent truck or bus driver. Because commercial drivers and businesses are subject to both state and federal regulations, these cases can be especially complex. We understand how these matters are adjudicated in Nevada and can assist you in efficiently pursuing legal action against all of the parties that contributed to the accident.