People injured in a commercial vehicle accident in Nevada may have grounds to sue the at-fault parties for negligence and/or strict products liability. Trucking companies often have expansive liability insurance policies that can cover all the victim’s damages, including long-term medical care for bodily injuries and lost wages from being too injured to work.
In this article, our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is Nevada’s legal definition of a commercial vehicle?
- 2. Who can I sue if I was hit by a commercial vehicle?
- 3. What money damages can I recover?
- 4. How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
- 5. How can an attorney help?
1. What is Nevada’s legal definition of a commercial vehicle?
Nevada law defines commercial vehicle as, “every vehicle designed, maintained or used primarily for the transportation of property in furtherance of commercial enterprise.”1
Common examples of commercial vehicles include:
- delivery trucks,
- construction vehicles,
- tractor trailers,
- 18 wheelers,
- security vehicles, and
- church vans.1
Federal law defines a “commercial motor vehicle” as any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle:
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or
- Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
- Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
- Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.2
Commercial truck drivers must pass a certification test, have a commercial driver’s license, and refrain from using alcohol and/or drugs (even many prescription ones) while on the road. And they are limited to a maximum number of hours of driving with regular, designated rest breaks.2
2. Who can I sue if I was hit by a commercial vehicle?
Depending on the case, victims of commercial vehicle accidents in Nevada can sue:
- The commercial driver;
- The company or government entity that owns the vehicle;
- The manufacturer of the vehicle (if it was defective); and/or
- The owner of the premises, if faulty roads or conditions came into play.
Under federal law, all drivers of commercial vehicles are considered employees of the trucking company – even if the trucking company designates them as independent contractors. Therefore, any accidents the truck driver causes should be covered by the trucking company’s insurance policy.
Ultimately, whether crash victims have strong negligence and/or products liability claims against these parties depends on such factors as:
- Whether the driver was on or off duty at the time of the collision;
- Where the accident occurred;
- Whether the driver was performing a commercial task or a personal errand;
- Whether the driver was trained to drive the vehicle or lacked the skills/certification;
- Whether the commercial vehicle was properly maintained and inspected; and
- Whether the victim’s negligence contributed to the accident.
Note that crash victims who were partly to blame for their injuries – such as by not wearing a seat belt – can still sue for negligence and win. As long as negligence victims were no more than 50% at fault, Nevada courts can still award them damages. Learn more about Nevada’s modified comparative negligence laws.3
3. What money damages can I recover?
Victims injured in a commercial vehicle accident can sue for a range of damages such as:
- medical expenses, which can be extensive following a commercial vehicle crash;
- lost wages while the victim is too injured to work;
- diminished earning capacity if the victim can no longer work due to injury;
- property damage to the victim’s car;
- pain and suffering (considered “non-economic damages” since they cannot be easily calculated); and
- wrongful death damages, if the victim died.
Most Nevada truck accident lawsuits settle without a trial. Often, a claim can be resolved simply by the plaintiff’s attorney presenting compelling evidence to the insurance claims adjuster. Sometimes the parties submit to mediation or arbitration.
It can be tempting to jump at an insurance company‘s first offer, especially if it seems like fair compensation. But it often pays to keep fighting for additional money for medical bills, especially if your injuries turn out to be more extensive than they initially seem on the date of the accident.
If the case does go to trial, plaintiffs can ask the court to award punitive damages if they can show the defendants acted in a reckless or malicious way.4
4. How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
The statute of limitations (time limit) in Nevada personal injury cases can be as short as two years after the accident.5
5. How can an attorney help?
Nevada accident lawsuits involving large trucks and semi-trucks can be difficult to settle. Trucking companies are often from out of state or subject to a complex corporate structure that can make it hard to press a claim for a truck crash. In addition, interstate trucking and bus companies are subject to both Nevada state law and federal law when there is an accident involving a commercial vehicle in Nevada.
But experienced Las Vegas truck accident lawyers understand both federal and Nevada laws relating to truck accident claims. And car accident lawyers know all the games trucking companies play – such as trying to dodge liability by “renting out” their trucks or hiring drivers as independent contractors.
Therefore, retaining a lawyer who understands how to succeed with a lawsuit can make the difference between an injured victim getting maximum compensation and getting the brush-off from the at fault driver’s insurance company.
Finally, hiring a lawyer to prosecute a truck accident case is risk-free: No respectable PI law firm accepts payment until the case is won. And the lawyers will manage every part of the personal injury claims process from gathering medical records and insurance information to negotiating with the defendants and handling all the legal work. That way, the commercial vehicle accident victim has the time and peace of mind to heal.
Have you or a loved one been injured by a commercial vehicle? Contact our car accident attorneys to discuss your auto accident case. Our phone number/contact information is on this page, or simply use our online form to start your car accident claim. Our Las Vegas, NV law firm brings personal injury lawsuits throughout the state of Nevada.
See our related articles on Nevada car accident laws, car insurance requirements, pedestrian knockdowns, underinsured motorist coverage / uninsured auto insurance coverage, and What to do after a car crash. Also learn about our Nevada personal injury trucking accident attorneys and Nevada personal injury busing accident attorneys.
- NRS 484A.055.
- 49 C.F.R. 390.5.
- Same. NRS 41.141.
- NRS 42.005. Smith’s Food & Drug Centers, Inc. v. Bellegarde, (1998) 114 Nev. 602, 958 P.2d 1208.
- NRS 11.190. Milton v. Nev. Dep’t of Prisons, (2003) 119 Nev. 163, 68 P.3d 895.