Although the number of truck accidents in the United States is decreasing, crashes involving commercial vehicles are still a significant cause of death and serious injuries. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s annual report for 2014 showed that there were 3,978 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses and another 83,000 crashes in which someone was injured. Rear-end accidents can be especially devastating.
In addition to severe injuries, being hit by a large commercial vehicle can result in a personal injury claim for lost wages and the need for extensive physical and occupational rehabilitation and medical expenses.
Our Las Vegas Nevada personal injury attorneys can help see that you get the compensation you need in your auto accident claim — without unnecessary delay or hassle.
How can a personal injury attorney help?
Nevada accident lawsuits involving trucks and other commercial vehicles 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 and federal law when there is an accident involving a commercial vehicle in Nevada.
Our experienced Las Vegas truck accident lawyers understand both federal and Nevada laws relating to truck accidents claims. And we know all the games trucking companies play — such as trying to dodge liability by “renting out” their trucks or hiring drivers as independent contractors.
Retaining a lawyer who understands how to succeed with a lawsuit can make the difference between getting the compensation you deserve and getting the brush-off from the at fault party’s insurer. Your lawyer may even be able to get you punitive damages for semi-truck and truck accident injuries.
How does Nevada law define a commercial vehicle?
Under Nevada law, a commercial vehicle is, “every vehicle designed, maintained or used primarily for the transportation of property in furtherance of commercial enterprise.”1
Common examples of commercial vehicles in Nevada include:
- delivery trucks,
- construction vehicles,
- tractor trailers,
- 18 wheelers,
- security vehicles, and
- church vans.
For more specific information on Nevada interstate trucking and busing accidents, please see our articles on Nevada personal injury trucking accident attorneys and Nevada personal injury busing accident attorneys.
What is federal law on commercial vehicles?
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
Federal law imposes strict regulations on companies engaged in interstate trucking using commercial vehicles.
Commercial truck drivers must pass a certification test. They must remain to be adequately rested and refrain from using alcohol and/or drugs (even many prescription ones) while on the road. They are limited to a maximum number of hours of driving with regular, designated rest breaks. They may not text or use hand-held cell phones while driving.
Employers of commercial vehicles are responsible for ensuring that drivers are adequately trained and have reasonable delivery deadlines. They must also keep their trucks in proper working order and are responsible for ensuring that cargo is stored safely, especially when it consists of toxic or flammable freight.
Trucking companies will often try to tell you that the motorist is an independent contractor and hence the company’s insurance coverage does not apply to a truck accident. However, under federal law all drivers of commercial vehicles are considered employees of the trucking company — no matter what designation the company gives them.3
I was hit by a commercial vehicle in Nevada. Against whom can I file a lawsuit?
Depending on the circumstances and applicable law, there are four parties that accident victims can potentially sue following a commercial motor vehicle accident in Nevada:
- The 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.
Whether the victim has a strong case against these individual parties turns on the unique facts of what happened in the commercial truck accident. Some of these circumstances include:
- Whether the driver was on or off duty at the time of the collision,
- Where the accident occurred,
- Whether 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 there was any contributory negligence on the part of the other driver(s).
All of these considerations go into the calculus of determining who is at fault for a Nevada commercial vehicle accident case.
How can I recover personal injury damages after a commercial vehicle accident in Nevada?
As with many personal injury lawsuits, a court in a truck accident case tries to determine which party or parties were at fault for the accident and by how much. In other words, the result hinges on each driver’s percentage of fault. Fortunately, in Nevada, a driver can still cover damages even if he/she was partially at fault. For instance, a driver just 30% at fault could still receive 70% of the total award.
But most Nevada truck accident lawsuits are resolved without a trial. Often, a claim can be resolved simply by the plaintiff’s attorney presenting compelling evidence to the claims adjuster. In some cases, the parties will submit to mediation or arbitration instead of a trial.
And even when there is progress toward a trial, there are many stages during which the attorneys can work out a settlement for a truck accident claim.
It can be tempting to jump at an insurance company’s first offer in order to get your medical treatment bills paid and cover your living expenses and property damage. Your Nevada personal injury lawyer can help you determine when it makes sense for you to settle — or whether you are better off waiting until your case has progressed further. For instance, you may not know right after an accident how extensive your medical care will be. Your medical bills may be far larger than what you first project.
To learn more about how negligence is assessed in a Las Vegas personal injury case, please see our article on negligence in Nevada personal injury cases.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a commercial vehicle in the state of Nevada, our car accident lawyers invite you to contact us for a free consultation on your legal rights.
Simply complete the form on this page or call us. Our contact information is on this page. One of our Reno or Las Vegas, NV personal injury lawyers will return your inquiry promptly to discuss your case and whether you have a good claim for damages.
The statute of limitations in Nevada personal injury cases can be as short as two (2) years, so be sure to contact us right away to start working on your case.
Pedestrians injured by a commercial vehicle may wish to read our article on pedestrian knockdowns in Nevada.
Disclaimer: Past results do not guarantee future results.
- NRS 484A.055.
- 49 C.F.R. 390.5.