When accidents occur involving privately owned automobiles, the process to determine what coverage is available is reasonably straightforward – claims are made for coverage, negotiations take place and the matter proceeds to trial if it cannot otherwise be resolved. When a collision involves a vehicle being used for commercial purposes, the path is not as straight and narrow. Commercial vehicles include everything from delivery cars, to work trucks and vans, to 18-wheel tractor-trailer combinations.
A local florist or pizza parlor may provide a delivery vehicle and hire a driver, or they may hire a driver who will utilize his or her own vehicle. If that vehicle is involved in a collision, it is possible that there will be coverage available through the business. It is quite likely that the driver’s personal policy will deny coverage when the insurer discovers the vehicle was engaged in commerce at the time of collision. An attorney, like a truck accident lawyer Delray Beach, FL trusts, will review the insurance specifically for the vehicle and driver involved and will also undertake review of the agreement between the driver and the business to determine other available coverage.
Many commercial vehicles are specially designed or modified for particular industries. Imagine the damage possible if the storage frames in the back of an auto glass installer’s vehicle fail and send those sheets of thick, heavy windshields flying on to the roadway. An experienced attorney will research not only the specifics of the collision but will also conduct an investigation into the modifications made to the vehicle to determine whether the vehicle and driver were operating in accordance with the industry’s best practices.
The larger the commercial vehicle, the more complicated the investigative process can become. There are a dozen different ways for businesses to get manufactured goods to market. Companies may buy trucks and hire drivers. Sometimes, a manufacturer will engage a broker who lists available loads and delivery points and any truck driver can pick up and deliver the goods. And a growing area of commerce includes manufacturers storing their goods in a warehouse and contracting the delivery of those goods to a third-party known as a supply-chain logistics partner. The driver of the vehicle may or may not be the owner of any part of an18-wheel combination vehicle. The tractor and the trailer may be owned by different companies and a separate company may own the inter-modal unit (a/k/a storage container) sitting on the trailer frame. There are even occasions when a part of the vehicle is a rental.
An investigation of the vehicle and any associated trailers or specialty customizations must be conducted before the vehicle is sold, crushed, or repaired and returned to service and a review of the many contracts and agreements must be undertaken to determine responsibility for injuries. If you are struck or otherwise injured due to the carelessness of the operator of a commercial vehicle or the faulty nature of the equipment itself, you should contact a reputable personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Eric H. Luckman, P.C., for their insight into truck accident cases.