Handling Commercial Vehicle Accidents in California

Charlotte Miller


A commercial vehicle accident may involve one vehicle that’s used for conducting business, like transporting goods or commerce. They can cause the same level of injury, financial strife, and pain and suffering as any other auto incident.

Most truck crash injuries and fatalities in the U.S. occur as a result of negligence. According to a 2021 report, 5,788 people died in commercial truck crashes. A lot of large truck accidents get reported on interstate highways.

If you’ve been injured in a commercial vehicle accident with a rideshare car, a truck or semi-truck, or any other vehicle that’s meant for business purposes, there are certain measures you need to take before filing a claim.

Here’s how you can start.

What Is a Commercial Vehicle Accident?

A commercial motor vehicle (CMV) accident takes place when a commercial vehicle (truck, bus, or rideshare cab) strikes a passenger vehicle, resulting in severe injuries. When a commercial vehicle operator fails to follow basic safety and traffic rules, often as a result of negligence, accidents may happen.

Most CMVs are large and have a heavy-duty build, weighing almost up to 80,000 pounds when they’re fully loaded. Due to their size and weight, they can cause a lot of damage and devastation in the form of injury or death.

For instance, statistics reveal that the most common cause of large truck collisions is drunk driving or driving under the influence. Impaired driving can result in the immediate suspension of the commercial vehicle driver. They can also have their license revoked if an accident has caused relevant damage to a passenger or their property.

What Causes Large Commercial Vehicle Accidents?

Poor Weather Conditions

Bad weather conditions can include heavy rainfall, hailstorms, snow, and strong winds that make it hard to drive, especially when visibility is low. Lack of proper infrastructure in such conditions can often result in truck collisions or accidents.

Driving Under the Influence

Most commercial vehicle drivers lose control of the wheel when they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including certain medications. As a result, such incidents can lead to major accidents, like a truck crash or a multi-vehicle collision.

Distracted Driving and Fatigue

Most commercial vehicle drivers lose sleep while covering long-distance hauls. Some may even get distracted by a phone or any other activity. Such incidents can cause a driver to lose focus, often resulting in a motor vehicle accident.

Speeding Above the Traffic Limits

Most states impose lowered speed limits and other traffic control laws for commercial motor vehicles but speeding is still a common problem in the U.S. According to a 2020 report, 7.3% of large truck accidents involve speeding.

What to Do After a CMV Accident?

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

After a motor vehicle accident, it’s best to call 911 and report your injury. While some crash injuries show immediate symptoms, others can mask severe trauma. If there are any severe injuries like a broken bone or open bleeding, ensure the dispatcher gives you an immediate response. Once your injuries have been assessed, the paramedics may refer you to an emergency room for any further treatments.

Document the Accident Scene

One of the best ways of documenting the accident scene is by taking pictures and videos of the vehicles involved and any damage from the crash. You can document evidence like license plate information or a company logo. You must also make note of the location, street, or any highway markers for reference. Additionally, look for key features like stop signals, traffic lights, accident debris, or any damage to public property.

Exchange Driver Information

After the crash, it’s mandatory that you exchange information with the commercial vehicle driver. Get the name and address, contact information, and insurance details. If you’re not sure about the type of vehicle the driver is operating, consult a professional later. You must note the name and contact information of the company that employs the commercial driver, including details about their personal liability insurance coverage.

Report to Your Local Police Station

Before filing a police report, it’s important to clarify the at-fault party, which may or may not involve more than one vehicle. You must interact with the people in the vicinity of the accident scene as soon as possible. You can contact the local police authorities and provide a statement once they arrive at the accident scene. The police will then investigate the events of the accident and collect statements from all witnesses.

Find a CMV Accident Attorney

Once you’ve filed a police report about the accident, it’s important to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer who specializes in CMV accidents. It’s best to tell your lawyer exactly what you’ve observed, including any behaviors of negligent driving (speeding, texting, driving under the influence, etc.).

Claiming Compensation in a CMV Accident

Large truck crashes result in trauma and death.

According to a report, 72% of the victims in truck collisions are passengers in other vehicles, while 17% are truck occupants. These include non-occupants of a vehicle, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Because such vehicles are large in size and heavy-duty, they cause massive injuries and property damage.

Compared to small vehicle motor accidents, a CMV accident is far more devastating. Victims of a commercial vehicle accident are often left with severe injuries like burns, open wounds that bleed out, impaired mobility, and more. Such injuries can alter a victim’s livelihood and their living conditions.

For instance, a CMV accident can result in a victim becoming permanently disabled. As a result, the victim is unable to work or earn a living for themselves. They can no longer maintain regular relationships or perform the same activities owing to the physical injury. Even trauma from the accident can cause depression, PTSD, and emotional anguish.

Victims of a commercial vehicle accident can claim compensation and financial coverage for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses for treatments, current and future
  • Lost wages and any future work opportunities
  • Lost earning capacity that results in pain and anguish
  • Property damage, like a vehicle’s broken windshield

If a commercial vehicle driver has not followed federal and state regulations or lacks the necessary insurance coverage, the at-fault driver and the commercial business are deemed liable for the accident and the damage sustained.