You’ve just been injured in a car accident. The other vehicle is a commercial vehicle or company car. How does that effect my case?
Actually, it can effect your case in a numbers of ways. It’s not only about how hard you get hit. It’s also about who you get hit by.
What is a Commercial Vehicle?
A commercial vehicle is a vehicle that is used in some sort of business or trade. Everyday, thousands of company vehicles are driven on the streets of the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex. This would include anything from a large truck or 18 wheeler to a normal sized company car.
When companies do business, they sometime have vehicles that their employees use to provide goods and services to their customers. Sometimes, these can be big companies and other times they could be small family owned businesses. But, the one thing these vehicles normally have in common is that they are covered by commercial insurance policies.
Unlike a personal auto policy, commercial vehicle policies tend to carry much higher limits. Sometimes these policy limits can be up to $1,000,000 or more depending on the company. Larger companies, like Wal-Mart, will probably have higher limits of liability on their trucks than a family-owned plumbing business.
But, either way, the insurance policies that cover these vehicles will be significantly higher than the typical personal auto policy.
What if I am Injured by a Commercial Vehicle?
If you get injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, then there is usually a bigger insurance policy in place to cover your losses.
Let’s assume you are seriously injured in an accident with an 18 wheeler truck and break your leg. You may have medical bills of $100,000 or more. If the other vehicle was a personal car with a minimum policy, you might only be able to collect a relatively small amount of what your case is actually worth.
But, since you were hit by a commercial truck, there is probably a large liability policy that covers the truck and its driver. Therefore, your chances of being able to collect a significantly higher amount of money for your injuries is much better.
Bigger Policy Means More Money!!! Right???
No, not necessarily. First, your injury is what determines the value of your case. If you get into an accident with a commercial vehicle, but are not seriously injured, then you may not collect much more than you would from personal auto policy. Why? Because your case is only worth as much as your injury is worth. The bottom line is that your injury and amount of your losses determines the value of your case, not the size of the other driver’s policy.
Second, adjusters with commercial insurance policies tend to more defensive than other those with personal lines policies. Why? Because there is much more at stake. An adjuster handling a claim on a $1,000,000 policy will probably be more thorough and detailed than an adjuster handling the same claim with a $30,000.
Third, not only are the adjusters more defensive, but so are the drivers. That is because their jobs, and maybe their careers, are in jeopardy. If a truck driver is found liable for causing an accident, he may be terminated and even lose his commercial driver’s license. He may never be able to get a job as a truck driver again. That same driver will, therefore, be more likely to twist the facts of the accident to his favor.
What if I have to go to Court in my Injury Case?
Well, that is where the biggest advantage may be for you, the injured person. If a lawsuit has to be filed in your case, then you would sue not only the other driver, but also the company. Since you cannot sue the insurance company directly, then the jury gets to see a case against a company and not just an individual. Depending on the company, that can have a huge advantage in favor of the injured Plaintiff.
For instance, if you were hit by a tow-truck, you can see how a jury might be more willing to award a higher amount against the towing company than if you were just suing the driver personally. This is why commercial policies tend to have higher limits. It’s because they usually face greater legal exposure to higher jury verdicts.
How do I Pursue a Claim Involving a Commercial Policy?
You don’t. Like any other injury claim, you should seek out the best legal representation and do it as soon as possible. It is not smart to try and handle the matter yourself. Going up against even a personal auto policy is a challenge. Therefore, you can bet going up against a commercial insurance company is truly a “David and Goliath” endeavor.
Like I said before, there are some advantages to the injured person when their claim is covered under a commercial policy. For these reasons, the insurance companies are more defensive when it comes to handling these claims.
So, it becomes even more important that the injured person hire an experienced Dallas injury attorney to represent them from the very beginning of the case. The last thing you want to do is hurt your case when you may have so much to lose. That’s why getting a lawyer earlier on is the best decision you can make for your case.