Automobile Accident Law – Commercial Vehicles and Your Personal Injury Claim

Motor vehicle accidents can involve drivers of all types, personal use vehicles, public transit, or commercial vehicles. Everybody has a story of commuting encompassing a point of origin and destination and something out of the ordinary happening regardless of what type of vehicle is involved. Why you’re driving and what vehicle you’re driving can be very relevant considerations in assessing your personal injury law case and determining how to proceed; this is particularly important when considering accidents involving commercial vehicles such as semi-trucks, taxi cabs, and dump trucks.

What do I Need to Know when Driving a Commercial Vehicle and I Am Involved in an Accident With Another Driver Who is Not in a Commercial Vehicle?

In situations where through no fault of your own, your commercial vehicle gets into a collision with a non-commercial vehicle, you should first report it to Worker’s Compensation Bureau Alberta (WCB). WCB will help determine if your employer has WCB coverage and whether they consider you to have been in the course of employment at the time of the collision. What is meant by “in the course of employment” is that you were driving for work-related purposes; this is a legal determination that WCB will make in assessing whether you will fall under their jurisdiction, in which case they will pay you out for lost wages to a certain extent, and provide treatments. Alternatively, where you are not considered to be in the course of employment, you will be covered under the insurance policy that is on the vehicle to obtain treatment, disability income, and other services.

Where WCB is involved, they will have a stake in any personal injury action and will generally pursue litigation to recover their costs. You are, however, permitted to retain a personal injury lawyer to represent your interests. A personal injury lawyer may have more of an incentive to get you a higher award, given that most work on a contingency fee basis.

You should keep in mind when WCB is involved, any injury lawyer you retain will be retained on a joint retainer. This means that the lawyer will be acting as a representative for both you and WCB and trying to recover damages for both money expended by WCB and for compensation that you as the injured party are entitled to at law. The practical implication of what this means for you is that any issues that you have with WCB will have to be dealt with by another lawyer. Your personal injury lawyer would be in a conflict of interest to act against WCB if you have any conflict with them.

What if my Commercial Vehicle Gets Into an Accident With Another Commercial Vehicle?

Unfortunately, in this scenario, you will usually be barred from bringing an action for personal injury by section 23 of the worker’s compensation act. This specifies that workers cannot bring lawsuits for injuries against their employers or against anyone else deemed a worker under the legislation.

Effectively this means that where both drivers have WCB coverage they will not be permitted to bring a lawsuit for any injuries sustained in the incident.

What Other Practical Considerations Become Relevant Where Commercial Vehicles Are Involved?

Considerations will vary largely on the facts of the case and what sort of commercial vehicle is involved. In cases where there is a dispute about who is at fault for the accident, the commercial vehicle will typically be judged according to the practices of the drivers of those vehicles. For example, important practices for truck drivers will be relevant considerations in accidents involving semi-trucks. This means that practices specific to those vehicles such as whether the driver “dynamited” their trailer brakes, can become important. Another example might be whether a taxi driver completed a pre-trip inspection of their vehicle and how the inspection was carried out.

You must keep this in mind as your lawyer attempts to argue on your behalf; things that might seem otherwise innocuous to you can be very important as the research and development of your case take place. As your injury lawyer identifies relevant experts and accident reconstruction specialists, they may realize elements of your accident that positively or negatively impact your case.

Have You Been in an Accident With a Commercial Vehicle?

James H. Brown and Associates has over 250 years of combined injury law experience. Our precedent-setting injury law team is here to help answer any questions involving your case. We offer free injury claim evaluations, and our team is standing by 24 hours a day. We have dealt with industries from all corners of the province and are eager to assist you if you have been injured in an accident with a commercial vehcile. Call us today for your free consultation 780-428-0088!

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