Generally, most people think about large trucks when they think about commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles include:

  • Big rigs
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Semi-trucks
  • 18-wheelers

However, the term “commercial motor vehicle” includes a towed or self-propelled vehicle used in interstate commerce to transport property or passengers. 

How Does Texas Define Commercial Vehicle?

At least two Texas statutes define commercial motor vehicles. First, a commercial motor vehicle is defined in Texas Statute §621.001 as a motor vehicle other than a motorcycle that is designed for transporting property or for delivery purposes. 

Texas Statute §548.001 describes commercial motor vehicles in more detail. It states that a commercial vehicle is a towed or self-propelled vehicle other than a farm vehicle. The vehicle weighs less than 48,000 pounds and is used to transport cargo or passengers. Provided that:

  • The vehicle or a combination of vehicles has a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds;
  • The vehicle is designed to transport more than 15 people, including the driver; or,
  • The vehicle is used to carry hazardous materials that would require a placard under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

In addition to large trucks, freight trucks, dump trucks, and large buses, many smaller delivery trucks also fall into the category of commercial motor vehicles. How does this distinction impact a personal injury claim for a truck accident?

Commercial Truck Accidents Are Complicated Personal Injury Cases

Traffic accidents involving large trucks are complicated for many reasons. 

High-Dollar Damages

Commercial vehicle accidents typically cause catastrophic injuries for accident victims. Common injuries in a commercial vehicle accident include:

  • Spinal cord injuries resulting in partial or complete paralysis
  • Damage to the internal organs
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Significant scarring and disfigurement
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Crushing injuries
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Amputations and loss of limbs
  • Hearing and vision loss

Therefore, the claims involve wrongful death, permanent disabilities, and future damages. Calculating the value of future damages generally requires hiring medical specialists, economists, financial professionals, and other expert witnesses.

Accident victims should receive compensation for the economic damages incurred to date and any financial losses anticipated because of the permanent impairment. Therefore, an injured victim might be entitled to compensation for diminished earning potential, ongoing medical expenses, long-term care, and future lost wages.

Furthermore, the injuries sustained by commercial vehicle accident victims have lifelong consequences. Therefore, they deserve compensation for pain and suffering to date, plus future non-economic damages. Those damages include a decrease in their quality of life, disfigurement, and ongoing emotional distress.

Determining Liable Parties 

Assigning liability for damages in a commercial truck accident can be challenging. Often, several parties share liability for the cause of the commercial vehicle accident. Liable parties could include:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • Other motorists
  • Loaders and shippers
  • Maintenance and repair facilities
  • Truck and parts manufacturers 
  • Government entities 

Conducting an independent truck accident investigation can be costly and time-consuming. Accident attorneys might need to hire engineers, accident reconstructionists, and commercial vehicle experts to assist with the investigation. Additionally, attorneys must monitor the investigations by state and federal agencies. 

Insurance companies and large trucking companies avoid liability for accident claims whenever possible. They do not want to pay high-dollar settlement amounts or jury verdicts. Therefore, they use their considerable resources to gather the evidence they can use to shift blame, whenever possible, to other parties and accident victims. 

Statute of Limitations for Lawsuits

The Texas statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury for most personal injury claims. However, there are some exceptions, so it is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible after an accident or injury.

While two years sounds like a long time, an accident victim could take more than a year to recover from the accident. A doctor cannot accurately determine the level of impairment until the patient reaches maximum medical improvement

After the doctor determines the level of impairment, it takes more time to calculate the value of future damages the person is expected to incur because of the disability. All of this information is required to calculate the value of the personal injury claim.

However, you cannot miss the filing deadline for a lawsuit. If you do not file before the end of the statute of limitations, you lose the right to pursue a legal claim. Therefore, you want to hire a Fort Worth commercial vehicle accident lawyer as soon as possible so that your attorney has time to investigate and prepare the claim before filing deadlines. 

Commercial vehicles and large trucks are essential elements of our transportation system for goods. But unfortunately, they can be deadly if they cause an accident. 

Contact Our Truck Accident Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth truck accident lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.

Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107
(817) 420-7000