How Do Accidents With Commercial Vehicles Work?


Any accident is a serious matter, but do you know what happens when you get into a crash with commercial vehicles?

While commercial accidents are less common, they do still occur and this can be a confusing situation to navigate. The unpredictability of delivery drivers makes it hard to react to what they’ll do, which can trip you up and lead to an accident.

There are fewer commercial vehicles on the road, so you may never have experienced a crash with one. Because of this, you may not know how to proceed following a commercial accident and this is a stressful place to be in.

To help you understand how you’re affected, we’ll explain how an accident with a commercial vehicle works below.

What Is a Commercial Vehicle?

You’ll first need to understand what classifies as a commercial vehicle.

Any vehicle that is used for business purposes can be seen as a commercial vehicle. Whether that’s a delivery van, cargo truck, or private charter bus, it counts if it is used commercially. For example, if you get hit by a UPS truck, then this would count as a commercial accident.

The reason why this distinction matters is because the driver has an employer. This means that someone is paying them to drive the vehicle, which means that they have multiple layers of insurance.

How Does Their Insurance Work?

Speaking of insurance, you’ll want to know how this applies to receiving compensation.

When a driver is operating a commercial vehicle, they likely have two insurance policies. One is their personal insurance required for any car and another provided by their employer.

From here, the circumstances regarding the accident determine which policy comes into effect. If a driver hits you during regular business operations, then the employer’s policy will cover you.

Alternatively, if you get into an accident outside of business purposes, then the driver’s personal policy will be used.

As a final consideration for insurance, whether the driver is employed or an independent contractor is also relevant. If they’re an independent contractor, then their personal policy will be their only source of coverage.

Fault Still Matters

It’s also important to understand that fault is still relevant in a commercial accident.

This means that a commercial vehicles are not automatically to blame for an accident. You may have caused the crash, which means that the commercial’s driver insurance is irrelevant.

Fault is determined based on the factors that led up to the accident. If either driver acted negligently by failing to react in time or violating a traffic law, then they are likely to be found mostly at-fault for the accident.

For example, if you were tailgating a UPS truck that suddenly stopped to make a delivery, you’d be found primarily at-fault for following too closely. Similarly, commercial vehicles found to be acting negligently will also be determined mostly at-fault.

From this ruling, your eligibility for compensation depends on how your state treats fault. Either pure comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, or contributory negligence will apply.

Modified comparative negligence is the most common choice and this means that you can only receive reparations if you are less than 50% at-fault for the accident.

Remember the Standard Accident Response

As a final piece of information, you should remember the standard accident response after an accident.

While a commercial accident is slightly different than two regular drivers crashing, much of the process is the same. This applies to your actions immediately following an accident.

If you’re unfamiliar with this, it begins with documenting the accident scene. Take pictures, look for eyewitnesses, and save any dashcam footage if you have it.

Another important step is to exchange information with the commercial driver. You’ll want to know their employer, their employer’s insurance company, and their personal insurance just to be safe.

You’ll also need to contact the authorities so that a police report is created. This is necessary for insurance to determine fault.

Speaking of insurance, you’ll also want to contact them. This will begin the process of evaluating who caused the accident and how to proceed.

The only real difference between a commercial accident and a standard crash is figuring out which insurance policy applies for a commercial driver.

Closing Thoughts

Getting into an accident with a commercial vehicle is a scary thought, but the process isn’t much different from a regular crash. A commercial vehicle is any vehicle used for business purposes.

One difference from a standard accident is that a commercial driver likely has a policy provided by their employer and another for personal use. The policy that applies will depend on the circumstances of the accident.

Beyond this, a commercial accident is quite similar to any other wreck. The determination of fault is still relevant and you should follow standard accident protocol right after the crash.

While you never want to think about getting into an accident, it’s good to be prepared by knowing what to do when one happens! Keep this information in mind in case you’re ever struck by a commercial driver.