What Qualifies as a Commercial Vehicle?
Accidents involving commercial vehicles present unique challenges to victims who are attempting to seek compensation for their losses. For instance, the trucking industry isn’t only regulated by state traffic laws, but by specific federal rules that apply only to commercial vehicles and their drivers. Read on to learn more about how a truck’s status as a commercial vehicle could impact your own recovery.
The Definition of a Commercial Motor Vehicle
While most people automatically think of semi-trucks when they hear the term “commercial motor vehicle”, the truth is that other vehicle types, besides big rigs and eighteen wheelers, also fall under this definition. Under the regulations put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a commercial vehicle is any type of vehicle that is driven on a highway, self-propelled or towed, and used on a highway to transport property or passengers when the vehicle:
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating of at least 10,001 pounds, or has a maximum operating weight of more than 10,000 pounds;
- Is used to transport more than eight passengers for compensation, which includes buses;
- Is used to transport more than 15 passengers, but not for compensation;
- Is used to transport hazardous material.
Any vehicles that satisfy one of these definitions qualify as commercial trucks, which means that they fall under the purview of the FMCSA and their drivers must comply with certain regulations.
Status as a Commercial Vehicle Can Affect Liability for a Truck Accident
When a large truck is considered a commercial vehicle for legal purposes, there could be implications on an insurance claim if that truck was involved in a crash. For instance, drivers of commercial trucks must abide by certain rules when it comes to how many hours they can legally drive and how often they must take breaks. A driver who failed to abide by these rules and fell asleep at the wheel, could be held liable for violating these rules, as could his or her employer.
Drivers of commercial vehicles are also subject to different DUI-related rules. For instance, while most drivers are legally barred from driving with a BAC of .08 percent or more, commercial truck drivers have a much lower legal threshold of .04 percent. A driver whose BAC is higher than this limit can be charged with driving under the influence and held liable for any resulting accident.
Finally, a vehicle’s status as a commercial truck means that different parties could bear some legal responsibility for an accident. Besides the truck’s driver, this could include the trucking company that hired the driver, the company responsible for loading cargo, a mechanic, or even a third party hired to inspect the vehicle.
Contact Boone & Davis for Help with Your Case
For more information about filing a truck accident claim against the party responsible for your own crash, please call Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 and set up a free consultation today. Our dedicated Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers know how physically, emotionally, and financially taxing truck accidents can be on victims and their families and will put all of our experience and resources to work in helping you maximize your compensation.