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Types of Commercial Vehicles

Commercial vehicles are all over the road. Whether transporting passengers or cargo, these heavy vehicles make up a large part of vehicles traveling today, particularly on highways. But what exactly makes a vehicle classify as commercial?

What Are the Types of Commercial Vehicles?

Commercial vehicles, generally, include motor vehicles used to transport goods or paying passengers. The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers defines commercial vehicles to include light commercial vehicles, heavy trucks, coaches, and buses. Other types of vehicles include:

  • Light commercial vehicles, such as minivans, have at least four wheels and are used for the carriage of goods; their weight, dependent on national and professional definitions, determines whether they are considered light or heavy
  • Heavy commercial trucks are also used for the carriage of goods, but their weight exceeds the standards set by national and professional organizations; they include tractor vehicles designed to tow semi-trailers
  • Coaches and busses are used for the transport of passengers and exceed the minimum number of seats set by national or professional standards

It’s important to note that commercial vehicles are often defined by federal and state regulators, as well. Federal safety regulations define commercial vehicles as a vehicle that:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, not used to transport passengers for compensation
  • Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous

According to the state of Texas, a commercial vehicle is defined as a “self-propelled or towed vehicle, other than a farm vehicle with a gross weight, registered weight, or gross weight rating under 48,000 pounds, that is used on a public highway to transport passengers or cargo.” This applies in one of three instances:

  • The vehicle has a gross weight, registered weight, or gross weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds
  • The vehicle is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver
  • The vehicle is used to transport hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding by a regulation issued under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act

In layman’s terms, this definition includes many different types of vehicles: trucks, tractor-trailers, minivans, some pickup trucks, semis, busses, and more.

What Kinds of Common Accidents Involve Commercial Motor Vehicles?

There are many reasons a commercial vehicle may be involved in an accident, but they typically boil down to one of three reasons:

  • The driver is negligent or makes a devastating error, such as by driving recklessly, being distracted, driving under the influence, or disobeying the laws of traffic and rules of the road
  • The trucking company is negligent, such as by failing to repair or maintain its fleet, overloading cargo, or failing to properly train its drivers; an
  • A manufacturing defect in the truck, such as a faulty brake chamber

What Kinds of Injuries Commonly Result?

Any car accident can be scary and result in injury, but those involving commercial motor vehicles can be particularly devastating. This is partly due to the sheer size of commercial vehicles, the speed involved, and the fact that most of the time, a smaller car will bear the worst of the accident.

Common injuries in commercial vehicle accidents include head injuries and traumatic brain injuries; spinal cord injuries, sometimes leading to paralysis; broken bones, concussions, abrasions, and whiplash. In some cases, a commercial vehicle accident can lead to a wrongful death suit.

What Help is Available?

If you’ve been in an accident with a vehicle used for commercial purposes, you have options for recovering the damages you’ve suffered. Typically, a motor vehicle accident will involve a claim for negligence, which means you will need to prove a breach of the duty of care on the road. You will also have to prove that as a direct result of the other side’s breach, you suffered damages.

In a personal injury case, you can recover for various types of damages:

  • Medical bills, hospital stays, doctor’s visits, and prescription drug costs
  • Damages to your car or other personal property, such as mechanic’s bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of income due to not being able to work
  • A significant change in your lifestyle as a result of the accident

If you are injured in a commercial vehicle accident, you usually have legal recourse.

How Can FVF Help?

The decision to pursue a commercial vehicle accident case is not always straightforward, and there are many factors to consider. We will work with you to explore your options, make educated decisions, and discuss the legal process for negotiating a settlement and filing a suit. Being informed about commercial vehicle settlements is crucial. 

FVF wants victims of commercial vehicle accidents to be equipped with the knowledge they need to make decisions about what is best for them. Contact our truck accident lawyers for a free consultation about your case.



Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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