You might be surprised to find out that in some cases, an ordinary vehicle you are driving is considered a commercial vehicle. Some of the features of commercial vehicles include large size and weight, the primary use for commercial or business purposes, and a design that allows many passengers to be transported.
Is My Truck a Commercial Vehicle? A Checklist
You may be wondering: why is my truck considered a commercial vehicle? And, are there any times when an otherwise regular vehicle would be considered commercial?
The following characteristics might render your truck a commercial vehicle:
- Size: When it comes to commercial vehicle classification, much depends on their gross vehicle weight rating. If a vehicle weighs more than 10,000 pounds, then under federal law, it is considered a commercial vehicle. It is unlikely that a pick-up truck, for example, would be considered a commercial vehicle under federal law, unless its size renders it one.
- Extremely heavy weight: Vehicles that are very heavy – usually weighing over 25,000 pounds – are not only considered to be commercial vehicles but also subject to even more stringent federal and state regulations.
- The number of passengers the vehicle is designed to carry: If your truck is designed to transport more than 8 passengers for compensation, including the driver, then federal law dubs it a commercial vehicle. If it is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, even without compensation, it is also considered commercial.
- The materials you transport: If your truck is designed to carry hazardous materials – as defined by the federal Secretary of Transportation – it is considered a commercial vehicle.
- Your state or local government says so: Every state has its own definition of commercial vehicles, and those definitions can vary. Many states, such as Texas and Florida, define commercial motor vehicles based on their weight and number of axles, but your state or locality might have a weight classification that is different from the federal law.
- The purpose for which you are using your vehicle: in some cases, if you are using your vehicle for a business or commercial purpose, that may mean it needs to be registered and handled as a commercial vehicle. In many cases, this is the way insurance companies define commercial vehicles, as well, which can be an important factor in accidents.
Why does it matter what a vehicle is considered? How does that determination come into play when it comes to accidents?
Commercial vehicles are subject to really strict regulations and legal standards, so whether your truck is considered one can make a huge difference—both in terms of compliance with the law and liability in the case of an accident. For instance, these vehicles must adhere to special regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as well as state and local laws in many cases. If an operator is not complying with those regulations, that can make a compelling case towards liability in the case of an accident, particularly if non-compliance was a cause of the crash.
When it comes to accidents, commercial vehicles being involved can mean considerable injuries and damages. Due to their sheer size and weight, coupled with the fact that many commercial vehicle accidents occur on highways at high speeds, being involved in a crash with a large vehicle can be very damaging.
It is common for victims to suffer serious injuries, such as head and traumatic brain injuries, significant fractures, spinal and back injuries, or even paralysis or wrongful death. For these reasons, if your vehicle is classified as a commercial vehicle, being in an accident can make for significant legal challenges regarding liability and damages. For all of these reasons, it is important to know whether your truck may be considered a commercial vehicle.
FVF’s experience with commercial vehicle cases
If you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, or you simply have questions about commercial vehicle liability in your case, FVF is here to help, and we have the experience needed to assist with commercial vehicle claims. Our goal is to provide you with answers and educate you about your rights and options.
Our knowledgeable Austin commercial vehicle lawyers can also help prepare your case, negotiate with the other driver and insurance companies involved, and work hard to obtain a favorable result on your behalf. Contact our commercial vehicle lawyers for a free consultation about your case.