When a Truck is Not Just a Truck – Part One

When many injured parties and attorneys think of a truck accident, their minds go to an accident involving an 18-wheeler. Accidents with these 80,000-pound trucks frequently lead to serious injuries and even death. The operation of these trucks operating in interstate commerce (meaning – across state lines) is governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The motor carriers and their drivers are subject to strict requirements in numerous areas, such as licensing, hours of service, recordkeeping, maintenance, drug testing, and inspections. These trucks require a special license to operate – a CDL, or commercial driver’s license. Obtaining a CDL requires stricter testing and knowledge of the specialized rules and regulations regarding commercial motor vehicles.

For any case involving an 18-wheeler, it’s important to hire an experienced truck accident attorney with a proven track record of results. The attorneys at Rafi Law Firm specialize in these types of cases and have obtained numerous million dollar recoveries in crashes involving commercial motor vehicles. But what about something besides an 18-wheeler? Can that be a commercial motor vehicle as well?

What else is a commercial motor vehicle?

Commercial motor vehicles are not just the 18-wheelers we see on the roads each day. Many other vehicles can be classified as a commercial motor vehicle. Unfortunately, these vehicles are often treated as just another car accident, which usually compromises the value of the case and leads to a reduced recovery for the individual who was injured. A commercial motor vehicle is defined by 49 CFR §390.5 as: any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle—

(1) Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or

(2) Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or

(3) Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or

(4) Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.

Failing to understand these key regulations and definitions and how they expand the definition of a commercial motor vehicle beyond what is commonly thought can be highly detrimental to any injury claim involving a commercial motor vehicle. Most trucks we see on the road have a gross vehicle weight of less than 10,001 pounds and are not considered commercial motor vehicles – but what if that truck is towing a trailer? A trailer and its contents can easily push that truck over the 10,001-pound limit and therefore be defined as a commercial motor vehicle, subjecting that vehicle, its operator, and its owner to a heightened set of regulations and safety rules.  Even if the vehicle does not require a commercial driver’s license to operate, many of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and/or their state equivalent will apply to any vehicle with a gross combination weight of 10,001 or more pounds.

Why does this matter for my accident case?

All too often, these vehicles and their operators will not comply with these rules and regulations, and the results can be catastrophic for other drivers on the road. Part two of this blog will discuss in detail the different rules and regulations that apply to these vehicles and the implications they may have on any case involving them. If you are injured in any accident where you believe a commercial motor vehicle may be involved, it’s important that you contact attorneys who specialize in those types of cases to maximize the value of your case and give yourself the best chance at obtaining full compensation for your injuries. Rafi Law Firm specializes in accidents involving commercial motor vehicles and has successfully used these frequently misunderstood rules and regulations to obtain significant recoveries for its clients. Contact us at 404-800-1156 to discuss your case today.

2021-05-14T11:25:17-04:00