A total of 1,366 crashes involving commercial motor vehicles happened in Pinellas County in 2021, a 17% increase from the 1,161 accidents that occurred in 2020. More concerningly, nine people died in commercial motor vehicle wrecks, and 308 people were hurt. This is contrasted against 2020, which saw only 276 injuries and one fatality.

A commercial vehicle crash presents unique challenges to injury victims seeking compensation. These challenges include not only state traffic laws but also federal rules and regulations that apply to commercial vehicles and their operators. There are other ways that your claim can be impacted if the vehicle that struck you was a commercial motor vehicle.

To know whether these additional considerations apply in your case, you must first find out for certain whether you collided with a commercial motor vehicle. This determination can present its own difficulties.

“Commercial Motor Vehicle” Has a Specific Definition

When you hear the term “commercial motor vehicle,” you might immediately think of tractor-trailers or a similar vehicle with more than two pairs of wheels. While eighteen-wheelers and big rigs meet the definition of a commercial motor vehicle, other vehicle types meet it, too.

The official definition of a commercial vehicle is found in the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations. 

According to these rules, a commercial motor vehicle, or simply a “commercial vehicle,” is any type of vehicle that’s:

  • Self-propelled or towed
  • Driven on a highway
  • Used for interstate commerce
  • Able to transport passengers or property

In addition, the vehicle must have one of the following characteristics:

It Weighs More Than 10,000 Pounds

First, the car can qualify as a commercial vehicle if it has a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more. If it weighs less than this, but the manufacturer assigns a maximum operating weight of more than 10,000 pounds, it is considered to be a commercial vehicle.

It Is Transporting a Certain Number of People

Buses will usually qualify as commercial vehicles because they meet this characteristic. Any vehicle will be viewed as a commercial one if it is transporting at least nine people for a commercial purpose. This means that the driver or company operating the vehicle makes money from transporting the passengers. 

If no money is being exchanged, the vehicle will nonetheless be treated as a commercial vehicle if it is transporting 15 or more passengers. If it crosses this threshold, the reason the passengers are being transported does not matter. For instance, a church bus transporting a group of parishioners to a conference would be a commercial vehicle so long as it is carrying at least 15 people.

It Is Carrying Hazardous Materials

Federal regulations define materials that are considered hazardous when transported in specific quantities. Legally transporting these materials requires the vehicle to display a special placard and the driver to have specialized training. A car that is transporting any hazardous material will be thought of as a commercial vehicle if all other required components of the definition are met.

When To Determine If You Have Been Injured By a Commercial Vehicle

Following a crash with any large vehicle, one of the first determinations you and your attorney should make is whether it qualifies as a commercial vehicle. This impacts the laws and rules the vehicle’s driver must follow. 

In turn, it can also affect whether a court will find that driver to be negligent. Beyond this, a collision with a commercial motor vehicle can also result in other entities, such as the vehicle’s driver’s employer, being responsible for compensation.

While this determination is crucial, it is not difficult to make. A close examination of the other vehicle can reveal whether it meets the definition of a “commercial vehicle.” Once made, the remainder of the steps your case should follow will become clearer.

Contact the Clearwater Wrongful Death Law Firm of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact the legal team of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for a free initial consultation with a vehicle accident lawyer in Clearwater. We have four convenient locations in Florida: Clearwater, New Port Richey, and Tampa.

We serve throughout Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, and its surrounding areas:

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
1811 N. Belcher Road, Suite I-1
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 787-2500

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Congress Ave Office
2360 Congress Avenue
Clearwater, FL 33763
(727) 591-5610

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
6601 Memorial Hwy Suite 202
Tampa, FL 33615
(813) 686-7588

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
2515 Seven Springs Blvd.
New Port Richey, FL, 34655
(727) 815-8442