When most people think of trucks, they think primarily of 18-wheelers. However, other types of vehicles can also be classified as commercial vehicles including:
- Tractor trailers
- Flatbed trucks
- Dump trucks
- Cement trucks
- Passenger transport vehicles
Knowing when a vehicle is a commercial vehicle is important because commercial vehicles may be subject to more regulations than standard cars. Truck drivers could be obliged to follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations (FMCSRs) as well as special state laws unique to commercial drivers. These rules can limit hours on duty that a trucker can drive; may impose a lower blood alcohol limit before a trucker is considered to be impaired; and impose strict maintenance requirements.
When FMCSRs or state specific safety regulations are violated, this can create the presumption of negligence. The presumption of negligence makes it easier for victims to win a civil claim because they do not have to separately prove a driver was negligent. A plaintiff should convince a jury to award damages simply by illustrating how the regulatory violation led to the crash.
Whether a vehicle is a commercial vehicle or not also matters because there are generally higher minimum insurance liability limits for commercial or transport vehicles than for passenger cars. This results in more funds available to compensate victims.
If you are uncertain whether the vehicle you were in a crash with was considered a commercial or transport vehicle, and was thus subject to additional safety rules, it is advisable to consult with an Austin truck accident lawyer to find out.