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Florida Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

Was the vehicle that struck and injured you or your loved one a “commercial motor vehicle?” This is an important question. Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) – and the companies who employ them – must comply with state and federal regulations. These rules govern matters such as:

  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements
  • Maximum size, weight, height and width requirements (including its load)
  • Safety inspections, repair and maintenance
  • Maintenance of logbooks and other records
  • Texting and using cell phones while driving
  • Alcohol and drug use (and testing of drivers)
  • Limited driver time on the roads (hours-of-service restrictions)

If the driver in your truck accident case failed to comply with specific state and/or federal regulations, and this failure caused your crash, it may be grounds for holding the driver liable. In other words, it may establish that the driver and/or trucking company was “negligent per se.”

Additionally, if the vehicle was a CMV, the driver and / or trucking company should have a required amount of insurance coverage available to cover your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages.

Commercial Motor Vehicles Under Federal Law

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides two different definitions for “commercial motor vehicle” in its regulations.

If a vehicle meets the first definition – found in § 390.5 of the regulations – then the driver (and company) must comply with the FMCSA’s many regulations, including those that cover mandatory inspection and maintenance, hours-of-service limits, texting while driving and cell phone-use bans and driver qualifications.

Under this definition, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as:

  • Any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle
  • Used on a highway
  • In interstate commerce to transport passengers or property
  • When the vehicle:
    • Has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR), or GVW or GCW of 10,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater; or
    • Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
    • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
    • Is used in transporting “hazardous” materials.

This definition covers most semi trucks, tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers you see on the roads. It can also cover vans and tour buses. However, the vehicle must be involved in interstate commerce. For instance, a semi taking goods from a warehouse in Georgia to one in Florida would be interstate commerce.

The FMCSA’s other definition of CMV can be found at § 382.107 and applies to the agency’s rules on alcohol and drug use and testing. Under this definition, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as any motor vehicle that:

  • Has a GCWR or GCW of 26,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater, inclusive of towed unit(s) with a GVWR or GVW of more than 10,000 pounds, whichever is greater; or
  • Has GVWR or GVW of 26,001 or more pounds, whichever is greater; or
  • Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or
  • Is of any size and is used in the transportation of “hazardous” materials.

Commercial Motor Vehicles Under Florida Law

Florida’s safety regulations for commercial motor vehicles can be found in Florida Statutes §§ 316.302 and 316.70. These regulations generally track the same ones as the FMCSA, with a few exceptions for vehicles that are operated solely within the state – or in intrastate commerce.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation’s Office of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (OCVE) these regulations apply to:

  • Any self-propelled or towed vehicle
  • Used on the public highways in commerce (interstate or intrastate)
  • To transport passengers or cargo
  • If such vehicle:
    • Has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more;
    • Is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver; or
    • Is used in the transportation of hazardous materials.

The OCVE points out that this definition applies to vehicles operated by “any business or commercial enterprise,” and not just a trucking company.

The Florida Statutes contain other definitions of commercial motor vehicle. For example, for the purpose of being required to have a commercial driver’s license, a commercial motor vehicle is defined under Florida Statute § 322.01(8) as any vehicle or motor vehicle combination, used on the streets or highway, which:

  • Has a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or more;
  • Has a declared weight of 26,000 pounds or more;
  • Has an actual weight of 26,000 pounds or more;
  • Is designed to transport more than 15 persons, including the driver;
  • Is a school bus designed to transport more than 10 persons, including the driver; or
  • Is transporting hazardous materials.

Contact an Orlando Truck Accident Lawyer

As you can see, state and federal regulations which govern the trucking industry can be highly technical and complex. In fact, even determining whether these regulations apply to one’s accident can be a complicated matter. This is why it is crucial to seek help from an experienced commercial motor vehicle accident lawyer if you are injured in a truck crash in Orlando or elsewhere in Florida.

Orlando truck accident lawyer, Frank M. Eidson, is well-versed in these regulations and understands their relevance when it comes to seeking compensation in your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a truck, contact Frank M. Eidson, P.A., today and receive a free and timely consultation about your case.

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