Accidents involving commercial vehicles introduce more complexity to already troublesome ordeals. As a result, you will likely need the help of a commercial vehicle accident lawyer to figure out your best course of action. These accidents are more difficult to deal with because large companies are often involved. Victims may also have more serious injuries that take longer to heal.
They are also quite common. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a total of 2,210 crashes involving commercial motor vehicles were in Bexar County in 2021. Throughout Texas, the total number of crashes involving commercial motor vehicles recorded in 2021 was 38,149. Learn more about commercial vehicle accidents and how best to deal with them by continuing with the rest of this article.
Definition of a Commercial Vehicle
When does a car or a truck become a commercial vehicle? A vehicle can receive the designation of a commercial vehicle after meeting different standards.
First, any self-propelled or towed vehicle with a gross, registered, or gross weight rating of less than 48,000 pounds used to transport cargo or passengers on public highways is considered a commercial vehicle. Commercial vehicles, such as buses for school activities, may also weigh more than 26,000 pounds. When used as a school bus, the commercial vehicle must be able to transport more than fifteen passengers, including the driver.
Also, commercial vehicles can move hazardous materials. However, placarding must be placed on the commercial vehicle to indicate the type of material it is transporting. Any vehicle with a gross weight rating over 10,000 pounds used for interstate commerce is also seen as a commercial vehicle. Therefore, you must register it in the state before using it for that purpose.
Many commercial vehicles you will see on Texas roads tend to be on the larger side. We are talking 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, and other vehicles of that ilk. They are enormous vehicles that can be intimidating sights on the road. Be careful when driving around commercial vehicles. If the driver causes an accident, remember to call your commercial vehicle accident attorney immediately for assistance.
When Is a Truck Considered a “Commercial Vehicle”?
When does a truck officially become a commercial vehicle? Weight is often one thing that indicates if a particular truck is for commercial purposes. As we noted in the previous section, there are certain weight thresholds that those vehicles must meet.
If you use a truck with a gross weight rating above 10,000 pounds for interstate commerce, that is a commercial vehicle. In addition, large trucks with a gross weight rating of less than 48,000 pounds used on public highways are also commercial vehicles. Beyond the weight standards, trucks also become commercial vehicles depending on how you use them. For example, trucks transporting cargo and/or passengers for profit are commercial vehicles.
Once a truck qualifies as a commercial vehicle, it will be subject to inspections. All commercial vehicles must pass an annual inspection required by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations in Texas. Only the trucks that pass their annual inspections are clear for commercial use.
Top Causes of Company Vehicle Accidents
Commercial vehicles undergo regular inspections, and specially trained drivers handle them. Those safeguards are supposed to make commercial vehicle accidents rare but has not worked that well. Why are commercial vehicle accidents still so prevalent? Understanding their common causes should shed more light on that matter.
The life of a trucker is not exactly full of excitement. They are on the road for several hours each day and often have no one along for the ride. As a result, things can get quite boring and lonely for them. To distract themselves from their working situations, truckers may resort to using their phones more regularly. That is never a good thing. When a driver is on their phone, they are more likely to be involved in an accident.
Even if you can understand why truck drivers need distractions, it is still dangerous for them to give in. Truckers must show discipline behind the wheel of their vehicle. They must hold off using their phone until they are at a rest stop. If the trucker who caused your accident was on their phone before the crash, you must hold them accountable with the help of a commercial vehicle lawyer.
The idea of truckers being on the road for extended periods is nothing new to us. Even so, they should not be on the road for too long.
Drivers ordered by their employers to stay on the road longer than they should are more susceptible to the effects of fatigue. Their senses become duller in that state. As a result, they are more likely to be involved in an accident because of that.
Truckers should have ample time to rest between shifts to prevent fatigue-related accidents. Furthermore, the tired driver is actively endangering themselves and everyone around them, so they must leave the road immediately.
Some commercial vehicle drivers, under strict deadlines, will ignore the rules of the road to complete their deliveries. It is not difficult to imagine how dangerous that could become. If drivers are speeding along San Antonio roads to meet a deadline, they are more likely to hit another vehicle. Given these commercial vehicles’ size, that initial crash can quickly lead to a pileup.
Hire a commercial vehicle law firm if a reckless driver caused your accident. Take legal action against them to force them to compensate you for their reckless actions.
Improper Loading of Cargo
Loading a commercial vehicle with cargo is a task they must handle carefully. A truck with improperly loaded cargo is more likely to lose its balance. It will become more prone to jackknifing and other accidents because of that. The onus is on the trucking company’s partners to load the cargo properly. They need to take that job seriously and understand the ramifications of not doing it well. Employees of those partner companies who fail to load cargo correctly may soon deal with a San Antonio personal injury lawyer.
Lastly, commercial vehicle crashes can also be due to faulty equipment. For example, a particular component inside the truck may have failed at a critical time, thus causing an accident. Figuring out if the component malfunctioned due to inadequate maintenance or poor manufacturing will be crucial when the time comes for you to pursue compensation. Your CMV lawyer will help you find the answer to that question.
Commercial and Company Vehicle Examples
All kinds of vehicles can be used for commercial purposes. Let’s take a moment to list some of the common commercial vehicles on San Antonio roads. We can start with taxis and cars used for ridesharing. These are the commercial vehicles you likely encounter most often. If you ever end up in an accident involving one of those vehicles, remember that your compensation may be provided by a company instead of the driver directly.
Vans and small trucks may also qualify as commercial vehicles. More often than not, vans and small trucks become commercial vehicles when they are used to deliver packages. Buses are also commercial vehicles. Both the buses used to transport students and commuters are commercial vehicles, so proceed accordingly if you are involved in an accident with one.
Construction vehicles qualify as commercial vehicles. Therefore, they can also cause accidents, although they do not necessarily take place on the road usually. Finally, we have the trucks. Tankers, cement mixers, moving trucks, logging trucks, 18-wheelers, and tractor-trailers are only some examples of trucks regularly used by businesses. They are all commercial vehicles.
Call your commercial vehicle accident lawyer immediately if you are involved in an accident with one of those trucks.
Who Is Liable in a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
Commercial vehicle accidents are often more complicated than typical accidents because it is harder to find the party truly at fault for what happened. When another driver hits you, it is easy to point to them and say they need to compensate you for the accident. Unfortunately, it is often not that straightforward with commercial vehicle crashes.
There is still a distinct possibility that the driver is the one fully to blame for the accident. However, you can make that claim if you believe that the accident stemmed from distracted or reckless driving. Blame may shift to the commercial driver’s employer if the accident was due to driver fatigue or inadequate maintenance. It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that their vehicles are well-maintained. They must also set up working schedules that allow their employees to get adequate rest before hitting the road.
Companies that fail to meet those requirements could be subject to litigation following a crash involving one of their drivers. One of the trucking company’s partners can also be held responsible for an accident. That may happen if the investigation reveals that improper cargo loading was the cause of the crash.
You can even sue a parts manufacturer if their failure to provide a functional component is the primary cause of the accident. Also, you could blame the distributor for the defective part if they received warnings about the issues beforehand. Do not forget that they could blame you for the commercial vehicle accident. The defense’s strategy may even be on trying to blame you. Stop them from successfully using that tactic by partnering with a personal injury attorney.
Texas CMV Laws
Before we wrap up this article, let’s take the time to discuss some laws that could be relevant to commercial vehicle accident cases. Keep them in mind to better understand how to proceed from a legal standpoint.
Laws Related to the Commercial Driver’s License
The driver of a large truck or any other vehicle used to conduct business must own a commercial driver’s license. Furthermore, the commercial driver must possess the right class of commercial license and/or the appropriate endorsements to continue working. If the driver of the commercial vehicle shows you an ordinary license when you go to speak to them following the crash, you can take legal action against them and their employer.
Markings on the Commercial Vehicle
Special markings should always be present on the sides of commercial vehicles. These markings should note the carrier’s legal name as well as the USDOT number. Thanks to the markings on the side of the commercial vehicle, you will know immediately who to contact in the event of an emergency. Even if no accident occurs, you can still use the information provided by the markings to report the commercial driver who was being reckless on the road.
Hours of Service Laws
We also need to touch on hours of service laws for truckers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a commercial driver of a passenger vehicle may only spend a maximum of 10 hours driving following 8 consecutive hours off-duty. Commercial drivers of passenger vehicles are also prohibited from driving if they have been on duty for more than 15 hours.
Meanwhile, a commercial driver delivering goods may only spend a total of 11 hours on the road after an off-duty period of 10 consecutive hours. They can no longer drive after spending 14 hours on duty. Commercial drivers must also take a break if they have been driving for 8 consecutive hours without any interruption that lasted for at least 30 minutes. Their break should be 30 minutes.
San Antonio Commercial Vehicle Law Firm
Being in any vehicular accident can be a traumatic experience. The experience can become even more overwhelming if it involves a commercial vehicle. Allow the commercial truck accident lawyers at our injury law firm to help you manage that situation. Use our experience and expertise when you need to so you can navigate that ordeal better. Contact us today if you need an expert commercial vehicle accident lawyer on your side.