What Is a Commercial Vehicle?

Most states, including Florida, assign various classifications to vehicles that operate on public roads. Though most people are familiar with the passenger cars they use to commute, larger vehicles such as cargo trucks and semi-trailers are considered “commercial vehicles.”

Not all Florida vehicles are made the same, and commercial vehicles are held to different standards regarding traffic laws, licensing requirements, and insurance. 

It’s important to distinguish the characteristics that define a commercial vehicle and how these elements may impact you in an insurance claim or lawsuit. When a commercial vehicle is involved in a traffic accident, special laws will likely apply.

Commercial Vehicles: Federal and State Definitions 

According to federal regulations from the U.S Department of Transportation, a commercial vehicle is defined as one that engages in interstate commerce to transport people, goods, and other property. Additionally, these vehicles must meet the following standards:

  • Gross vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more; or
  • Transports more than 15 passengers, including the driver; or
  • Carries hazardous materials

Per Florida statutes, a commercial vehicle is defined as one that’s propelled by fuel and meets the following elements:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more; or
  • Is equipped with three or more axles; or
  • Results in a weight above 26,001 pounds due to the total load

Although federal and state definitions of a commercial vehicle may vary slightly, it’s vital to know each of these when you’re considering a personal injury lawsuit.

Common Commercial Vehicles in Florida

Across Florida, you’ll likely find the following commercial vehicles on your commutes:

  • Package delivery vehicles
  • Semi-trucks with attached trailers for cargo
  • Heavy trucks and truck tractors
  • Busses, large vans, and coaches for passengers
  • Box trucks and straight trucks 

While their functions and applications may vary, commercial vehicles are easily distinguished by their larger size and weight, making them a safety liability on the road. Commercial classification helps many states, entities, and insurers distinguish between passenger vehicles and commercial ones.

When Is a Commercial License Required?

Although commercial vehicles may come in all shapes and sizes, certain situations require drivers to obtain a special license to legally drive oversize loads on public roads.

Per federal guidelines imposed by the FMCSA, vehicles weighing over 26,001 pounds can only be driven by individuals with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) issued by a state transit authority. Anyone who drives a commercial vehicle without proper licensing is subject to heavy fines and serious legal consequences.

In Florida, the process of obtaining a commercial driver’s license involves:

  • Application fees
  • Driver’s history review
  • Written examination
  • Vision test
  • Medical exam
  • Driving skills test

Because commercial vehicles can be dangerous and difficult to operate, the standards are high for obtaining a CDL. Moving violations or ignoring weight limits are dangerous and can cause serious accidents.

When commercial drivers fail to follow the law and engage in negligent or reckless driving, they risk causing injury to motorists and pedestrians alike. In Florida, commercial drivers often face serious legal consequences and expensive fines when they are responsible for an accident. 

Additional Considerations for Commercial Vehicles in Florida

Though anyone driving a commercial vehicle in Florida must be appropriately licensed, these vehicles must also comply with state and federal statutes.

In Florida, commercial vehicles must be registered as such and may require special permitting, depending on the cargo itself.  

Regarding insurance, commercial vehicles in Florida must be covered under valid liability insurance. Failure to properly insure a commercial vehicle can result in legal penalties and thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses in the event of an accident for the parties involved. 

If you are injured in a truck accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer right after your accident involving a commercial vehicle to learn about your rights and legal options. Allen Law Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers offer free consultations. 

Contact Our Gainesville Truck Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Gainesville truck accident lawyers at Allen Law Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida:

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Gainesville office
2550 SW 76th St #150
Gainesville, FL 32608
(877) 255-3652

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Downtown Gainesville
621 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601
(866) 928-6292

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Ocala Office
112 S Pine Ave
Ocala, FL 34471
(352) 351-3258