Commercial Motor Vehicles That Carry Passengers
Most of the time, when one thinks of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), they imagine vehicles that carry cargo, such as large trucks. However, both under federal and state law, some vehicles that carry passengers also qualify, meaning that their drivers are subject to the same requirements and responsibilities as cargo drivers. If you have been involved in an accident as either a passenger on a commercial motor vehicle, or as the driver of another vehicle, know that you do have the right to seek compensation for your injuries.
State & Federal Definitions
Florida law defines a commercial motor vehicle with specific criteria, such as requiring it to use “special or motor” fuel, but also in another statute which simply states a CMV is “any motor vehicle which is not a private passenger motor vehicle.” The state’s requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) specify further, mandating that a passenger vehicle that carries 15 passengers or more (plus the driver) must have a driver with a CDL. Smaller passenger vehicles do not qualify, even if they are operated for commercial purposes.
Federal law is also specific, articulating clearly that a vehicle on a highway carrying passengers is a CMV if it carries 8 or more for compensation, or 16 or more for free. This means that passenger buses will usually qualify, but not smaller vehicles like Uber or Lyft cars, and not vehicles that use alternative transportation such as trains or boats. Most of the time, Florida law will be what is relevant in a CMV accident case, but federal law will apply if the vehicle is engaged in interstate commerce.
After Filing Suit
If you are injured in an accident involving a commercial passenger vehicle, the method of seeking compensation may differ slightly depending on your position in the accident. In other words, a passenger on a passenger bus may have a different procedure for seeking money damages than a person whose private vehicle was struck by a passenger bus. The former would likely seek compensation via insurance claims against the bus company’s insurer, while the latter would – at least in theory – have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover bills, or if their injuries were significant, would file a negligence lawsuit against the bus company.
If you seek to file a lawsuit against the bus company, be advised that these cases are difficult – though not impossible – to win. Bus companies can have deep pockets – or, conversely, if an accident is serious, multiple claims against them may result in such serious financial losses that they can no longer pay out jury awards. That said, with the right attorney, who understands the nature of these cases, your odds at recovery may improve.
Contact A Tampa Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney
Being involved in an accident with a large passenger vehicle is extremely dangerous; such a crash can result in serious injuries or even death. If you have been injured in an accident with a commercial passenger motor vehicle, a Tampa CMV accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help you determine your best path forward. Call our office today for a free consultation.