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Defining Commercial Motor Vehicles In Florida


Preliminary data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) shows that approximately 400,000 crashes occurred on state roads in 2021, with around 3,700 fatalities. While the data does not break down to show us how many involved a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), it is appropriate to assume that CMVs played a role in many of them. However, the definition of CMV is wide, and it can be confusing to determine whether or not you have been struck by a CMV or not. Consulting an experienced attorney on the subject can help to get your questions answered.

Defining “Commercial Vehicles”

Florida’s definition of a CMV is quite specific. To qualify as a CMV, a vehicle must meet three criteria. They are:

  • Not being owned or operated by a government entity;
  • Using “special fuel or motor fuel” on public highways; and
  • Having a weight of at least 26,001 pounds, or has three or more axles, or is “used in combination” when the weight of the combination exceeds 26,001 pounds.

Vehicles that meet these criteria tend to be trucks, such as an 18-wheeler or a commercial pickup with a trailer. However, misconceptions often abound because the term ‘commercial vehicle’ is misused with relative frequency, particularly among those who work in direct sales. Another common instance where this may be an issue is in dealing with rideshare companies – rideshare cars are not CMVs, but they are vehicles used in commercial business.

Filing Suit After A CMV Accident

In general, the reason it is important to understand what qualifies as a CMV and what does not is that it may affect a lawsuit if you are injured in a crash. Florida has a no-fault auto insurance system, which means that all of the state’s drivers must carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage, and use it to pay medical bills in the event of an accident. There are exceptions if your injuries are particularly severe, but this is relatively rare.

If your accident involves a CMV, your injuries are more likely to be severe, given the probable size and weight of the vehicle. If your injuries are sufficiently severe, you can file suit in a Florida court and seek money damages in the same way as you might in any other accident – but while this may seem like a net positive for some, lawsuits of this type can be difficult to get through, particularly without experienced legal help.

Contact A Tampa Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorney

If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, and you are certain that the other vehicle was a CMV, enlisting an experienced Tampa truck accident attorney should be your next step. The Rinaldo Law Group has handled many of these types of cases, and can offer knowledgeable and compassionate representation at what can be a difficult time. Contact our office today for a free consultation.



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