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Some Commercial Motor Vehicles Carry Passengers


When the average person hears the term ‘commercial motor vehicle (CMV),’ they tend to think of large trucks hauling heavy loads. However, both Florida and federal regulations define a CMV as a vehicle that carries either goods or passengers, meaning that many more vehicles fall under these regulations than one might have previously thought. If you have been in an accident with a CMV, either as a passenger or as someone sharing the road, you may be able to use these regulations to help hold a negligent actor liable.

Specific (Yet Different) Definitions

Each U.S. state and the federal government define a commercial motor vehicle in their own way, though there can be similarities. The definition from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) specifies that a CMV is any vehicle that (1) has a weight of 10,001 pounds or more, or is “single or combination of vehicles” that weighs 26,001 pounds or more; (2) transports hazardous materials which require federal placarding; or (3) transports more than 8 passengers and the driver for compensation or 15 or more for free.

Florida’s definition, comparatively, applies only to vehicles who meet all three of its criteria: weighing 26,001 pounds or more, using “special or motor fuel” on public highways, and not being owned by a governmental entity. Only the federal definition specifies a required number of passengers; Florida’s definition only refers to weight, yet both effectively limit the number of vehicles that fall under the definition of a CMV.

Who Is Liable?

If you have been injured in an accident with a CMV, as a passenger or as another road user, it can be difficult to know whether or not you will be able to seek compensation for what you have been through. If your injuries are minor, you will likely be required to file a claim with your personal injury protection (PIP) insurer, given that all Florida drivers are required to carry this coverage. However, if your injuries are “significant and permanent,” you will generally be able to file suit against the person or entity you believe caused your injuries.

While CMV drivers often have few assets, their employers have far more. Florida observes a theory called vicarious liability, which states that if an employee is acting within the course of their employment when they commit a tort (essentially, the civil version of a crime), their employer may be liable. While not every case will be able to be laid at the door of a CMV company, it is possible in some to sue the employer (who is very often the owner of the vehicle) – for example, if a coach driver causes an accident, the coach company may be liable. This is true whether you were a passenger on the vehicle, or you were in another vehicle on the road.

Contact A Tampa CMV Accident Attorney

When you board a passenger vehicle like a coach, you have a general expectation of safety. If you are injured due to negligence, you have the right to seek compensation from the company. A Tampa CMV accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group is ready and willing to try and assist you. Contact our office today for a free consultation.



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