There are a few key factors that may determine whether a vehicle is considered a Department of Transportation (DOT) vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates all commercial vehicles and sees that they are following federal guidelines and regulations. In addition to this, the FMCSA also ensures that all drivers of commercial vehicles are properly trained and certified to operate a DOT vehicle.
The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of your vehicle is a key factor that determines whether or not it is a DOT vehicle. As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) points out, a vehicle may be registered as a commercial vehicle if it has a GVWR of or over 10,001 pounds.
The number of passengers that a vehicle is designed to carry also bears relevance when determining whether or not a vehicle is a DOT vehicle. The FMCSA also mandates that any vehicle designed to transport 16 or more people, including the driver, is considered a commercial vehicle. Drivers who are transporting any hazardous materials may also be subject to federal laws.
Responsibilities of DOT Vehicle Drivers
While there are multiple federal regulations to take into account regarding a DOT vehicle, the drivers of DOT vehicles must also meet several requirements. For example, the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) §391.11 states that a commercial vehicle driver:
- Must be qualified to drive their vehicle
- Must have a commercial vehicle license
- Must be over 21
- Must complete a road test
Accidents with Commercial Vehicles
Even though commercial vehicle drivers have to obey federal regulations and obtain special licenses, these professional drivers are still capable of causing accidents on the road. Just like any driver, a negligent commercial vehicle operator who causes an accident may be liable for the damages that victims suffer.
Driver negligence in a commercial vehicle accident may be due to:
- A violation of traffic laws, such as an illegal lane change, running a stop sign, failure to yield, speeding, etc.
- Drunk or intoxicated driving, which may include evidence regarding the lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for commercial vehicle drivers than the standard 0.08% BAC
- Drowsy driving, which may include violations of the FMCSA’s hours of service limits
- Distracted driving, which may include cell phone use, eating, or handling a navigating or radio device while driving
In some cases, an accident caused by a negligent commercial vehicle driver while on the job will become the responsibility of their employer due to the principle of vicarious liability. Other times, a company may be liable for an accident that occurs in one of its vehicles due to:
- A failure to adequately service and maintain their vehicles
- Incorrectly loading or securing cargo
- Not hiring licensed drivers or training them adequately
Hiring a Lawyer for a Commercial Vehicle Accident Case
A lawyer may be able to handle your commercial vehicle accident case on your behalf while you concentrate on recovering from your injuries.
A lawyer may be able to:
- Investigate your accident and identify the liable party
- Build a case against them with evidence of their liability
- Collect evidence of the value of your damages
- Handle all communications, deadlines, and paperwork on your behalf
- Handle settlement negotiations
- Take your case to trial
Damages in a Car Accident Case
If your case succeeds, you may be able to recover compensation for applicable for damages such as:
- Past, current, and future accident-related medical care
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capability
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
Contact Morelli Law Firm Today
If you were involved in a collision with the driver of what is considered a DOT vehicle, Morelli Law Firm may be able to help you. We understand the unique federal laws and guidelines that pertain to commercial vehicles and their operators. Our firm is also comfortable going up against defendants of any size, from individual drivers to the major corporations that employ them.
Morelli Law Firm represents clients in New York City, Long Island, New York state up to Albany, Northern New Jersey, and Philadelphia. If you live in one of these areas, call us today at (212) 751-9800 for a free case review with a member of our team.
Morelli Law Firm takes many cases on a contingency-fee-basis with no up-front payments required. You are not obligated to pay us attorney fees in this arrangement unless and until you recover compensation via a court award or settlement offer.