What's Considered a Commercial Vehicle in Texas?

A vehicle that is owned by a business or individual for commercial use to transport people or goods is considered a commercial vehicle. Commercial vehicles that meet certain federal criteria are subject to regulation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

If you are involved in a crash caused by a federally regulated commercial vehicle, your injury claim will be complicated because it will involve higher safety standards and more opportunity to prove liability on the part of the driver and their employer. Our Houston truck accident lawyer explains more.

Federal Standards for Commercial Vehicles passenger van on the highway

Commercial vehicles operating in interstate commerce that are subject to FMCSA safety regulations include the following

  • A vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating (whichever is greater) of 10,001 pounds or more
  • A vehicle designed or used to transport between nine and 15 passengers (including the driver) for compensation, whether direct or indirect
  • A vehicle designed or used to transport 15 or more passengers, including the driver, and not used for compensation
  • Any size vehicle used in the transportation of hazardous materials (HazMat). This includes hazardous materials carriers that only operate within a state’s borders.

Some examples of commercial vehicles that would be subject to federal safety standards include semi-trucks, tanker trucks, for-hire commuter vans for nine or more passengers, church or school vans carrying 15 or more people, and any size vehicle carrying hazardous material such as explosives, flammable liquids, dry ice, batteries, and biohazards.

How Are Federal Safety Standards Different?

Why does it matter if the vehicle that hit you is governed by FMCSA regulations? For one thing, the driver would be required to carry a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and would have to comply with the following:

  • Controlled substances and alcohol testing
  • Medical exams and other qualification requirements
  • Federal hours of service restrictions
  • Inspection, repair, and maintenance of the vehicle

If the driver failed to comply with any of these regulations and caused a crash as a result, they could be held liable for your injuries and other damages. If the driver’s employer failed to compel the driver to comply, the company could also be held accountable.

Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer Who Understands FMCSA Regulations

Most people are aware that interstate semi-truck drivers are subject to federal regulations, but fewer people understand that the rules also apply to some passenger van drivers and HazMat transporters. When you trust the team at SJ Injury Attorneys, you can be sure that we understand when federal laws apply, and we will do everything we can to make sure you get all the compensation to which you are entitled.