Picture of Truck

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a semi-truck and trailer traveling on the interstate in the United States must have a gross weight of 80,000 pounds or less, and trucking companies across our nation have a financial incentive to load their vehicles with as much freight as possible in an effort to maximize the amount of money each trip generates. Unfortunately, these companies do not consider the damage that can be caused by a car colliding with 80,000 pounds at high speeds. In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 116,000 people were injured in accidents involving large trucks, and in the same year, there were an estimated 433,000 large trucks involved in police-reported car accidents nationwide.

In Florida, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) estimates that over 5,000 accidents occured in our state involving a large truck in 2016 with 10 of these accidents involving one or more fatalities. The NHTSA and the DHSMV both define a large truck as a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds. The alarming fact about these accidents is that most of the time the occupants of other non-commercial vehicles are more likely to be killed in a commercial vehicle accident than a commercial driver or passenger. The NHTSA has indicated 76% of the fatalities that occurred due to large truck accidents in 2016 were occupants of other vehicles with 16% of the fatalities being large truck occupants, and the rest being non-occupants of vehicles such as pedestrians or bicyclists.

Commercial Vehicles vs. Non-Commercial Vehicles

Given the dangerous nature of a commercial vehicle accident, there are some very different standards that govern the operation of commercial vehicles in Florida. These standards are meant to protect non-commercial drivers in the event that an accident occurs. As such, below are some factors that you should keep in mind if you are involved in a commercial vehicle accident.

Commercial Vehicle Insurance in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Commercial vehicles have different insurance requirements than their non-commercial counterparts due to the weight of the vehicle and the potential damage that can be caused by a commercial vehicle in an accident. The insurance limit requirements that are imposed on commercial vehicles are defined by where the vehicle conducts business. Commercial vehicles that operate only within the limits of their company’s domicile state, which is referred to as “Intrastate Commerce,” must carry commercial insurance with limits that are in compliance with Florida law and the standards set by the DHSMV. The commercial policy limits required by the state of Florida are listed below:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight between 26,000-34,999 pounds: $50,000 in liability insurance coverage per occurrence
  • Gross Vehicle Weight between 35,000-43,999 pounds: $100,000 in liability insurance coverage per occurrence
  • Gross Vehicle Weight of 44,000 pounds or more: $300,000 in liability insurance coverage per occurrence

Federal Commercial Vehicle Requirements in Florida

Commercial vehicles are required to carry insurance that is in compliance with federal commercial insurance standards if the vehicle is engaged in interstate commerce. A vehicle engages in interstate commerce if it travels:

  • From the owner’s home state to a place outside of the state or the United States
  • From the owner’s domicile state to another place within the domicile state that requires the driver to drive through a different state or outside of the United States
  • Between two places within the owner’s home state as a part of a trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside of the state or the United States.

The federal insurance requirements pursuant to 49 C.F.R.§387 and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are as follows:

  • Commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 10,000 pounds carrying non-hazardous freight: $750,000 in liability insurance per occurrence
  • Commercial passenger carrier vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 10,000 pounds and a seating of less than or equal to 15 passengers: $1,500,000 in liability insurance per occurrence
  • Commercial passenger carrier vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 10,000 pounds and a seating capacity of greater than 15 passengers: $5,000,000 in liability insurance per occurrence

Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Commercial vehicle accident cases are complex legal matters with extremely high stakes. Commercial vehicle owners and their insurance companies will immediately start working on ways to minimize the value of your claim, which is why you should always contact a car accident attorney if you are involved in a car accident with a commercial vehicle. 1-800-INJURED is a lawyer and medical referral service with a network of car accident attorneys that are ready to connect you to lawyers who offer the aggressive legal representation you need and will help you seek the compensation you deserve. So call 1-800-INJURED today to be placed in contact with a car accident attorney that is ready to help you.

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