Truck and Big Rig Accident Injury Frequently-Asked Questions


I was hit by a "rental truck". Is that a commercial vehicle? What exactly is a "commercial truck?"

In California a  "commercial vehicle" is a vehicle which is used or maintained for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation, or profit or designed, used, or maintained primarily for the transportation of property (for example, trucks and pickups). Vehicle Code Section 260.  Although some businesses use standard pickup trucks or rental trucks for their day-to-day activities, commercial trucks are generally much larger ( think 18-wheeler ) serve a specific purpose and require a commercial driver's license to operate. However, a "rental truck" or pick up truck can still be considered a commercial vehicle even though it is not a traditional "big rig" under certain circumstances.

What is the significance to the designation of a "commercial motor vehicle" ?

Apart from a slew of State and Federal regulations that are extremely important in establishing the standard of care and negligence, it can turn a minimum insurance policy of $15,000 into a mandatory minimum insurance policy of $750,000. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) definitions section, a CMV is defined as a  motor vehicle that:

“… has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more), whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds), whichever is greater.” 49 CFR § 383.5(1).

There are other ways for an 'ordinary ' truck to be considered a CMV such as gross vehicle weight rating, transporting passengers, and transporting hazardous materials. As you can see, there are numerous ways for a vehicle to be considered a 'commercial motor vehicle' requiring significantly more insurance.

Are commercial trucks regulated by state or federal laws?

Trucking Laws and Regulations through Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations set forth minimum standards for commercial vehicles and are applicable to all employers, employees and commercial motor vehicles which transport property or passengers in interstate commerce. Every interstate motor carrier and driver must be familiar with and comply with the standards contained in the FMCSRs.

I've heard that it's dangerous to drive in a truck's "No-Zone." What does that mean?

The "No-Zone" refers to the areas behind and beside a commercial truck, where the truck driver has limited or zero visibility: the left rear quarter, the right rear quarter, and directly behind the truck at a short distance.

Can I sue the truck driver's trucking company for my injuries?

The answer to this seemingly simple question can often be very complicated. Depending on the circumstances of your truck accident, you could receive compensation from: Truck driver’s insurance company; Trucking company that employs truck driver under the theory of respondeat superior; Sometimes the truck manufacturer (if there’s a defect with truck or part malfunction); Company that loaded truck (if the truck was loaded improperly) or another company (many sub-businesses may be involved in a truck accident)


WHAT THE BIG PRINT GIVETH, THE SMALL PRINT TAKETH AWAY: This content is intended for educational purposes only. Phillips Law Offices is authorized to practice law only in California and the above content is intended for California residents only. This content provides only general information, which may or may not reflect current legal developments and you are advised to directly speak with an attorney who is familiar with all the facts and circumstances of your specific case and relevant laws. Phillips Law Offices expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any of the contents of this website. The above content DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship and the Phillips Law Offices does not represent you unless you have expressly retained us in writing.