When you are involved in a traffic accident, it is important to understand the process of recovering compensatory damages. This is because in most cases, you can seek these damages under the Georgia laws. When a crash involves passenger vehicles, the processing of filing the claim is relatively straight-forward. However, if your accident involves commercial vehicles, the process becomes a bit more complicated.
Before you can actually see how to file a claim in a crash involving these types of vehicles, you must first know exactly what qualifies as a commercial vehicle and what other state or federal laws apply to such a vehicle. Here is a look at these.
What is a Commercial Vehicle?
When it comes to defining a commercial vehicle, Georgia Code Section 40-1-1 defines one as:
- When a vehicle’s gross combination weight, gross vehicle weight, gross vehicle weight rating, or gross combination weight rating, is 4,537 kilograms, or 10,0001 pounds, or more. This is very significant in that it states that a vehicle qualifies as a commercial vehicle if either its actual weight or the weight rating meets the minimum requirements.
- When a vehicle carries more than 8 passengers in return for compensation. When counting the total number of passengers, the driver is also included.
- If a vehicle is carrying more than 15 passengers, even without any compensation involved, it will also be regarded as a commercial vehicle. The driver is included in counting.
- When a vehicle transports hazardous materials and must meet certain requirements set forth in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
If a vehicle meets any of the requirements set forth above, it qualifies as a commercial vehicle under Georgia state laws. This qualification is significant as it imposes a separate set of laws on the vehicle. If a commercial vehicle is not following these laws at the time of the crash, it can be easier for you to prove negligence.
Commercial Vehicle State and Federal Regulations
One of the most common reasons why commercial vehicle accidents occur is because the driver is fatigued, drowsy, and overworked. This is why both federal and state laws make various stipulations governing the hours of service for commercial drivers. Here is an overview of these and other regulations:
- Short-haul drivers can drive up to a maximum of 11 hours. This applies only when their hours start after at least 10 hours of off-duty time.
- In a period of 7 or 8 days, the total number of hours put in by the commercial drivers must not exceed 60 to 70 as per federal regulations.
- If the total weight of a vehicle exceeds 10,000 pounds, the driver must have undergone a USDOT physical exam. Such a vehicle must also carry proof of annual inspection and display placards if it is used to transport hazardous materials.
- Drivers with proper time records may undertake shifts of up to 11 hours if they resume within 12 hours.
- Commercial vehicles must not use radar detectors.
- Commercial vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more must have a parking brake system, operative brakes on all wheels, automatic braking mechanism in the event of trailer breakaway, and an emergency brake system.
- Surge brakes are illegal when a commercial vehicle is used for interstate transportation and commerce. For commercial vehicles that operate within Georgia, surge brakes are legal. The use of surge brakes is subject to the regulations defined in O.C.G.A. 40-8-50.
- When a vehicle weighs above 10,000 pounds, the driver must stop at all the open weight and inspection stations.
- If the vehicle gross weight is 26,000 pounds or more, its driver is required to carry a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). In addition, the driver must also meet Alcohol and Controlled Substance Testing Requirements under 49 CFR Part 382.
- Employers of commercial drivers must maintain time records of their work hours for the last six months. These records are to be maintained on a rolling basis so that employers can furnish the records for the last six months at any time.
Hiring an Augusta Car Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered injuries and other losses in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, we can help you. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, our lawyers fully understand the state and federal regulations that apply in commercial vehicle cases. This enables us to help commercial vehicle accident victims get the compensation they deserve. Call us today for a free consultation with our lawyers.