Grappling with the difference between obscenity and protected free speech, United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously wrote that, when it came to pornography, “I know it when I see it.” That’s how many of us feel about commercial trucks: we know them when we see them.

This rule works much of the time. We all know what tractor-trailer and tow trucks look like.

However, not all commercial trucks meet the “I know it when I see it” rule. And if you are a lawyer representing trucking victims, or if you or a loved one has been a victim of a trucking crash, it’s important to know whether the vehicle that hit you counts as a commercial truck, as commercial truckers are required to follow an array of laws, regulations, and rules that do not apply to other drivers on the road.

Under the law, there are four categories of commercial trucks:

  • Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. For example, garbage trucks and cement trucks fall into this category.
  • A combination vehicle with a GCWR of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. For example, a tractor or truck towing a trailer or semi-trailer.
  • Any sized vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers.
  • Any size vehicle which requires hazardous material placards or is carrying material defined as agents or toxins under federal law.

A driver of any of the above four types of vehicles is required to have a commercial driver’s license. The driver and his or her employer is also required to comply with various state and federal requirements.

Whenever you or your client has been hit by an unusual vehicle—such as a truck towing a trailer or a large passenger van—double check to make sure the vehicle doesn’t fall into one of the above four categories. If it does, it is critical that the case be treated as a trucking case, not as a traditional car accident case.

The lawyers at Gideon Asen are experienced in litigating trucking cases. Call us at (207) 766-7761.