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Virtually everything you buy, whether it’s at a brick-and-mortar store or from an online marketplace, is transported via a big truck. According to the American Trucking Association, there were nearly 37 million trucks registered and used for business purposes in the U.S. in 2018, and nearly 4 million Class 8 trucks, which includes semi-trucks and tractor-trailers weighing at or over 33,001 pounds.
Whether they are box trucks or semi-trucks, commercial trucks must be large to accommodate load sizes, but their size and weight make them dangerous to other drivers. Big trucks represent only 4% of all registered vehicles in the U.S., but they account for 10% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes.
It’s clear that all big trucks pose big dangers to motorists and their passengers, but is there a legal difference between crashes involving box trucks and tractor-trailers? Keep reading to learn more about truck classifications and how they affect personal injury claims, including how much compensation victims can receive.
Certain trucks must be registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to be legally used when hauling cargo via interstate commerce. They include trucks that:
Trucks that receive USDOT numbers must also comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines. These guidelines are extensive and include far more than just typical traffic laws, and they involve requirements such as weight and cargo limits, maximum operation hours for drivers, licensing requirements, operational requirements, and more.
This safety planner from the FMCSA includes all the information truck drivers, owners, and companies need to know to comply with FMCSA regulations. When parties associated with a big truck fail to abide by these regulations, they can be considered negligent after crashes, even if no traditional traffic laws were violated leading up to those crashes.
Just because a truck doesn’t have to be registered with the USDOT doesn’t mean it can’t cause serious and even fatal injuries. For example, many food and beverage distributors use semi-trucks and box trucks for local deliveries, but they aren’t required to comply with FMCSA regulations because their deliveries encompass a small radius in the same state. People also frequently rent box trucks to move their possessions around town—another scenario that’s exempt from FMCSA regulations.
Despite not being governed by the USDOT, these trucks can and often do cause people in passenger vehicles devastating injuries. But unlike trucks with USDOT numbers, these crashes are viewed similarly to crashes between two passenger vehicles, with the liability falling on the driver who failed to obey traffic laws or acted negligently.
The two biggest differences between the two types of trucks when it comes to calculating compensation are:
Truck accident victims usually don’t know or care what type of truck was involved in their crash or whether it has a USDOT number. But that information can have a big effect on their chances of getting compensation and how much money they may be eligible to receive.
If you or someone you love was injured in a truck crash, contact the Ohio truck accident lawyers at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy today. We’ll investigate your accident, determine what type of truck injured you, and work hard to help you get maximum compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
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