A large percentage of vehicles on the road are commercial motor vehicles. These are vehicles utilized for work, such as 18-wheeler trucks or flower delivery vans. Commercial motor vehicles have unique laws, rules and regulations compared to other motor vehicles. The applicable rules depend on the type of commercial vehicle. It is important to determine whether the vehicle in your car accident case is commercial, as well as its type, before you can fully understand your rights and legal options. Collision claims involving commercial motor vehicles in New Mexico are unique.
What is the Definition of a Commercial Motor Vehicle?
First, understand which vehicles in New Mexico meet the definition of commercial. In general, insurance companies define commercial vehicles as those used for work. This does not mean a driver’s regular commute to work, but a vehicle whose sole purpose is to carry out the work of the owner or operator. A commercial truck, for example, transports cargo to different destinations for distribution. Generally, commercial vehicles are buses and trucks. Many different types of vehicles can fall under the definition of commercial, however.
- Private buses
- Mail trucks
- Food trucks
- Construction vehicles
- Utility vehicles
- Moving trucks
Making the determination between a standard vehicle and a commercial motor vehicle is important during the crash claims process in New Mexico. If you are not sure whether the vehicle in your collision is a commercial vehicle, hire an Albuquerque personal injury lawyer to investigate your accident for you. Only then may you proceed with your claim in the correct way.
What Laws Pertain Only to Commercial Motor Vehicles?
It is important to recognize when it is a commercial motor vehicle that crashed into you. These accident claims work differently than typical motor vehicle accident cases in New Mexico. Commercial motor vehicle companies and their drivers have to obey unique federal and state laws. These laws may come into play during your accident claim.
- Unique licenses. It takes a special license for a driver to lawfully drive a commercial motor vehicle. Acquiring a commercial driver’s license takes additional training and tests. With a commercial license, a driver has unique rights and responsibilities. Driving a commercial vehicle without a valid commercial license is against the law.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) laws. The FMCSA is the federal body that regulates the commercial bus and truck industry. It has dozens of regulations in place to prevent accidents, including hours-of-service restrictions, vehicle inspection requirements and cargo-loading protocols.
- Vicarious liability. Since drivers use commercial vehicles for work, companies and employers are often vicariously liable for accidents. Employers are vicariously liable for their on-duty employees in most situations. You and your lawyer may have to go up against a company instead of an individual driver.
- Unique driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws in New Mexico. For typical drivers, the legal blood alcohol concentration maximum is 0.07%. At 0.08%, a driver is legally intoxicated. This limit is lower for commercial drivers, however. A commercial driver could be guilty of DWI in New Mexico at just 0.04%.
- Stricter cellphone restrictions. No driver in New Mexico may legally text and drive using handheld communication devices. They can talk on handheld devices, however – unless they are commercial drivers. Drivers with commercial licenses cannot use handheld devices for any reason behind the wheel.
A crash with a commercial motor vehicle might also lead to a claim that is more difficult than usual to litigate. These cases often involve the vicarious liability of the company that is using the vehicle or driver. The odds may be stacked against you when going up against a powerful commercial corporation. It is generally in your best interest to hire an attorney to represent you during a commercial motor vehicle accident claim in New Mexico.