How Commercial Vehicles are Defined & Why It Matters in an Accident


The definition of a commercial vehicle can be quite broad. For many consumers, the most common picture that comes to mind is an 18-wheeler that weighs tens of thousands of pounds and causes catastrophic damage when it is involved in a commercial truck accident with one or more additional vehicles.

Yet a commercial vehicle can mean many things beyond the typical “big rigs.” A commercial vehicle accident can involve big or small cargo vans or buses. Even small sedans in some instances can be considered commercial vehicles.

What is a commercial vehicle?

A commercial vehicle is owned and insured by companies rather than individuals. As a result, they fall under a different set of standards while on the road. The knowledge that a recent auto or truck accident was caused by the driver of a commercial vehicle is especially useful for a consumer and their commercial vehicle accident lawyer. That’s because there are different steps an experienced auto or truck accident attorney from Kajy Law can take in the immediate aftermath of the crash to improve your chances for financial compensation.

Perhaps the most comprehensive meaning of a “commercial vehicle” comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Regulation, which defines it as vehicles that are:

  • Driven or towed (such as a trailer)
  • Transporting goods or services, and/or meets other criteria such as weighing more than 10,000 pounds
  • Carrying 15 or more people for any reason (such as church outings)
  • Transporting nine or more people for any commercial purposes (such as shuttle vans)
  • Carrying hazardous materials or commercial products of any kind (from propane tanks to canned foods)
  • Self-propelled or towed with a motor and used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property

Commercial vehicle examples

Today’s commercial vehicles can include but are not limited to:

  • Uber, Lyft, and other ride sharing vehicles
  • Taxis or limousines
  • School buses and tour buses
  • Tractor trailers hauling heavy equipment (i.e., construction cranes)
  • Delivery vans to residential homes for business purposes (i.e., online orders through companies like Amazon, florists, dog groomers, etc.)
  • Tanker trucks

Why the definition of a commercial vehicle can impact your personal injury claim

When a commercial vehicle accident in Michigan occurs, law enforcement officials will take different steps in handling the investigation. If the driver of a commercial vehicle is determined to be at fault, you as the injured party may have different rights than if the at-fault driver was operating a passenger vehicle. If there is significant property damage to your vehicle, or major healthcare bills associated with one or more injuries, Lawrence Kajy and the commercial vehicle injury lawyers at Kajy Law will be able to navigate through the facts to help you get the best claim possible.

While every case is different, if a commercial vehicle hits your car, any of the following may be possible:

  • The potential for compensation may be higher.
  • The case or a settlement may take longer to finalize.
  • The amount of evidence will be even more closely scrutinized by police officers and attorneys.

Fault can vary when a commercial vehicle is involved

If a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, the company’s owners will likely do everything possible to avoid financial responsibility for damages. To make sure it is a fair fight, you will need a commercial vehicle attorney who can conduct due diligence on your behalf to make sure that responsibility for the crash is not yours.

When law enforcement and any truck accident attorneys get involved in the case, they will be looking to uncover the cause of the commercial vehicle accident. The most common causes of accidents involving company vehicles include:

Distracted driving

Just like passenger vehicle drivers can lose focus or have their attention diverted, commercial truck drivers may also engage in unsafe distracted driving. They become distracted by eating while driving, fiddling with their audio, or engaging in any other activity that pulls their attention away from the road. Distracted driving inhibits their ability to drive safely and defensively.


Drivers operate company vehicles at speeds above the speed limit, or at speeds that exceed what is safe considering current weather and road conditions – just like other drivers on the road.

Driving under the influence

We might think of drivers who are legally drunk as the most common example, but drivers of company vehicles may also feel pressure to meet quotas or time demands. As a result, they may rely on substances to stay awake on the road.

Unsafe weather or road conditions

A truck accident can be just that – whether it is rain, sleet, or roadway construction, unsafe driving conditions will contribute to accidents with company vehicles.

Kajy Law’s accident lawyers can help if you have been injured in a commercial vehicle accident

Bus and large commercial truck accidents injured more than 93,000 people in 2019 alone, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Our experienced car and truck accident lawyers represent clients throughout Michigan and understand the unique elements involved in commercial vehicle accident lawsuits. Kajy Law can serve as your personal commercial vehicle accident lawyer to help ensure you get the legal representation you deserve.

Best of all, Kajy Law offers a free consultation, and you only pay a fee if our firm helps you get compensation from your commercial vehicle accident. Contact us today so we can get started on your case.

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