Drivers in Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin are no strangers to the sight of massive semi trucks roaring down the highway. Semis, utility vehicles, and other commercial vehicles travel Wisconsin roads each day, interacting with passenger vehicles full of individuals, families, and children.

When a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) causes a crash, it can have devastating outcomes. In hopes of preventing such outcomes, state and federal regulations limit who can drive a CMV, as well as explicitly define what a CMV is.

These CMV regulations and licensing requirements can play an essential role in your personal injury case if you or a loved one are injured in a crash. Here, we’ll take a look at what a commercial vehicle is in Wisconsin, who can drive a CMV in Wisconsin, and what to do if you’ve been in a crash involving a CMV.

Commercial Vehicles Defined

Because many passenger vehicles can become commercial vehicles under the right circumstances, it’s important to understand the specific commercial vehicle definitions, which can vary according to different government agencies.

The Wisconsin DOT defines a commercial motor vehicle as a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) actual weight, or registered weight over 26,000 pounds, or a vehicle that’s towing another vehicle with a GVWR, actual weight, or registered weight of 10,000 pounds or less. A vehicle may also be a CMV if it’s being used to carry hazardous materials, or transport 16 or more people.

Is a Pickup Truck a Commercial Vehicle?

A pickup truck isn’t always a commercial vehicle, but there are several circumstances when it might become one. For example, a heavy duty pickup truck with a trailer full of cargo might have sufficient weight to be considered a commercial vehicle.

In this instance, the driver would be required to comply with all state and federal regulations and provisions governing commercial vehicles, as well as meet all the necessary licensing requirements.

Who Can Drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

Anyone operating a CMV in Wisconsin must carry a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL). Wisconsin has a classified licensing system for all drivers; if you carry a driver’s license, it’s most likely a Class D license, for the operation of cars, light trucks, and mopeds.

However, if you wanted to operate a CMV, you’d need to carry a license in Classes A through C, depending on the weight and type of cargo.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Licensing Requirements

Due to the danger associated with hauling significant weights, it’s essential that all CMV divers are appropriately trained and licensed.

To obtain a CDL, drivers must do the following:

  • Pass a written knowledge test: Anyone who’s driven a moving truck can testify that operating a large, heavy vehicle is much different than a passenger vehicle. CMVs often operate in significantly different ways, and therefore demand that drivers possess the right knowledge to drive and operate safely.
  • Pass a road skills test: Handling a great big rig is tough work, and just like when you got your license, drivers have to demonstrate that they’re capable of safely driving such a vehicle.
  • Undergo a physical examination: The DOT requires all CDL holders to undergo a physical examination, assessing their vision, hearing, and blood pressure. There is also typically a urinalysis involved to test for diabetes.

Who is Responsible for A Commercial Motor Vehicle Crash?

Crashes involving commercial vehicle operators can be tragic, and determining who’s at fault is essential for getting you the compensation you deserve.

Operator Liabilities and Negligence

Operators could be held legally liable for injuries and damages that result from a crash involving their CMV. Illegal parking, distracted driving, or failing to properly maintain their vehicle could lead to crashes and serious, life-altering injuries.

Employer Liabilities/Negligence in Hiring

Drivers who drive under the influence or use illegal substances are typically released from their positions immediately, but with the trucking industry facing a talent shortage, many employers may be incentivized to make a tragic decision and look the other way.

If an employer fails to report a driver’s violation and remove them from the road, employs someone who’s unqualified to drive a CMV, or fails to provide adequate training for their drivers, they could potentially be held liable for damages resulting from the driver’s crash as well.

How Milwaukee Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You

Being in a crash with a CMV can have devastating impacts on you and your family. It could disrupt your daily life and make you unable to work for the duration of your recovery. However, crashes can be severe and could impact your livelihood and ability to support your family, and lead to permanent disabilities or even result in the death of a loved one.

To protect yourself and your family during the fallout of a truck accident, it’s crucial to turn to the guidance of experienced and dedicated lawyers who will personally handle your case. During such a stressful and traumatic time of your life, you shouldn’t have to deal with navigating the complex legal system, which can often span across state lines in the case of CMV crashes, or dealing with dubious insurance companies. Your primary focus should be on your recovery and your family.

Whether your lawyers are protecting you from insurance companies that are trying to trick you into settlements much lower than you deserve, or subpoenaing evidence to support your case, you should be able to trust that they’re doing the work that will get your life back on track.

Trust Pasternak & Zirgibel to get the Compensation You Deserve

When you call into a big-name law firm, you might be under the impression the top dog is going to be personally representing you, only to find out that your case and your livelihood are in the hands of someone vastly less experienced. This can lead to you ultimately recovering less than what you’re truly entitled to.

At Pasternak and Zirgibel, you can trust that your case will be personally handled by none other than two highly knowledgeable lawyers with a combined 50 years of experience. You’ll know how your case is progressing each step of the way and be fully informed about how each decision can impact your results.If you’ve been injured in a crash with a commercial motor vehicle, don’t hesitate; reach out to lawyers who care and will personally fight for your rights. For a free case evaluation, contact Frank Pasternak and Jeff Zirgibel today.