Commercial Vehicle Accidents vs. Car Accidents

Commercial Vehicle Accidents vs. Car Accidents Facts

Getting into any kind of accident is painful and upsetting. The simplest of injuries can cost thousands of dollars. However, a person’s injuries may be considerably more severe if they are struck by a commercial vehicle.

There are different laws pertaining to accidents involving commercial vehicles to those involving personal vehicles, especially in a no-fault insurance state like Kansas. However, it can help to understand a few of the differences between the two kinds of accidents.

What defines a commercial vehicle?

A commercial vehicle is one that is used for business.  It may transport products, or it may carry people from place to place like a bus. Most vehicles used for work are considered commercial.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has certain criteria for what can be considered a commercial vehicle. 

A vehicle that carries eight or more people is considered commercial if that vehicle is transporting people in exchange for compensation. If a vehicle is used for transporting fifteen people or more, it is considered commercial, even if no money changes hands. 

A vehicle will also be considered commercial if it has a gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more. If a vehicle is used to transport a significant amount of hazardous materials, it may also be considered commercial. 

Does a commercial vehicle have to be owned by a business?

A commercial vehicle may be owned by either an individual or a business. If you have been hit by a commercial vehicle, you will be able to sue the driver, the company, or both. 

Your Injuries Are Likely to be More Severe

Commercial vehicles are heavier than ordinary cars, and therefore, the injuries from a crash with one are likely to be more severe. Not only will your injuries be greater, but the damage to your vehicle will be much more severe. 

Whiplash and concussions are often a result of car accidents with vehicles of all different sizes. When a person has a collision with a commercial vehicle, the impact can cause paralysis, loss of limbs, loss of bodily function, and even death.

Insurance Laws in Kansas

There are two different kinds of insurance rules in the United States: fault and no-fault. In a fault state, the insurance company of the negligent driver will pay for all accident-related bills. 

In a no-fault state, a person’s own insurance company will pay for their accident-related bills, no matter who is at fault. Kansas is a no-fault state. However, there are a few exceptions to no-fault laws, especially when a commercial vehicle is involved.

In the state of Kansas, the driver of a personal vehicle is required to carry personal injury protection insurance. A driver must carry:

  •  $4,500 for medical expenses per person
  •  $900 for each month of income loss for one year
  • $25 a day for at-home services
  • $4,500 for rehabilitation expenses per person 
  • $2,000 for funeral expenses per person 

Despite Kansas being a no-fault state, a driver must also carry liability insurance; they must have bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person and bodily injury coverage of $50,000 per accident.

In the case of an accident with a commercial vehicle, there’s a good chance that your medical expenses will exceed the damages for which you are covered. If your injuries exceed the amount of personal injury protection, you may be able to get the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay for your bills. 

Commercial Vehicle Insurance Requirements

According to, a commercial driver is expected to carry a much larger insurance policy than a person would for operating their own vehicle. 

The state of Kansas has certain requirements for liability insurance. All commercial drivers must carry a minimum of  $3,000 cargo insurance, which can increase depending on the cargo they are carrying. Here are a few examples.

  • Hazmat: $5,000,000
  • Household goods:  $300,000
  • General Freight: $750,000
  • Oil Transportation: $1,000,000

If a commercial vehicle never leaves the Sunflower State, it will only have to comply with the state insurance requirements. However, if it transports cargo outside of the state, it will also have to meet Federal insurance requirements.

The FMCSA has various requirements for commercial insurance. The exact amount of insurance a company must carry will depend on what they are carrying and the weight of their vehicle. 

Here are a few basic examples of the types of insurance a commercial driver is required to carry.

  • Motor carriers and freight forwarders must carry $750,000 to $5,000,000 of insurance, depending on the type of cargo they are transporting. 
  • Vehicles weighing under 10,001 lbs that are carrying non-hazardous material must carry at least $3,000 worth of liability insurance.
  • A passenger vehicle carrying 15 or fewer passengers will be required to carry between $5,000,000 and $1,500,000 of insurance.

It can be very difficult to get compensation for pain and suffering in any state that has a no-fault rule. However, you may be able to seek compensation for pain and suffering if the accident results in any of these injuries.

  • Fracture of a weight-bearing bone.
  • Permanent loss of body function.
  • Compound, compressed, or displaced fracture of any bone.
  • Permanent disfigurement.

A Commercial Driver Must Meet More Requirements

A commercial driver must have a commercial driver’s license.  If a person is only going to drive in Kansas, they must be at least 18 years old to drive a commercial vehicle. If they are going to drive outside of the state, they must be at least 21.

A Kansas commercial driver must be able to prove citizenship or legal residency in the United States. They must also pass a physical examination to make sure their hearing and eyesight are good enough to drive a commercial vehicle.

A commercial truck must pass certain inspections annually. They must pass strict emission standards and follow certain routes. A driver can operate a vehicle for 11 hours a shift, but they must take a break of at least half an hour for every eight hours they drive. 

Commercial Vehicles Cause More Severe Injuries

If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, your injuries are likely to be very severe. 

It is important to hire a personal injury attorney who will ensure that you get the amount of money you need to get better.

 A company that owns trucks is likely to have a legal department staff with attorneys whose job it is to keep settlements as low as possible. They will also have an insurance company staffed with adjusters whose job it is to do the same. 

A trained personal injury attorney will have experience in negotiating with insurance companies as well as corporate attorneys. They will have an extensive understanding of the law and know what arguments to use to get you the money you deserve.

In the unfortunate event that you lose a loved one to a commercial vehicle accident, they will be able to represent you in a wrongful death case.

Colliding with a commercial vehicle can be devastating. A trained attorney can help put you on the road to recovery.

About the Author Leroy

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