Florida Mediator Asks: Are You Licensed to Haul?

As a litigator, Chuck Mancuso was a longtime practitioner in the area of equine law. He now brings that experience to his role as a mediator. To schedule a mediation with Chuck, please visit our online scheduling page or call his case manager, Cathy McCleary, at 800-863-1462.

Florida mediator Chuck Mancuso Mediation Counsel Chuck Mancuso

We see them at every horse show we attend. Horse trailers by the hundreds; every size imaginable is being used today, from singles to converted tractor trailers. Many of those in the horse industry routinely take their own horses in their own trailers throughout their own state and across state lines.

Recently, we've heard of horrific trailer accidents involving the loss of human and equine life. Seven-figure losses easily accumulate in these devastating accidents. Unfortunately, one issue becomes quickly apparent that drastically affects liability, insurance coverage and recovery. The trailer's operator licensure can make or break a claim or a defense.

Congress passed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Act on April 1, 1992. Florida adopted this act within chapter 322 of the Florida Statutes. Although the laws were initially passed to unify the various state laws for interstate hauling, the laws are broad enough to include most operators of motor vehicles that haul any type of trailer. That is where the effect on the horse industry comes into play.

In Florida, the act is identified as the Uniform Classified Commercial Drivers License Act. To the extent the Act conflicts with general drivers licensing provisions, the Act will prevail. When the Act is silent on an issue, general drivers licensing provisions will apply. The Commercial Drivers License Classification requirements are broken down into four separate classifications. The four separate classes are A, B, C and D. Once a truck and/or trailer combo hits 8,000 pounds, the operator falls out of the class E license category that most drivers possess and falls into one of the four various commercial classifications based on weight and size.

In addition meeting the threshold to possess a commercial license there may be additional requirements that fall under the Act. Depending on the class there may be separate testing, background checks, medical examinations and log book requirements. Criminal liabilities for violating the Act range from nonmoving traffic citations to state and federal felony charges and fines in excess of $5,000.00.

Examine the Act and the exceptions, requirements, penalties, rights and obligations. Failure to comply can be detrimental to coverage and beneficial to liability allegations. The first question you ask your horse-enthusiast client or the opposing party should be: “Are You Licensed to Haul?”

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