Truck Accident Lawyer Dictionary



American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators

Private corporation that provides information and develops model programs in motor vehicle administration, police traffic services, and highway safety.


Antilock brake system.


Abbreviation for alcohol concentration.  Can be a factor in trucking accidents that result in personal injury trucking accidents.


An occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle operating on a highway in interstate or intrastate commerce which results in a fatality; bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; or one or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident, requiring the motor vehicles to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle.

Adverse driving conditions

means snow, sleet, fog, other adverse weather conditions, a highway covered with snow or ice, or unusual road and traffic conditions, none of which were apparent on the basis of information known to the person dispatching the run at the time it was begun.

Agricultural commodity

Means any agricultural commodity, nonprocessed food, feed, fiber, or livestock (including livestock as defined in sec. 602 of the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act of 1988 [7 U.S.C. 1471] and insects).

Alcohol concentration “AC” or “BAC”

The concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood or breath. When expressed as a percentage it means grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Antilock brake system

Abbreviated “ABS” this is a system including sensors, computers, and other materials that modulate braking force if wheels lock up during breaking.  Intended to help drivers retain control during heavy braking especially in icy and rainy conditions, but ABS system failures have caused numerous serious personal injury accidents resulting in truck accident lawsuits.

Attorney in fact

A person authorized to act on another’s behalf, but not necessarily a licensed lawyer.  This is someone who has power of attorney.

Auto carrier

A specialized trailer or 18-wheeler used for hauling cars and trucks.

Automatic on-board recording device

Means an electric, electronic, electromechanical, or mechanical device capable of recording driver’s duty status information accurately and automatically as required by § 395.15. The device must be integrally synchronized with specific operations of the commercial motor vehicle in which it is installed. At a minimum, the device must record engine use, road speed, miles driven, the date, and time of day.


The shaft that wheels revolve around.


When a trucker’s load returns him or her back to the driver’s home base or the motor carrier’s home base.

In the experience of our Houston truck accident lawyers, backhaul loads are sometimes the most dangerous, as some truck drivers have a tendency to be less vigilant near their home base.  Catastrophic personal injuries and wrongful death too often result.

Base jurisdiction

The base jurisdiction is the state where the trucker or trucking company has their established business office.


Abbreviation for “bumper and back of cab,” the distance from a truck or commercial vehicle’s front bumper and the back of its cab.

Bedbugger or bed bugger

A moving van or truck that moves or hauls furniture.

Belly dump

Also known as a bottom dump, a belly dump is a trailer that unloads through its underside or “belly.”  These trailers are often used to haul bulk materials such as gravel, coal, sand, and grain.

Bill of lading

The document that describes the contents of a trucking shipment where the trucker/carrier acknowledges receiving the freight.


Binder is slang for brakes, but is also used to refer to tensioned chains used to hold a load in place.


Wood or material used for “blocking” to prevent loads from moving around in rail, vessel, or truck shipments.

Bodily injury

Means injury to the body, sickness, or disease including death resulting from any of these.

Bogie truck

A removable set of axles and wheels on a truck trailer.

Booster axle

An axle with a hydraulic cylinder suspension system that can be actuated to carry a portion of the load that would otherwise be supported by another, adjacent axle or axles.

Bottom dump

Also known as a belly dump, this is when a trailer that unloads through its underside or “belly.”  These trailers are often used to haul bulk materials such as gravel, coal, sand, and grain.


A van trailer.

Brake chamber

An air chamber converts air pressure force into mechanical force to engage the brake shoes.

Bulk cargo

Material in liquid or granular form suck as oil, gran, gravel, or coal.

Bumper and back of cab

The distance from a truck, commercial vehicle, or 18 wheeler’s front bumper and the back of its cab.


Any motor vehicle designed, constructed, and/or used for the transportation of passengers, including taxicabs.

Our Texas bus accident lawyers handle serious personal injury and wrongful death cases arising from bus accidents around the country.

Business district

The territory contiguous to and including a highway when within any 600 feet along such highway there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes, including but not limited to hotels, banks, or office buildings which occupy at least 300 feet of frontage on one side or 300 feet collectively on both sides of the highway.


The driver compartment in an 18-wheeler.


Specified transportation point-to-point in the same country by a carrier or transport operator in another country.


A truck or 18-wheeler that has a floor that curves downward at the back of the vehicle.


A shaft with cams attached to it in a combustion engine of a commercial vehicle or 18-wheeler.


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Safety software used to monitor compliance by truckers and trucking companies.

Car dumper

Used to transfer bulk materials from cars into vessel cargo areas or from open-top cars into other open-top cars.


Abbreviation for commercial driver’s license.

Charter transportation of passengers

Transportation, using a bus, of a group of persons who pursuant to a common purpose, under a single contract, at a fixed charge for the motor vehicle, have acquired the exclusive use of the motor vehicle to travel together under an itinerary either specified in advance or modified after having left the place of origin.


The frame of a truck or 18-wheeler including the axle, wheels, and engine parts.


A block placed on both sides of the wheels of an 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle to keep it from moving or rolling away.

Class I Motor Carrier

A motor carrier that has annual revenues of more than $5 million.

Class II Motor Carrier

Common or contract motor carrier that has annual revenue of $1 million – $5 million.

Class III Motor Carrier

A motor carrier that has annual revenues of more than $1 million.

Commercial driver’s license

Also known as a “CDL,” a commercial driver’s license authorizes a trucker or other commercial vehicle driver to operate commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, and other commercial vehicles over 26,000 pounds, hazardous materials (“hazmat”) transportation, and buses that carry more than 16 people.

Commercial motor vehicle

Any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.

Common carrier

What is a common carrier?  A common carrier is any carrier that regularly engages in interstate transportation of property or people and whose services are available for hire to the general public.

Common carriers often owe special legal duties.  If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident or a commercial motor vehicle accident, call our Houston truck injury lawyers to discuss your legal rights.

Compliance review

A motor carrier site inspection that may include trucker in-service hours, maintenance records, inspection records, insurance, accident records, and other safety records.

Many times truckers and trucking companies that cause personal injury accidents and wrongful deaths have failed or would have failed a compliance review.  If you or a loved one has been involved in an 18-wheeler or trucking accident, please call our Houston truck accident lawyers to learn more.


The party that receives shipped goods from the party that shipped them.


The party that ships goods.


A rectangular box used to ship goods by ship, railway, or truck.  Often used with a flatbed tractor-trailer or cargo vessel.

Contract carrier

An interstate trucking company or other carrier that is under contract with a limited number of customers.


An unvacated adjudication of guilt, or a determination that a person has violated or failed to comply with the law in a court of original jurisdiction or by an authorized administrative tribunal, an unvacated forfeiture of bail or collateral deposited to secure the person’s appearance in court, a plea of guilty or nolo contendere accepted by the court, the payment of a fine or court cost, or violation of a condition of release without bail, regardless of whether or not the penalty is rebated, suspended, or probated.

Covered farm vehicle

A straight truck or articulated vehicle registered in a State with a license plate or other designation issued by the State of registration that allows law enforcement officials to identify it as a farm vehicle; operated by the owner or operator of a farm or ranch, or an employee or family member of a an owner or operator of a farm or ranch; used to transport agricultural commodities, livestock, machinery or supplies to or from a farm or ranch; and not used in for-hire motor carrier operations.

Direct assistance

Transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as, electricity, medical care, sewer, water, telecommunications, and telecommunication transmissions or essential supplies such as, food and fuel. It does not include transportation related to long-term rehabilitation of damaged physical infrastructure or routine commercial deliveries after the initial threat to life and property has passed.

Direct compensation

Payment made to the motor carrier by the passengers or a person acting on behalf of the passengers for the transportation services provided, and not included in a total package charge or other assessment for highway transportation services.

Disabling damage

Damage which precludes departure of a motor vehicle from the scene of the accident in its usual manner in daylight after simple repairs.  For Federal Motor Carrier Act purposes, it includes damage to motor vehicles that could have been driven, but would have been further damaged if so driven.

Our Houston truck accident lawyers handle cases involving disabling damage to vehicles when that damage results in serious personal injury or death.

Drive axle

Axle with a powered wheel.

Driveaway-towaway operation

An operation in which an empty or unladen motor vehicle with one or more sets of wheels on the surface of the roadway is being transported between vehicle manufacturer’s facilities; between a vehicle manufacturer and a dealership or purchaser; between a dealership, or other entity selling or leasing the vehicle, and a purchaser or lessee; to a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for the repair of disabling damage following a crash; to a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for repairs associated with the failure of a vehicle component or system; or by means of a saddle-mount or tow-bar.


Any person who operates any commercial motor vehicle.


Means any employee who is employed solely as such by a private carrier of property by commercial motor vehicle, who is engaged both in selling goods, services, or the use of goods, and in delivering by commercial motor vehicle the goods sold or provided or upon which the services are performed, who does so entirely within a radius of 100 miles of the point at which he/she reports for duty, who devotes not more than 50 percent of his/her hours on duty to driving time. The term selling goods for purposes of this section shall include in all cases solicitation or obtaining of reorders or new accounts, and may also include other selling or merchandising activities designed to retain the customer or to increase the sale of goods or services, in addition to solicitation or obtaining of reorders or new accounts.

Driving time

Means all time spent at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation.

Eight consecutive days

Means the period of 8 consecutive days beginning on any day at the time designated by the motor carrier for a 24-hour period.


Any individual, other than an employer, who is employed by an employer and who in the course of his or her employment directly affects commercial motor vehicle safety. Such term includes a driver of a commercial motor vehicle (including an independent contractor while in the course of operating a commercial motor vehicle), a mechanic, and a freight handler. Such term does not include an employee of the United States, any State, any political subdivision of a State, or any agency established under a compact between States and approved by the Congress of the United States who is acting within the course of such employment.


Any person engaged in a business affecting interstate commerce who owns or leases a commercial motor vehicle in connection with that business, or assigns employees to operate it, but such terms does not include the United States, any State, any political subdivision of a State, or an agency established under a compact between States approved by the Congress of the United States.

Exempt motor carrier

A person engaged in transportation exempt from economic regulation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) under 49 U.S.C. 13506. “Exempt motor carriers” are subject to the federal motor carrier act safety regulations.

Farm supplies for agricultural purposes means

Products directly related to the growing or harvesting of agricultural commodities during the planting and harvesting seasons within each State, as determined by the State, and livestock feed at any time of the year.


Any injury which results in the death of a person at the time of the motor vehicle accident or within 30 days of the accident.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator means the chief executive of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an agency within the Department of Transportation.

For-hire motor carrier

A person engaged in the transportation of goods or passengers for compensation.

Front axle

The steer axle.

Full trailer

Any motor vehicle other than a pole trailer which is designed to be drawn by another motor vehicle and so constructed that no part of its weight, except for the towing device, rests upon the self-propelled towing motor vehicle. A semitrailer equipped with an auxiliary front axle (converter dolly) shall be considered a full trailer.


Abbreviation for gross combination weight rating

Gross combination weight rating (GCWR)

The greater of a value specified by the manufacturer of the power unit, if such value is displayed on the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) certification label required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or the sum of the gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWRs) or the gross vehicle weights (GVWs) of the power unit and the towed unit(s), or any combination thereof, that produces the highest value. Exception: The GCWR of the power unit will not be used to define a commercial motor vehicle when the power unit is not towing another vehicle.

Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)

The value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a single motor vehicle.


Abbreviation for gross vehicle weight rating.

Hazardous material

A substance or material which has been determined by the Secretary of Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and which has been so designated.

Hazardous substance

A material, and its mixtures or solutions, that is for transportation in one package, or in one transport motor vehicle if not packaged, and when the quantity of the material therein equals or exceeds the reportable quantity (RQ).

Hazardous waste

Any material that is subject to the hazardous waste manifest requirements of the EPA specified in 40 CFR part 262 or would be subject to these requirements absent an interim authorization to a State under 40 CFR part 123, subpart F.


Any road, street, or way, whether on public o private property, open to public travel. “Open to public travel” for FMCA purposes means that the road section is available, except during scheduled periods, extreme weather or emergency conditions, passable by four-wheel standard passenger cars, and open to the general public for use without restrictive gates, prohibitive signs, or regulation other than restrictions based on size, weight, or class of registration. Toll plazas of public toll roads are not considered restrictive gates.

The personal injury lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard handle serious highway accident cases around the country involving catastrophic personal injurriesand wrongful deaths.


The act of providing intermodal equipment to a motor carrier pursuant to an intermodal equipment interchange agreement for the purpose of transporting the equipment for loading or unloading by any person or repositioning the equipment for the benefit of the equipment provider, but it does not include the leasing of equipment to a motor carrier for primary use in the motor carrier’s freight hauling operations.

Intermodal equipment

Trailing equipment that is used in the intermodal transportation of containers over public highways in interstate commerce, including trailers and chassis.

Intermodal equipment interchange agreement

The Uniform Intermodal Interchange and Facilities Access Agreement (UIIFA) or any other written document executed by an intermodal equipment provider or its agent and a motor carrier or its agent, the primary purpose of which is to establish the responsibilities and liabilities of both parties with respect to the interchange of the intermodal equipment.

Intermodal equipment provider

Any person that interchanges intermodal equipment with a motor carrier pursuant to a written interchange agreement or has a contractual responsibility for the maintenance of the intermodal equipment.

Interstate commerce

Trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the United States); between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States; or between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.

Intrastate commerce

Any trade, traffic, or transportation in any State which is not described in the term “interstate commerce.”

Medical examiner

For FMCA purposes, for medical examinations conducted before May 21, 2014, a person who is licensed, certified, and/or registered, in accordance with applicable State laws and regulations, to perform physical examinations. The term includes but is not limited to, doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, and doctors of chiropractic; for FMA purposes for medical examinations conducted on and after May 21, 2014, an individual certified by FMCSA and listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners in accordance with subpart D of this part.

Motor vehicle

Any vehicle, machine, tractor, trailer, or semitrailer propelled or drawn by mechanical power and used upon the highways in the transportation of passengers or property, or any combination thereof determined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but does not include any vehicle, locomotive, or car operated exclusively on a rail or rails, or a trolley bus operated by electric power derived from a fixed overhead wire, furnishing local passenger transportation similar to street-railway service.

Motor vehicle record

The report of the driving status and history of a driver generated from the driver record, provided to users, such as, drivers or employers, and subject to the provisions of the Driver Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721-2725.

Operating authority

The registration required by 49 U.S.C. 13902, 49 CFR part 365, 49 CFR part 368, and 49 CFR 392.9a.

Pole trailer

Any motor vehicle which is designed to be drawn by another motor vehicle and attached to the towing motor vehicle by means of a “reach” or “pole,” or by being “boomed” or otherwise secured to the towing motor vehicle, for transporting long or irregularly shaped loads such as poles, pipes, or structural members, which generally are capable of sustaining themselves as beams between the supporting connections.

Private motor carrier of passengers

For business private motor carrier engaged in the interstate transportation of passengers which is provided in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise and is not available to the public at large.  For nonbusiness, a private motor carrier involved in the interstate transportation of passengers that does not otherwise meet the definition of a private motor carrier of passengers (business).

Pusher axle

Unpowered axles that typically go ahead of drive axles.

Rear axles

The rearward axle – can be a pusher, drive, or tag axle.

Regional Director of Motor Carriers

The Field Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, for a given geographical area of the United States.

School bus operation

The use of a school bus to transport only school children and/or school personnel from home to school and from school to home.


Any motor vehicle, other than a pole trailer, which is designed to be drawn by another motor vehicle and is constructed so that some part of its weight rests upon the self-propelled towing motor vehicle.

Semitrailers and 18-wheelers cause thousands of personal injuries every year.  If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious 18-wheeler accident, our Houston based accident lawyers can help.

Sport utility vehicle

Also known as an “SUV”, a sport utility vehicle is a rugged vehicle that has a truck chassis and typically four-wheel drive.

Numerous SUVs including the Ford Explorer have caused personal injuries and wrongful deaths because of dangerous product defects.

If you or a loved one has suffered a permanently disabling injury or wrongful death in a truck accident, contact our Houston injury lawyers now to discuss your legal rights.


A driver at a terminal yard who backs trucks into a dock.


Abbreviation for sport utility vehicle.

Tag axle

Unpowered axle that is behind a drive axle.


Manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device.

For Federal Motor Carrier Act purpose, texting includes, but is not limited to, short message service, emailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication using a mobile telephone, or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry, for present or future communication.


Any self-propelled commercial motor vehicle except a truck tractor, designed and/or used for the transportation of property.

The Houston truck accident lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard help truck accident victims nationwide who have been injured or whose family members have suffered serious personal injury or wrongful death.

Truck tractor

A self-propelled commercial motor vehicle designed and/or used primarily for drawing other vehicles.

Truck Trailer

For Federal Motor Carrier Act Purposes, includes full trailers, pole trailers, and semitrailers.

Use of a hand-held mobile telephone

Using at least one hand to hold a mobile telephone to conduct a voice communication; dialing or answering a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button, or reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt that is installed and adjusted in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.

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