Truck accidents and inadequate insurance coverage: Part I

Truck accidents and inadequate insurance coverage: Part I

Most people would agree that auto insurance is a crucial protection against the financial devastation of a motor vehicle accident. Auto insurance is so important, in fact, that nearly every state in America has laws requiring drivers to be insured. The logic is simple: Even if you're willing to gamble with your own safety, you cannot gamble with the safety of other drivers.

Insurance policy details depend on what kind of vehicle you drive and for what purpose, but it stands to reason that larger vehicles driven for commercial purposes should carry the most generous policies. Unfortunately, the required insurance coverage for trucking companies may be inadequate to compensate victims of the most serious trucking accidents.

Under current federal law, trucking companies (or independent truck owners/operators) must carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage. That minimum was set way back in 1980 and didn't go into effect until about 1985. Although it may have been appropriate for the time, it has not gone up in the last 30 years, even as the price of health care has skyrocketed.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation tasked with regulating interstate trucking. A few months ago, the FMCSA announced that it is considering raising the minimum insurance coverage that truck companies/drivers must carry. The agency asked for public comments, and as expected, the issue has already proven to be deeply divisive.

Trucking companies argue that higher insurance rates will make it more difficult to turn a profit and may even drive some companies out of business. Personal injury attorneys and others knowledgeable about the costs of truck accidents argue that $750,000 is often not enough to compensate victims in the most severe cases.

Please check back as we continue this discussion in our next post.

Source: Cleveland.com, " Trial lawyers vs. truckers: a feud over trucks, crashes, insurance and devastation," Stephen Koff, March 9, 2015

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