Truck accidents and inadequate insurance coverage: Part II

Truck accidents and inadequate insurance coverage: Part II

In our last post, we began a discussion about the insurance coverage requirements for commercial trucking companies. Although this topic may initially seem rather dull to anyone outside the trucking industry, it is an issue that each of us should be concerned about. If someone you love were to be seriously injured or killed in a trucking accident, you'd want to be sure that the at-fault truck driver at least had enough insurance to cover important costs like medical care.

But how much insurance is "enough?" This is a matter of considerable debate. The current federal minimum that most trucking companies must carry is $750,000. Trucking companies argue that the current minimum is adequate, but many legal professionals and victim advocates disagree. Both sides have been weighing in on a proposal by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to raise required minimums.

One group advocating for the raise is the Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. The trial lawyers in this group specialize and/or have extensive experience in truck accident litigation. They understand that for truly devastating truck accidents, $750,000 is simply not enough coverage.

A representative of the TLG notes that there are about 4,000 truck accident fatalities each year on U.S. roads, and most of those claims will exceed $750,000. He also points out that the minimums were set in the early 1980s, when the cost of medical care was much lower than it is currently. According to government data on inflation in the costs of health care, medical care that would have cost $750,000 in 1980 would likely cost $4.8 million today.

If a truck driver causes a devastating accident but has only $750,000 in insurance coverage, it doesn't change the fact that victims may require more than half a billion of dollars in compensation. If the insurance company pays only what the policy requires and the trucking company cannot make up the difference, victims are left with inadequate compensation and few options.

Insurance is meant to provide financial support if and when the worst happens. And with truck accidents, the worst happens more often than people realize. Why shouldn't trucking companies be required to have insurance policies consistent with the devastation caused by their vehicles and their drivers?

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

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