Role of insurance in big-rig accidents
How insurance coverage differs in car crashes and accidents involving semi-trucks
Because costs associated with big-rig accidents can be quite large, insurance companies have a vested interest to minimize the liability of their trucking company clients. Because of this, be sure to hire truck accident attorneys with extensive experience building cases in the trucking industry. Call 800-777-0028 to discover how our skilled truck injury accident lawyers can help you.
As a car driver, you are required a minimum amount of auto insurance in order to drive. However, the insurance requirements for automobiles are minimal compared to the insurance requirements for semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles. This is because big-rig accidents can cause much more damage than crashes involving two cars. Also, commercial vehicles are part of a regulated industry and the added insurance not only protects the trucking companies but also the public.
There are a number of specific insurance issues that can arise in commercial vehicle cases.
Minimum financial responsibility for trucking companies
First, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) impose certain minimum financial responsibility requirements on motor carriers. Interstate trucking companies are required to maintain at least $750,000 in liability coverage, unless the carrier carries hazardous materials in which case the limits are higher. Intrastate motor carriers are governed by the state in which they operate and, often, the minimum limits of coverage are considerably higher than those required for cars.
Separate ownership of tractor and trailer
Second, in tractor-trailer cases, where the tractor and trailer are not owned by the same company, there is often separate coverage on the trailer that acts as secondary coverage to the tractor. Where this occurs, the coverage may stack.
Bobtail coverage for tractor
Third, when a tractor is owned by an owner/operator and it is being driven without a trailer or not under dispatch, bobtail coverage, which is often a separate policy altogether, can come into play.
Required endorsements to protect public
Finally, insurance policies written for motor carriers are required by law to include what is known as an MCS-90 endorsement. This endorsement makes the insurer responsible for the public. It is designed to ensure that adequate levels of insurance exist in the event that someone is hurt or killed in as a result of a truck collision.
As a practical rule, the effect of the MCS-90 endorsement is that it prevents insurers from raising what would otherwise be valid coverage defenses to a policy. So, for instance, if a particular vehicle or driver is not listed in the policy, the insurance company cannot avoid proving coverage. Likewise, the endorsement states that:
It is understood and agreed that no condition, provision, stipulation or limitation contained in the policy, this endorsement, or any other endorsement thereon, or violation thereof, shall relieve the company from liability or from the payment of any final judgment, within the limits of liability herein described, irrespective of the financial condition, insolvency or bankruptcy of the insured.
Insurance companies are representing trucking companies – Who’s representing you?
With the extended coverage required of trucking companies and the potential for insurance companies to lose money when there is a big-rig accident, the insurers have a large, quick-responding team of attorneys to protect the commercial drivers and trucking companies from lawsuits.
If you have suffered from a big-rig accident, you need someone who can stand up to the insurance company’s pack of lawyers. Our trucking accident attorneys have valuable experience fighting – and beating – the insurance companies.
Give yourself a level playing field. Call 800-777-0028 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free no-obligation initial consultation with our truck accident attorneys.