In Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth and surrounding areas, truckers and other motorists share the road every day. In some cases, deadly accidents or serious collisions occur when a truck driver is negligent. The large size of commercial trucks (which may weigh up to 80,000 pounds) means that the impact of a truck crash is likely to cause significant damage to a passenger vehicle and serious or fatal injury to occupants. Victims who are harmed in a collision with a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle may pursue a damage claim for compensation with the help of a truck accident attorney.
Most victims of truck accidents sue the trucking company that employs the truck driver, typically because the trucking company has more money to pay for losses. Trucking companies are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to purchase liability insurance to cover the losses of those who are harmed when accidents happen. The FMCSA sets minimum coverage limits, but these limits are far too low and victims are at risk of not getting full compensation.
The FMCSA Should Act to Increase Insurance Coverage Requirements
Fleet Owner reports that trucking companies are currently required to buy at least $750,000 in liability insurance coverage if they are general carriers. If the trucking company is responsible for the transport of hazardous materials, then the trucking company must buy a larger policy. Depending upon the types of HAZMAT items being transported, the company may be required to buy between $1 million and $5 million worth of liability coverage under these circumstances.
This may seem like a lot of money, but not considering the extent of injury often associated with a trucking collision, it is often nowhere near enough to pay for damages. It is also important to realize that these limits were set back in 1985 and have not increased since that time. They have not kept pace with either inflation or with rising costs (especially the rising costs of medical care). Victims of truck accidents thus may find themselves in a situation where the coverage limits are too low to fully compensate them for losses. In fact, a study of 9,000 crashes conducted by the American Trucking Alliance revealed that 42 percent of victims received compensation in an amount exceeding the FMCSA's minimum required coverage.
Some trucking companies know that the minimum limits are not sufficient, and thus voluntarily purchase more comprehensive liability policies with higher limits. If a company does not make this choice, however, then the insurance won't pay more no matter how much the victim is awarded. If the trucking company has assets, the victim can try to recover from the company. If the company doesn't have assets, the victim may not get the money he or she needs and deserves as a result of a personal injury or wrongful death settlement, absent a showing of bad faith on the part of the insurance company or other extenuating circumstances.
The FMCSA needs to raise the limits. The agency seems to realize this and is currently asking for public comments on an increase in minimum coverage requirements. The agency has not actually proposed an increase, however, and the process of actually making a change is likely to be very slow. Meanwhile, delays in raising the limits could have very real consequences for those hurt in truck accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured contact Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. at 800-994-1966 or visit http://www.cobywootenlaw.com. Serving Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, TX and truck accident victims nationwide.