As with any type of motor vehicle, large commercial trucks must comply with financial responsibility laws by carrying adequate insurance coverage in the event of an accident. The initial step in a truck accident case is to file a claim with the insurance companies of the liable parties. If an insurance company agrees to pay you a favorable settlement that covers your losses, you will not have to pursue a legal claim in civil court to recover.
Often, there may be multiple policies under which you may file a claim, so it is important to have an attorney review your case who can identify all possible insurance coverage from which you may recover.
FMCSA Insurance Requirements
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a regulation that requires that commercial carriers have certain levels of insurance coverage so that injured motorists can be adequately compensated if an accident occurs. Such coverage requirements can be met all under one single policy, by layering different liability coverage policies, through self-insurance, or with bonds. The following are some of the different financial responsibility requirements for commercial vehicles:
- $750,000 = Trucks over 10,000 that do not transport hazardous materials (HAZMAT);
- $1,000,000 = Trucks over 10,000 that carry hazardous materials, waste, or oil;
- $5,000,000 = Tanker trucks with the capacity to carry more than 3,500 gallons.
If your losses related to your truck accident injuries exceed the insurance policy limits of the liable trucking company, you may have to file a legal claim to seek the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Public Protection Endorsements
To protect the public in the event of a commercial truck accident, all commercial carriers must further have their insurance policies specifically endorsed for public liability under the Motor Carrier Safety Act. While there are many forms of public protection endorsement, the most common is called the MCS-90 endorsement. This endorsement prevents insurance companies from attempting to raise certain legal defenses that may be valid in other types of car accident claims.
Multiple Policies may Play a Role
Because there are multiple parties that may be liable in a truck accident case, such as the truck driver and the trucking company, there may be multiple insurance companies with which you may make a claim. Coordinating communications with several different insurance companies can be daunting, especially if one or more insurers may be trying to avoid liability. It can also be difficult to know whether or not you should accept a settlement offer from one or more insurance companies.
Early settlement offers are often extremely low and inadequate to cover all of your injury-related losses. However, because calculating the true value of your claim can be complex, it can be difficult to recognize a fair offer from an unfavorable offer. If you make the mistake of accepting an insurance settlement that is too low, you will lose the right to seek any more compensation in regard to your injuries and will waive your right to file a personal injury claim against the liable parties. For this reason, it is critical to have an experienced truck accident lawyer involved in your case from the very start and overseeing all of your negotiations and communications with truck insurance companies.