The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates truck drivers and trucking companies in an effort to reduce motor vehicle collisions. Unfortunately, despite strict licensing rules and detailed safety requirements, truck accidents still occur frequently. Just this December, SC Now reported on a deadly crash in South Carolina allegedly caused by a trucker’s reckless driving.
When a truck driver or a trucking company causes a collision through its negligence, victims may recover compensation with the help of a Greenville auto injury attorney. Typically, the insurance provider for the trucking company ends up covering the majority of the plaintiff’s damages. In some cases, however, there is insufficient insurance coverage. The FMCSA is trying to change that by requiring higher minimum liability coverage.
FMCSA May Raise Insurance Minimums
Liability coverage compensates victims of truck accidents including people injured in collisions and those whose family members lose their lives in crashes.
Currently, most commercial motor vehicle carriers are required to buy at least $750,000 in liability coverage. Because truck crashes often cause such serious injury or result in fatalities, this minimum coverage may not be enough. An FMCSA report sent to Congress in April demonstrated that the costs for critical injuries frequently exceed $1 million.
The $750,000 minimum insurance coverage requirement has not changed since 1982 according to Fleet Owner. In the three plus decades since this minimum coverage limit was set, the rise in medical care expenditures has significantly exceeded the cost of inflation. The extent of victim losses from medical bills and wage losses alone can quickly exceed the $750,000 minimum coverage. In fact, JOC reported on a study conducted by the Trucking Alliance showing that almost half of settlements for truck accident claims exceeded the $750,000 minimum. A total of around 42 percent of claims settled for more than the minimum.
Many trucking companies already carry more than the $750,000 in mandated insurance coverage. Most shipper and broker contracts also require $1 million in coverage. The FMCSA rules, however, have not kept pace. Because there is no uniform rule requiring sufficient coverage, there is risk that accident victims could be left uncompensated because insurance coverage is too low.
The FMCSA is finally moving to act. The agency filed a notice of proposed rule making and is soliciting information about whether to raise coverage limits. The process is likely to move very slowly, since the FMCSA is only in the first phase of its lengthy process of passing new regulations. Until the agency acts, truck accident victims and those who lose loved ones in collisions remain at risk of incurring damages greater than the insurance coverage available. When this occurs, they can try to collect from the trucking company and driver provided there are sufficient assets available to pay an injury judgment.
Contact the South Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
More Blog Entries:
Bystanders Rush to Help After Charlotte Car Crash, Oct. 2, 2014, Winston-Salem Accident Lawyer Blog