While there is rarely anything that can be called a trivial car accident, there are still some that are more severe than others. Among the worst are truck accidents. Many of these crashes end up causing severe or fatal injuries to the person or people in passenger cars.
Despite the high likelihood for serious injuries, lawmakers have let the minimum liability insurance coverage requirements for truckers stagnate over nearly four decades. Victims of truck accidents have seen their odds of a full recovery from insurance coverage shrink.
A new bill in Congress aims to change that.
The Importance of a Trucker’s Liability Insurance for Accident Victims
When a truck accident happens and the trucker was responsible, their liability insurance will step in to cover the costs of the victim’s injuries. Because they are often severe, those injuries can be extremely expensive.
One study found that 42% of the truck accident settlements between 2005 and 2011 – nearly half of them – were for more than $750,000.
When there is no liability insurance, or when there is not enough insurance coverage, victims have to resort to a potentially costly and time-consuming lawsuit to hold a trucker and their trucking company liable for their losses. If those parties do not have the means to pay for the victim’s losses, then the victim is out of luck.
The Current Law on a Trucker’s Minimum Liability Insurance Coverage
Federal law requires all truckers to carry at least $750,000 in liability insurance. That law is 49 C.F.R. § 387.9, which went into effect way back in 1980. Back then, three-quarters of a million dollars could buy the equivalent of nearly $5 million in medical care. Now, obviously, it can only buy $750,000.
To make matters even worse, the liability insurance requirement could be met with a single limit policy. Single limit policies spread the coverage over everyone who got hurt in the accident. This means if one person gets hurt by the trucker, they can depend on $750,000 in coverage, while if five people get hurt, they will have to split that $750,000.
When compared to accidents between regular passenger vehicles, truck accidents are far more likely to hurt multiple people.
Proposed Bill Would Finally Update Minimum Coverage
A bill proposed in the House of Representatives would change those minimum coverage laws. House Bill 3781 would adjust for the inflation in healthcare costs between 1980 and 2019. This would raise the minimum required liability coverage for truckers from $750,000 to $4,923,154. It would also automatically adjust the new minimum liability requirements every five years, using the rate of inflation in healthcare costs as a baseline.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph
Insurance coverage laws are not something that many people think about in their daily lives. However, if they get hit and hurt by a negligent driver, they can dictate whether the victim gets the compensation they need.
Hopefully H.B. 3781 will make it through a gridlocked Congress and help innocent accident victims.