Commercial truck drivers who’ve been in vehicle accidents where injuries occurred know those accidents can be costly. Lost wages, hospital stays, surgeries and physical therapy can easily exceed $1 million.
Yet the current minimum liability insurance coverage for these crashes is only $750,000 – an amount that hasn’t changed in four decades. The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 required freight trucks to carry an insurance minimum of $750,000 per accident, regardless of the number of vehicles involved or the number of people injured. Today, that minimum is often not enough because it doesn’t reflect today’s inflation rate or rising medical costs.
An amendment to the INVEST in America Act would change that. Passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in June 2021, the bill would raise the minimum liability insurance of coverage for commercial trucks to $2 million. This Congressional action is long overdue.
Common Trucking Crash Causes
Driver error is the most common cause of truck accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), eighty-eight percent of truck-related crashes are due to mistakes made by the driver. Common errors are due to distracted or drunk driving, speeding, following too closely, blind spots and other factors.
Driver fatigue is a major contributor to many truck crashes. So that essential goods could be delivered quickly during the pandemic, a federal regulation that restricts the number of hours that drivers can be on the road (11 hours in a 14-hour period) was suspended. This raised valid safety concerns. Though statistics aren’t yet available, more accidents have likely occurred. More accidents lead to more insurance claims and higher jury awards.
Truck Accidents Tend to Be More Serious
Because the size and weight of commercial trucks are much greater than smaller vehicles, it stands to reason that the larger vehicle will prevail in an accident. Commercial trucks can totally demolish cars and SUVs and result in injuries that require significant compensation to treat and manage. Catastrophic injuries, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries are just a few of the serious injuries which can and do occur.
The proposed Congressional bill recognizes the outdated minimum and takes into account the reality that everything costs more. Fortunately, there’s something you can do to show your
support. Contact your elected officials to persuade them that more must be done to protect you and your loved ones from a devastating truck collision. The time to increase truck insurance minimums is NOW.
If you are involved in a truck accident, reach out to the lawyers at Smith LaCien LLP. They have extensive experience in representing plaintiffs in all kinds of truck accidents. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, visit www.smithlacien.com or call (312) 509-8900.