What if Your Injuries Exceed a Truck Driver’s Insurance Coverage?
There is no doubt about it—injuries and financial losses associated with truck accidents tend to be much more severe than in collisions involving two passenger vehicles. Truck crash damages can easily total in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So what happens when your injuries exceed a truck driver’s insurance coverage? Our team of truck accident attorneys in Boise take a look at current federal insurance requirements, what they cover, and what your legal options are if your damages exceed them.
Federal Trucking Insurance Requirements
The trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). FMCSA imposes a wide variety of requirements on motor carriers and truck drivers alike, including driver fitness, pre- and post-trip inspections, and rules for parking.
FMCSA also requires motor carriers to maintain certain public liability insurance minimums. These insurance requirements are as follows:
- Freight trucks: $750,000 – $5,000,000, depending on the cargo
- Passenger trucks: $5,000,000
For vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds and transporting non-hazardous freight, the minimum requirements for public liability coverage is only $300,000. A passenger vehicle with a seating capacity of 15 or fewer must only maintain $1,500,000 in coverage.
Public liability insurance covers bodily injury, property damage, and environmental restoration. If you’ve been injured in an accident with an 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, semi-truck, big rig, cement truck, dump truck, or any other type of big truck, the driver’s or company’s public liability insurance should cover your injuries and losses.
What Happens if Your Injuries and Damages Exceed Insurance Coverage?
Because minimum personal liability insurance requirements for trucking companies and drivers are relatively high, most people involved in a truck accident will not have damages that exceed the at-fault party’s coverage.
When this does happen, it is often for one of the following reasons:
- The truck driver or motor carrier failed to secure adequate coverage and was underinsured.
- The truck driver or motor carrier failed to secure any coverage at all and was uninsured.
- The accident and resulting injuries were especially severe, resulting in catastrophic injuries, permanent disabilities, or death.
Should your damages exceed the policy limits of the driver who hit you or their employer, you can potentially recover additional compensation from the following parties:
The Shipping Company
Freight and shipping companies are responsible for properly loading and securing cargo. If cargo was improperly loaded or loaded in a way that allowed it to shift and move around during transport, causing or contributing to an accident, then the victim may be entitled to recover damages through an injury claim.
Filing a claim against a third party, like a shipping company, does not mean that you cannot also file a truck accident claim against the driver who hit you or their employer. Filing multiple injury claims is actually quite common for truck accident victims. This is because the typical truck passes through a number of hands before ever hitting the road.
Different Trailer and Cab Coverage
In some circumstances, the cab and the trailer may be insured under two different policies. This happens when companies or independent contractors work in tandem with one another to complete a single delivery.
Determining if the tractor-trailer combo that hit you was covered by two separate personal liability insurance policies is not easy, though. Companies may be eager to shield themselves and limit liability by making it appear as if there is only one insurance policy to file with.
Liability Coverage Through a Co-Driver
Team truck driving is an approach in which two drivers take turns driving the same truck. Drivers who work in pairs like this typically earn more money and can complete routes faster than single drivers, which makes this situation advantageous for both the team and their employer.
If you were involved in an accident with a truck driven by a team of drivers, there may be an opportunity to access additional compensation through the co-driver’s liability coverage.
Your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance coverage provides compensation in the event that you are injured by a driver or trucking company that, for whatever reason, either does not have insurance or does not have enough to cover your damages.
To access compensation through UM/UIM coverage, you’ll have to file a claim with your auto insurance company. Don’t count on them looking out for you just because you’re the policyholder, though. You might be surprised to learn that your own insurer is still willing to engage in a variety of tricks and tactics aimed at reducing your right to compensation.
Another Driver or Third Party
Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. This means that there may be contributing factors that you did not immediately recognize at the time of the crash. However, it is not at all uncommon for another driver’s poor, negligent, or reckless behavior to have contributed to a truck accident—even if they weren’t directly involved in the collision.
If a driver who was speeding, changing lanes recklessly, or otherwise engaging in negligent driving practices caused the truck driver to lose control of their vehicle, you may be entitled to recover additional compensation through their insurer.
Trucking Injury Law Group Is a Fierce Advocate for Accident Victims
If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident, you deserve to be fully and fairly compensated for all that you’ve been through. This includes your missed paychecks, lost future earnings, medical bills, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
But we know that you may also be feeling worried about what to do if your injuries exceed a truck driver’s insurance coverage. This feeling is understandable, but we want to assure you that you have legal options should this situation arise.
At Trucking Injury Law Group, we regularly work to identify all at-fault parties in an accident to ensure that our clients don’t miss out on any compensation to which they are rightfully entitled. And we’re prepared to put that same knowledge and dedication to work for you.
Get in touch today to learn more during your completely free case evaluation.