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Finding All Available Insurance in Car and Truck Accident Claims


Serious car accident cases often involve a search for creative solutions to finding insurance coverage. The reality is that in most severe injury cases, a full recovery requires tapping into more than just the defendant's personal auto insurance policy. Accordingly, car accident attorneys need to be creative in looking for every possible source of additional insurance coverage.

Smartly crafted interrogatories help you look for additional insurance. One big thing to look for (that most car accident lawyers miss) is a resident relative that may have a larger insurance policy. Smart lawyers also ask questions about whether the person may have been directly or indirectly on the job at the time of the accident or whether the defendant had another umbrella policy that could be applied to the accident.

Keep in mind that at least in theory, the adjuster should be trying to help you find coverage. Push the adjuster to probe the client and look for more coverage. Because some adjusters do not understand their obligation to find more coverage to protect their insured (and because some insureds foolishly try to hide policies), you need to get an affidavit with respect the the at-fault driver's assets and the lack of insurance coverage.

Obviously, when looking for coverage, you want to apply the same analysis to your own client for uninsured motorist coverage.

Truck Accident Cases

The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 was signed into law by President Carter on July 1, 1980. It was part of a series of federal transportation deregulation laws that largely occurred during the 1970s. The Act reduced price controls and barriers to entry. In exchange for these new freedoms, the Act increased the required insurance limits for truckers.

Motor Carrier Act of 1980 mandates registered interstate motor carriers to file with the Department of Transportation a proof of financial security “sufficient to pay ... for each final judgment against the carrier." 49 U.S.C. § 10927(a)(1) (2016). If the motor carrier chooses, as most do, to provide such financial security through insurance coverage, these insurance policies must incorporate what is called a“Form MCS-90” endorsement.

The MCS-90 was instituted by federal regulators in conjunction with the MCA 1980. It is an endorsement placed on the insurance policy as evidence that financial responsibility has been met by the use of one or more insurance policies. If multiple policies are needed to achieve the overall required limit, the process is called layering.

The recitals of the MCS-90 explain that the endorsement is issued “to assure compliance by the insured with federal responsibility requirements.” So the MSC-90 requires the insurer to pay “any final judgment recovered against the insured for public liability resulting from negligence in the operation, maintenance or use of motor vehicles ... regardless of whether or not each motor vehicle is specifically described in the policy ....”. This MCS-90 endorsement protects truck accident crash victims by guaranteeing a "safety net" minimum level of compensation for injured claimants. The amount depends on the type of vehicle but the minimum is $750,000.

An important feature of the MCS-90 is that no failure by an insured to comply with a condition of coverage will relieve the insurer from such obligation. See 49 C.F.R. § 387.15.So the issuing insurer agrees that it will pay any judgment entered against the motor carrier, even if the loss is not actually covered under the basic insurance policy. So many of these trucking companies are small shops that are here today and gone tomorrow. Insurance companies cannot disclaim coverage because the insured failed to cooperate.

Many courts agree that an MSC-90 also applies to a permissive user of a tractor-trailer. The practical significance of this for a truck accident lawyer cannot be overstated. Now, truck crash victims may often stack policies and collect from the insurer of the trailer's owner, the company that loading the truck's trailer, AND the company whose product was being shipped.

Smart attorneys in these cases flush out these issues from the very beginning. Request in your discovery when filing the complaint the underlying policy and all possible policies that might apply, including umbrella, fronting, excess, self-insurance, and reinsurance policies. Specifically, ask for the MSC-90 form itself.

Related InformationCommon Truck Accident Defendants
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They quite literally worked as hard as if not harder than the doctors to save our lives. Terry Waldron
Ron helped me find a clear path that ended with my foot healing and a settlement that was much more than I hope for. Aaron Johnson
Hopefully I won't need it again but if I do, I have definitely found my lawyer for life and I would definitely recommend this office to anyone! Bridget Stevens
The last case I referred to them settled for $1.2 million. John Selinger
I am so grateful that I was lucky to pick Miller & Zois. Maggie Lauer
The entire team from the intake Samantha to the lawyer himself (Ron Miller) has been really approachable. Suzette Allen
The case settled and I got a lot more money than I expected. Ron even fought to reduce how much I owed in medical bills so I could get an even larger settlement. Nchedo Idahosa