How Much Insurance Do Trucking Companies Have?

wrongfuldeathtruck

To better protect motorists, the federal government requires that any carriers (generally tractor-trailer shipping companies) involved in interstate commerce and registered with the Department of Transportation must have some insurance. Specifically, the government requires an MCS-90 (Motor Carrier Safety-90) endorsement to pay out in case of injury or death caused by carrier’s shipping activities. Because the MCS-90 is mandated by federal law, it exists in every carrier’s insurance policy regardless of whether it’s in the written terms or not. If you are injuring a truck that should be is covered by MCS-90, you have a policy that conforms even if the language of the policy contains different law. Maryland does a lot of the same thing, rewriting insurance policies with mandatory statutory language and coverage.

MCS-90 requires the insurance company to attempt to cover the victim’s damages anyway, usually up to a minimum of $750,000. This guarantees that victims of at-fault negligent carriers will be able to recover some of their damages. It is a safety net - just a small one in some cases - designed to protect innocent victims from nonresponsive carrier insurers.

Limitations to MCS-90

However, there are several restrictions on the MCS-90. For example, the truck involved in the accident must be working for a “for hire” motor carrier. “For hire” means that the drivers are being paid by another to transport goods, and this evaluation is made on a truck by truck basis. Sometimes, courts must examine the very nature of a business to see if it’s “for hire.” Additionally, the truck had to have been acting in interstate commerce. What exactly interstate commerce is can be a murky and convoluted issue, but it is again controlled by federal law. And finally, often suing the driver is not enough. Some MCS-90 provisions will only pay out only if the award is against the carrier as opposed to the driver.

Accidents involving commercial trucking vehicles can be very costly. For instance, a 2012 jury in Maryland awarded a nearly $8 million verdict for a catastrophic tractor-truck crash that severely injured a fellow driver. While $750,000 is a nice guarantee for American drivers in most cases, it does not protect against anything resembling the full risks involved in truck accident cases.

Of course, you have to remember that many trucking companies have a lot of assets.  If you are in a crash with a big company like FedEx, Roadway Express, YRC Freight, Schneider National, JB Hunt Transport, UPS or another company with a huge fleet and billions in assets, the point of how much coverage the trucking company has is academic.  But there too many fly-by-night companies.  It is also important to look for other possible defendants like the broker or the shipper if you are running up against coverage issues.  Our firm has a lot of experience dealing with getting to the broker and the shipper in truck accident cases. 

Hiring a Lawyer for Your Truck Accident Case

Sometimes, the most challenging issue in a truck accident case is sorting out the insurance issues. We can sort them out. One of our lawyers is an insurance law professor, and our firm has a tight handle on these issues. Whether you are a victim or a referring lawyer, if you need help with your case, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.

49 C.F.R. § 387.15

Id.

Empire Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 117 Md. App. 72, 89-90 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1997)

Harco Nat'l Ins. Co. v. Bobac Trucking, 107 F.3d 733 (9th Cir. Cal. 1997).

49 C.F.R. § 387.3

Id.

Sentry Select Ins. Co. v. Thompson, 665 F. Supp. 2d 561,567 (E.D. Va. 2009).

Jamie Blake v. Jeffrey Crain and Lacoboni Site Specialists Inc; 2012 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 18329

Finding Coverage in Truck Accident CasesHandling Truck Accident Cases: What Lawyers Need to Know

Contact Us For a Free Consultation

1Free Consultation

2Available to talk NOW - 24/7

3No fees unless you WIN

Miller & Zois clients have received over $100 Million in verdicts and settlements. Let us fight for you!

Client Reviews

They quite literally worked as hard as if not harder than the doctors to save our lives.
★★★★★
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, Google User
★★★★★
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, Google User
★★★★★
The entire team from the intake Samantha to the lawyer himself (Ron Miller) has been really approachable. Suzette Allen, Google User
★★★★★
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
★★★★★