Will Insurance Cover an Entire Truck Accident Settlement – Understanding Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements
Truck accidents are notorious for causing debilitating and life-threatening injuries. Between inpatient care and medical treatment, accident victims can find themselves sinking further into debt while waiting for their insurance claim to settle.
Hurt individuals and families depend on truck accident settlements for reimbursement. If a claim payout cannot cover expenses, injured persons can suffer financial hardship.
What Are the Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements?
Commercial trucks have higher insurance requirements than passenger vehicles. Large trucks are typically owned by a company or a municipal. Coverage is necessary to protect the freight or passengers aboard.
Truck accidents cause serious injuries and property damage to other automobiles. Motor carrier vehicles range in size and types of cargo they carry. For instance, if the cargo is hazardous, the coverage must be higher according to federal and state laws.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Minimum Insurance Requirements
The FMCSA regulates the minimum insurance requirements at the federal level. Insurance requirements change based on the size of the motor carrier vehicle, how many trailers it has, and whether the cargo is hazardous:
- Primary trucking liability: Primary trucking liability insurance tends to be the most expensive. Liability insurance will cover injuries and damage to other motor vehicles. Minimum trucking liability insurance ranges from $300,000 to $5 million for hazardous cargo. In addition, legal defense expenses are included in primary trucking liability.
- Physical damage coverage: Physical damage insurance includes comprehensive and collision coverage. Generally, comprehensive will cover the expenses if a truck is damaged due to vandalism, theft, or something other than an accident. Collision coverage may include towing expenses, depending on your carrier.
- Medical payments coverage: While primary trucking liability insurance covers injuries, medical payments insurance is additional coverage. Typically, medical payments coverage will disburse around $1,000 to $5,000.
- Cargo insurance: Cargo insurance is not legally required. However, most trucking companies will require cargo coverage when transporting certain shipments. Several exclusions and sub limits may apply, making cargo insurance some of the most complex kinds of insurance. Depending on the shipment, coverage can range from $100,000 up to $1 million.
Truck accidents cause extensive property and bodily damage. In many cases, expenses exceed the policy limits.
What is the Average Cost of a Truck Accident to Insurance Companies?
Commercial truck injury claims have high financial stakes. Recovering losses requires adding economic and non-economic damages:
- Economic damages: To estimate the total economic cost of a truck accident, wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, and property damage are added together.
- Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages are the intangible costs of a truck collision and consider pain, suffering, emotional distress, and how an injured person’s overall quality of life has been impacted.
While the economic costs of a truck collision can be measured by adding expenses, the National Safety Council has created a comprehensive cost analysis measuring both economic and non-economic losses. The study divides the data by the severity of injuries sustained and averages out the cost per injured person.
According to the research:
- A fatal truck accident costs $11,449,000 per individual
- A disabling collision costs $1,252,0000 per accident victim
- Evident injuries, i.e., severe but not permanent, in a crash cost $345,000 per person
- Accidents where there are possible injuries cost $160,000 per victim
- Accidents with no injuries cost $52,700 per person
Under FMCSA insurance requirements, only the heaviest commercial trucks transporting hazardous cargo will have high policy limits of $5 million. However, the average commercial truck on the road may only have a policy worth the minimum required liability: $300,000 or $750,000.
For a major truck accident with a disabling injury, the minimum policy is only a fraction of the recoverable costs.
Can Injured Parties Collect Damages Over the Policy Limit?
Injured parties cannot collect damages over the at-fault driver’s policy limit. Instead, truck accident victims may need to file multiple claims to recover their losses.
While a truck driver is often held liable in a collision, other parties may share responsibility:
- Trucking company: A driver’s employer may share liability in a truck accident. A company can fail to do their due diligence and hire unqualified drivers, fail to fully train drivers, or may pressure operators to drive over their hours of service.
- Maintenance company: Commercial trucks are typically serviced by a third party. If a truck accident is the result of poorly maintained brakes, wheels, or other components, the service provider may be held liable for the collision.
- Manufacturing company: Though rare, design or manufacturing defects can lead to a severe truck accident. Defects, like a flawed caliber or steering mechanism, can be difficult to uncover without a detailed investigation.
- Owner of the truck: In some cases, the carrier vehicle may be leased by the trucking company. The owner of a truck can be held liable in a truck accident for failure to service or improper loading of cargo.
When negligence in a truck accident can be shared across multiple claims with different insurance companies, injury victims may be able to recover their full losses.
What is Louisiana’s No Pay No Play Rule?
Large truck crashes take a devastating toll on injured persons. Filing multiple claims may help recover damages. However, if the injured motorist does not have auto insurance, they may be barred from filing any claims.
Louisiana requires all motorists to carry the following amounts of minimum liability coverage:
- $15,000 for bodily injury involving one person
- $25,000 for property damage
- $30,000 for bodily injury involving two or more people
However, in the last reporting year, an estimated 11.7% of drivers did not carry the minimum required coverage. To reduce the number of uninsured drivers on the road, Louisiana has implemented a No Pay, No Play rule. According to the statute, an uninsured motorist is ineligible to file an insurance claim for injuries or property damage, regardless of fault.
There are exceptions to the statute that can affect a commercial vehicle accident. An uninsured motorist may be able to file an injury claim against a negligent truck driver in the following cases:
- The truck operator was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The truck driver was breaking certain laws
The Charbonnet Law Firm can assist a truck accident case by discovering all liable parties and filing multiple claims. Contact the truck accident attorneys at (504) 294-5075 to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of the collision.