Large commercial trucks are required to obey all financial responsibility laws by carrying enough insurance coverage to provide victims with adequate compensation for their damages in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, if the parties found to be liable for a truck accident are carrying the minimum levels of financial responsibility, their coverage may not be enough to fairly compensate victims for their damages.
Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility for Large Commercial Trucks in Texas
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in charge of regulating all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in the United States. The FMCSA also polices the minimum coverage guidelines for all CMVs, including large commercial trucks. Currently, the minimum levels of insurance for large commercial trucks as defined by Congressional legislation are as follows:
- Commercial motor vehicles that weigh over 10,000 pounds and do not transport hazardous materials (HAZMAT) must carry at least $750,000 in liability.
- Commercial motor vehicles with a weight of over 10,000 pounds that transport oil, hazardous materials, or waste must have at least $1,000,000 in coverage.
- Tanker trucks with the capacity to carry over 3,500 gallons need a minimum of $5,000,000 in liability coverage.
In the event of a truck accident, the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 provides protection to the public by requiring all commercial carriers to have their insurance policies endorsed for public liability. There are many forms of public endorsement, but the most common is the MCS-90 Endorsement, which prevents insurance companies from using certain legal defenses that could be valid in other types of car accident claims.
How Can You Recover for Your Losses After a Truck Accident in Texas?
If you or someone you care about has been injured in a truck accident, you will need to first file a claim with the insurance carriers of the liable parties. In a truck accident, multiple parties are often found liable for a wreck. An experienced truck accident lawyer will be able to review your case to determine which policies you may be able to file a claim under. Possible liable parties can include the:
- Truck driver
- Truck driver’s employer
- Manufacturer of the truck or its parts
- Owner of the cargo
- Cargo loaders
- Drivers of other vehicles
- Truck’s mechanic
However, even if you are successful in filing a claim with the liable parties’ insurance companies, your compensation may not be enough to cover your damages. The minimum financial responsibility requirements set by the FMCSA have not been updated since the eighties, so it is likely that, in the event of a severe accident, a victim’s damages will exceed the trucking company’s insurance policy limits. If this happens, you may need to contact a Texas truck accident attorney to help you file a legal claim to recover the remainder of your losses.
Initial settlement offers by the liable parties’ insurance companies are often insufficient to cover victims’ injury-related expenses. Calculating the true value of a claim can be challenging, and it can be difficult to refuse early offers when your financial situation is uncertain.
Should you accept an insurance settlement that fails to cover all of your accident-related expenses, you will lose the right to pursue additional compensation. You will also waive your right to file a personal injury claim against the liable parties involved in your truck accident. To protect your legal rights to recover adequate compensation for your losses, you may choose to partner with an experienced truck accident attorney who will oversee all of your negotiations and communications with the liable parties and their insurance companies. Although nobody is guaranteed a settlement or court award, working with a truck accident attorney will give you the best chance of resolving your claim favorably.