Accidents involving large commercial trucks can resulting in catastrophic injuries to the victims. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has imposed stringent regulations for commercial truck drivers and trucking companies. Federal and state laws have set minimum insurance limits for commercial interstate trucks. The personal injury settlement amount for victims of truck accidents is usually substantial.
Minimum Insurance Requirements for Commercial Trucks
Trucks are required to have a certain amount of minimum insurance coverage in case they are involved in a motor vehicle collision. State or federal law sets the insurance limits since truck accidents result in increased damages. It is recommended that you consult with a capable trucking accident lawyer that has an in-depth understanding of the rules and regulations.
Virginia Code § 46.2-2143.1 sates the minimum coverage required by trucks operating in intrastate commerce. It is as follows:
- Trucks that have gross vehicle weight in excess of 10,000 pounds need a minimum coverage of $750,000
- Trucks that have gross vehicle weight in excess of 7,500 pounds need a minimum coverage of $300,000
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration comes into the picture for trucks involved in interstate commerce or those that cross state lines. The minimum insurance requirement in case of such trucks is:
- Trucks that have gross vehicle weight in excess of 10,001 pounds need a minimum coverage of $750,000 when transporting non-hazardous property
- Trucks that have gross vehicle weight in excess of 10,001 pounds need a minimum coverage of $5,000,000 when transporting hazardous substances as defined under 49 CFR 171.8
Importance of Minimum Insurance Coverage Guidelines
The guidelines set by Virginia Code § 46.2-2143.1 and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are designed for ensuring that victims of semi-truck accidents can be sure of obtaining financial compensation following an accident. This compensation is required by most victims to pay for their damages.
Victims of serious accidents are protected through federal insurance requirements from those trucking companies and truck drivers that won’t have the financial means of meeting the settlement cost without insurance. Commercial trucks are submitted to heightened regulations because of the heightened danger involved in the operation of a truck.
Can a Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer Help You Collect Excess Damages?
There are several ways an attorney can assist you in pursuing policy limits:
- Suing multiple defendants
More than one party can be held financially and legally liable for an accident in some cases. The defendants can be jointly and severally held liable for the entire extent of damages. This means that if the two defendants have individual policy limits of $50,000, the two policies can be combined for satisfying the $100,000 judgment.
You should note that there aren’t always multiple defendants. However, trucking accidents can be complicated. An experienced attorney can help you identify all the responsible parties for the accident. This can be the truck driver, truck owner, truck manufacturer, service and maintenance company, and the consignment broker among others.
- Recovering through an umbrella policy
It is possible that a single defendant may have multiple insurance policies that can be used for paying the damages. Generally, large businesses and corporate entities have umbrella policies that cover all other type of insurance coverage. This policy kicks in when the policyholder is subject to liability in excess of the original individual policy limits.
For instance, if a company has a $50,000 umbrella policy and $100,000 in liability protection, the second policy would pay the entire $100,000 and the umbrella policy will kick in if the damages are in excess of $100,000. Umbrella policies are common among business and corporate defendants. However, there are certain private individuals that have these policies as well.
Reputable law firms have private investigators on their panel that can do the homework for you. It can be difficult to ascertain the type and number of insurance policies a defendant has. The investigator can get a clear understanding of all the insurance policies that can be used for settling the compensation amount.
- Collect from the defendant
The third and less used option is collecting the excess amount from the defendant directly. This can be hard if the defendant doesn’t have the assets or cash to pay you. However, a skilled attorney can go to the court on your behalf and request a judge to place a lien on the defendant’s property or order wage garnishment. You should understand that in case a defendant has no assets or money, the judgment in excess of the insurance coverage limits will probably not be collectible.
Contact an Experienced Commercial Big Rig Accident Attorney Today
You may have suffered damages that are probably beyond health concerns if you were injured in a commercial truck accident. Victims usually rely on insurance settlements to pay for medical bills and make up for lost wages. However, insurance policies can be complicated and be challenging to manage alone. The commercial big rig accident attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton, Washburn & Sharp can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Get in touch with us today by calling at (833) 997-1774 or fill out our online contact form.