Whose Insurance Pays for a Truck Accident?

Drivers who are involved in accidents with trucks typically have serious injuries. The weight and momentum of a large truck defeats the protection provided by airbags, seatbelts, and crumple zones. Head and brain injuries, spinal damage, broken bones, joint injuries, torn muscles, organ damage, and other serious injuries are common outcomes from truck accidents. Truck accidents are more likely than other accidents to cause catastrophic injuries that require a lifetime of care. Paralysis, loss of limbs, and traumatic brain injuries are a few examples. Truck accident victims need substantial compensation to cover a lifetime of lost income, ongoing medical care, and the expense of coping with disabilities.

When injuries are caused by a truck driver’s negligence, it is the responsibility of the driver and the driver’s employer to pay compensation. Injury victims often wonder whose insurance will pay compensation to truck accident victims. The good news is that commercial truck drivers and their employers usually carry substantial insurance to compensate victims of truck accident injuries.

Insurance Coverage for Truck Accidents 

The federal Motor Carrier Act requires most trucking companies to carry liability limits of at least $750,000. That’s a significantly larger limit than most car owners purchase. While some private owners may only purchase the minimum, larger companies with significant fleets usually protect their assets by purchasing more substantial coverage. Georgia law, for example, requires certain trucking companies to carry larger limits. Trucks transporting oil must carry at least $1 million of liability coverage, while trucks transporting certain hazardous materials must have at least $5 million of liability coverage.

While $750,000 is a significant amount of money, it may not be sufficient to cover the compensation that is ordered to be paid in every case. The $750,000 minimum insurance requirement hasn’t changed since 1980 when the Motor Carrier Act took effect. Medical costs have soared since 1980, but the minimum insurance requirement has not kept pace. Injury victims may need to turn to their own insurance company to receive additional compensation.

Using Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage for Truck Accidents 

Drivers of commercial trucks are rarely uninsured. They face significant penalties if they drive without required liability insurance. Accident victims might still turn to their own uninsured motorist coverage if they are injured by a truck driver who fails to stop at the scene of the accident. Assuming that the truck collided with the victim’s vehicle, the accident victim’s uninsured motorist coverage will pay compensation up to the limits of the policy.

Smart drivers purchase as much uninsured motorist coverage as they can afford. Purchasing the same coverage limits for liability insurance and for uninsured motorist coverage protects drivers from claims when they cause an accident, while providing a source of compensation when they are hit by an uninsured driver.

Using Your Underinsured Motorist Coverage for Truck Accidents
While large trucking companies carry millions of dollars in insurance coverage, some privately owned truck owners purchase only the minimum policy limits. Those limits provide adequate compensation in most cases, but truck accident victims who suffer catastrophic injuries may need additional compensation. The victim’s own underinsured motorist coverage may provide additional compensation after the policy limits of the truck owner-operator have been paid. The compensation payable by underinsured motorist coverage depends on the policy limits and the nature of the coverage.

Some policies only pay underinsured motorist coverage if the coverage limits exceed the negligent trucker’s insurance limits. Better policies pay underinsured motorist coverage on top of the trucker’s insurance limits. The latter is the best kind of underinsured motorist coverage to purchase. Injury victims who are unsure of the insurance that might be available to compensate them should consult with a truck accident lawyer. Diligent attorneys look for all sources of compensation to ensure that accident victims receive the money they need to move forward with their lives.