In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a major infrastructure package that included a mandate that most people wouldn’t notice or care about at first glance. The bill, if enacted, would raise the minimum insurance coverage requirement for commercial trucking companies. Currently, companies are required to carry a policy of $750,000 on each vehicle they own and operate. Under the new bill, the requirement would increase to $2 million per vehicle.
Given how divided Congress is currently, this bill is very unlikely to pass the Senate or to be signed by the President. But the very fact that federal lawmakers are considering this provision is important to all of us. Why should we care about trucking company insurance policies? In short, because any of us could be seriously injured in a trucking accident, and the current insurance requirements are too low to adequately compensate victims.
The High Costs of Trucking Accidents
On its face, $750,000 seems like a lot of money. In most car accidents involving small personal-use vehicles, such an amount would usually be completely adequate to cover costs. But 18-wheeler accidents are different. The costs can be enormous. Victims filing litigation may sue for damages that include:
- Medical bills (past, present and future)
- Physical rehabilitation
- Permanent disability
- Lost wages (from time spent away from work)
- Reduced earning capacity (for those who suffer permanent disability and can no longer continue in their current line of work)
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
If the accident is fatal and the victim’s family files a wrongful death lawsuit, many of the damages above would apply. But additional damages could include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of future wages (if the victim was an income earner supporting their family)
- Loss of consortium and companionship
Coming Up Short
When you consider all of the costs listed above, a payout of $2 million isn’t excessive, and wanting this kind of minimum coverage isn’t just a “cash grab” by personal injury attorneys. Instead, attorneys have seen firsthand that too many truck accident victims have their lives destroyed by a crash and do not receive the compensation they need and deserve because trucking companies simply don’t have it. In some cases, $2 million isn’t even enough, but it would certainly be much better than the current minimum coverage requirements
Although the bill is unlikely to pass in the current Congress or presidential administration, we should all hope that the measure is revisited and passed in the future. In light of the dangers posed by these giant commercial vehicles, we all need to know what we could expect adequate compensation after a devastating trucking accident.