What Happens When Truck Crash Injuries Exceed the Insurance Coverage?

compensation for truck crash injuriesTrucking accidents produce some of the most debilitating and life-changing injuries, which is why victims hit by large commercial vehicles often need to collect the maximum compensation possible. And while many people who have been injured in truck crashes do get fair settlements, there are those who need to collect more money than what the insurance policy limits allow. In this article, we’ll discuss insurance requirements for truck drivers, how policy limits work, and some options to pursue if you or a loved one needs more compensation than what the policy allows.

Liability Insurance Requirements for Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies

Because commercial vehicles are heavy and can cause serious damages and losses in the event of a crash, truck drivers are required by law to carry substantial insurance. However, many drivers only carry minimal coverage that may not be adequate to cover serious injuries. This is why the federal government requires trucking companies—whether a business has one truck or a fleet of trucks—to have adequate insurance coverage on their trucks and truck drivers. Every truck that is registered with the Department of Transportation is thus required to carry a minimum liability insurance policy to pay for such harm.

Liability insurance is there to pay out in the event of an injury or death. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the minimum liability insurance is $300,000 for vehicles weighing under 10,001 pounds that aren’t carrying hazardous materials, and $750,000 for commercial vehicles weighing over 10,001 pounds that aren’t carrying hazardous materials.  If hazardous materials are being transported, the coverage limits increase up to $5,000,000 depending upon the type of hazardous substance.

Although these figures may seem large, this amount of money will not protect everyone hurt in trucking accidents. For those who have to live with life-altering injuries, the minimum policy limits may only cover a portion of the expenses related to the accident. Because insurers are only required to pay out to the policy limits, many victims of truck crashes often need to look elsewhere to find additional money that will cover their pain and suffering and other damages beyond their medical bills. 

Finding Additional Coverage

If the insurance coverage the truck driver and trucking company have don’t fully cover the injuries and losses you suffered in the accident, here are some ways you may find additional coverage:

  • Co-driver liability coverage. Sometimes tractor-trailers are driven by two people—one at the wheel while the other one rests. This is why sometimes there may be more insurance coverage available on the co-driver (an assistant to the primary truck driver or a relief driver). 
  • Separate cab and trailer coverage. Sometimes there is liability coverage on the trailer that is separate and apart from the coverage on the cab (the tractor). Sometimes there are different companies involved (i.e., one company may carry insurance coverage on the cab and the other carries liability coverage on the trailer).
  • Underinsured motorist coverage. If you have purchased this type of insurance coverage, your own insurance policy may cover the remaining amount of money for your injuries up to your policy limits.
  • Shipping company. When the cargo isn’t properly loaded and secured, the shipping company may be liable for the truck accident.
  • Suing another party. Sometimes there are other parties who may share responsibility for the accident, and a lawsuit may be the only way to get that party to pay.

One of the most complex issues is sorting through insurance policies and finding enough coverage for the harm you suffered. Because insurance issues are challenging and there are many policies that may be available to you, it is wise to talk to a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling truck accident cases and knows where to look to get you the most compensation possible. Please contact our firm today for a complimentary consultation, and we will answer your questions without any obligation to hire us.