The U.S. Congress deregulated the trucking industry more than three decades ago. The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 was the first time that the Secretary of Transportation set minimum levels of insurance that all trucking companies must obtain. At the time, there was concern regarding the government’s ability to oversee the large number of trucking companies that operated across the country. Nevertheless, the law was successful in increasing the amount of insurance purchased by trucking companies.
Over 30 years later, the minimum level of insurance for property-transporting motor carriers has remained the same. Even today, property carriers only have to purchase $750,000 worth of insurance unless they transport hazardous material, in which case they must have $5 million in coverage. That was a significant amount of insurance in 1980, but much has changed since then. Inflation has increased dramatically and the cost of medical coverage is substantially more expensive now.
According to some studies, having $750,000 in coverage in 1980 is equal to about $4.5 million in coverage now. Therefore, the minimum insurance requirements must be increased in order to protect truck accident victims. Until the minimum is increased, the insurance requirements will not adequately support victims, especially those who have suffered serious or catastrophic injuries.
Hope for the Future
U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright introduced the Safe and Fair Environment on Highways Achieved through Underwriting Levels Act of 2013 on July 18. That bill is aimed at raising the minimum insurance requirements for trucking companies. The bill has not, however, made it out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Highway and Transit Committee. It is unclear if or when it will be voted on or if Congress will take action to protect victims of truck accidents.
Understanding Your Rights After a Jacksonville FL Truck Accident
Whether or not Congress votes to raise the minimum insurance requirements, victims of truck accidents do have the right to seek financial support for their losses. If a speeding, careless, fatigued, intoxicated or reckless truck driver has hurt you, you have the right to file a claim in court.
A successful injury claim against a truck driver or a trucking company should result in support for your lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation services and a number of other related losses. Truck accident victims often face lengthy hospital stays and expensive rehabilitation, which is often not covered by health insurance. In addition, catastrophically injured victims may never be able to return to work or earn a livelihood again.
In order to increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for your losses, it will be necessary to learn more about your legal options. It would be in your best interest to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer in Jacksonville who has had recent experience handling cases similar to yours. There are many pitfalls and traps that you can easily fall into during the claim process. Being well informed and having a skilled and knowledgeable attorney from Farah & Farah on your side can make all the difference.