Large trucks require higher liability insurance coverage than passenger cars because accidents involving trucks often result in severe injuries and significant property damage. For your ease and convenience, our attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman are here to explain the minimum insurance requirements for commercial trucks and how those policies may affect accident victims.
California Truck Insurance Requirements
In California, there are various minimums for liability insurance that commercial truck drivers must meet. The type of freight and the freight’s destination determine what insurance minimums apply.
Any truck driver traveling within state lines in a vehicle that is more than 10,000 GVW (gross vehicle weight) needs to have a California intrastate ID number and liability insurance that includes the following as it applies to their freight:
- $1,000,000 in oil transport liability insurance
- $5,000,000 in hazmat liability insurance
- $750,000 in general freight liability insurance
- $300,000 in household goods liability insurance
- $20,000 per vehicle and $20,000 per catastrophe in cargo insurance
Interstate Truck Insurance Requirements
If a commercial truck driver is traveling across state lines, they must meet state requirements in addition to the requirements outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to obtain their Operating Authority (MC number). This is extremely important, as truckers need this Operating Authority in order to legally operate their commercial vehicle.
The FMCSA insurance requirement is essentially public liability insurance that covers bodily injury and property damage, again, up to various amounts depending on the type of freight being hauled:
- $300,000 for non-hazardous freight in vehicles under 10,000 lbs
- $750,000 to $5,000,000 for freight in vehicles over 10,000 lbs
- $5,000 per vehicle in cargo insurance for household goods
- $10,000 per occurrence in cargo insurance for household goods
Please note: These are only the minimum requirements at the federal level. Many commercial truck drivers and companies greatly benefit from more comprehensive insurance plans.
How Insurance Minimums Affect Truck Accident Victims
As any victim will tell you, the damage stemming from a truck wreck can be extensive. One of our biggest truck accident cases involved a tractor trailer colliding with a pedestrian. After countless hours of high-stakes legal work, our team of lawyers successfully negotiated a settlement worth $15 million, far in excess of commercial truck insurance requirements. In fact, most of the truck accident lawsuits our firm has handled resulted in compensation to the victims worth considerably more than insurance policy minimums.
How is this possible? For starters, many large freight operators like FedEx, UPS, Schneider National, JB Hunt, TFI International and others that generate millions (if not billions) in revenue are not tethered to their insurance policies. If you are in a crash with a major trucking company, they have no problem financially covering any damages. Nevertheless, they will still use every resource at their disposal to mount the strongest legal challenge to your case.
So what about smaller, fly-by-night trucking companies? If you are in an accident with a smaller trucking company, this is where insurance minimums can cause problems. When your claims for damages far exceed a defendant’s insurance policy, an attorney may investigate the circumstances of the accident to look for other at-fault parties. The shipping company or a trucking broker may also be responsible, which can turn a $750,000 case into a multi-million-dollar case.
Problems with Commercial Truck Insurance? You Need an Experienced Accident Attorney by Your Side
Regardless of whether the trucking companies involved in an accident are big or small, the issue facing injured people is building the strongest possible case to maximize compensation. That is why having an experienced truck accident attorney on your side is so important.