Truck accidents caused close to 4,000 deaths, and 104,000 injuries nationwide in 2012 according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Victims who are injured or killed after becoming involved in a collision with a truck must understand what rights they have to pursue a case against the truck driver and against the trucking company. There are special federal rule, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) which apply and which can impact how a truck accident victim can make a damage claim.
How Federal Laws Apply After Washington DC Truck Accidents
When a truck accident occurs, federal rules will likely help victims to recover full compensation for losses by ensuring there is sufficient insurance coverage available to pay for losses and damages.
In Washington DC, drivers of passenger cars have a $25,000 per person minimum liability insurance policy requirement and a $50,000 per accident minimum liability insurance requirement. Under these rules, if a driver has bought minimum coverage only, the insurer will only pay out $25,000 to each injured crash victim and only a total of $50,000 for all victims in a single accident. This is often inadequate coverage to provide for all car accident losses, especially if a crash involves many victims.
Federal rules, however, require trucks be much more heavily insured. FMCSR 387.9 establishes financial responsibility requirements for commercial trucks covered by federal regulations. The minimum amount of liability insurance which must cover a typical truck is $750,000. If the truck is one which transports hazardous materials, the minimum amount of liability coverage could actually be as high as $5 million. With so much more money available, victims have a much greater chance of being fully compensated for their damages. Victims need to know of these higher coverage limits as they seek to negotiate a truck accident settlement.
Victims in a typical car accident case also can have a harder time proving liability than in truck accident claims, particularly for some types of crash causes like drowsy driving where there is no objective test. In truck accident cases, on the the other hand, many aspects of truck operation and maintenance are carefully regulated by FMCRSs. Truckers are expected to keep records of things like hours on duty to show they are in compliance. Victims can obtain records during the discovery process to show where truckers and trucking companies fell short and can use these records as evidence. Victims can also point to violations of FMCSRs in order to create a presumption of negligence and make it easier to prove their accident case.
Victims of truck accidents need to know the federal rules which apply and determine if a trucker was in violation of any of these requirements in a manner connected with the accident. A legal professional with experience on truck accident cases can help.