In 2020, there were 32,562 motor vehicle crashes involving commercial trucks in the state of Texas alone. At least 581 people are known to have been killed in a truck-involved accident, and it’s estimated that nearly 7,000 sustained injuries. We also know that the majority of people injured or killed in tractor-trailer accidents are not the semi drivers themselves, but instead the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles like cars, light trucks, and sports utility vehicles (SUVs).
What happens if an 18-wheeler is liable for an accident that causes others to suffer damages? Victims of these types of accidents often face enormous losses like steep medical bills, lost income, and property damage to their vehicle. In order to obtain full and fair compensation, a truck accident attorney can help the accident victim file a claim against the truck’s insurance company.
Filing a claim against a commercial trucking company can be highly complicated. Commercial truck insurers are known to be aggressive—and often resort to unscrupulous tactics in order to protect the trucking company from liability. It’s essential that you consult with an attorney with expertise in truck accident law before proceeding with a claim. Without an experienced truck accident lawyer representing you, it can be difficult to obtain the compensation you need to cover your medical costs and move forward with your life.
It’s important to know the commercial policy limits of 18-wheeler trucks because this will affect the amount of compensation you can receive after a collision. The insurance policy limits for 18-wheeler trucks differ from cars in a number of ways. We’ll look closer at the legal insurance requirements for commercial tractor-trailers. For more information about insurance policy limits for drivers in Texas, see our article about policy limits and how they affect your claim.
If you were involved in a crash with a semi-truck, an experienced truck accident attorney from The Mejia Law Firm can provide a free consultation to discuss your legal options. Our lawyers have a thorough understanding of the legal requirements for commercial truck insurance. We put our knowledge to use in helping you obtain maximum compensation after an 18-wheeler accident.
Is 18-Wheeler Insurance Different From Car Insurance?
Insurance requirements for 18-wheelers are generally much higher than the requirements for passenger vehicles. This is because the damage that can be caused by a commercial truck is much more significant. Additionally, 18-wheeler trucks often transport hazardous materials like flammable liquids and toxic chemicals. Insurance policy limits aim to reflect the heightened perils associated with these vehicles.
There are other differences between 18-wheeler insurance and private vehicle insurance. Most car owners purchase a policy themselves for the vehicle they personally own. The situation is different when it comes to commercial vehicles.
The majority of truckers you see on the roads in and around Houston don’t actually own the 18-wheelers they drive for work. The responsibility for obtaining an insurance policy doesn’t usually lie with the driver but with the trucking company. In some cases, a separate party may own the truck used by the trucking company. In this case, the truck owner is typically responsible for insuring the vehicle.
Another difference lies in the fact that semi-truck insurance must meet federal requirements, in addition to regulations at the state level. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the government body responsible for regulating the commercial trucking industry in the United States. There are strict insurance policy regulations that all interstate trucks must follow. When crossing state borders, drivers need to have the proper paperwork to ensure that they are in compliance with the insurance policy minimums required by that state.
This complexity can result in a trucking company holding multiple overlapping insurance policies that cover different aspects of the business. There may be separate policies to cover different vehicles in the fleet, different types of cargo, and different drivers. As you can imagine, it takes a great depth and breadth of knowledge about commercial trucking insurance requirements to successfully file a claim against a large, powerful motor carrier.
Minimum Liability Insurance Limits for 18-Wheelers
Federal code 49 CFR § 387.9 defines the minimum levels of financial responsibility commercial tractor-trailers must carry. Federal insurance limits vary depending on the weight of the vehicle and the type of cargo being transported. Commercial policy limits are as follows:
- $750,000 – For-hire interstate commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 or more pounds, transporting nonhazardous materials
- $1,000,000 – For-hire or private vehicles used for interstate or foreign commerce (in any quantity) or for intrastate commerce (in bulk only), with a GVWR of 10,001 or more pounds, transporting materials like oil, hazardous waste, or certain hazardous substances
- $1,500,000 – For-hire passenger carriers with a seating capacity of 15 or fewer passengers
- $5,000,000 – For-hire passenger carriers with a seating capacity of more than 15 passengers
- $5,000,000 – For-hire or private vehicles used for interstate or foreign commerce, with a GVWR of less than 10,001 pounds, transporting other hazardous materials like radioactive material
Help For Victims of 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents in Houston
Very few people walk away from 18-wheel accidents with minor injuries. It’s more probable that an accident victim will suffer:
- Broken bones
- Head, neck, or spinal cord injury
- Internal organ damage
- Brain damage
- Burns, bruises, and lacerations
The recovery time for these types of injuries can last weeks, months, or even years. Many people never recover from serious injuries such as these. Victims’ lives are permanently altered. They may need to give up their employment, use a wheelchair or prosthetics to improve mobility, and make changes to their home to accommodate their permanent disability. These individuals will never again be able to take part in many hobbies, activities, exercises, and other aspects of their lives before the accident.
Losses like these are immeasurable. They are also extremely costly. It is unreasonable to assume that most people can afford the expenses associated with medical care after an 18-wheeler truck crash. It is also unreasonable to expect a victim to bear this financial burden caused by another party’s negligence.
At The Mejia Law Firm, we fight for justice. We hold wrongdoers accountable. And we protect our clients from the consequences of another party’s negligence. Contact us today to discuss your case.
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