Because of the severe injuries and major property damage that generally result from tractor-trailer accidents, commercial trucks are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to carry levels of insurance coverage much higher than passenger cars must carry.
South Carolina DOT Truck Insurance Requirements
In South Carolina, the Department of Transportation (DOT) sets primary liability insurance coverage requirements based on the size and use of a truck and what the truck is hauling. For instance:
- A truck carrying household goods must carry $300,000 worth of coverage if it weighs less than 10,001 pounds and is not crossing state lines.
- A truck carrying Genearl Freight must carry $750,000 worth of coverage.
- A carrier of hazardous material must have $5,000,000 in coverage.
- A carrier of oil needs $1,000,000 in coverage.
Even more coverage might be required for a semi-truck carrying an oversize load or heavy equipment. Some brokers and shippers require a minimum of $1,000,000 in coverage on all 18-wheelers. Always check the SC DOT and Federal Government requirements when determining what is the correct insurance requirement.
Commercial Truck Insurance Coverage
Commercial truck insurance generally includes the following types of coverage:
- Primary liability coverage combines property damage and bodily injury coverage with a single limit to cover medical expenses and vehicle repair or replacement for victims of a crash caused by an at-fault truck driver.
- Medical payment coverage pays for injuries suffered by the truck driver and any passengers in the truck.
- Physical damage insurance combines collision coverage for damage to the truck and comprehensive protection against theft, vandalism, and other non-collision losses.
- Cargo coverage is available to for-hire drivers of most commercial trucks. It is not available to ice cream or garbage trucks and does not pay for damage to explosives, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, jewelry, or works of art in transit.
- Bobtail insurance provides coverage when a tractor is being driven without a trailer.
- Non-trucking liability (NTL) insurance covers injuries and damage caused by a commercial truck being driven for personal use.
- Trailer interchange insurance takes care of any damage to a trailer that is not owned by the trucker who’s pulling it or by the company that owns the tractor.
- Uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) coverage pays for a trucker’s injuries and property damage if the truck is involved in an accident caused by a motorist with no insurance or with low coverage limits.
In some cases, a secondary, excess liability, or umbrella policy might kick in when the primary liability policy is not sufficient. This happens most often in cases of catastrophic injury or death.
More Than One Insurance Claim
Unlike an accident involving two cars, for which one motorist is usually at fault, a truck-car crash could result from negligence on the part of more than one responsible party, including:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The truck manufacturer
- A parts manufacturer
- A repair service
- A shipper or broker
- Cargo loading personnel
This means you might be able to seek compensation from more than one insurer.
Why You Might Need an Attorney
Having more than one party to hold liable for your damages in a crash with a semi-truck makes you more likely to get fair compensation than you would be if only one insurer is liable. It also means, however, that the claims process becomes very complicated. You must determine the percentage of fault each defendant bears, assign a monetary value to that percentage, find out what kind and how much insurance coverage each defendant has, and file claims demanding different amounts of compensation from different insurance companies, any one of which could dispute your claim.
If reasonable settlement offers are not forthcoming, you might have to file lawsuits against multiple defendants and fight in court for fair compensation. Most truck crash victims are not up to such tasks even on a good day. Insurance adjusters and their attorneys might think you are not likely to go to court and may offer you a quick, unfairly low settlement. A lawyer on your side, however, will work to obtain a fair and just settlement or award for you.
Have You Been Injured In A Florence, South Carolina Area Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a Florence truck accident you should speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Florence, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.7540 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.