After an 18 wheeler crash, damages for medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, pain, and other items can be enormous. Who pays for that? How much is available? What happens if there is not enough insurance to pay all injured people?
Minimum insurance levels required
Federal law has mandated that commercial vehicles which drive from state to state have insurance since the trucking industry began back in 1935.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces the law that if the vehicle that drives interstate has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds, it is required to have $750,000 available. Further, if the truck is carrying hazardous materials, up to five million dollars is required.
Buses and other vehicles that carry 15 passengers or less must have at least one million dollars in coverage; those that carry more than 16 people have to have at least five million dollars in coverage available.
Often companies have multiple policies or higher limits. Many have high deductibles and self-retention amounts.
Note that the required minimum limit of $750,000 has not been increased since the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 was enacted, while medical bills that cost that amount 36 years ago now cost $4.2 million adjusted for inflation. Clearly the minimum figures are inadequate to protect the public.