Accidents happen. Every driver knows this and understands that traveling on our nation’s roadways carries some risk. To mitigate this risk, current law requires that drivers possess a minimum amount of liability insurance. This is true for private individuals as well as commercial vehicles. The purpose of this insurance is to help cover the medical expenses and property damage of victims in the rare event that an accident occurs.
A key question is what minimum level of liability insurance should our law require to adequately cover medical and other expenses in an accident. In April, the the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) took up this very question in regards to commercial vehicles. In a report to Congress, the FMCSA suggests that current liability insurance minimums associated with commercial vehicles are inadequate, and has established a team to determine a proper level of financial responsibility.
Insurance Minimums Help Cover Injuries and Damage
Because commercial vehicles are often much larger and heavier than a car, they can cause significant damage in an accident. When an accident occurs, it is often the insurance company of the driver at fault that pays for the associated medical expense and property damage. By law, commercial vehicles are required to carry a minimum level of insurance so as to ensure that victims in an accident caused by a commercial vehicle receive sufficient compensation for the harms they have suffered. If a vehicle does not carry sufficient insurance, victims may be left high and dry when it comes to their medical bills and related expenses.
No Change in Liability Insurance Since 1985
The problem that the FMCSA has identified is that current level of insurance that commercial vehicle operators are required to carry is too low. Since 1985, commercial vehicles have been required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance. While this amount was likely sufficient in 1985 to cover nearly all medical and property damages associated with an accident, as the FMCSA notes, this amount is now insufficient.
The reason this insurance minimum is now too low is because of the increased cost of medical treatment and related expenses. If the $750,000 insurance minimum established in 1985 would have changed along with the core consumer price index, the insurance minimum would now be $1.62 million. If the insurance minimum would have changed along with the medical consumer price index, which measures changes to medical costs, the value would be $3.18 million.
In short, the FMCSA suggests that the minimum liability insurance associated with commercial vehicles should be closer to these values so as to ensure that all victims in an accident involving a commercial vehicle can receive compensation sufficient to pay for their injuries.
Get the Help of an Experienced Attorney
If you or a loved one have been harmed in an automobile accident involving a commercial vehicle, it is essential that you speak with a skilled auto accident attorney in Atlanta today. The personal injury attorneys at Goldstein and Hayes, P.C., have years of extensive experience helping accident victims receive the answers they desire and hold those responsible for their injuries accountable.