What Happens if the At-Fault Party Does Not Have Truck Insurance?

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Truck accidents can have serious consequences for the victims, often resulting in injury or death. A higher percentage of passenger vehicle occupants than truck drivers get hurt or killed in large truck accidents. In 2019, 69% of those injured and 71% of fatalities were to passenger vehicle occupants. If you received injuries in a truck accident, you deserve to recover fair compensation, but what happens if the at-fault party does not have truck insurance?

You likely assume truck drivers have sufficient insurance to pay for damages for accidents they cause. However, that isn’t always the case. The driver is breaking the law if a trucker drives a semi that isn’t covered. The trucking company may be breaking the law as well.

What Are the Insurance Laws for Commercial Trucks?

Truck drivers are legally required to have the right type and coverage amount. If the driver is an independent contractor, the driver must carry the insurance. If the trucker works for a company, the company is responsible for maintaining the insurance.

Federal Laws

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes regulations for tractor-trailer safety on U.S. highways and interstates. Any commercial truck that engages in interstate commerce, crossing state lines as part of their business, or uses the federal roadway system, is responsible for complying with federal laws governing the trucking industry.

The FMCSA requires truckers and trucking companies to file an application as an operating authority. As part of the process, the insurance company must submit proof of insurance to the FMCSA. Just as every state establishes a minimum coverage for motorists, the federal government sets minimum coverage levels for trucks.

Minimum Insurance Coverage

How much truckers need depends on the truck’s size and cargo type. Trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds and carrying non-hazardous cargo require a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance. If the trucks haul hazardous materials, the minimum coverage is either $1,000,000 or $5,000,000, depending on the freight classification.

Trucks that weigh 10,000 pounds or less and don’t carry hazardous freight need a minimum of $300,000 in liability coverage. These figures may sound like a lot of insurance, but if a truck weighing up to 80,000 pounds hits a passenger vehicle, the ensuing damages could be significantly higher. It can also give you an idea of the repercussions for a driver hit by an uninsured trucker.

Michigan Laws

Trucking companies that only operate within the state must comply with Michigan’s laws for the industry. Companies and drivers must register with the state and provide proof of insurance. The state’s minimum insurance requirements are identical to those the FMCSA requires.

Does Your Insurance Cover You in a Truck Accident?

Beginning July 1, 2020, Michigan became a no-fault vehicle accident insurance state. All passenger vehicles must have no-fault insurance.

No-Fault Insurance Coverage

The law stipulates that anyone who suffers injuries from a traffic accident turns to their insurance company first. Michigan intrastate truck drivers or trucking companies also must comply with the state’s no-fault insurance laws. Interstate companies and drivers comply with federal standards. Michigan’s insurance regulations require the following basic no-fault coverage.

Personal Injury Protection

PIP coverage pays for your medical expenses if you have a collision with a semi, no matter who is at fault. Your insurer cannot establish a maximum limit and must cover all reasonable expenses for injuries related to your accident, including any future costs you may incur. It also covers your income for up to 85% if you can’t work for up to three years. PIP insurance will pay for routine household services for up to $20 daily.

Property Protection Insurance

PPI coverage pays property damage costs if you hit another person’s property, such as a fence or structure. It’ll only pay for damage to another vehicle if the car was legally parked when you hit it.

Residual Liability Insurance

This type of coverage is for both bodily injury and property damages. It reduces the risk of other drivers suing you should you cause an accident that results in either type of damage, with four exceptions:

  1. Your accident occurred in Michigan and passes the state’s threshold for serious bodily injury or permanent disfigurement.
  2. Your accident occurred in Michigan, but the injured parties were in a vehicle registered out of state.
  3. Your accident didn’t occur within Michigan’s borders.
  4. You are more than 50% liable for an accident that damages an uninsured vehicle. This coverage only provides up to $1,000 for damages.

Residual liability pays up to $20,000 if you are liable for an accident and one person dies or sustains serious injuries. If more than one person is injured or killed, the policy pays up to $40,000. It pays up to $10,000 if the accident occurs out of state.

Can You Sue the At-Fault Party?

Accidents that involve large commercial trucks get complicated, especially given the state’s no-fault insurance laws. A truck accident attorney can help you determine the best path forward if you are involved in a collision with an uninsured trucker.

Michigan’s no-fault laws require you to seek compensation from your car insurance company first. However, if your injuries pass the state’s threshold for serious injury, you can file a lawsuit to try to recoup non-economic damages not covered under insurance policies. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of quality of life and emotional trauma.

You can also file a legal claim for economic damages that exceed your no-fault insurance limits. According to the law, serious injuries are injuries:

  • Someone other than the injured person can observe
  • Have a significant impact on the injured person’s body functions
  • That affect the individual’s ability to lead a normal life

Recovering losses from a trucker who isn’t adequately insured is challenging. Additionally, other parties may bear some of the responsibility.

Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident?

Semi collisions are often the result of human error, such as distracted or drowsy driving or failure to adhere to traffic laws. However, even in these instances, another party may be partially to blame for the accident.

An attorney with experience handling truck accident claims is familiar with how the trucking industry works and what parties play a role in ensuring rig safety on the road. The lawyer looks for evidence indicating that those in the following sectors may be liable for the accident:

  • Trucking company
  • Cargo handlers
  • Shipping company
  • Maintenance contractors
  • Truck and part manufacturers
  • State or federal road work contractors
  • State or federal public works departments

When any of these parties hold some of the responsibility for the accident due to their negligence, you can seek compensation through their insurance companies or by filing a lawsuit.

Before you accept a settlement from your insurance company, talk to an attorney to determine your options. Don’t give up, thinking you have no recourse if the driver is uninsured.

Who Can You Talk to About Your Michigan Truck Accident Case?

At Mike Morse Law Firm, we understand how hopeless and overwhelming it can feel to find out that the trucker who caused your accident does not have insurance. If you have serious injuries, your no-fault insurance may not be sufficient to cover your losses. Additionally, it does not provide for non-economic damages. We’re here to help you discover your options. Contact us today for a free case review.

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/insurance-filing-requirements

https://www.michiganada.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/p-371-gc.pdf

https://www.michigan.gov/-/media/Project/Websites/difs/Publication/Auto/FIS-PUB_0202.pdf?rev=7f43969712ec4c269abfc0cbf8a843ef

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(frjvtejma3fcopeabey04pso))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-600-5805

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