A few days ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a 14-page Report to Congress, concluding the following:
1. Current limits are inadequate in covering catastrophic crashes.
2. Simply adjusting existing limits to adjust for healthcare inflation would require raising limits:
- a. From the current $750,000 to $3,188,250 for general tractor-trailers, rather than the $4.2 million that was discussed for inflation adjustment since the $750,000 minimum was first set in 1980.
- b. From the current $1 million to $4,251,000 for low-hazard hazmat tractor-trailers, e.g., fuel trucks, rather than $4.4 million that was discussed.
- c. From the current $5 million to $21,255,000 for high-hazard hazmat tractor-trailers;
- d. From the current $1.5 million to $6,376,500 for small buses; and
- e. From the current $5 million to $21,255,000 for large buses.
3. “The Agency has formed a rulemaking team to further evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility for the motor carrier industry and has placed this rulemaking among the Agency’s high priority rules.”
I figured there would be some political compromise in the process, and apparently there has been some.
It still would be an advantage to leased “independent contractor” drivers to also require uninsured / underinsured (UM / UIM) coverage on these vehicles, as these driver work in a highly dangerous occupation, often with no medical insurance, no workers compensation insurance and no UM / UIM insurance to protect themselves and their families if they are injured on the job.
Ken Shigley is a past president of the State Bar of Georgia and currently chair-elect of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Practice & Procedure, he is a board certified civil trial attorney of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. His regional litigation law practice is based in Atlanta, GA.