In one deadly week this past September, two student buses were struck
by semi-trucks with tragic results. For the North Central Texas College
in Gainsville, four members of the softball team were lost when a tractor-trailer
veered from its lane and hit the team van traveling on an Oklahoma interstate.
In Florida, a negligent truck driver slammed into a school bus carrying
fifteen passengers resulting in the hospitalization of seven students
on board, including one needing critical care.
Unfortunately, these stories represent only a few of the thousands of Americans
who are killed and injured in motor carrier accidents each year. Now,
imagine $750,000 split between potentially dozens of victims after an
accident involving a passenger motor coach or bus. Despite increasing
medical costs, this is precisely the reality confronting families who
must bear not only the emotional aftermath of crashes but also shoulder
the financial burdens that result.
Congress Envisioned Regular Increases to Mandatory Insurance
When the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 began deregulating the motor carrier
industry, Congress sought to ensure that reducing barriers to entry would
not result in decreases in safety standards. Thus, while the minimum insurance
levels in 1985 for general freight carriers and bus operators were $750,000
and $1.5 million respectively, Congress intended to increase the minimums
regularly, in lock-step with inflation.
However, over the past 35 years, while the number of truck and bus accidents
have steadily increased along with medical inflation and the costs of
health care related expenses, minimum insurance requirements for commercial
motor vehicles remain the same. Moreover, in an April report to Congress,
the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that in
real terms, insurance premiums have actually decreased for the same amount
of coverage since the 1980s.
Consequences of Under-Insurance
When an accident occurs and truck and bus companies are only insured for
the minimum levels required under federal law, the "gap" between
the amount that insurance policies will cover and victims' health
care costs are passed onto taxpayers. Each year, Medicaid, Medicare, and
Tricare shoulder millions of dollars of medicals bills due to underinsured
carriers. Raising minimum levels of insurance would incentivize motor
carrier companies to make changes in their safety cultures, leading to
safer interstate highways for all motorists.
Our mission is to obtain justice and fair compensation for those wrongly
injured in accidents involving semi-trucks and tractor trailers. Contact
our accident law firm today to learn more about how we can assist in your case.