The two, traumatic, I-55 crashes involving trucks in Elwood, IL offer a stark reminder that the current federal minimums for truck insurance are drastically low. The current law requires that truck drivers and trucking companies carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance. The medical and other costs stemming from the tragically high number of dead and injured in those two truck accidents will likely exceed the insurance coverage available.
On July 21, 2014, within minutes of each other, there were two deadly truck accidents on I-55 near Elwood, Illinois. These two deadly crashes brought about the death of five people and caused another five people to be sent to the hospital for emergency treatment. Although the investigation into the causes of those two truck crashes is still on-going, I think it’s fair to suggest that the medical and other expenses stemming from the deaths and injuries are more than likely to exceed the minimum insurance coverage required by the federal rules and regulations.
A Need for Higher Truck Insurance Minimums
Stemming from a law passed in the 1980s, the federally mandated truck insurance minimum is $750,000.00. That amount has not been raised in more than 30 years – not even for inflation. Costs for emergency medical services, and follow-up medical care, certainly has gone up in the past three decades. Yet to date, the federal regulators have not forced the trucking industry to increase their insurance coverage minimums.
As I wrote in July of last year, too many trucks on the roads are woefully under-insured. That more than 40% of all truck crash verdicts and settlements surpass the federal government’s minimum truck insurance requirements is a clear sign that the current levels are not sufficient. Both the trucking industry and the motoring public are being left exposed by a lack of sufficient truck insurance coverage.
Supporting the Call for Increased Truck Insurance Minimums
Last year, Congressman Matt Cartwright from Pennsylvania sponsored a bill in Congress called the “Safe Haul” bill. This important piece of proposed legislation, HR 2730, would “revise certain minimum financial responsibility requirements to increase from $750,000 to $4.422 million the minimum level of financial responsibility sufficient to satisfy established liability coverage for motor carriers or motor private carriers providing property transportation.”
As a truck accident attorney, I support the “Safe Haul” bill and encourage others to write to their senators and congressional leaders about it.