Following US Rep. Matt Cartwright’s proposed “Safe Haul” bill, I was struck by a recent report that detailed how many trucks and trucking companies on our roads are so fearfully underinsured. A recent report from the American Association Justice shines a powerful light into this little known and very scary statistic.
For over 65 years, the American Association for Justice has supported plaintiff trial lawyers — as the collective voice of the trial bar on Capitol Hill and in courthouses across the nation and by providing exclusive services designed for trial lawyers. Since 2011, I have served on the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of this important group.
Underinsured is a Risk to Us All
In a press release dated June 4, 2013, The Trucking Alliance shared details of a study that demonstrated that 42% of truck crash settlements in the US exceeded the federal government’s minimum insurance requirements for trucking companies. That almost half of all settlements involving trucking wrecks were over the mandated minimum of $750,000.00 is a clear signal that the federal guidelines currently allow truck drivers and commercial trucking companies to operated their rigs in an underinsured way.
The president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, Lane Kidd, who is also the Senior Manager of The Trucking Alliance, was especially apt in describing the risk such underinsurance poses:
“The underinsured exposure is significant because a large percentage of the motor carrier population maintain insurance at or near the $750,000 minimum. This underinsured exposure means that trucking companies must pay out the additional dollars from within the business or in the worse case, file bankruptcy to avoid paying. These statistics clearly show that the current minimum insurance level creates too much exposure for the trucking industry and injured motorists.“
That the trucking industry itself is concerned about the lack of a meaningful federal minimum level of insurance is a positive sign. The Trucking Alliance, more formally known as The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, is coalition of freight transportation companies devoted to advancing initiatives to improve safety within the trucking industry. Given The Trucking Alliance’s support for addressing the shortfall in required insurance coverage for trucking companies, I am confident that our legislators will do something to reduce the number of underinsured trucks on our roadways.
In addition to support from within the trucking industry, I am pleased to see that my fellow truck accident lawyers are working hard to address this important issue. Supporting Rep. Cartright’s “Safe Haul” bill and the report from the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group are two big steps in the right direction.