For years, we have been fighting to hold trucking companies accountable when the negligence of their drivers, staff, and employees leads to the injuries and deaths of innocent people. A collision with a big-rig is almost guaranteed to be life-altering, and some of the client we’ve helped over the years have suffered injuries so severe, and so catastrophic, that they will need medical care for the rest of their lives.
That type of care? It’s not cheap – and a lifetime of care means there’s no relief from the bills and mounting expenses, and no way to recoup the income loss of the injury victim. And even though a truly catastrophic injury can end up costing you millions of dollars over the course of your lifetime, the baseline for a trucking company’s liability hasn’t increased in 41 years.
That is why Rocky McElhaney Law Firm is fully behind a new bill that would finally allow truck crash victims and their families to see justice. The American Association for Justice (AAJ) states that the Improving National Safety by Updating the Required Amount of Insurance Needed by Commercial Motor Vehicles Act – or INSURANCE Act – “would require the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to tie the minimum insurance floor, currently $750,000 as set in 1980, to the rate of inflation of medical care as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every five years.”
The bill was introduced by Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) on July 16, 2019, and would address the loopholes of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, which deregulated the trucking industry in hopes of reducing costs and promoting competition.
What the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 says about liability
Under the Act, the Secretary of Transportation was responsible for establishing a minimum liability threshold. The Act says:
“The minimal level of financial responsibility established by the Secretary… shall not be less than $750,000, except that the Secretary, by regulation, may reduce such amount (but not to an amount less than $500,000)… if the Secretary finds that such reduction will not adversely affect public safety and will prevent a serious disruption in transportation service.
If, at the end of the one-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary has not established regulations to require minimal levels of financial responsibility… the levels of financial responsibility for such class of transportation shall be the $750,000 amount… until such time as the Secretary, by regulation, changes such amount under this subsection.”
In the last 4 decades years, no Secretary of Transportation has ever changed the minimum threshold, even though the cost of healthcare has increased exponentially. In 1980, $750,000 may have been enough to protect a person who was left catastrophically injured by a truck collision. Today, it might not even cover the hospital stay, let alone the cost of medications and therapies that the victims will need.
Good legislation that is long past due
This is good, strong legislation – and it is long overdue. Insurance companies fight tooth and nail to ensure that they pay the least possible amount of money for claims. The trucking industry comes armed with a battalion of lawyers whose only goal is to reduce the amount of money their clients will have to pay. Even when their insured’s drivers are asleep behind the wheel, or don’t look before they merge, or don’t pay attention to the height of their trucks and get caught under overpasses, destroying bridges and roads alike – there is nothing that the insurance companies won’t do to keep their clients from being held accountable.
The burdens of truck accidents are borne by more than just those who sustain the injuries: they affect their families, friends, and loved ones, too. They’re borne by the taxpayers who have to replace the broken roads and guardrails. They’re borne by policyholders who have to absorb the costs of these accidents because their own UM/UIM insurance has to pick up the slack.
And like Representatives García and Cartwright, we also say “Enough is enough.”
We urge you to call your local Representative and urge him or her to vote for the INSURANCE Act, not only because it’s a good bill, but because it’s the right thing to do. Truck accident injury victims shouldn’t have to continue to suffer because the trucking industry doesn’t want to be held accountable for its errors. And if you are injured in a truck accident in Tennessee, remember that the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm will always fight for you and your family. Please call us at 615-425-2500, or fill out our contact form, and schedule a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Nashville, Hendersonville, or Knoxville today.