How Trucking Companies Can Protect Themselves With Insurance Coverage

When a truck collides with a passenger car or another truck, the results can be catastrophic. Depending on the length and weight of the truck, as well as the type of cargo being carried, an accident can cause life-altering personal injuries to truckers, as well as those in smaller vehicles.

Regardless of the circumstances, the ultimate outcome will likely hinge on the complex application of insurance coverage for everyone involved in the accident. Truckers, whether they are employed by a transportation company or work as owner-operators, have a greater chance of overcoming the financial effects of a truck collision if they understand how insurance coverage can protect their personal safety, their vehicles and their businesses.

At the California law firm of Girardi | Keese, our skilled truck accident lawyers have been working to rebuild the lives of those affected by motor vehicle collisions for more than 30 years. With a long record of successes in the courtroom, our firm has recovered billions of dollars on behalf of our injured clients.

Is Trucking Insurance Similar To Personal Auto Insurance?

Yes and no. For both types of drivers, insurance helps reduce potential post-accident costs. Insurance works by sharing the financial risk of wrecks among a pool of individual and corporate vehicle owners.

For truckers and trucking companies, their insurance may also protect their business interests, including limiting liability after a crash and protecting the interests of the companies whose cargo they are carrying.

What Types Of Insurance Should Truckers Purchase?

The purpose of insurance coverage can be somewhat different for truck drivers and trucking companies versus individual motorists who are driving their personal vehicles.

Truck drivers and the companies that employ them frequently buy the following types of coverage:

  • Physical damage coverage for the rig and trailer
  • Primary auto liability to protect the driver or company if a third party is hurt in an accident
  • General liability coverage for business issues that do not involve truck accidents (e.g., contractual disputes, losses from delivery delays, etc.)
  • Nontrucking liability to cover incidents that happen when a trucker is not completing an assignment
  • Cargo coverage for freight the truck is carrying
  • Terminal or warehouse coverage for cargo stored at holding facilities

Outcomes For Truckers And Trucking Companies After An Insurance Claim Is Filed

Some of the most common truck accidents involve truckers losing control of their vehicles in catastrophic ways (brake failure, rollover, jackknifing). It is interesting to note that a 2013 American Trucking Association report revealed that professional truck drivers were blamed for accidents in less than 20 percent of the thousands of cases studied. For the other cases, factors beyond the drivers' control - including weather, road conditions and the behavior of passenger car motorists - caused the accidents.

Because of this, it can be difficult for a motorist to successfully press a personal injury lawsuit following a truck accident. Many accidents occur when a car driver foolishly stays in the "no zone" where a trucker cannot see the car with his or her side mirrors or passes a truck too quickly, then slams on the brakes, forcing a trucker to react. In many of these cases, a large degree of fault is often assigned to the car driver.

Because several insurers can be involved in a truck accident claim, insurance coverage attorneys such as those at Girardi | Keese may be needed to coordinate the process, helping to ensure that the correct parties are held responsible. We know how to sift through the information gathered during post-accident investigations, such as driving logs and GPS tracking information, which can verify that the trucker was operating the truck properly.

How Does Insurance Coverage Work For An Owner-Operator In The Event Of A Truck Wreck?

For truck owner-operators, the insurance they purchase is similar to that purchased by trucking companies for their fleets. However, when owner-operators are involved in truck accidents and they have not been careful in their choice of coverage, they may have to deal with several situations that may not affect a larger trucking company. These can include:

  • Paying more out of pocket after a crash because a cheaper insurance policy was chosen over one with fewer gaps in coverage
  • Not checking the conditions of their policy and experiencing an accident or loss that is not covered by it
  • Skimping on under/uninsured motorist coverage, then suffering truck damage or physical injury because of an accident with a driver with insufficient insurance
  • Buying inadequate coverage that did not provide enough protection after an accident because the insurance agent didn't understand the risks of the specific types of loads they carry

What Are Some Successful Approaches To Resolving An Insurance Claim After A Truck Crash?

In any type of insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit involving a truck wreck, having experienced attorneys who are successful litigators is a must. Firms such as Girardi | Keese are connected to networks of professionals who can perform a complete site investigation immediately after the accident. Our attorneys will oversee the preservation of crucial evidence, talk to drivers and company safety personnel, arrange witness interviews, and lay the groundwork for a strong defense against any claims other parties might file.

If a trucker or truck company needs to file an insurance claim against another party, we will take many of the same steps as with a defense situation. Truck companies are required to collect substantial data about the behavior of their drivers and the conditions of the truck, which may aid in showing that the trucker was not at fault for the accident. Additionally, an attorney can assist your company in documenting the medical injuries of the truck driver and calculating the value of a claim that will help him or her recover.

How Long Does An Insurance Claim Typically Take To Settle?

Factors that can impact the timeline for an insurance claim include:

  • The value of the trucking insurance policy
  • Whether multiple insurance policies owned by the trucker and truck owner apply to the case
  • The time required for those who were injured to recover fully - which can be substantial if the injuries were serious
  • Time needed to negotiate a settlement of the claim - which may include time to assess fault, review lots of medical data related to the injuries suffered and determine how much compensation is available under a specific policy

Your truck accident attorney can provide guidance on what to expect in terms of a settlement timeline.

Why Is Hiring A Lawyer So Important For Getting A Claim Settled Faster Or More Successfully?

Truck wrecks are often far more complicated than other types of motor vehicle accidents. If you own or operate a truck for business, you have more than likely paid lots of money for your insurance policy. A lawyer experienced in truck accident claims will know how to represent you in front of insurers (and in court if that becomes necessary), and will provide you with options that will lead to the claim being resolved as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

Can A Truck Company Act As Its Own Insurance Company?

Yes, it can. Many midsized and large trucking companies meet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's financial responsibility requirements in the form of letters of credit or bonds. A self-insuring company must still prove that it can meet federal bodily damage liability and property damage standards, but it can process claims filed against it. It may form a mutual insurance company, create a department within the organization to handle claims or contract with a claims-processing enterprise to deal with insurance issues.

An experienced truck accident lawyer can assist self-insured trucking companies if a person making a claim challenges the trucking company's claims-handling process or files a lawsuit after a claim is denied.

Our Firm Can Guide You Through Tough Insurance Battles

It can take more than just well-planned insurance coverage to help your trucking operation survive a catastrophic truck accident. The attorneys of Girardi | Keese know insurance coverage conflicts from every angle. Whether your driver or another party is found to be a fault in an accident claim, we will protect your business interests and ensure that matters are wrapped up in a timely fashion at the lowest possible cost to you. Contact us at 800-401-4530 or email our office to receive a free case evaluation. From our offices in Los Angeles and San Bernardino, we assist clients throughout the state.