State law with respect to the financial responsibility for common carriers needs to be changed and it needs to be changed quickly. Simply stated, the minimum limits of insurance protection that is now available to the public is grossly inadequate and far less than federal limits. It is high time that states enact legislation that is at least as effective as federal law in protecting innocent members of the motoring public when it comes to the type of carnage that can be inflicted by a negligent trucking company. More Information about Truck Accident Attorneys click here
In order to operate as a motor carrier, a company must first obtain a certificate of public convenience pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 46-7-3. Under rules adopted by the state Public Service Commission, in order to obtain a certificate of public convenience, a carrier must provide the State with a surety bond of only $100,000.00 for bodily injury or death of one person and $300,000.00 for bodily injury or death of all persons involved in an accident. This standard was issued by the State Public Service Commission (PSC) under its Rule 7-2.1. Alternatively, the PSC stated that a motor carrier could present the PSC with proof of insurance in the same amount and that the proof could be the actual policy itself or a certificate of coverage from the insurance company.
The Certificate of Insurance is known as a Form E (Uniform Motor Carrier Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Certificate of Insurance). The purpose of this insurance is to protect the innocent members of the motoring public who may be damaged by the carrier’s operations. Unfortunately, in a case involving serious injury or death, $100,000.00 is clearly inadequate to address such a situation. Indeed, in any serious case where the injured victim remains in the hospital sometimes for days or weeks, the $100,000.00 minimum limits of insurance coverage is hardly sufficient to even compensate the victim for his or her medical expenses much less lost wages, pain and suffering and/or permanent disability caused by the injury. Unfortunately, the state Legislature which is dominated by a business lobby mentality does not seem very interested in calling for an amendment to this Rule. “Let them eat cake” seems to be the attitude which we have a hard time understanding. After all, we are talking about innocent victims of Tuck Accidents
Under federal law, the minimum limit of insurance coverage for the protection of the public is $750,000.00. Most responsible trucking companies carry much more by way of liability insurance coverage than the minimum limits because their assets are at risk in a serious case. Many responsible trucking companies carry 5 – 10 million dollars in coverage, and sometimes more. In a serious case where amputations are involved, paralysis, death or other truly severe injuries, such coverage is necessary to compensate the innocent third-party victim who may be involved in an accident with a large truck.
If a driver loses control, is speeding, crosses the centerline or otherwise strikes the innocent third party who has done absolutely nothing wrong, one can be assured that with the size of some of these rigs, the innocent third party will be severely damaged. If the person survives the injury, that person may undergo months, if not years, of pain and suffering not to mention a loss of their lifestyle, their job and the emotional stress attendant to such a situation which literally always affects the entire family. In such circumstances, it is ludicrous for the State to have coverage limits of $100,000.00 to cover a serious injury or death. Indeed, $100,000.00 is the most any single person can collect from such an accident and even if ten people were killed in a van, let’s say, coming back from a church, the most the family members could receive would be a total of $300,000.00 to be divided ten ways from a minimum limits carrier. In short, if a trucking company is irresponsible enough to carry minimum limits, they are still within the law and can operate legally. If they have no assets at risk because they are a “fly by night carrier,” they are not likely to carry more coverage. More information about Truck Accident Law here