Recently, Goodrich & Geist represented a family of a 44 year old physician killed by a truck driver on an interstate in Ohio. The truck driver was speeding in a work zone and violated safety regulations for the number of hours a truck driver may drive in one day.
Nearly three times as many people die in truck accidents as die in aviation, boating and railroad accident combined. The nearly 11 million trucks that travel U.S. roads each year make up only 4.7 percent of all passenger vehicles, yet are involved in 12.4 percent of all fatal crashes. Fatalities (per miles driven) are 17 percent higher than for passenger vehicles.
This ever-increasing safety issue is driven by an economic model that is fundamentally unsafe. Truck drivers - compensated by miles driven, not hours worked - are pushed to ignore safety measures, delay repairs and drive in a fatigued state.
Incredibly, the federally-mandated minimum insurance limits for trucking companies has not changed in 33 years. Interstate trucking companies are only required to carry $750,000 in liability insurance limits. You would need $2,185,073 of coverage in 2012 dollars to equal the $750,000 basic minimum liability requirement of 1980. Adjusting for medical care inflation, you would need $4,280,308 to equal the minimum liability requirements put in place more than 30 years ago.
There are changes being proposed to the minimum requirements, but they are likely to increase minimally, if at all.
What can you do? First, you can call your local member of Congress and tell them you want truck liability limits to increase. If you don't know who your representative is, you can go to www.house.gov/representatives/find. Type in your zip code and you will be linked to your representative. Second, you can make sure that you protect yourself and your family by making sure you have Underinsured Motorist coverage on your personal auto policy. Underinsured Motorist coverage, also known as UIM, protects you and your family if you are injured by another vehicle that does not have enough liability insurance. You should make sure that your UIM coverage limits are equal to your liability limits and that your UIM coverage is stacked.