In order to protect motorists in the event a commercial truck is involved in an accident causing injury or property damage, there are federal and state laws requiring commercial motor vehicles to carry liability insurance for truckers. These laws require particular types of insurance, and impose minimum coverage limits.
Federal Regulations regarding liability insurance for truckers
The United States Code of Federal Regulations set out the minimum insurance limits for vehicles based on the weight of the truck and the materials being carried. For trucks with a gross weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more, the following minimum limits apply:
- $750,000 for Bodily Injury and Property Damage for non-hazardous general commodities
- $1 million for Bodily Injury and Property Damage for hazardous materials, except explosives
- $5 million Bodily Injury and Property Damage for explosives and hazardous materials transported in specified tanks
For smaller trucks, with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 pounds, a minimum limit of $300,000 Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage is required if the truck is transporting only general commodities. If the materials include any quantity of explosives or poison gas, or radioactive materials, the minimum limit increases to $5 million.
Truck insurance requirements in Missouri and Arkansas
Each state has its own laws regarding the amount of insurance commercial trucks and trucking companies are required to maintain. In Missouri, a truck carrying nonhazardous materials must maintain a minimum of $100,000 for injury or death of one person; $300,000 for any one accident; and $50,000 property damage for any one accident. For trucks hauling hazardous materials, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more, is $5 million.
In Arkansas, trucks are required to carry a minimum of $300,000 in personal injury and property damage liability insurance, if the gross weight is 10,000 pounds or less. For larger trucks, the minimum is $750,000.
What if the truck is not properly insured?
Trucking companies who do not meet the required insurance minimums that apply to them, are not allowed to continue operating until they meet the requirements. Companies can certainly purchase more coverage, and many do because truck accidents frequently cause more serious, or even fatal, injuries.
Victims of truck accidents may pursue a claim against a trucking company if the driver of the truck caused the accident through negligence or carelessness. In most cases, the trucking company can become liable for its employee or agent’s negligence, as if the company had been negligent itself. More importantly, if a trucking company had substandard policies and safety rules, and failed to hire and train responsible drivers, the company can also be held liable for resulting injuries. For these reasons, it is important for trucking companies, as well as independent truck drivers, to carry the required amount of insurance.
If you have questions regarding trucking accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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