Illinois truck accidents can cause serious injuries and property damage. As a result, personal injury lawsuits involving trucking companies can result in substantial damage awards. One of the main factors to consider in a truck accident injury claim financial responsibility of the trucking company involved in your crash.
Truck Company Financial Responsibility Basics
As with all other motor vehicles, trucking companies are required to purchase and maintain liability insurance above a certain dollar amount. Under federal law, trucking companies must keep a copy of their financial responsibility on file at their principal place of business at all times. This document can be either:
- An insurance policy endorsement;
- A surety bond; or
- Written permission to self-insure the company.
These insurance, endorsement, and surety bond policies must remain in effect until terminated. If the insurer decides to cease coverage, it must provide 35 days’ notice to the trucking company (which begins from the date the initial notice is mailed).
Once a trucking company is notified that its coverage will soon end, it must secure a new policy within that 35-day window. An insurance or surety bond policy may be obtained for a defined time period with the purpose of “bridging the gap” between coverage policies.
Truck Insurance Coverage Amounts
Because tractor trailers are so much bigger than most vehicles on the road today, and because their cargo can potentially cause additional damage in a truck accident, the amount of insurance coverage for trucks is much higher than it is for passenger vehicles.
Generally speaking, any commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds which is transporting property that is not defined as hazardous must carry financial responsibility of at least $750,000.
However, this amount rises steeply when hazardous cargo is being hauled. Hazardous substances are those that are determined to have the capability of posing an unreasonable risk to property, safety, and health. The Secretary of Transportation is responsible for classifying whether a substance is hazardous.
Vehicles carrying hazardous substances must obtain liability coverage with a minimum amount of $5 million. However, there are certain substances (such as oil and hazardous waste) which may only require the trucking company to maintain $1 million worth of coverage. A competent Chicago truck accident attorney will be able to identify which cargo types qualify for this reduced coverage amount.