Representatives Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) have introduced the INSURANCE Act, a bill that ensures greater accountability to families injured or killed in truck crashes. The American Association for Justice has announced their support of this long overdue legislation that seeks to amend the shortcomings of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, a law meant to guarantee public safety by requiring insurance minimums to be updated regularly on pace with inflation. An increase has never occurred.
“Trucking companies carry inadequate 1980s level of insurance which means thousands of crash victims are left without the financial resources to pay medical bills or restore the quality of life that they enjoyed before the crash,” said AAJ CEO Linda Lipsen. “In many cases, the burden of health care costs are passed on to taxpayers as Medicare and Medicaid shoulder millions of dollars of medical care each year due to inadequately insured carriers.”
In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a report to Congress that examined the adequacy of the current financial responsibility requirements for motor carriers. The conclusion was clear: today, the costs of injuries and fatalities arising from crashes far exceed the minimum insurance levels interstate operators are required to carry.
Current insurance limits do not adequately cover crashes, primarily because of increased medical costs. The INSURANCE (Improving National Safety by Updating the Required Amount of Insurance Needed by Commercial Motor Vehicles) Act would require the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to tie the minimum insurance floor, currently $750,000 as set in 1980, to the rate of inflation of medical care as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every five years.
Lipsen added, “For families that suffer a crash, it often comes as a surprise that even though Congress took action in the 1980s, minimum insurance requirements for interstate motor carriers have remained unchanged. As a result, injured Americans are often not appropriately compensated for injuries. Congress now has a chance to remedy this by passing the INSURANCE Act.”