Learning about available insurance policies and options relevant to the trucking industry and trucking accidents in Texas is crucial. This can improve your chances of obtaining the best insurance policy and a settlement in the event of a trucking accident. In this article, you will find helpful information on insurance requirements for trucking companies in Texas, certain insurance policies relating to trucking accidents, how to go about reporting an accident to the relevant insurance company, and what to do when one or both parties involved in a trucking accident have no insurance.
In Texas, truck drivers or trucking companies are required to obtain insurance coverage before operating a truck within or across the state. This requirement is to ensure victims of truck accidents receive adequate or substantial compensation for their treatments and well-being without delay. However, different laws regulate the insurance requirements for Texas truck drivers and trucking companies. The applicable law depends on whether their trucks are operating intrastate or interstate. For trucks operating intrastate, which refers to trucks operating only within Texas, the necessary insurance requirements are contained in the Texas Administrative Code. On the other hand, for trucks operating interstate, which refers to trucks operating between Texas and other states, the necessary insurance requirements are stipulated in Federal laws and regulations the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues. Besides mandating that a truck is insured before operating in Texas, these laws and regulations also stipulate the minimum coverage amount for specific trucks.
For intrastate trucks, the minimum coverage amount is outlined under Chapter 43, §218.16 of the Texas Administrative Code. The minimum coverage amount for trucks transporting household goods is $300,000 and $500,000 for trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or less and trucks weighing above 26,000 pounds, respectively. Likewise, for buses designed or used for transporting between 15 and 27 people, the minimum coverage amount is $500,000. However, this minimum amount increases significantly to $5,000,000 when the bus is designed or used for transporting more than 27 people. For trucks designed or used for transporting hazardous materials, the minimum coverage amount ranges between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000, depending on the weight of the truck and the kind of hazardous material being transported.
The minimum coverage amount for trucks operating interstate ranges between $750,000 and $5,000,000, depending on what the truck is designed and used to transport. For trucks designed and used to transport hazardous material, the minimum coverage amount is between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000. The exact amount will depend on the kind of hazardous material being transported. On the other hand, the minimum coverage amount for passenger trucks is $1,500,000 for trucks with 15 seater capacity or less and $5,000,000 for trucks that can transport more than 15 people. The minimum coverage amount for trucks that do not fall under any of the aforementioned categories, typically designated as general trucks, is $750,000.
Failure to comply with the applicable insurance requirement may result in the non-registration of the vehicle by the respective Department or Agency.
Although Texas truck drivers are generally required to have insurance coverage over their vehicle, there are cases of truckers still operating without complying with this requirement. Essentially, they have no insurance coverage. Nevertheless, when there is a traffic accident involving an uninsured trucker, the victims of the accident can sue the trucker directly for damages. Damages may be economic or non-economic. Economic damages refer to an amount of money that can be objectively calculated. This includes medical bills and property repair bills. Conversely, non-economic damages refer to compensation that cannot be objectively calculated. This includes compensation for emotional distress, loss of mobility, and pain and suffering. The severity of the accident will determine the kind of damages the court will likely award a victim.
However, if a victim in a Texas truck accident has an insurance policy that covers crashes with uninsured motorists, it is advisable for the victim to contact their insurance provider first. Examples of such insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection coverage. In such cases, it is better to rely on the insurance policy and use the payout to foot urgent costs like medical bills, pending when the at-fault party offers compensation.
Per the Texas Consumer Bill of Rights on personal automobile insurance, an insurance company must either approve or deny a claim in writing within 45 days after the claim has been made. While insurance companies have a specific time frame to respond to claims, the Bill of Rights does not stipulate a time frame within which a policyholder must make a claim. However, it is generally advisable that a policyholder intending to make a claim does this as quickly as possible. Such a person can take the first step by contacting and notifying their insurance company that they have been involved in a truck accident and that they will be making a claim soon. However, note that if the insurance policy stipulates a timeframe to make a claim, then that timeframe must be followed, failing which the insurance company may refuse to approve the claim.
It is particularly essential to make an insurance claim as quickly as possible in case it may be necessary to sue the insurance company or the at-fault party. Instances when it may be necessary for a policyholder to sue their insurance company include when the company denies their claim in bad faith or unreasonably lengthens relevant investigations without credible reasons. Likewise, instances when it may be necessary to sue the at-fault party includes when any received insurance payout cannot cater for the injuries sustained in the truck accident. Note that the Texas statute of limitations for suing an insurance company for unfair practices is two years. The two-year time frame starts from the date of the denial of the claim. Also, the statute of limitation to sue an at-fault party for personal injury is two years from the date of the accident.
The process through which policyholders can report a truck accident to their insurance companies or that of the at-fault party may depend on the relevant guidelines in their insurance policies. However, a person seeking to file a report can begin the process by contacting the relevant insurance company and scheduling a meeting or requesting guidance on the necessary processes. Victims of a truck accident intending to contact the at-fault party’s insurance company can request the relevant contact details from the at-fault party. Nonetheless, reporting an accident to insurance companies has generally become easier, as some insurance companies have dedicated websites, phone numbers, and email addresses for that purpose.
It is best to report a truck accident as soon as possible in order to aid a faster investigation and possibly quicker payout time. Also, if possible, it is advisable to gather relevant information and evidence that can help to make the insurance claim more credible. Such information includes pictures of the accident scene, eyewitness accounts, pictures of any injuries sustained, and pictures of the plate numbers of the vehicles involved in the crash. Note that if the truck accident resulted in injuries or fatalities, the other party is intoxicated or flees the scene of the accident, it is mandatory to contact the police.
In Texas, the at-fault party in a traffic accident is the party liable for the costs of treatment and other necessary costs incurred by the accident victims due to the crash. Therefore, a driver who is the victim of a crash can contact the insurance provider of the at-fault party and request compensation. However, there are instances whereby the at-fault party’s insurance provider refuses to approve this request for compensation. The grounds for this refusal typically include that the at-fault party’s insurance coverage is insufficient, has lapsed, or that someone else is responsible for the crash. Where the at-fault party’s insurance provider repeatedly refuses to approve such a request, the best solution is for the requesting party to engage a truck accident attorney.
Truck accident attorneys are generally more experienced with demanding compensation for their clients from insurance providers and can help to explore different settlement techniques. More importantly, if the at-fault party’s insurance provider still refuses to approve the requests for compensation, an attorney can help sue the insurance provider. In addition to suing for the compensation, a truck accident attorney can further request costs against the insurance provider, especially if they acted maliciously or unfairly. An example of when an insurance provider is said to act unfairly or maliciously is when they refuse to approve a claim without conducting an investigation.
Collision insurance refers to an insurance policy that covers the cost of repairing vehicle damages sustained while driving. Vehicle damages covered by collision insurance are generally damages from traffic or driving accidents. This includes traffic collisions and dents or damages from other non-traffic driving mishaps, such as hitting a wall, tree, or trashcans. However, some damages are typically excluded from collision insurance policies, and they usually include damages caused by natural disasters, damages caused by non-driving factors such as theft and vandalism, and damages caused to other vehicles. Furthermore, collision insurance does not cover medical bills, even if the treated injuries resulted from an accident with an insured vehicle.
A collision insurance policy may fully or partly cover the repair cost of an insured vehicle. Note that in most cases, collision insurance policies have a maximum payout limit, which is usually the value of the vehicle as of when the policy was obtained. For interested persons who may want to obtain a collision insurance policy for their vehicle, it is essential to discuss with the insurance provider the extent of the policy’s coverage, the maximum payout limit, and whether the policy’s coverage limit can be extended. Note that when a policy coverage limit is extended, the premium on the policy will likely increase.
As outlined earlier, trucking companies operating in Texas must maintain insurance coverage for their trucks. The minimum coverage limit a company is to maintain depends on two major factors, which are:
For trucking companies operating trucks solely within Texas, the minimum insurance limit is provided for under the Texas Administrative Code. This minimum insurance limit is between $300,000 and $5,000,000, depending on what the trucking company uses its trucks to transport. However, for trucking companies operating across Texas and other states, the minimum insurance limit is provided for under the FMCSA regulations. This minimum insurance limit is between $750,000 and $5,000,000. Similarly, the appropriate minimum insurance coverage depends on what is being transported. However, note that the minimum insurance limit for trucking companies that transport hazardous materials is usually higher and is mostly between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance is mandatory in Texas, and, unless it is refused in writing, insurance companies are required to provide a minimum coverage amount of $2,500 per person. A PIP insurance policy covers medical expenses resulting from a car accident to a reasonable level. The policy coverage covers policyholders, their household members, anyone permitted to drive the insured vehicle, and passengers of the insured vehicle. Furthermore, policyholders are at liberty to increase their PIP insurance coverage amount. However, this will result in higher premiums, depending on the policies of the relevant insurance provider.
Regarding claims of personal injury resulting from traffic accidents, Texas is an at-fault state and not a no-fault state. In at-fault states, the party responsible for a traffic accident is also responsible for the necessary costs to deal with the damage. This includes paying for the medical treatment of the victims, property repairs, and other non-economic costs like compensation for pain and sufferin. Therefore, victims in such situations can approach the at-fault party’s insurance company and claim compensation or even sue the at-fault party directly. On the other hand, in no-fault states like New York State, victims of truck accidents are to contact their insurance companies and bear the cost of treatments and repairs first, regardless of who is at fault. Victims can only sue the at-fault party if the effects of the truck accident are severe and continue for an extended period of time.
A release of all claims form is a document indicating that parties to a dispute have settled. It usually includes an undertaking not to litigate or to withdraw any pending suit regarding the dispute. In the context of trucking accidents and insurance claims, a release of all claims form is usually presented by an insurance company to individuals making an insurance claim after they have agreed on the payout. Once the form is signed, the policyholder, or persons entitled to a claim, waive their right to demand or sue the insurance company for a higher payout, even if the agreed payout is eventually insufficient. Therefore, before signing such a form, it is highly advisable to engage a personal injury attorney to help read through the terms presented by the insurance company and possibly bargain for a higher payout.
Full-coverage truck insurance is an insurance package that covers a truck from an extensive range of damages, including traffic accidents, non-traffic accidents, and accidents or mishaps that are not driving-related. The package generally comprises collision insurance, comprehensive insurance, and liability insurance. Collision insurance covers damages sustained during driving, and it covers the insured truck alone. Therefore, collision insurance does not extend to damage caused to other vehicles. Comprehensive insurance is more extensive and covers non-driving accidents and mishaps such as vandalism and damages from natural disasters, and even helps with getting a new truck if the insured truck gets stolen. Liability insurance covers the damage an insured truck may cause a third party in an accident. Essentially, it helps with paying vehicle repair costs and medical bills of the third party, including other necessary costs arising from the truck accident.
Considering how severe truck accidents can be and how they can involve multiple road users, it is best for truck owners or companies to get a full coverage truck insurance cover. Not only does this help lessen their burden during such accidents, but it also guarantees victims can receive some form of compensation at least.
Generally, an insurance claim settlement is between the insurance company and the policyholder or persons entitled to a claim. Personal injury lawyers are primarily present to help with negotiation, facilitate the settlement process, and ensure their clients, whether the insurance company or policyholder, are not short-changed. It is not necessary that a lawyer must be present. Therefore, it is possible to settle a truck accident insurance claim without having a personal injury attorney. However, it is the case that during settlements, insurance companies attempt to offer less than what they should pay. Also, there may be some terms included in the settlement agreement that are to the benefit of the insurance company but to the other party's detriment. Consequently, it is best to settle such claims with a personal injury lawyer, considering these accidents are usually severe and injuries may take longer to be treated or even discovered.
Truck accident attorneys are better at negotiating settlements and they know how to leverage circumstances and facts in favor of their clients. To enlist the services of the best truck accident lawyers in Texas, concerned individuals may either search online by using keywords such as "truck accident lawyer near me" or using informal referrals from friends and family. Interested parties may also use the state bar association directory which provides the contact information, and license status of qualified lawyers and law firms in Texas.