How a Truck Insurance Policy Compensates Accident Victims

Key Points:

  • Commercial vehicle insurance in Georgia is regulated to ensure the public’s safety.
  • Liability insurance policies specify limits on a per-person and per-accident basis that will be paid.
  • The cost for injuries in an accident often exceeds policy limits leaving some victims undercompensated.
  • An experienced truck and car accident lawyer can find associated defendants and pertinent insurance policies to make up the difference between the victim’s costs and the insurance policy’s limits.

Georgia Law Requires Commercial Trucks to be Insured

The state of Georgia requires every vehicle that uses the roadways to be covered by liability insurance. This law (Ga. Code § 33-34-4), commonly called the Motor Vehicle Safety and Responsibility Act, includes commercial vehicles, like trucks, buses, and vans.

Because commercial trucks are typically larger and heavier than passenger cars, when they collide with anything, there is often more serious damage. For this reason, trucking companies and owners/operators are required to carry more insurance to cover potential damage to property and victims.

The State of Georgia’s regulations require most commercial vehicles to carry minimum liability coverage from $750,000 to $1,000,000. In addition, trucks that haul oil products must have $1,000,000 in liability insurance, and trucks handling hazardous materials (hazmat) must have at least $5,000,000 in coverage.

Who Insures Commercial Trucks?

Many insurance companies provide insurance for trucks and trucking companies. Big, national insurance companies, like State Farm and Progressive, carry trucking policies, as do many smaller, specialty companies that provide only commercial trucking insurance.

Truck drivers are considered employees or subcontractors of the companies they drive for. Independent drivers who lease their trucks to companies that need freight moved are technically employees of those companies and are covered by the companies’ insurance policies, too.

In Georgia, if the truck driver involved in an accident is found to be at fault, the driver and the company they work for can be held liable for damages. Also, owners/operators of commercial trucks that work independently and are not leased to a trucking company must carry their own liability insurance to move freight in Georgia.

The Types of Insurance Trucks Carry on a Policy

Insurance for personal and commercial vehicles are similar, but commercial policies cover specific incidents that rarely apply to personal cars.

Common items included in commercial vehicular insurance policies are listed below:

  • Trucking liability insurance policies are meant to pay for all bodily injury and property damage caused by truckers or the companies they drive for. Generally, the policies do not differentiate between bodily harm and property damage but lump such costs together. Trucking companies or owners/operators in Georgia are required to carry liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for each truck, at a minimum.
  • Cargo insurance policies may cover the truck’s cargo or payload damaged during transport. Such an insurance policy is not required by law in Georgia, but it is a good business practice for trucking companies to protect their cargo and lessen their financial risk.
  • Comprehensive trucking insurance is not required by law, but as with personal car insurance, it is a good idea to carry such insurance because damages can occur in non-collision events, like fires, thefts, or acts of nature.
  • A bobtail insurance policy (or rider) covers trucks or tractors not actively pulling trailers at the time of an accident. For instance, when a tractor drops off one trailer and is on its way to pick up a loaded trailer elsewhere.
  • Non-trucking liability policies or terms may cover a truck driver or trucking company when the truck is being used or driven but not engaged in the act of traditional hauling or work. This insurance may be needed if an accident happened after the truck was unloaded and on its way to pick up another load or when the driver was on the way to park and rest.

What Coverage Goes to Truck Accident Victims?

As you can see, many of the coverage options of a trucking insurance policy are meant to pay for things unrelated to the accident victims. Cargo insurance and comprehensive insurance are examples of this. If you are injured or sustain property damage due to a truck accident, that vehicle’s liability insurance will be the policy that covers injury and property damage. 

What Are the Typical Limits on a Truck Insurance Policy?

The rules and regulations for trucks differ depending on various factors. If you’ve been in an accident with a truck, your personal injury lawyer will research the state or federal laws under which the vehicle in question is operating. For example, for trucks more than 10,000 pounds that only drive in Georgia and do not cross state lines, Georgia requires minimum insurance of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. Commercial vehicles that carry more than 12 passengers, on the other hand, must have an insurance limit of $500,000 or more. 

How These Policies Cover Multiple Accident Victims

Most insurance policies, including those for commercial trucks, have a per-accident limit and a per-person limit. For instance, if the defendant has per-person coverage of $100,000, that means the most the insurance policy will pay for bodily injury liability is $100,000.

The per-accident limit comes into play when there are multiple victims. For example, if three individuals are injured in an accident, the insurance will pay up to $300,000 in total.

It’s easy to see why claims often exceed the insurance coverage available. An experienced lawyer can find other “pockets,” or policies, from which the balance of the claim can be paid.

Core Differences Between Car Insurance and Truck Insurance

Car insurance and commercial truck insurance are very similar – they are both meant to provide funding for specific claims resulting from accidents. However, there are important differences between the two kinds of coverage.

It is important to remember that commercial truck insurance has no benefits specifically for bodily injury. Instead, there is a category for damage to property and/or injury, with no differentiation between the two.

Trucks may have additional insurance meant to cover cargo, or that applies in specific situations, such as when the truck is moving freight or driving without a trailer. These coverages don’t help the victim in an accident but instead protect the truck’s owner from losses.

Commercial policies are also larger and meant to cover more significant damage. Because commercial vehicles are usually on the road more than passenger vehicles, they are at greater risk of being involved in accidents. In addition, they are heavier and larger than personal cars or trucks, so they’re likely to create more costly damage. Therefore, the insurance policies have higher limits and are more expensive to purchase.

One way insurance companies lessen their risks of insuring commercial trucks is to stipulate who may or may not drive the vehicle and for what purpose it may be used.

Finally, vehicles used for work or owned by a business should have coverage provided by a commercial policy. Insurance companies may not pay for accidents if the vehicle is not covered by a commercial policy specifically.

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The Millar Law Firm Helps Truck Accident Victims Get Compensated

When it comes to commercial truck accidents, multiple “pockets,” or insurance policies, can come into play. Possible defendants include the driver; the trucking company that employs the driver; and even the truck manufacturer, including the company that made (or installed) the tires, brakes, and other truck parts that might have failed and contributed to the accident.

To make matters more confusing, in some cases, all the potential defendants can be included in the resulting legal action.

An experienced legal team familiar with all the possibilities in a trucking action can help ensure your compensation is full, fair, and complete.

We have been helping accident victims get the most out of policies for decades. It is our goal and the goal of Georgia’s laws to ensure accident victims are fully compensated for their losses.

Not having a legal team to fight for you can mean being left with medical bills or life-changing injuries for which you are not compensated.

Truck accident cases can be very complicated, but we can help. Call us today to make an appointment for a free consultation. Our experienced lawyers can help you understand what you’re up against and how best to move forward in settling your claim. Call 770-400-0000.

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