Proving Fault in DC Truck Accident Cases

Getting into a vehicular accident with a commercial truck can be a very harrowing experience. For someone who is driving in a regular sized car, a truck accident has the potential to cause an immense amount of damage. Speak with a DC truck accident attorney to discuss your case and how you should proceed.

How a DC Truck Accident Lawyer Demonstrates Fault

There are many avenues to investigate in DC truck accident cases. First and foremost is the conduct of the driver. That conduct is simply whether they were operating the vehicle safely and following the motor vehicle highway laws, and whether that driver was negligent in the operation of the vehicle.

Then there is the equipment itself and whether it contributed to the cause of the accident because it was not properly maintained or inspected and failed, therefore contributing to the accident. Then there is the company that the driver works for in terms of their responsibility of hiring and training the driver and whether they hired a properly qualified driver with little to no prior history of accidents and unsafe operation of a commercial vehicle. Other ways a DC truck accident attorney can demonstrate that the company is at fault is by investigating whether they’ve trained that driver appropriately according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and whether they have properly maintained and inspected the equipment that the driver is operating.

Then there is the issue of cargo. Considerations of whether it was properly secured so the weight was properly distributed, and properly loaded to prevent it from becoming loose and creating its own hazard. There are many avenues to look at in terms of determining driver or company fault. An experienced truck accident lawyer in DC can help you explore the many available avenues and decide which path would work with your case.

How Insurance Can Impact a Case

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations indicate that there is a minimum amount of insurance that truckers must carry. The typical minimum amount is $750,000. That minimum amount of insurance required is higher for truckers or companies that are carrying hazardous materials up to $5M. The regulations require such high insurance coverage because of the nature of truck accidents and the more serious injuries that can result from them. It is also to protect the public in the event of a crash.

Since truck accidents in DC can result in serious and catastrophic injuries, the thing to note is that most jurisdictions require drivers to carry very high insurance. Minimum values can be as low as $25,000 to $30,000, but for commercial vehicles the requirement is substantially higher, usually a minimum of $750,000.  There are also policies that are carried by the tractor and there can be separate policies for trailers. If that’s the case, then trailer coverage is usually secondary to that of the tractor. If the tractor is not being used for a trucking company’s business, then they may obtain what is called bobtail coverage, which is the coverage solely for the operation of the vehicle.

It’s important to know all of these issues because there are many different parties that can be involved and discussed in knowing what available coverage exists based on the investigation of the relationship between driver, trailer or cargo. There will be different coverage and different policies that cover certain things. There may be exclusions. There may also be endorsements that affect coverage. All of these issues have to be ferreted out by obtaining copies of the policies and by reading the policies to determine which policies are going to be primary, secondary and how much coverage is available.

The MCS 90 endorsement is the coverage required when a commercial vehicle is carrying hazardous material and cargo. There are different thresholds and that coverage is up to $5M. That is a required endorsement to protect the public if there is an accident, including if there is a spill of hazardous materials. That coverage is there to cover any resulting damage, injury and damage from the hazardous materials.