Trucks are the most dangerous vehicles on the road today. They are the largest and heaviest vehicles while also having far fewer safety features than passenger vehicles. The drivers behind the wheel are also often overworked and exhausted. Even worse, in the event that these truckers cause an accident, they or the companies they work for might not have insurance.
What Is Truck Insurance?
Truck insurance is a form of commercial auto insurance that provides coverage for owner-operators and trucking companies. It was initially created for large trucking fleets, so it can be a costly overhead expense to maintain. In fact, some companies purchase fleet insurance to cover all the trucks owned by the company.
Truck insurance also includes some provisions well-known to passenger car drivers, such as collision insurance. Absence of any coverage at all creates an especially complex problem considering the severe damage such large vehicles can inflict on people and property.
Can Your Auto Insurance Pay for Damages?
Despite the big differences between insurance for commercial vehicles and insurance for passenger vehicles, your policy may or may not cover the cost of damages and injuries. It all comes down to the type of insurance you have and the coverage options you chose for your policy.
No-Fault vs Tort Auto Insurance
In no-fault states, when car crashes occur, drivers turn to their own insurance companies to pay for medical bills, lost income and funeral expenses. This makes it faster and easier for drivers to get access to help when they need it most. If you have MedPay or PIP included in your insurance policy, then your insurance company will likely foot the bill.
Damage to personal property follows a different path. This works similarly to fault or tort states like Indiana, which hold the at-fault driver responsible for property damage. In this case, you need to file a complaint with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get repairs to your vehicle or other damaged property. If the at-fault truck driver has no insurance, then you might have other options within your insurance policy.
Indiana is a tort state. However, if you have an out-of-state insurance policy, you might have the opportunity to make no-fault claims on your MedPay or PIP.
Drivers can typically use this coverage, regardless of who caused the accident. However, the insurance company might want to pursue damages from the responsible driver too.
A high percentage of Americans drive without insurance. It is highest in Mississippi, where almost 30 percent of drivers have no auto insurance. New Jersey has the lowest rate of uninsured drivers at just 3.1 percent. Indiana ranks 15th in the country at almost 16 percent.
When you have uninsured coverage, it facilitates the process of seeking assistance from your insurance company when the at-fault driver has no insurance. In some states, and depending on the language of your insurance policy, you can even use it to cover damages from a hit-and-run.
In the event that you need to rent a vehicle to get around, your insurance company might either pay for it or reimburse you. Check the details of your insurance coverage to see how many days and at what rate it reimburses you before booking a rental.
You might also need to arrange to have your vehicle towed to the mechanic or a junkyard. Roadside assistance add-ons include towing, but not always for free. Be sure to check what the rates are. Sometimes, you receive a discount or the insurance company only pays within a certain distance. Prices could skyrocket the further you are from home.
What About Other Types of Insurance Policies?
It can take anywhere from months to years to resolve issues related to uninsured truckers. Your injuries and property damage likely cannot wait that long. Luckily, you might have other options available.
If you have good health insurance, your carrier should pay for your treatment. Ideally, you have a low deductible and a low maximum out-of-pocket cost for the year. Be sure to pay attention to coinsurance and copay as you could end up paying for a portion of the hospital stay and other treatments.
In the event that you experience short-term or long-term disability, you might have existing policies in place to address this. You typically need to have an existing policy before the accident takes place.
If you are a veteran, senior, low-income earner or someone with disabilities, you might qualify for some government programs. These include the following:
- Social Security Disability
Will the Trucker Go To Jail?
Like most states, it is illegal to drive in Indiana without insurance. While the trucker might have passenger auto insurance from their personal vehicle, this does not cover a large commercial truck. Law enforcement officers might make an arrest decision on a case-by-case basis, but a criminal investigation might follow either way.
If the crash led to deaths, serious injuries or severe property damage, the likelihood of an arrest climbs. Even when truckers work as owner-operators, the company that hired them could also face criminal or civil liabilities. Prosecutors or personal injury lawyers might point out the company managers had an obligation to ensure the trucker had sufficient insurance.
Trucking companies hiring truckers directly have a legal obligation to ensure insurance. In fact, these companies generally become responsible for insurance themselves. Depending on the findings of the investigation, other members of the company might face jail time.
Can You Sue the Trucker or Company?
In passenger vehicle uninsured cases, suing often proves fruitless. A person who does not purchase insurance likely cannot afford it. If someone cannot afford monthly insurance premiums, he or she likely has no assets or cash to pay sums awarded in a courtroom.
Personal injury victims have much better prospects in incidents involving trucking companies. Trucks are expensive vehicles and generally sell for high prices. Companies also have more assets and cash on hand than individual people. So, even if the owners chose not to purchase insurance, the company likely has the means to pay at least some of the settlement or judgment awarded.
Because Indiana is a tort state, trucking accident victims rarely need to worry about whether they can sue an at-fault truck driver. An experienced attorney can review the case to evaluate the case’s feasibility and chart an appropriate way forward.
What Can You Expect for an Uninsured Trucking Accident?
Trucking accidents generally lead to high compensation because of the extensive damage caused. However, not all trucking accidents lead to serious damages, so the court will take this into consideration. Courts also tend to hold truck drivers to a higher standard because of the great responsibility they shoulder and the expectation that they treat it seriously.
Failing to insure trucks often falls under gross negligence and courts may treat it as such. In these cases, a court could decide to award not just what you ask for but also punitive damages. Punitive damages serve to punish entities for gross negligence and can amount to several million, depending on the severity of the accident. However, only a portion of a punitive damages award is distributed to the injured party.
At Hensley Legal Group, our team has the resources to handle complex and potentially lengthy uninsured trucking cases. Our goal is to resolve the issue as quickly as possible without compromising on the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free case review and to determine potential Social Security Disability eligibility.