Due to the possibility of extreme damage in an accident, commercial cargo trucks are subject to different insurance and safety requirements than regular passenger vehicles. The minimums and maximums in place with big rig insurance policies may impact your ability to recover financially after a crash.
Minimum Insurance Amounts in Virginia Truck Accident Cases
Under Virginia law, commercial trucks operating solely within the state’s borders have minimum public liability requirements based on gross vehicle weight. As of this writing, the minimum amounts sit at:
- $50,000 for the cargo itself
- $300,000 for vehicles between 7,500 and 10,000 pounds
- $750,000 for vehicles above 10,000 pounds
Federal law also plays a role here, since trucks often conduct trade across state lines rather than just intrastate within Virginia’s boundaries. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules also require trucks to have a minimum insurance coverage of:
- $300,000 when carrying non-hazardous material in vehicles under 10,000 pounds
- $750,000 when carrying non-hazardous material in vehicles 10,000 pounds and up
- $5,000,000 for carrying HAZMAT cargo in vehicles either under or over 10,000 pounds (this may play a role if you are harmed in an accident with a vehicle that spills hazardous substances)
Of course, these amounts will likely change over time. Insurance minimums for 18-wheelers haven’t been updated in years, and the average Virginian’s cost of living has gone up since those numbers were originally put in place. If new legislation is introduced at the state or federal level, these numbers may eventually no longer apply. An experienced truck accident attorney can provide the most up-to-date information after an accident caused by a negligent trucking company.
Why You Need to Know About Insurance Requirements in a Truck Accident Case
These dollar amounts are important to understand because, in addition to minimums, there may also be caps on what you can recover through a single insurance policy. Both you and your family may end up in a difficult situation if your actual medical damages and lost earning potential are well over those policy maximums.
That’s one crucial reason why you need to talk to an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. There may be other options available for recovering damages above those caps. Here’s what you need to know about protecting your recovery:
An at-fault driver or trucking company may have multiple insurance policies
Your legal advocate can investigate the insurance situation to find the best sources of compensation.
Don’t provide a recorded statement to insurance after a truck crash
Politely decline if a recorded statement is requested and instead let the adjuster know they can speak with your attorney. They may take your words out of context or try to prompt you to admit some level of guilt to avoid paying what you are actually owed.
Gather as much info as you can at the time of the accident
Your health comes first of course, so you may need another person to acquire evidence for you if you are taken to the emergency room. Photos of the scene and contact details for bystanders who witnessed the truck crash are important to have on hand.
You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party
Who exactly is liable for your damages may not be obvious, however. It could be the driver, the trucking company, a maintenance shop, the manufacturer of a faulty part, or even a crew who improperly loaded cargo and caused the accident.
Whether dealing with insurance or filing a lawsuit, your attorney can help with other aspects of the process you might not have considered. For instance, a legal professional can acquire driver logbook data, employment records, hiring paperwork, medical documentation, and so on in a detailed investigation of the crash. Your attorney further takes the pressure off by handling communication for you with insurers and the at-fault trucking company.