Truck accidents are an unfortunate reality in Florida and across the US, as motorists frequently share the road with semis, box trucks, and other commercial vehicles. Based upon the difference in size, it is typically the occupants of the smaller vehicle who will suffer the most severe, potentially catastrophic injuries. However, two pieces of federal legislation recently introduced in Congress seek to reduce the frequency of deadly truck crashes and extend protections for victims. TruckingInfo.com, an online resource for trucking professionals, summarized the details of the measures that raise insurance coverage and require new safety features for trucks.
Both bills remain under consideration, with opponents in the trucking industry decrying the cost and proponents emphasizing the implications for safety. Regardless, even if they both pass, the laws are no guarantee of eliminating crashes. A Miami truck accidents lawyer can assist with your claim if you were hurt, but an overview of the proposed legislation is helpful.
The INSURANCE Act
For more than 30 years, the trucking industry has been operating under insurance regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These rules require a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage, though the specifics depend upon the weight of the truck and the cargo it is carrying. The INSURANCE Act increases the minimum coverage to account for inflation and the cost of living, which many other federal and state laws reflect.
The bill’s sponsors in the US House state that the increase would be around 6.5 times more, up to $4.8 million for some trucks. This amount is intended to align with the higher costs of medical treatment now as compared to the mid-1980s. Trucking industry leaders oppose the measure because of what they call a “massive” increase in operating costs. Still, proponents argue that medical care expenses for truck accident victims are extreme – far exceeding those incurred by those hurt in passenger vehicle crashes. Medical bills for victims can be astronomical for the catastrophic injuries that are common in truck collisions, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries and other serious head injuries;
- Paralysis and disability, often resulting from spinal cord trauma;
- Burn injuries, typically where the truck is hauling hazardous substances;
- Amputation; and,
- Many more.
The Safe Roads Act
The second of the two bills regulating trucks would require installation of an automatic emergency braking system. The US Secretary of Transportation is charged with issuing standards for the systems, so the details are not yet available. Though the intent is to promote safety for all motorists, it is important to note:
- Automatic emergency braking systems may reduce the frequency of truck crashes and/or lead to less serious incidents. They cannot prevent them entirely.
- A similar bill has been introduced, but failed to pass on two occasions. Sponsors hope that the most recent version becomes law.
Contact a Miami Truck Accidents Attorney About Your Rights
At Gerson & Schwartz, PA, our lawyers are dedicated to getting you the compensation you deserve for the extensive losses you suffer as the victim of a truck crash. To learn more about our legal services and your legal options, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach to set up a no-cost consultation.
(image courtesy of Matthew T. Rader)