Can You Sue Self-Insured Trucking Companies in Ohio?
Some trucking companies are self-insured and handle their own claims. This makes them more likely to deny your claim or offer a lower settlement. For help handling your truck accident claim, call KNR today.
Self-Insured Trucking Companies
Generally, after you’ve been involved in an accident with another automobile, you work with an insurance company to reach a settlement that covers the costs of repairing your car and any medical bills you may have incurred because of the accident. This process is the same for accidents with a commercial vehicle, except in cases where the semi-truck is owned by a company that insures itself.
Self-insured trucking companies handle their own claims, making them more likely to deny or attempt to lower the settlement amounts from truck accidents. As a victim of a truck accident, you have the right to get all your bills covered by the negligent company. If you’ve been hurt in an accident by an employee of a self-insured trucking company, call an Ohio truck accident lawyer from Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW.
Insurance Requirements for Trucking Companies
Operating a trucking company can be expensive, and insurance is a major part of cost. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the government industry that regulates commercial trucks and buses.
According to their regulations, trucking companies must maintain a minimum amount of “financial responsibility,” or insurance, to ensure they can cover costs of damage to the trucks, the freight loaded on their trucks, and injuries sustained by drivers of the truck or other vehicles. This entails getting liability insurance, which includes bodily injury and property damage. The amount needed depends on the size and type of load a truck is carrying. For example:
- Vehicles moving 10,001 pounds or more of non-hazardous materials need to maintain a minimum limit of 750,000 dollars.
- Vehicles hauling 10,001 pounds or more of oil, hazardous waste, or other potentially dangerous materials need to maintain a minimum limit of 1,000,000 dollars.
- Vehicles hauling 10,001 pounds or more of hazardous materials need to maintain a minimum limit of 5,000,000 dollars.
- Vehicles hauling 10,001 pounds or less of particularly hazardous waste or radioactive materials need to maintain a minimum limit of 5,000,000 dollars.
These amounts are the minimum necessary to comply with FMCSA. There could be other insurance costs depending on state laws or specific regulations of the shippers and brokers dealing with these companies.
Why Trucking Companies Self-Insure
To save money, trucking companies are permitted by FMCSA to self-insure the business. Instead of buying a policy from an insurance agency, the trucking company can pay for its own general liability insurance.
This business option is best for larger companies with deeper pockets; these businesses can opt for a high deductible, which allows them to pay less when purchasing insurance. They also wouldn’t need to provide any collateral or letters of credit to an insurance company, further allowing them to save on costs.
But not all efforts to save money are noble. Because they aren’t beholden to an insurance company, these businesses can hire inexperienced drivers and pay them less. Trucking companies who insure through a third party often prefer to hire employees who have years of experience and a good driving record, proving they can safely maneuver big rigs on the road.
Self-insured trucking companies have more control over the claims they pay out, which is another way they may attempt to save money. Drivers involved in an accident with one of these companies’ employees could have a difficult time negotiating a settlement figure or may have their case drag on for months.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Self-Insured Truck Companies
Since self-insured truck companies have more control over the claims process and settlements after an accident involving one of their drivers, injury victims often must rely on filing a lawsuit to compel the company to the negotiating table and recover compensation.
Like other personal injury cases, filing a lawsuit against a self-insured trucking company has the same legal requirements. First, you must establish that the trucking company or driver they employ was negligent and caused the accident in question. Then, you must show that the accident caused you to suffer injuries and subsequent financial harm. This includes your physical pain, financial losses, and psychological suffering. The extent of your recoverable damages against a self-insured truck accident lawsuit will depend largely on the severity of a crash, as well as what you endured.
Legal Options after a Truck Accident
When you’ve been in a truck accident and the trucker is to blame, you need to find out if you’re dealing with a self-insured trucking company. If so, you might want to contact a skilled truck accident attorney to help handle your claim. The trucking company likely decided to self-insure to save money, so they may also try to settle your case for much less than your requested amount. But you are entitled to seek the full amount of damages to cover your doctor and hospital bills, prescriptions, lost work wages, and any other medical equipment you needed to purchase to help with your recovery.
Keep in mind that you can file a personal injury claim if you and the trucking company cannot reach a settlement. In fact, if the company is taking too long to process your claim, you may want to file a personal injury lawsuit regardless.
In Ohio, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims is two years. It’s possible that the trucking company is well aware of this law, and is trying to keep your case going until you’re beyond the statute of limitations and cannot seek legal remedies. If that were the case, you’d be forced to work with them, and you may end up agreeing to a figure that is unfair to you.
Let The Truck Attorneys at KNR Help
In a regular accident, you deal with insurance companies. But an accident caused by a vehicle belonging to a self-insured trucking company is far from regular. In this scenario, you’re forced to communicate directly with the other party involved, instead of a third party. You may feel intimidated when going up against a large company with a lot of resources, and if you’re struggling to recover from injuries resulting from your accident, it may be too overwhelming.
You do not have to deal with your insurance claim and/or potential personal injury suit alone. The Ohio truck accident lawyers at Kisling, Nestico & Redick can help. We’ve handled a number of cases with self-insured commercial companies, and we do not allow intimidation to become a factor. We will work with the trucking company to reach a settlement, or we will file a personal injury claim on your behalf.