Craig Rosenbaum | January 13, 2021 | Truck Accidents
If you’re not a commercial trucker and you’ve never heard of the MCS-90 endorsement, that’s probably a good thing…it means you’ve never been in an accident involving a commercial truck where you needed to seek compensation for damages.
However, should you ever wind up in one of the over 100,000 injury-causing truck accidents that occur annually and the commercial truck driver or trucking company cannot afford to compensate you, you’ll be very happy to know that MCS-90 exists.
The MCS-90 endorsement is an amendment to a truck driver’s commercial auto insurance policy that guarantees a minimum amount of compensation to any member of the public who is injured in an accident caused by a truck driver or trucking company.
You may be thinking that’s what auto insurance is for in the first place. Why do they need an amendment as well? The answer to that question is simple: Insurance companies are not going to cover everything, so an amendment is necessary to ensure that compensation is possible, no matter what the circumstances may be.
MCS-90 is intended to protect members of the public from all interstate commercial trucking accidents in which that individual person was not at fault.
When is MCS-90 Applicable?
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck in which you were seriously injured, you’re probably going to seek compensation not only for your injuries, but also for the damages to your vehicle and for the pain and suffering you’ve endured.
But what if the trucker or the trucking company’s insurance policy denies coverage? Or perhaps you’ve sued them, only to find out that they do not have the means to compensate you? That is exactly when the MCS-90 endorsement becomes relevant.
You might worry that the truck driver who caused the accident does not have an MCS-90 endorsement, but that is highly unlikely. Thanks to the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, all commercial motor carriers and people paid to transport property or passengers, must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
This agency requires all trucking companies to prove that they have the financial means to cover any and all damages that their vehicles may cause. In most cases, that proof comes from an MCS-90 endorsement.
Other ways to establish proof of financial responsibility include self-insurance or a surety bond, both of which still ensure compensation in the event that you get hurt in an accident involving a commercial truck, but are far less commonly used than the MCS-90 endorsement.
Specific Requirements for the MCS-90 Endorsement
Because the MCS-90 endorsement does not work like regular insurance, but rather as protection for when the auto liability insurance does not provide coverage, there are some unique requirements for it to become a viable option when seeking compensation.
The following needs to occur in order for the MCS-90 to come into play:
- You do not work for the trucking company and are not found responsible for the accident.
- The truck driver or trucking company’s auto insurance does not cover the accident.
- All other avenues for compensation are exhausted.
If this matches the description of your accident, then you can most likely pursue compensation through MCS-90. However, you’re probably going to need a knowledgeable lawyer experienced in handling truck accidents to help you through the process. MCS-90 and truck accident settlements in general can be lengthy and complicated issues.
Talking to an attorney first is always advised.
Minimum Financial Responsibility Coverage
There are liability minimums a motor carrier must be able to cover in order to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These liability minimums are determined in accordance with the truck’s cargo. The more dangerous the cargo is to the public and to the environment, the higher the liability minimum is going to be.
Those minimums are:
- $750,000 for all non-hazardous materials
- $1,000,000 for oil, hazardous waste, and certain other hazardous substances
- $5,000,000 certain hazardous substances and radioactive materials
The minimum payout can also vary depending on the size of the truck carrying the materials. If a truck is smaller and is carrying hazardous materials, it is considered more dangerous to the public, so the minimum is going to be higher.
Things to Keep in Mind if You’ve Been Hurt in a Trucking Accident
If you’ve recently been in an accident involving a commercial truck, keep the following information in mind:
Determining Liability Can Be Tricky
Figuring out who’s responsible for a truck accident can be a lengthy, confusing, and involved process. It may be the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck’s manufacturer, the truck’s owner, the loader or manufacturer of the truck’s cargo, or it could be you, the other driver. You may think it’s obvious that the truck driver or the trucking company are to blame, but it is almost always more complicated than that.
Keep in mind that only 22% of truck accidents are caused strictly by driver error. This means that the real cause of the accident is much more likely to be something complex and difficult to determine. That is why it is always best to speak with an attorney.
Never Agree to a Settlement Before Consulting an Experienced Attorney
Insurance companies do not want to compensate anyone under the MCS-90. They know that their client is not likely to be able to pay them back if they had to resort to applying MCS-90 in the first place. This means that they’re likely to try to get you to settle before MCS-90 becomes a factor.
Settling likely means you’re losing money that belongs to you. Do not sign or agree to anything without first speaking to a lawyer.
Insurance Companies Have No Duty to Defend MCS-90 Cases
Insurance companies often provide a lawyer to defend their clients. In MCS-90 cases, they have no duty to do so. The insurer may still provide an attorney, as it is in their best interests to do so, you shouldn’t count on that to be the case. This means that getting your money can be a long and complicated process if you do not have an attorney on your side.