Outdated Insurance Standards Leave Crash Victims Out in the Cold
Claude, a Montana native, was incredibly excited because he just got a great deal on a new pickup truck in Portland, Oregon. Claude was planning a one-way bus ride to collect his new truck, but Claude never got the chance to drive the truck off the lot. The bus Claude was riding was traveling upwards of 65 mph on roads that had been described as “ice skating rinks,” when it hit a patch of black ice, rolled, and landed in a median on U.S. Interstate 90.
The catastrophic crash took two lives, and injured 33 others. As reported by local new agencies, following the crash, the federal government shut down the bus service for safety violations, including deferred maintenance.
The crash caused Claude to be hospitalized for over a month and, two-and-a-half years after the wreck, he still struggles with complications from his injuries. Because Rimrock’s buses only carry the minimum amount of insurance coverage required by federal law, Claude, the surviving families of the two deceased victims, and more than 30 other people injured in the crash, had little recourse. Instead of being able to hold Rimrock fully accountable for the extensive damage the crash caused, victims like Claude were left to struggle with the high costs of medical bills and other losses.
The civil justice system is vital to holding negligent trucking bus companies accountable and provides compensation for those killed or injured by unsafe trucks and buses. However, outdated and insufficient insurance rules undermine the economic incentives to safety provided by the courts.
The current insurance minimum was set in 1985. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, whose primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related crashes, fatalities, and injuries, has confirmed that these minimums are inadequate to cover modern day medical fees.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations has also noted the liability insurance requirements have languished for decades and need to be improved.
As the number and size of trucks and buses on U.S. roads grows, so does the danger to passengers and other drivers. Fundamental, market-based change is needed to ensure successful, safe roadways for all Americans.