Outdated FMCSA Minimum Insurance Requirements Limit Justice for Truck Accident Victims

Posted By Terry D. Jackson, P.C. || 5-May-2016

In Three Truck Accident Fatalities with Impaired, Fatigued and/or Asleep Truckers Killing Multiple Motorists, Justice Will Come Only to Two of These Wrecks due to FMCSA Minimum Insurance Limits Unchanged Since 1985

Case One

In June 2015, Tiffany Watts, her mother Sandra Anderson, and Watts’ two minor daughters were on their way back to Knoxville from an Atlanta airport when a careless truck driver under the influence of methamphetamine fell asleep in rush hour traffic. The truck rear-ended the Watts family’s vehicle, killing all inside. The truck then collided with two other vehicles, killing Brian Gallagher, 37, and Jason Ramos, 36. In addition, a grand jury in Hamilton County also indicted the truck driver, 39-year-old Benjamin Brewer, of London, Kentucky, on four counts of driving under the influence of narcotics, speeding, reckless aggravated assault, and making false reports about his duty status, according to multiple media reports. In the National Transportation Safety Board’s initial report, Brewer, who was a new hire for London, Kentucky’s Cool Runnings Express, had been driving for approximately 50 consecutive hours in the three days leading up to the deadly seven-vehicle collision on Interstate 75. A subsequent investigation showed that Brewer had outstanding drug charges in Wisconsin at the time of this wreck while working for another carrier, and evidence of drug transactions on his phone leading to drug trafficking charges as well. Six people were left dead because of a fatigued, drug-addled trucker hired by a negligent trucking company.

Case Two

In April 2015, five soon-to-be Georgia Southern graduates and aspiring nurses were killed in a fiery collision with a truck on I-16 while driving to a Savannah Hospital nurse intern program. Two other nursing students riding with them suffered broken bones, burns, and other serious injuries in two separate vehicles involved in the wreck. A driver for total Transportation of Mississippi, a partially owned and controlled subsidiary of US Xpress Enterprises, either fell asleep behind the wheel or was reading the porn websites he was looking at on his phone. The driver had a prior collision with another carrier rolling a big rig truck, and US Xpress personnel admitted the driver should never have been hired. Five dead, two seriously injured by a fatigued trucker hired by a negligent trucking company.

Case Three

In June 2014, Wal-Mart trucker Kevin Roper drove his tractor trailer into a Mercedes Sprinter van, killing comedian James “Jimmy Mac” McNair, 62, and seriously injuring comedian Tracy Morgan. Roper’s big rig struck the Mercedes van at more than 60 mph while it and other traffic was stopped on the New Jersey turnpike. Two innocent people were killed and two were left seriously injured by a fatigued truck driver in violation of hours of service requirements.

What Did The Families in These Three Wrecks Collect?

Wal-Mart and US Xpress are billion dollar companies with minimum insurance policies for their truckers, and with combined insurance approaching $100,000,000 for their motor carrier operations. Case two recently resolved for amounts nearing $80 million, and case three for a reported $10 million to Jimmy Mac’s family and a rumored $90 million to Tracy Morgan.

The six victims in case one were not so lucky, a mere $750,000 to split among six victims due to FMCSA minimum financial responsibility requirements that have not changed since 1985, when Ronald Reagan was President and early in his Second Term.

Republican U.S. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Deb Fischer have stalled and held up proposals to increase the minimum limits to $4,000,000 from the current $750,000 minimum limits. Both senators have deep ties to the trucking and transportation industries. Justice for truck accident victims should not be captive to a minimum insurance limit amount than has not been adjusted for 30 years. Write or email Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) or Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and tell them to act now, and stop stalling justice for truck accident victims from reckless trucking companies and their drivers.

Sen. Collins (R-Maine):

The Honorable Susan Collins
United States Senate
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1904

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Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)

Mailing Address:

454 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Phone Number:

(202) 224-6551

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