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Why is MCS-90 Important in a Truck Accident Injury?

Published April 7, 2021 by David Wolff
Injured in a Truck Accident? Here’s Why MCS-90 is Important

One of the first documents the Buffalo truck accident attorneys of Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall LLC look for when investigating a truck accident on behalf of an injured client is Form MCS-90. This form states that the commercial truck involved in an accident belongs to an interstate operator, and liability insurance exists to cover any harm caused by the tractor-trailer.

Passenger car occupants or pedestrians involved in truck accidents are typically seriously injured. Heavy trucks can do a lot of damage to smaller vehicles and can cause catastrophic injuries to individuals. In a claim seeking compensation for an accident victim’s medical costs, lost income, and other expenses, we rely on insurance coverage to pay for the victim’s losses, which maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The MCS-90 form on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) offers assurance that money is available to compensate a crash victim if the truck driver or trucking company’s negligence caused a crash. An MCS-90 endorsement can improve the chances that an accident victim will receive an insurance check after a truck accident.

What is Form MCS-90?

Form MCS-90 is a liability insurance endorsement attached to a commercial truck’s insurance policy. An insurance endorsement is a written statement issued by the insurance company that says the company will abide by a stipulation regarding an insurance policy.

The Form MCS-90 stipulates that a required amount of liability insurance coverage exists for the covered commercial truck. The form states in part:

“(T)he insurer … agrees to pay … a judgment recovered against the insured for liability resulting from negligence in the operation, maintenance or use of motor vehicles subject to the financial responsibility requirements of Sections 29 and 30 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 regardless of whether each motor vehicle is specifically described in the policy and whether such negligence occurs on any route or in any territory authorized to be served by the insured or elsewhere. … It is understood and agreed that no condition, provision, stipulation, or limitation contained in the policy … shall relieve the company from liability or from the payment of any final judgment, within the limits of liability herein described, irrespective of the financial condition, insolvency or bankruptcy of the insured.”

The cited sections of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 set minimum levels of financial responsibility that commercial trucks have for public liability, property damage, and environmental restoration after an accident. This is the trucking operator’s responsibility, which is normally met through insurance coverage. Trucking companies that operate trucks across state lines must have proof of their ability to meet this financial responsibility, which is satisfied by having copies of the MCS-90 endorsement on file with the FMCSA and in their offices.

For a large commercial truck (10,001 pounds or heavier) hauling non-hazardous cargo, the current minimum liability coverage required by the federal government is $750,000. The minimum is $1 million for carriers hauling oil and $5 million for trucks carrying other hazardous cargo. Many shippers and brokers require liability coverage of at least $1 million regardless of what type of material the trucker is hauling.

The MCS-90 endorsement makes the trucking company responsible for any vehicle it owns or leases. This is also protection against the often-used argument that the company is not responsible for a driver who is an independent contractor if the MCS-90 endorsement can be shown to exist.

When Does MCS-90 Play a Role in a Truck Accident Claim?

The existence of an MCS-90 endorsement only becomes an issue if a truck accident claim concerns an interstate trucking operation. It would not apply to companies operating solely within New York State.

Second, your injury claim would seek compensation through the trucking company’s liability insurance. A legitimate motor carrier in good financial standing will have adequate commercial liability insurance. Your attorneys would present your claim to the insurer along with evidence showing the trucking company’s liability for the accident and seek to negotiate a settlement.

If the carrier’s liability policy did not provide sufficient coverage for your losses and there was no other insurer available, you and your attorneys could cite the company’s MCS-90 endorsement as a guarantee of payment.

An MCS-90 endorsement could also be invoked if the insurer might otherwise deny responsibility for the coverage.

Reasons Insurer May Deny Responsibility

  • the truck is not listed on the insurance policy
  • the truck driver is not listed on the insurance policy
  • the trucker’s license has lapsed
  • the truck was on the road in violation of an out-of-service declaration
  • the underlying policy to which the endorsement is attached does not cover the location of the truck at the time of the accident.

The provisions of Form MCS-90 guarantee payment in each of these cases, and the insurance company knows this.

However, the existence of the MCS-90 on file indicates that the trucking company has – or had – sufficient finances to cover its claims. Therefore, if a claim exceeds the coverage provided, the insurer should pay the claim and may then seek reimbursement from the trucking company for costs it feels it should not have had to pay.

Contact Our Buffalo Truck Accident Lawyers

Truck accident claims can be complex, but federal regulations and insurance requirements offer some protection to those injured due to the negligence of truck drivers, trucking companies, and others in the trucking industry. If you have been injured in a truck accident, call Buffalo Injury Law today. We know our way around FMCSA rules as well as insurance and personal injury laws in New York.

For your free case review with an experienced truck accident lawyer at Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall LLC, call (716) 995-4318 or reach out online today.

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