Truck and bus accident lawyers and attorneys will have another issue to worry about while representing accident victims. This is a Tennessee case so I know my clients will be at the forefront of this battle. Lawyers who fail to stay up on this ever changing area of the law, Truck Accident Litigation, will find they lose more cases than they win for their clients. The following is a brief case description:
Armstrong v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., 606 F.Supp.2d 794, (E.D. Tenn. 2009) is the first case to apply DOT’s interpretation of FMCSR 387.15 – In 2005, the FMCSA adopted regulatory guidance that limits an insurer’s exposure to pay under the MCS-90 endorsement to judgments obtained against the motor carrier—not the driver, lessor, or any other party. The Court held that the MCS-90 requires the insurer to pay only a judgment obtained against the named insured motor carrier and not the driver or any other person or entity that qualifies as an “insured” under the policy to which the MCS-90 is attached. This is the first case applying the FMCSA’s 2005 guidance. The court stated it disagreed with the prior case law that held:
…that an insurance company may be obligated to compensate an injured party under an MCS-90 endorsement even if the motor carrier who purchased the underlying policy was not the negligent party responsible for causing the injuries ( er words, the motor carrier who purchased the insurance-the so-called “named insured”-need not have been negligent; all that is required is that the accident resulted from negligence and that a judgment was entered implicating the coverage provisions of the policy and endorsement…
Given the DOT guidance, expect that this issue will be tested in every case going forward. Armstrong was followed in Sentry Select Ins. Co. v. Thompson, —- F.Supp.2d—-, 2009 WL 3366938 (E.D. Va.) where the Pf’s received in excess of 750K.