top of page
  • Kenneth Powell

What Is MCS-90? Compensation after a Truck Accident

The majority of individuals are unaware of MCS-90 for trucking companies, and often mistake the endorsement form for the insurance itself. The MCS-90 is not an actual insurance policy. It merely proves that trucking companies have the insurance needed in the case of an accident they cause.

These trucking companies must follow up independently with their insurance company or broker to keep the insurance current.

In general, an MCS-90 is important for people in the following groups:

  • People who are employed by or associated with trucking companies

  • Insurers for trucking companies

  • Those who suffer injuries in collisions with commercial trucks may be surprised to learn that the "MCS-90" standard has a significant bearing in determining whether they can receive reimbursement for their damages or not.

Having an MCS-90 shows the FMCSA that a company has a surety bond, insurance through the general market, or self-insurance.

Victims in accidents truck accident cases should contact a truck attorney to help them present their claims against trucking companies. These experts understand the MCS-90 and know how to use it to get you full compensation for your losses.

Powell Law Firm has been helping accident and other personal injury victims for years. Contact us at (314) 470-1374 for a free case consultation.

Detailed Explanation Of The (FMCSA)

Detailed Explanation of The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

MCS-90 is an "endorsement" to a commercial auto insurance policy that almost every motor carrier that engages in interstate commerce must possess. This includes trucking companies. It is an addition to a conventional insurance policy by insurance companies. Any corporation that delivers people or goods for payment is referred to as a "motor carrier." Crossing state boundaries are referred to as "interstate commerce."

According to federal regulations, commercial motor vehicles controlled by motor carrier authorities, including those moving hazardous products must have an MCS-90 endorsement. The Department of Transportation has the authority to punish a driver or truck company if an MCS-90 is invalid or out of date.

Public liability is a part of the MCS-90 endorsement. Contrary to widespread perception, the MCS-90 does not extend an insurance policy's current coverage in any way. Instead, it adds to common commercial motor insurance plans and a guarantee to the general public. The MCS-90 ensures that even if the standard insurance policy doesn't cover the commercial truck that caused an accident, victims will have access to some money to pay for their injuries.

When Does the Federal Motor Carrier Act Come Into Play?

Many incidents can occur when driving on the highway. A great way to help prevent accidents is to know where the 4 blind spots on an 18-wheeler are. A tipped-over truck is a classic example. Drivers often have no way to escape such accidents and end up with serious injuries if they don't lose their lives. The driver loses wages while recuperating, incurs medical bills, lose their vehicle, and suffers physical pain and emotional distress.

In a circumstance like this, one anticipates that the driver or trucking company's insurance plan would cover their losses and injuries. After all, they are responsible for the accident.

Surprisingly, a regular insurance policy for a commercial truck excludes road rage; this means, most big rig insurance policies don't cover damages arising from a truck driver's "road rage" accident.

Suing the truck driver and the trucking firm might seem like the solution. However, that also proves to be a dead end if the driver is bankrupt, and the trucking firm is a fly-by-night operation. Most of these can't even afford to pay their employees, let alone give a victim the compensation they are due. This is when MCS-90 steps in on behalf of the injured victim.

Trucking companies, often known as "motor carriers," are required to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to operate a commercial vehicle in "interstate commerce". One of the financial responsibility requirements for those businesses to register is to demonstrate that they have the resources to pay for any operational damages even if their insurance does not cover it. They typically accomplish this by asking their insurance company to add an MCS-90 endorsement to their insurance policy.

If an MCS-90 endorsement is in place, the insurance provider will agree to be liable for paying nearly any claim made by a member of the public hurt by a trucking company's vehicle.

Why would an insurance provider consent to this though? First, the insurance company receives payment from the trucking firm for the MCS-90 endorsement. Also, the insurer can reclaim any money paid out under the MCS-90 from the trucking company/motor carrier. This seems logical but the MCS-90 arrangement has some flaws. Most crucial is that the insurer will not be helped if the private motor carrier files for bankruptcy. However, the MCS-90 acts as a crucial safety net for the general public, by giving them a place to turn to for compensation if they get hurt in a truck accident due to negligence by the trucker.

MCS-90 Insurance Requirements for Motor Carriers

With strong legal representation from knowledgeable semi accident lawyers in St Louis, none of these should have a significant impact on the company.

MCS-90 endorsement is only applicable under very particular conditions:

  1. The motor carrier/trucking company was primarily engaged in interstate commerce: This implies that it was transacting business, in some way, over state lines. MCS-90 does not apply if the trucking company exclusively operates in Texas. In that instance, likely, the trucking company's insurance policy doesn't even have an MCS-90 endorsement.

  2. The following conditions must exist if the motor carrier/trucking company does engage in interstate commerce for the MCS-90 "guarantee" of losses to take effect:

  • The accident was caused by the motor carrier.

  • It is not covered by the vehicle carrier's regular insurance policy.

  • The aggrieved party has no other options for seeking compensation.

  • The party at fault is not a motor carrier or a trucking company employee or an independent contractor.

The MCS-90 also has dollar-value minimums based on the amount of commercial auto insurance that the motor carrier carries. Though it is typical for the MCS-90's maximum amount to coincide with the maximum of the underlying policy, keep in mind that these minimums may be lower than the amount the insurance company pays under the ordinary policy.

  1. Based on what the truck is carrying, the liability minimums under federal regulations of MCS-90 endorsements change.

  • Transporting non-hazardous materials for hire in interstate or foreign commerce with a total vehicle weight score of 10,000 pounds or more is subject to a $750,000 fine.

  • Gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more; for-hire and private carriage of hazardous materials as defined in 49 C.F.R. 387.9; in interstate, international, or intrastate commerce — $5,000,000.

  • Oil, pollution, and hazardous materials as described in 49 C.F.R. 387.9 in any quantity during interstate or foreign commerce, or during intrastate trade with a vehicle rating of 10,000 pounds or more — $1,000,000.

  • $5,000,000 - For-hire and private transportation of certain categories of hazardous materials as defined in 49 C.F.R. 387.9 in domestic or international trade with a gross vehicle weight rating of under 10,000 pounds.

An MCS-90 (insurance) or MCS-82 (the surety bond) form certifying coverage for these minimum levels of insurance is required of carriers transporting hazardous materials. A carrier may self-insure under particular conditions if the FMCSA finds that it complies with aspects of its financial responsibility.

Environmental Restitution Coverage

The MCS-90 also serves as a guarantee against damage to the environment, which is another reason why the restriction is so much lower for regular trucks transporting regular property. When carriers transporting hazardous materials are involved in an accident, cargo spills can be far worse than when a motor vehicle carrying regular cargo is involved, and someone must pay for all that cleanup. Some shipping insurance policies already have a pollution exclusion, which, if environmental restitution coverage is provided, would be adjusted but not eliminated. Learn more about property damage claims in car accidents if you have had any of your property damaged.

Background of MCS-90

The Federal Motor Carrier Act was passed in 1980 to make MCS-90 a law. The federal agency is responsible for implementing those laws since 2000 is the FMCSA, which requires motor carrier registration and "financial responsibility" documentation.

Motor carriers use MCS-90 endorsements the most frequently to demonstrate their financial liability for losses brought on by accidents involving commercial trucks. However, there are two more ways for carriers to demonstrate that they have the funds to cover losses. An MCS-90 endorsement or surety bond is an agreement between two parties that, if either side doesn't uphold their end of the bargain, the other will pay. When a motor carrier's insurance policy does not have an MCS-90 endorsement, using this kind of security for damages may provide issues.

When an MCS-90 endorsement is in effect, an insurance company normally is not required by law to pay the lawyers for the insured motor carrier, unlike accidents that are covered by the insurance policy. However, the insurance company could wish to do this since it will want to recoup any payments it makes under an MCS-90 from the motor carrier.

Because of this, a motor carrier that needs to use its MCS-90 to pay damages after an accident may take longer than normal to seek legal counsel or may choose a different attorney than the one the insurance company would have picked if it had its way.

An experienced truck accident lawyer helps navigate the process of getting MCS-90 money.

Finally, MCS-90 only kicks in when the insurance policy to which they are tied does not cover an accident.

The two main considerations in determining whether an insurance policy covers an accident are what the policy specifically states and the state law that the policy is subject to.

Even though insurance company lingo for trucking companies generally considers this to be "standard," each state has its regulations about how insurance policies can be interpreted and enforced by the courts. An experienced attorney can help determine which law applies to a policy and how it affects which accident is covered and which one is not.

MCS-90 Endorsement Specifications

In conclusion, a trucking company moving non-hazardous materials must keep a minimum of $750,000 in insurance. Oil transporters are required to hold insurance coverage of at least $1 million. Carriers transporting hazardous materials are required to maintain a five-million-dollar insurance policy. The motor carriers must obtain an MCS-90 or MCS-82 endorsement in addition to this minimal insurance coverage. According to the MCS-90 endorsement recommendation:

  • The insurance company agrees to pay, within the limits of the liability stated. Any judgment obtained against the insured entity for public liability due to maintenance, negligence, or use of vehicles is subject to the financial responsibility requirements of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. This is regardless of whether the insured party has met those requirements or not.

  • Public liability insurance provided does not cover anything that is being transported by the insured that is marked as cargo or injuries or deaths that occur to the insured's workers while they are working. Regardless of the insured's financial situation, insolvency, or bankruptcy, it is understood and agreed that no provision, condition, stipulation, or limitation embedded in the policy, this endorsement, or any other, or violation thereof, shall release the trucking company from liability or the payment of any final judgment, within the limits of liability.

  • Any policy linked to the MCS-90 endorsement will still be subject to all of the terms, conditions, and limitations that are binding on both the insured and the company. The insured agrees to pay back the insurance company for any payments made on account of any accidents, claims, or lawsuits involving a violation of the terms of the policy as well as for any payments that the insurance company would not have been required to make under the terms of the policy absent the agreement in this endorsement.

  • Payments made under this policy as a result of one accident shall not have the effect of reducing the company's liability for the payment of final judgments from any other accident. The limits of the company's liability for the amount recommended in this MCS-90 endorsement relate independently to each accident.

If for whatever reason there is no coverage under the insurance contract, the MCS-90 endorsement mandates that the insurer serves as a surety bond for harmed parties (apart from the insured's employees). The following must occur before the MCS-90 endorsement replaces the insured's policy:

  • The insurer has refused to provide coverage due to a clause, stipulation, restriction, or limitation in the insured's policy.

  • A judgment has been entered against the insured.

  • There is no other way to recover damages from the insured; the judgment is definitive for negligence while driving a motor vehicle.

  • The plaintiff incurred personal injury and is a third party.

  • Finally, the accident must happen in the United States while the motor vehicle is working in interstate commerce.

When a plaintiff is hurt by a car that isn't specified as a "covered motor vehicle" under the policy, the MCS-90 endorsement typically kicks in. If the insurance policy contains exclusions or limits that do not cover the accident, the MCS-90 endorsement will also be applicable. The MCS-90 endorsement still provides coverage when a default judgment is executed because the insured gives a late notice or none at all.

Even if the insured broke the terms of the insurance agreement by refusing to work with the insurer, the MCS-90 endorsement mandates payment of a final judgment. The MCS-90 endorsement imposes a duty to pay an injured claimant where there is a final judgment has passed against the policyholder but does not oblige the insured to defend themselves.

It's important to remember that after the insurance company pays the MCS-90 limits, the insurer then has the ultimate right to obtain the entire amount of the settlement directly from the insured. This is the situation even though the MCS-90 endorsement might seem to be a windfall to an insured who disregarded the terms of the insurance contract. When discussing the MCS-90 endorsement, the following two problems are frequently in court:

  1. Who is the “insured” under the endorsement?

  2. Was the insured motor carrier engaged in interstate or foreign commerce at the time of the crash?

The MCS-90 might not be applicable if the defendant is not listed as the "named insured" in the policy or if the incident occurred during business on the interstate.

What To Do When Hurt In A Truck Accident

What to Do When Hurt in A Truck Accident

The following actions are crucial to safeguard one's legal rights and improve their chances of recovering damages in any truck crash:

Emergency Services

The victim must visit a doctor and receive the necessary medical attention. This is the most important thing to ensure they are truly safe after the incident. However, the records of the medical care might also be a vital piece of evidence demonstrating how much money the accident's perpetrator owes. After a motor vehicle accident, health and safety come first. The individual must call the police on-site for them to document the accident.

Exchange Information with Other Party

Those involved in the accident should exchange contacts if possible.

Gather Evidence

Gathering evidence is necessary. Photos of wounds and the car's damage help as evidence later. This can also include other motor vehicles involved, cargo or debris, and the surroundings.

Contact The Insurance Company

Victims and perps should inform their insurance companies that they were involved in an accident.

Get a Truck Accident Lawyer

Numerous personal injury attorneys offer free case reviews. Their opinions can assist victims in planning their next moves. Accident victims should schedule appointments with a reliable truck accident attorney to talk about their legal options regarding compensation.

Although consulting an attorney may not seem to be a top priority, the requirements for MCS-90 endorsements discussed should show how complicated truck accidents can be. It will be beneficial to get a lawyer as soon as possible.

What You Should Not Do

Before signing anything or accepting a settlement offer from any party in the case, speak with a lawyer who has knowledge about truck accident law. The insurance providers for trucking businesses are not on your side. To reduce their risk, they can try to persuade you to accept an immediate settlement offer. This is especially likely if the insurance provider fears that it will have to compensate you under an MCS-90 endorsement. They don't want to deal with the trouble of contacting their customer again to request compensation that they are almost sure they can't afford!

We are aware that it could be alluring to accept the first offer you are presented with, but trust us when we say that you will do far better in the long term if you refuse that "easy" money. Avoid signing away thousands of rights! Always seek legal advice.

Why Choose Powell Law Firm?

Powell Law Firm, one of the top personal injury law firms in Missouri, devotes its whole practice to representing people who have suffered injuries due to no fault of their own. You deserve to be heard and to receive compensation for your injuries if you or someone you care about suffered them as a result of the carelessness of another person, company, hospital, government, or other organization. justice is due to you.

Furthermore, Powell Law Firm is aware of how a person's life can be affected by personal injury cases. When you need assistance the most, they have the resources and compassion to assist. Our firm has won millions of dollars in MCS-90 settlements for clients in various forms of accidents in St. Louis, Missouri.

Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation

Call Powell Law Firm at (314) 470-1374 for a free consultation when you are involved in a truck accident. We are always prepared to guide you through your case and claim according to the regulations under MCS-90.

bottom of page