In truck accident cases it is crucial to identify all forms of available insurance that the defendant or codefendants may have. This includes investigating what insurance is available to both the driver and the motor carrier company.
Because trucking accidents can be so devastating to a victim, laws have been enacted to protect the public. One such law, the Motor Carrier Act or MCS, is designed to protect members of the public from motor carriers’ attempts to escape liability for negligence of drivers by claiming their drivers were independent contractors. The Federal MCS-90 is an insurance endorsement that acts as an unconditional suretyship to the public, that is required to be attached to an interstate motor carrier’s liability policy.
Federal case law provides that the MCS-90 endorsement serves “to provide a safety net to members of the public injured as a result of negligent operation of tractor-trailers used in interstate commerce” and to “assure the injured members of the public are able to obtain judgment from negligent authorized interstate carriers.” See Pierre v. Providence Washington Ins. Co., 99 N.Y.2d 22 N.E.2d 52 (2002). The MCS-90 endorsement obligates the insurer to pay injured parties regardless of coverage defenses or allocation issues arising under the policy.
In short the MCS-90 endorsement was a law enacted to overcome interstate motor carriers’ defenses when they refused to accept financial responsibility for an accident caused by the negligence of their leased trucks. The MCS-90 and related laws now establishes that as a matter of law the motor carrier/lessee assumes the exclusive possession, control, and use of the leased vehicles and as such the motor carrier is fully responsible for its operation and must have sufficient insurance coverage.