As a trucking lawyer, I am often faced with complex insurance coverage scenarios and today we will be discussing the difference between trucking and non-trucking coverage. In the industry, especially among smaller carriers, after dropping off a trailer, a driver will often have to head back to the depot without a trailer attached or he may use the bobtail tractor as personal transportation when not under dispatch. In the industry this is known as “bobtailing.” The situation can arise in a accident caused by a truck where the victim is struck by a tractor trailer running bobtail and in many situations a coverage fight can ensue.
If a truck accident in Georgia occurs because a bobtail truck strikes another vehicle, the trucking company will first want to analyze whose coverage is primary; the trucking or the non-trucking coverage. This is an important issue because in many cases the personality of the insurance company and the amounts of insurance coverage can differ. It is critical to resolve the coverage issue before the litigation goes too far because otherwise the insurance carriers will use the legal uncertainty as their reason for not paying full value on the case.
In order to determine whether the trucking or non-trucking coverage is in play, the key inquiry is; what was the destination and the mission the driver at the time of the crash. If the driver was returning from a trailer drop and headed back to the terminal, the driver’s trucking coverage is probably the insuring entity. If the driver was driving his bobtail rig home for the night, his non-trucking coverage or “bobtail” coverage is probably the insurer. The legal test is whether the driver was still within his “operational routine” and “work pattern.” Hot Shot Express, Inc. v. Assicurazioni Generali, SPA 252 Ga.App. 372 (2001).
When you have sustained a serious injury in a Georgia tractor trailer accident be sure that you have an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of coverage issues in order to maximize your recovery.