The MCS-90: An Important Insurance Endorsement In Trucking Cases


We have blogged before about the problem with so-called independent contractors and the attempt by unscrupulous operators to insulate themselves from the negligence of its drivers. To address this problem, Congress amended the Interstate Motor Common Carrier Act to require that a registered motor carrier assume “full direction and control” of leased vehicles. In order to effectuate this responsibility, federal law mandates that insurance policies for all motor common carriers contain an MCS-90 Endorsement. The required language in the form MCS-90 Endorsement is standardized and applies to the operation, maintenance and use of motor vehicles subject to the financial responsibility requirements of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. In essence, those sections apply to motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce. Thus, insurance companies who insure vehicles owned or leased by interstate trucking companies must include the MCS-90 Endorsement in their policy. This endorsement makes the motor carrier responsible for any leased vehicle, so much so as to practically guarantee that an independent contractor argument will fail where such an MCS-90 Endorsement is proven to exist and a lease agreement between the carriers is involved.

insured truckThe MCS-90 Endorsement applies to interstate motor carriers operating in interstate commerce. State laws are different, but if there is a interstate carrier involved and an interstate shipment is involved as well, an injured individual may claim the benefit of the MSC-90 Endorsement to claim minimum federal limits of liability insurance coverage which typically are $750,000.00. Because the damages caused by collisions with big tractor-trailer rigs are usually more serious than a routine automobile accident, the MCS-90 Endorsement can become extremely important particularly if a third party leased vehicle is involved and the injuries and damages caused by such a negligent operator are serious.

Because of the importance of experienced counsel in these areas, once again, anyone who is injured by a so-called “independent contractor” should confer with counsel as soon as possible to protect their rights. The MCS-90 Endorsement may be the best protection one can have in this context.

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About Michael Sullivan

Michael A. Sullivan is a former federal prosecutor who has more than twenty-five years of experience in sophisticated civil and criminal litigation.

Mr. Sullivan has represented large businesses and individuals in complex cases, many involving fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty. His trial experience over three decades has included white collar criminal cases, civil fraud, business torts, and serious personal injury and death cases. Mr. Sullivan has been selected as a Super Lawyer each year from 2006 to present.

From 1995-98, Mr. Sullivan served under Larry D. Thompson as a federal prosecutor in the Independent Counsel investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which included the prosecution of former Secretary of the Interior James Watt. He also has defended businesses and individuals in white collar criminal investigations and prosecutions, including financial fraud and tax investigations.  Mr. Sullivan has also conducted internal investigations, and has advised organizations on compliance issues.

In addition to handling a variety of complex civil cases, Mr. Sullivan represents whistleblowers worldwide in qui tam litigation under the False Claims Act, in the IRS Whistleblower Program, and in the new SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Programs.

Mr. Sullivan has worked with the False Claims Act since the late 1980s and has both defended and prosecuted cases under the False Claims Act.

Since the December 2006 inception of the new IRS Whistleblower Program, Mr. Sullivan has also represented tax whistleblowers in submissions totaling many billions of dollars. He has also worked with the IRS Whistleblower Office staff in presenting programs on best practices in pursuing IRS Whistleblower claims.

In 2009 and again in 2010, Mr. Sullivan was contacted by staff members of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee to discuss how the new SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Programs under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act should operate. He has also met with the SEC and CFTC Chairmen and senior staff to recommend changes to the proposed rules for SEC and CFTC Whistleblower claims.

In 2014, Mr. Sullivan served as lead counsel to a major international corporation and won an eight-figure jury verdict against defendants who had defrauded the company and breached their fiduciary duties to it.

Mr. Sullivan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and Vanderbilt Law School, where he was Senior Articles Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review. He clerked for U.S. District Judge Marvin H. Shoob in Atlanta from 1984-86.