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.
The 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.