Assessing Liability in a Truck Accident
Depending on the events leading to the truck accident and other surrounding circumstances, a number of different parties may be held liable for damages. These include:
Truck Drivers - if the accident occurred while the driver was driving impaired, committing a traffic offense, speeding, driving fatigued, or driving without the necessary license or training
Trucking Companies - for hiring an inexperienced or unqualified person, for setting unrealistic expectations, or for an inadequate safety inspection
Truck Manufacturers / Parts Manufacturers - if the accident occurred as a result of a faulty part, malfunctioning brake, or mechanical failure
Cargo Loaders - for failure to thoroughly inspect, secure, or balance the cargo, thereby resulting in an accident
Maintenance Personnel - for negligence in performing their expected duties, such as routine inspection, safety checks, proper maintenance, as well as inspection of the truck's engine, brakes, electronic systems, and fluids
Factors in Determining Liability
Some factors that may be considered when determining liability in a truck accident include:
- The truck driver's action or state of mind
- How the other vehicle driver's actions caused or contributed to the accident
- Road conditions – whether the road was in a bad or good condition
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Oklahoma is an at-fault auto insurance state. This means that the driver who caused the accident may be held responsible for all medical expenses, property damages, and other accident-related losses suffered by the accident victims. However, you don’t have forever to file a claim. In Oklahoma, an action for injury to the rights of another, including actions for the specific recovery of personal property, must be brought within two (2) years after the injury or accident occurred. Additionally, a wrongful death action must be commenced within two (2) years from the date of the victim's death.
If You're The Victim
If you're the victim of a truck accident in Oklahoma, you can:
- File an injury claim with your own insurance provider
- File a third-party claim directly with the at-fault party's insurance carrier
- File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault party
If You're Representing an Incapacitated Loved One
If you're representing an incapacitated family member, pursuing compensation on the victim's behalf requires you to first established guardianship. Once you have been confirmed as the legal guardian of the injured person, you can file personal injury action on the victim's behalf.
If You're Representing a Deceased Loved One
If the person died from the negligent truck accident, the personal representative or "executor" of the decedent's estate may bring a wrongful death claim to Oklahoma civil courts. If there is no named personal representative, the court may appoint one.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Trucking companies and truck drivers must abide by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules. When they don’t, a devastating injury or wrongful death could occur. Here are some rules and regulations guiding drivers in the state of Oklahoma and across the country:
- All truck drivers must meet the required qualifications and requirements set by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
- Commercial motor vehicle drivers, including truck drivers, must strictly adhere to their federal hours of service limitations.
- Truck drivers must implement a scheduled vehicle maintenance plan to prevent sudden breakdowns.
- Drivers who intend to operate large trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds must obtain a special Commercial Driver's License (CDL).
- Truck drivers must perform a comprehensive vehicle inspection before and after every trip.
Work With a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney
A truck accident can be an emotional and overwhelming experience. The devastating ramifications of such an incident can affect you physically, financially, and mentally. Thankfully, you don't have to face the challenges and financial liability all by yourself. It is important to reach out to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to advocate for your legal rights, represent your best interests, and help pursue compensation.
For more than two decades, I’ve been protecting the rights of truck accident victims and their families. As your legal counsel, I can:
- Review all the surrounding facts of your case and conduct a comprehensive, private investigation
- Gather all relevant information, required evidence, witness testimonies, and documentation
- Seek to prove fault and establish liability
- Determine the full extent of your injuries and other accident-related losses
- Help negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance providers involved
- Take additional legal action on your behalf, if necessary