Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

Thousands of tractor-trailers and large commercial trucks travel Oklahoma’s roads and highways daily. Due to their massive size and weight, large trucks can cause tremendous devastation in truck accidents, and thousands of people suffer catastrophic injuries or die each year in trucking accidents across Oklahoma.

If you suffered injuries or lost a close family member in a trucking accident in Oklahoma, you likely qualify to pursue compensation from those responsible. However, truck accident claims are notoriously complex, and several parties could hold liability for your injuries and losses.

Hire an experienced Tulsa truck accident lawyer. A lawyer can evaluate your claim for free, advise you of your rights and options, and determine liability for your truck accident injuries. An attorney can also advocate for your rights and interests to increase your chances of getting the maximum financial recovery possible.

Oklahoma Truck Accident Statistics

In a recent year, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reported the following truck accident statistics:

  • 4,784 total truck crashes
  • 1,168 truck crashes involving injuries
  • 73 truck accident fatalities

Tulsa reported more than 11,000 truck crashes in a recent year. Of those, 4,297 resulted in injuries and 94 resulted in fatalities.

Possible Liable Parties in a Truck Accident

Unlike most car accidents, multiple parties may share responsibility for a truck accident.

Liability often depends on the specific circumstances and causes of the accident, but potential liable parties could include:

  • Truck Driver: You can hold the truck driver liable if their negligent actions or behaviors caused the accident. Common examples include speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, fatigue, or distracted driving.
  • Trucking Company: You can hold the company that employs the truck driver liable in certain cases, particularly if they contributed to the accident through factors such as inadequate training, scheduling unrealistic delivery deadlines, or failing to maintain the truck properly.
  • Truck Owner: If a different entity than the trucking company or driver owns the truck, you can hold the truck owner liable for the accident if their negligence, such as failure to maintain the vehicle, played a role in the crash.
  • Truck Manufacturer: In some cases, a defect in the truck’s design or manufacturing, such as faulty brakes or tires, may have contributed to the accident. In such instances, you can hold the manufacturer or distributor liable under product liability laws.
  • Cargo Loading Company: If improperly loaded or secured cargo caused the accident, you can hold the company responsible for loading the truck liable.
  • Maintenance and Repair Providers: You can hold the companies or individuals responsible for maintaining and repairing the truck liable if their negligence resulted in a mechanical failure that contributed to the accident.
  • Government Entities: In some cases, poor road conditions or inadequate signage maintained by government entities could contribute to truck accidents. In such cases, a government agency may share liability.
  • Other Drivers: Sometimes, other drivers on the road may contribute to the accident through their own negligent actions. Multiple parties can share liability in these situations.

To determine liability in a truck accident, you need an attorney to thoroughly investigate the crash. An experienced truck accident lawyer will have the resources to collect the necessary evidence, and they can navigate the legal complexities and identify liable parties in your specific situation.

A lawyer can then help you pursue a claim or lawsuit against the responsible parties to seek compensation for your injuries and damages.

How Do You Prove Liability in a Truck Accident?

To obtain compensation from a truck accident claim, you must be able to prove the other party or parties’ actions were the proximate cause of the crash and your injuries. Proving liability in a truck accident case requires a comprehensive investigation and gathering of evidence to establish that the negligence or wrongful actions of one or more parties were responsible for the accident.

Collision of a truck with a passenger car on the highway road, as a result of which both were damaged.

Some important steps to take to collect evidence and prove liability include:

  • Secure the Accident Scene: Ensure the safety of all individuals involved and call law enforcement to the scene. A police report will provide valuable initial documentation of the accident.
  • Preserve Evidence: Take photographs and videos of the accident scene, including vehicle positions, road conditions, skid marks, and damage to vehicles. Capture any visible signs of negligence, such as trucking violations or damaged road signs.
  • Gather Contact Information: Collect the names, contact information, driver’s license numbers, and insurance details of all parties involved in the accident, including the truck driver and the trucking company.
  • Consult with an Attorney: Hire an experienced truck accident attorney who can guide you through the process, gather and preserve evidence, and advocate on your behalf.

The industry is so regulated, and truckers and trucking companies must comply with numerous laws and requirements, that you need a lawyer to establish liability in a trucking accident.

With their authority and resources, an Oklahoma truck accident lawyer can:

  • Talk to Witnesses: A lawyer can interview and depose any witnesses to the accident. They can ask them about what they saw and heard, especially if they can provide insights into the cause of the accident.
  • Obtain the Police Report: A lawyer can help you request a copy of the police report. It can contain valuable information about the accident, including officer observations and statements from the parties involved.
  • Review Trucking Logs and Records: An attorney can demand the truck driver’s logs, maintenance records, and any electronic data from the truck’s onboard systems (e.g., black box data) to determine if the driver violated hours-of-service regulations or if there were any mechanical issues with the truck.
  • Examine Driver’s Qualifications: An attorney can check the truck driver’s qualifications, including their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and training records, and confirm that they were properly licensed and trained.
  • Analyze Trucking Company Records: A lawyer can investigate the trucking company’s safety records, maintenance practices, and compliance with federal and state regulations. They can find any prior violations or safety concerns.
  • Consult Experts: An experienced truck accident attorney will have considerable resources at their disposal. They can hire accident reconstruction experts and other relevant specialists to analyze the evidence and provide expert opinions on the cause of the accident.
  • Evaluate Weather and Road Conditions: A lawyer can consider how weather conditions, road design, and maintenance may have contributed to the accident. They can document any factors that could have made driving conditions hazardous or show the truck driver was not driving properly for conditions.
  • Examine Cargo Handling: If the accident involved cargo issues, an attorney can review how the cargo was loaded, secured, and inspected. Improper cargo loading can contribute to accidents.
  • Interview the Truck Driver: A lawyer can interview the truck driver to gather information about their actions leading up to and during the accident.
  • Document Your Damages: A lawyer can help you keep records of your medical bills, property damage estimates, and any other accident-related expenses. This will help establish the extent of your damages and what types of compensation you could pursue.
  • Negotiate a Settlement: Your attorney can negotiate with the at-fault parties’ insurance companies to seek a fair settlement.
  • Litigate Your Case: If the insurance company won’t settle, your lawyer may advise you to file a lawsuit and represent you in court.

An experienced attorney can investigate the accident, gather evidence, and present a strong case to establish liability and seek compensation for your injuries and losses—all highly complex tasks, given the multiple parties involved and the technical aspects of the trucking industry.

What Types of Compensation Can I Receive from a Truck Accident Claim?

Following an Oklahoma truck accident that injured you or a loved one, you may recover compensation. Truck accident claims typically seek both economic and non-economic damages.

Here are the types of compensation you may receive:

  • Medical Expenses: Compensation for all reasonable and necessary medical costs related to the accident, including hospital bills, surgeries, doctor’s visits, medications, and future medical expenses.
  • Rehabilitation and Therapy: Coverage for ongoing therapy, rehabilitation, or assistive devices needed for recovery and to improve your quality of life.
  • Lost Income: Reimbursement for the income you lost due to the accident, including missed workdays, reduced earning capacity, and potential future lost earnings if your injuries affect your ability to work.
  • Pain and Suffering: Non-economic damages intended to compensate you for physical pain, emotional distress, and the overall suffering caused by the accident, injuries, and recovery process.
  • Property Damage: Compensation for the repair or replacement of your damaged vehicle and other personal property damaged in the accident.
  • Loss of Consortium: If applicable, compensation for the loss of companionship, affection, or sexual relations due to injuries sustained in the accident.
  • Wrongful Death Damages: If the accident resulted in the wrongful death of a loved one, surviving family members may recover compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support, and the emotional suffering caused by the loss.
  • Home Modifications: Compensation for modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate any permanent disabilities resulting from the accident.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Compensation for the loss of the ability to enjoy hobbies, activities, or aspects of life that you previously enjoyed.
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Reimbursement for other accident-related expenses, such as transportation costs for medical appointments and home care services.
  • Legal Fees: Your attorney will only deduct a percentage of your compensation. This allows you to pursue a claim without upfront legal costs.

In cases of extreme negligence or reckless conduct by the trucking company or driver, the court may award punitive damages as a form of punishment and as a deterrent to others.

To maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation, consult an experienced truck accident attorney. They can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit to seek the maximum compensation available based on the specific details of your case.

What Are Some Excuses Truck Companies Use to Deny Liability?

Truck companies and their insurance providers may sometimes attempt to deny liability or shift blame for accidents to minimize their financial responsibility.

A lawyer will know how to confront the common excuses and strategies used by trucking companies to contest liability in truck accident cases:

  • Driver Error: The trucking company may argue that the accident was solely the result of the truck driver’s actions or inactions, attempting to absolve themselves of liability. They might claim the driver was negligent, fatigued, or otherwise at fault.
  • Independent Contractor Status: Some trucking companies classify their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. They may argue that the driver’s status absolves them of responsibility for the driver’s actions.
  • Driver Negligence: The trucking company may assert that the driver was an independent contractor responsible for their own actions, and any negligence on their part should not be attributed to the company.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: If a mechanical failure or a maintenance issue contributed to the accident, the trucking company might claim that they properly maintained the vehicle, and the accident was an unforeseeable event.
  • Third-Party Negligence: The trucking company may try to shift blame onto other parties, such as the manufacturer of a faulty truck component, a maintenance company, or another driver involved in the accident.
  • Weather Conditions: Trucking companies may argue that adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or ice, were the primary cause of the accident and that they are not liable.
  • Sudden Medical Emergency: The company may claim that the driver suffered a sudden medical emergency, such as a heart attack or seizure, which caused them to lose control of the vehicle and was beyond their control.
  • Inadequate Evidence: The trucking company may attempt to challenge the evidence presented by the injured party, asserting that it is insufficient to establish their liability.
  • Statute of Limitations: They may argue that the injured party filed their lawsuit after the applicable statute of limitations had expired, making the claim invalid.
  • Documentation Errors: They might claim they kept inaccurate records, such as driver logs or maintenance records, or that no law required them to maintain or turn over certain records.

These excuses may not always hold up in court, and they often rely on the specific circumstances of the accident and the strength of the evidence. An experienced truck accident attorney can counter these excuses by thoroughly investigating, gathering evidence, and building a strong case to establish liability and seek compensation for injuries and damages.

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Injury Lawyer Today

Trucking companies and their insurance carriers often try to reduce their liability for the injuries and damages their trucks and truck drivers cause to avoid having to pay victims compensation.

Daniel Aizenman, Truck Accident Lawyer in Tulsa
Daniel Aizenman, Tulsa Truck Accident Lawyer

Sometimes, they use questionable defense tactics or other methods to deny claims, and injured people may not know where to turn for help getting the fair and full compensation they deserve.

An experienced personal injury lawyer in Bronx can review your claim at no cost and advise you of your rights and options for pursuing compensation. They can also help you gather evidence to support your claim and establish liability for a truck accident on the appropriate parties.

The Oklahoma truck accident attorneys at Aizenman Law Group are here to help you determine who you can hold liable for a truck accident that injured you or someone you love. Contact us today for your free consultation.