A person who is injured in a trucking accident can face severe and debilitating injuries, and even death. The truck driver or a company can be liable for a person's injuries if there was negligence, and often, both are responsible. In general, negligence happens when a party has acted recklessly, which caused injury to another person. When a person injured in a semi-truck accident in Oklahoma files a lawsuit, he or she will need to prove that the party who was at fault had a legal responsibility to ensure the person's safety, that they failed to fulfill their legal duty, and that the person suffered injuries as a result.
Since trucking cases are so contentious, it pays to know how liability is established in Oklahoma trucking accidents.
Factors Causing Trucking Accidents
There are many different ways to hold drivers and trucking companies liable for damages and injuries that resulted from an accident. Insufficient driver training, overworked drivers, failure to maintain and repair trucks, and transporting more weight than allowable are all factors which may result in an accident.
Trucking companies know how liability is established, and they often approach victims and offer them small settlements with the promise to avoid "paying lawyers" and "dragging things out." When you have been injured in an accident, this can be tempting, but it is vital to call a lawyer rather than taking the company up on its offer. Do not discuss the case with the trucking company, its lawyers, or its insurance companies without a lawyer.
Interstate Trucking Laws
The trucking industry is generally regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an agency at the United States Department of Transportation. There are very strict safety laws which apply to drivers, their training, their working hours, and the trucks they drive. Truck drivers are also required to be of sound mind and not taking drugs or alcohol. Although truckers are required to pass tests in order to be certified to drive a truck in interstate commerce, the test does not always tell the full story. Truckers may only drive a certain number of hours on the road without taking a break. They cannot text, talk on the phone, or commit other acts which distract them from safe driving. They are prohibited from taking certain substances, even some legal substances like cough syrup.
If a driver runs afoul of these laws, his or her employer could be liable for the driver's negligence. A motor carrier has responsibility for screening and training its drivers, maintaining safety standards, and ensuring that drivers always take rest breaks. The motor carrier also must maintain its property in a safe manner.
Trucking Safety Violations
Although many motor carriers and drivers follow all state and federal regulations, others break the rules. There is serious pressure to deliver cargo quickly, and often drivers will push themselves beyond their limits. This can cause an accident, meaning that a third-party is injured. Unfortunately, the average car cannot compete with a semi-truck, and studies show that a passenger or driver is two to three times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident involving a truck. The sheer size of a truck means that other vehicles are no match for its weight and heft, leaving lives hanging in the balance. Valuing Damages in a Truck Accident Case The biggest category of damage in a truck accident case is usually injuries and medical expenses. Usually, all expenses related to your injuries should be compensated, such as doctor visits, ambulance rides, hospital bills, medical test bills, medicine, and physical therapy. If the accident forced you to miss work, or impacted your ability to work at all, then you could be awarded loss of income due to the injury and/or loss of future income due to an inability to work. Property damage, like the cost of damage done to the vehicle or other property, is also part of a settlement or judgment. Other damages, like pain and suffering and loss of consortium, are often included in the damage valuation.
Contact an Oklahoma Truck Accident Lawyer for Help
Trucking companies and their insurance companies often don't fight fair. If you were injured in a trucking accident, it is necessary to act fast in order to preserve evidence and meet the statutes of limitation. By calling our office at 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW), you can speak with one of our highly experienced trucking attorneys. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library, or enter live chat.