With Oklahoma’s location in the middle of the country, it’s a major hub for transportation. Unfortunately, that also means that trucking accidents are fairly common in our state. Data from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) shows that in 2019, 5,638 accidents involved large trucks. There were fatalities in 81 of those collisions.
Motor vehicle accidents that involve semi-trucks or tractor-trailers tend to cause severe property damage. Serious injuries and even death are also common, especially when collisions involve smaller cars or pedestrians.
Truck accidents can be complicated in terms of liability, and insurance companies don’t always offer fair settlements to legitimate claims. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, contact Carr & Carr online. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys can help you pursue fair compensation to cover your lost income and medical bills. You can reach our Oklahoma City office at (888) 232-5158.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents often have more than one cause, which can make it challenging to figure out liability. OHSO keeps data on large truck crashes, and the statistics show that the most common stated cause of accidents in 2019 was “improper act or movement” on the part of the truck driver. Many different actions fall under this term, including improperly secured cargo, failure to signal, and changing lanes incorrectly.
Here are other contributing factors:
- Drugs or alcohol
- Improper lane changes
- Distracted driving
- Inadequate space between vehicles
In most truck accidents, there are several contributing factors. This is especially true when other vehicles and/or pedestrians are involved. In Oklahoma, every party involved in the crash is assigned some percentage (0 percent or more) of liability.
Truck Driving Laws to Prevent Accidents
Drivers of large trucks carrying cargo must follow certain regulations, which are set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Here are some of the rules for truck drivers:
- Time limits: Drivers can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. There is also a specific window of time when driving is allowed after every 10-hour off-duty break; drivers can’t drive at any time beyond the 14th consecutive hour after the end of the break.
- Adverse weather: During adverse weather conditions, drivers can drive up to 13 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. The 14-hour window is also extended by 2 hours.
- Breaks: Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after 8 cumulative hours of driving without at least 30 minutes of non-driving.
There are additional laws that govern sleeping in trucks with a sleeper berth. Drivers are also limited in the number of hours they can drive in a period of consecutive days. They can’t drive more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.
Liability in an Oklahoma Truck Accident
There could be many at-fault parties in a motor vehicle accident involving large trucks. If other vehicles or pedestrians are involved in the crash, they may be assigned some percentage of liability too. For example, if a truck changes lanes without signaling and is rear-ended by a speeding car, liability may be split between both drivers. In any crash, there are several parties that could be liable:
The truck driver
Drivers who disregard federal regulations may be liable in a crash. They may also be held liable in an accident if they were speeding, distracted, negligent, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The truck manufacturer
If a crash is caused by some malfunction of the truck or its internal equipment, then the manufacturer could be held partially liable for the accident.
The transportation company owner
A trucking company can be held liable for an accident in some cases. For example, if it didn’t train the driver properly, it may be assigned some percentage of liability. Sometimes a truck driver’s contract states whether they or the transportation company is liable for an accident.
The maintenance provider
If the accident happened because of a malfunction that was caused by improper maintenance (rather than a defective part), then the truck’s maintenance provider may be liable. Sometimes a cargo loading agent can share some of the liability if the cargo wasn’t properly secured or if it exceeded the truck’s weight limit.
Because liability can be assigned to many different parties in a trucking accident, it may not be clear what kind of compensation you can expect. A personal injury lawyer can listen to the details of your case and tell you what legal options you have.
Comparative Negligence and Compensation Claims
Oklahoma has comparative negligence laws that can complicate accident claims. These are the laws that govern the assignment of liability percentages to parties involved in the crash. Those percentages affect how much compensation a person can receive. More liability means less compensation. Any party that is assigned 50 percent or more liability cannot seek compensation at all.
Get the Compensation You Deserve After a Truck Accident
Truck accidents can be devastating, causing serious injuries and even death. Oklahoma’s comparative negligence laws can make it difficult to understand which parties are liable and how you should pursue compensation.
At Carr & Carr, we have helped countless Oklahoma victims and their families seek fair compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering after truck accidents. When you contact us, we’ll listen to your story and help you understand the next step.