Driver Liability In Commercial Truck Accidents In Oklahoma
Thursday, July 5th, 2018
Commercial trucks are all over Oklahoma highways, and across the country. These vehicles are a critical piece of the country’s transportation infrastructure. They are also much larger than nearly all of their consumer-driven counterparts. When these trucks are involved in accidents, it can cause thousands of dollars in damage and even more in medical expenses. If you are injured in an accident with a commercial truck, the following can help you understand what to do next.
Commercial trucks are often contracted or owned by companies. Therefore, the vast majority of accidents involving commercial trucks happen during the course of a regular work day. If you are injured by an employee, a legal term known as “respondeat superior” is applicable. Respondeat superior essentially means that the company is liable for the actions of their employee.
While the truck driver is the one who was involved in the accident, it is unlikely they will have the financial resources to compensate you. You may have to rely on respondeat superior to go after their employer instead. However, respondeat superior does not apply in all situations.
Limitations on company liability
In most situations, if the commercial truck driver intentionally hit you, the employer would not be liable. Respondeat superior applies if you were injured in an unintentional accident while the employee was performing their duties within the scope of employment. If road rage was involved, the driver may be liable for your injuries.
Employee vs. contractor
Another common limitation is the difference between employees and contractors. Respondeat superior only applies to actions of employees, not contractors. For example, imagine you hired a painter to paint your house and on the way to your house she gets into an accident. You obviously shouldn’t be held liable for that accident, even though you hired the painter. This is because the painter is not your employee and you do not control their actions.
Conversely, if you operated a painting company, you could be liable because the painter is performing actions under your directive. A similar situation applies to truck drivers. Many truck drivers are contractors, so their actions should not be imputed to the “employer.” However, it also depends on the relationship between the driver and company. If the company controls the means by which the driver does his job, then the company may be liable. A common example of this is when the company owns the truck and it has not been maintained.
Acts outside of employment
A main limitation on liability in Oklahoma is whether or not the employee was acting within the scope of his duties when the accident occurred. If the employee hits you while driving home after a shift, he isn’t on the clock, and the company isn’t liable.
Another exception is drinking and driving. Some accidents involve alcohol. If the truck driver was drinking while on the clock, the employer could be held liable. There are many factors to take into account, and the driver will share some liability, but you can hold the employer responsible in many cases.
What to do after a truck accident
You first step after a truck accident is to contact the authorities and an ambulance if you can. You should always seek medical attention after a commercial truck accident because you may have hidden injuries. You should then call your insurance company to make a report. You will have to speak with both your insurance company and the insurance of the party at fault. Remember to say only what is necessary. Finally, contact a truck accident attorney that you can trust to help you with the claim. These professionals can get you the compensation you deserve.
Have you been in a commercial truck accident in Oklahoma?
If you have been in a Truck Accident in Oklahoma, Texas, or New Mexico, contact Attorney Dean Boyd today. Even if you are not in Texas, Dean Boyd and his team have the experience and knowledge to fight for your rights. We have won jury verdicts for our clients as high as 8.9 million dollars, obtained multi-million dollars settlements and received awards including the Texas Lawyer Top Verdicts and Settlements.
Our team can help you determine how to get fair compensation for your injuries and to secure your family’s’ financial future. If you would like more information about how we can help you after an Oklahoma truck accident, call us at (806) 242-3333 or Contact Us via email. You can also visit our offices in person at 4423 SW 45th Ave in Amarillo, Texas or 10623 Quaker Ave #102 in Lubbock, Texas.