Truckers may work either as independent contractors or as employees of a company, making liability issues murky after a trucking accident . If you were in a trucking accident, you might be unsure how to deal with a claim against an independent contractor.
If you’re wondering who is responsible when an Oklahoma trucker hits you, certain laws affect truckers, liability in a trucking accident with an independent contractor, and what other parties may share responsibility for the accident.
Rules Truckers Must Follow in Oklahoma
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates trucking across the U.S., including hours of service (HOS) regulations for how long truckers are able to drive.
Truck drivers are supposed to limit their working day to 14 hours, 11 of which they may spend driving. The 14-hour day includes 30-minute breaks and mealtimes. After working 14 hours, drivers must take 10 hours of rest before getting back on the road.
Drivers also follow the 60/70 rule for the number of hours they work in a week. If their company is open seven days a week, they may work 70 hours in eight days. If the company closes at least one day a week, drivers may work up to 60 hours in seven days. Drivers must take 34 consecutive hours off after meeting the weekly limit for hours worked.
Many trucking companies and drivers violate HOS regulations to run more deliveries, but violating HOS leads to tired truck drivers who end up speeding to make their next stop, thus increasing the risk of accidents.
The Oklahoma Trucker Who Hit Me Is an Independent Contractor: Who Is Responsible?
While employees of trucking companies often have protections from their employers, independent contractors are solely responsible for causing an accident. Common causes of accidents involving trucks include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Fatigued driving
- Reckless or aggressive driving
Independent contractors often drive their own trucks and have their own liability insurance. Their negligence leading to the accident is solely their responsibility rather than that of the company they’re driving for.
What Other Parties May Be Responsible for a Trucking Accident?
Under certain circumstances, other parties may share the responsibility for a trucking accident in Oklahoma. Some instances where other parties may be responsible include:
- The trucking company. If the company pressures their drivers to violate HOS or drive heavy, or if it hires employees or independent contractors with violations on record, it may be partly liable for damages caused by the trucker in an accident.
- The loading company. If the shipping company fails to load the cargo correctly and the accident involves cargo falling off the truck and causing property damage or injuries, the loading company could be partly liable for the damages.
- The truck manufacturer. If the manufacturer of the truck or any of its parts sells a faulty product that leads to an accident, the manufacturer could be liable for the accident.
- Another driver. If a driver causes the trucker to have to make a sudden adjustment while driving that leads to an accident, the other driver would likely be liable for the damages in the accident.
Contact Us at The Law Offices of Bryan Garrett, PLLC., for a Trucking Accident in Oklahoma
Even though the trucker is often responsible, other circumstances could contribute to the case. If you were in an accident with an independent contractor truck driver in Oklahoma, call the law offices of Bryan Garrett, PLLC., at 405-358-2342 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.