Oklahoma City Truck Accident Attorneys
Semi-Truck & Large Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Oklahoma
Motor vehicle accidents involving large commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks and 18-wheelers, are particularly devastating. According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO), there were nearly 4,800 large truck crashes in Oklahoma in 2020, 545 of which led to confirmed injuries and 73 of which were fatal.
If you or someone you love was involved in an accident with a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, big rig, or similar large truck, you could be entitled to financial compensation from the trucking company, its insurance provider, or even a third party. We encourage you to reach out to our Oklahoma City truck accident attorneys at Fulmer Sill right away to learn how we can protect your rights and fight for your maximum recovery. Our attorneys have decades of collective experience fighting on behalf of severely injured individuals and the families of those wrongfully killed due to the negligence of others, and our firm has secured millions of dollars in compensation for clients state- and nationwide. We are ready to fight tirelessly for the full and fair recovery you are owed.
Who Is Liable for a Large Truck Accident?
Generally speaking, truck accidents are much more complex than standard car accidents. One reason for this is the issue of liability. Determining who is liable for a car accident is typically relatively straightforward; in most cases, the driver who caused the crash is liable for resulting damages. With truck accidents, however, many third parties may be liable, depending on how the accident occurred, whether there were additional contributing factors, and what specific circumstances were involved.
Depending on the details of the accident, any of the following parties could be liable for your truck accident:
- The trucking company
- The truck driver
- A manufacturer or distributor
- The party responsible for truck maintenance
- A truck repair company
- The entity responsible for loading cargo
- The party that owns or leases the tractor and/or trailer
- Another motorist or third party
Most truck accident claims are brought against trucking companies and/or their insurance providers. However, many different factors can affect your claim. At Fulmer Sill, we leave no stone unturned when seeking compensation for our clients. Our Oklahoma City truck accident attorneys are prepared to pursue every possible avenue of recovery on your behalf.
What is Considered a Truck?
A truck is a motor vehicle designed primarily for carrying cargo. Trucks vary widely in size, power, and configuration, and they play a crucial role in transportation and logistics. Here are some common types of trucks:
- Semi-Truck (Tractor-Trailer or 18-Wheeler): This is a combination of a tractor unit (front part with an engine and driver's cab) and a trailer. These trucks are commonly used for long-haul transportation of goods.
- Delivery Truck: These trucks are designed for transporting goods over short distances, often within a city or local area. They come in various sizes, and some are specifically built for parcel or package delivery.
- Pickup Truck: Pickup trucks are smaller vehicles with an open cargo bed at the rear. They are versatile and often used for personal transportation as well as light-duty hauling.
- Box Truck (Cube Van): These trucks have an enclosed cargo area and are commonly used for transporting a variety of goods. They are often used for local deliveries or moving services.
- Dump Truck: Designed for transporting loose material, such as sand, gravel, or demolition waste. Dump trucks have a hydraulic lift system that allows the cargo bed to be raised at an angle for easy unloading.
- Flatbed Truck: These trucks have a flat, open cargo bed with no sides. They are suitable for transporting large or unconventional loads that may not fit inside an enclosed space.
- Tow Truck: Specifically designed for towing other vehicles. Tow trucks may have a flatbed or a boom with a hook to lift and tow cars.
- Garbage Truck (Waste Collection Vehicle): These trucks are designed for collecting and transporting municipal solid waste. They come in various configurations, including front loaders, rear loaders, and side loaders.
- Tanker Truck: Tanker trucks are used to transport liquids, such as fuel, chemicals, or food-grade products. They have specialized tanks to secure and transport liquid cargo.
- Fire Truck: Also known as a fire engine, these trucks are equipped with firefighting equipment and tools. They are essential for responding to fires and other emergencies.
- Off-Road Truck: These trucks are designed for off-highway use and are often used in construction, mining, or other rugged terrains. They have features like high-ground clearance and heavy-duty suspension.
Common Types of Truck Accidents
A truck accident refers to any collision or incident involving a truck, which is a motor vehicle designed primarily for carrying cargo. Truck accidents can have serious consequences due to the size and weight of these vehicles.
Common types of truck accidents include:
- Jackknife Accidents: This occurs when a truck's trailer swings out to the side, forming an L or V shape with the cab. It often happens when the truck driver loses control, and the trailer swings around due to factors like slippery roads or sudden braking.
- Rollover Accidents: These accidents happen when a truck tips over onto its side or roof. Rollovers can result from various factors, including high-speed turns, uneven road surfaces, or improper loading of cargo.
- Underride Accidents: In an underride accident, a smaller vehicle slides under the rear or side of a truck, often leading to catastrophic injuries for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. Underride guards are installed on trucks to help prevent these accidents.
- Override Accidents: This occurs when a truck runs over a smaller vehicle, often due to issues such as inadequate braking distance or driver error. Override accidents can result in severe injuries or fatalities for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
- Blind Spot Accidents: Trucks have larger blind spots (areas not visible to the driver) compared to smaller vehicles. Accidents can happen when a vehicle enters a truck's blind spot, and the truck driver is unaware of its presence.
- Tire Blowouts: Sudden tire failures on a truck can lead to loss of control and accidents. Overloaded trucks, poorly maintained tires, or road debris can contribute to tire blowouts.
- Brake Failure Accidents: Malfunctioning brakes on a truck can lead to an inability to stop or slow down in time, resulting in accidents. Brake failures can be caused by various factors, including inadequate maintenance.
- Hazardous Material Spills: Trucks transporting hazardous materials can be involved in accidents that lead to spills, posing a risk to both the environment and public safety.
- Wide Turn Accidents: Trucks have a wide turning radius, and other vehicles may be caught in the turning path, leading to collisions. This is especially common in urban areas.
- Fatigue-Related Accidents: Truck driver fatigue can lead to impaired reaction times and judgment, increasing the risk of accidents. Regulations are in place to limit the number of consecutive hours a truck driver can operate without rest.
- Distracted Driving Accidents: Just like any other motorist, truck drivers can be distracted by activities such as texting, eating, or adjusting controls, leading to accidents.
How Do Large Truck Accidents Happen?
One important element of determining liability in a truck accident case is discovering how the crash occurred, including whether any underlying factors contributed to the collision. Often, pinpointing the cause of the accident allows our attorneys to identify the liable party or parties.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Truck Driver Negligence or Error: Truck drivers are highly skilled professionals, but they are also human. As a result, they are just as susceptible to negligence and human error as any other driver on the road. Some examples of truck driver negligence and errors that lead to serious crashes include speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and violating traffic laws.
- Hours-of-Service Violations: Truck drivers are subject to federal and state hours-of-service laws. These laws regulate the number of hours truckers may drive, as well as the number of breaks they may take and at what time they must take those breaks. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent fatigued driving, which can be as deadly as drunk driving. When truckers violate hours-of-service laws, they are at risk of drowsy driving and may cause serious crashes.
- Overloaded or Improperly Loaded Cargo: Large trucks are also subject to state and federal capacity limits. Violations of these limits can be extremely dangerous and may lead to large truck accidents. Additionally, when cargo is improperly loaded, it can lead to shifting weight and other problems during transit. This can, in turn, cause the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle and may result in jackknifing, rollovers, and other serious accidents.
- Trucking Company Negligence: Trucking companies can engage in all types of negligent and wrongful behavior, which may indirectly lead to an accident. Some examples include negligent hiring practices (such as failure to conduct background checks on new drivers), poor or insufficient training, improper supervision, and failure to adequately discipline truck drivers who violate company policies and/or state or federal laws.
- Insufficient Maintenance or Repairs: Truck drivers, trucking companies, and other parties are responsible for conducting routine vehicle inspections and maintenance. Failure to do so, or failure to report maintenance issues requiring repairs, can have devastating or even deadly consequences. Additionally, improper or incomplete tractor or trailer repairs can also indirectly lead to a serious accident.
- Defects: Many truck accidents result from vehicle defects and defective roadways. Common truck defects include defective tractor or trailer design, defective truck tires, faulty engine components, braking system defects, missing reflective strips, and more. Roadway defects include issues such as poorly designed or constructed roads, blind curves, unsafe speed limits, and poor roadway maintenance leading to potholes and other hazards.
Our attorneys work with accident reconstructionists and other specialists to review all available evidence, including vehicle black box recorders, truck drivers’ cellphone records, and more. We evaluate this evidence to reconstruct what happened and how the defendant’s negligent or wrongful conduct led to the collision that caused our client’s injuries and resulting damages.
Where Do Most Truck Accidents Occur?
Truck accidents can happen anywhere there are negligent truck drivers, of course. However, truck accidents are more likely to occur on the highways of Oklahoma, which might not be surprising. Commercial trucks are used to carry cargo and products across the state and country via highways, so you are more likely to encounter a truck there. When off the highway, truck accidents are more likely to happen at intersections.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
Once a truck accident happens, you can be sure that the truck driver, trucking company, and any involved insurance companies are immediately thinking of ways to avoid liability. For that reason, it is important that you take steps right after a truck accident to start protecting your right to compensation.
Let our firm know if you took any of these important steps after a truck accident:
- Call 911: Truck accidents usually cause significant vehicular damage and serious bodily injuries. Dial 911 to get emergency responders there as soon as possible, so the scene can be controlled by professionals.
- Write down information: Collect and record contact and insurance information from all involved parties. In a truck accident case, you will need to write down identifying information about the truck and its trailer, such as the trailer number. You should also make sure you have insurance information related to policies that are privately held by the truck driver and any supplied by the trucker’s employer.
- Take photographs: As you should after any accident, take photographs of the entire truck accident scene. Be thorough when photographing the truck and the area immediately around it. For example, you might be able to photograph tire skid marks leading to the truck that show the truck driver was traveling too quickly for traffic conditions.
- Talk to eyewitnesses: Many truck accidents happen when a motorist is blindsided by a truck driver who didn’t check blind spots or give enough time when merging. If this happened to you, then you might not have had a good view of what happened as it unfolded. However, an eyewitness might have seen everything much more clearly and be willing to give you a written statement.
Types of Recoverable Damages
The value of your truck accident claim could be significant if the truck driver caused you to suffer life-changing injuries. Our Oklahoma truck accident lawyers are here to make sure that you get every penny of what you deserve. To begin, we will want to calculate your damages, being careful to consider the damages that you could incur far into the future.
Damages that you might recover in a truck accident claim could include:
- Medical treatment costs
- Rehabilitative therapy costs
- Lost wages
- Reduced income earning ability
- Permanent disability complications
- Pain and suffering
If you lost a loved one in a truck accident in Oklahoma, then we can discuss filing a wrongful death claim for you. A wrongful death claim can demand different damages from the defendant, such as loss of companionship and the value of around-the-house tasks that the decedent often handled.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
When you want to file a truck accident claim, you will likely go head-to-head with a trucking company and any insurance company that represents them. The challenge to getting compensation and justice will be steep. You can prepare for it by coming to our firm, though. Our Oklahoma truck accident lawyers are here to help however we can, which, for many clients, means handling every aspect of the case as it progresses.
We can help you by:
- Investigating the crash
- Uncovering evidence of liability
- Calculating your full damages
- Identifying liable defendants
- Filing the claim
- Responding to inquiries and replies
- Negotiating for a settlement
- Litigating in court for an award
Get in touch with us today at (405) 433-7414 to learn more during a no-cost, no-obligation consultation and case review. Hablamos español.
Oklahoma Truck Accident FAQ
- How many hours can truck drivers work?
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations limit the average truck driver to no more than 14 working hours in a shift. Three of those hours must not be spent driving. Such a long shift must also be preceded by 10 hours off duty.
- How much can an 18-wheeler weigh?
The average 18-wheeler can weigh around 35,000 pounds on its own. With a trailer, it can weigh up to a maximum of 80,000 pounds. The risk of an accident can increase significantly when a truck exceeds this strict weight limit.
- What’s the time limit for filing a truck accident claim?
Oklahoma has a two-year statute of limitations on truck accident claims. The statute begins on the day of the accident. Once the statute expires, the court will prevent you from filing a claim.
- How long does a truck accident lawsuit take?
A truck accident claim or lawsuit will take a varying amount of time depending on the details that go into the case. Some cases might take 6 or so months to conclude. Others could take more than a year. Our firm works diligently to make sure that there are no needless delays in your case because we know that you are already waiting on a fair settlement or award.
- When should you call a lawyer after a truck accident in Oklahoma City?
You should call a lawyer after being in any truck accident that caused you to suffer an injury. Even if the injury doesn’t seem severe, it could get worse. It is worth at least talking to an attorney about your options. They can let you know if you should pursue further legal action.
- What party is usually liable for a truck accident? In many truck accident cases, the party held liable is the trucking company. This is because of a legal doctrine known as "respondeat superior," which essentially states that an employer can be held responsible for the actions of its employees if they were acting within the scope of their employment when the incident occurred. Therefore, if a truck driver causes an accident while they are on duty, the trucking company they work for could potentially be held legally responsible. It's important to note that determining liability in these cases can be complex and may require extensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the accident, so hiring a truck accident lawyer early is recommended.
- Why do truck accidents cause worse injuries than most car accidents? Truck accidents often result in more severe injuries than most car accidents due to several factors. The sheer size and weight of trucks, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, significantly impact the severity of the damage in collisions. Other factors such as wider turning radius, blind spots, and the potential for fatigued driving due to long hours on the road make truck accidents particularly dangerous.
- What is a truck accident claim worth? The worth of a truck accident claim will depend on many factors, such as the extent of injuries, how liability is divided, and even insurance policy limits in some cases. At the start of a case, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to estimate the value of the claim. The amount will usually not be known until the claimant reaches their maximum medical improvement (MMI). Furthermore, no attorney or law firm can promise that a claim will end in a specific amount because every case is unique.
- Does it matter if I was in a truck’s blind spot when it hit me? It does matter if you were in a truck's blind spot when it hit you as it can affect the determination of fault in the accident. Large trucks have significant blind spots that limit or block the driver’s range of vision. While truck drivers are trained to check these areas and use caution when changing lanes or turning, they may still miss seeing a vehicle in their blind spot. However, drivers of other vehicles also have a responsibility to avoid lingering in these blind spots whenever possible.
After a major truck accident, you and your family are likely facing a wide range of physical, emotional, and financial challenges. At Fulmer Sill, we are here to help you fight for fair compensation for your medical bills, lost income, lost quality of life, pain, suffering, and other damages.
We offer a high-end client experience based on consistent communication, personal attention, and direct contact with your attorney throughout the legal process. By providing our legal services on a contingency fee basis, we are able to help our clients avoid upfront and out-of-pocket legal expenses. Instead, you only pay our attorneys’ fees and other litigation-related costs if we successfully recover compensation for you.
You can rely on our tenacious and hardworking team to fight tirelessly for every penny you are owed.