Contact an Experienced Oklahoma Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer
The experienced Oklahoma commercial vehicle accident lawyer at The Law Office of Dakota C. Low understands the complexities of commercial vehicle accident cases, and we know that the initial settlement offers from trucking companies’ insurance providers are rarely enough to cover injury victims’ long-term needs.
That’s why we fight hard to recover the financial security commercial vehicle accident victims, and their families need to restore their lives. We strive to achieve a fair and timely settlement on your behalf, but we also have the resources and trial experience necessary to take your case to court when settlement offers are too low.
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a commercial vehicle accident in Oklahoma, please call us today at 405.601.8899 to schedule your consultation or submit your case to tell us your story now.
We offer free, no-obligation consultations to help you understand your options, and we don’t charge for our services until we recover compensation on your behalf.
The Law Office of Dakota C. Low has an office in Mustang, but we work with injury victims throughout Oklahoma. We can also meet you at your home, hospital room, or other location convenient for you.
What Is a Commercial Vehicle?
In the United States, “commercial vehicle” is a pretty broad term. Many times, when a layman thinks of a commercial vehicle, they think of a delivery truck or an 18-wheeler; however, in the United States, commercial vehicles can also include fleet vehicles, passenger transports, company cars, and other vehicles used for business.
When Does a Vehicle Become a Commercial Vehicle?
In the United States, a vehicle may be considered a commercial vehicle if:
- It is titled or registered to a company or a corporation.
- Is used for business, but is under the name of a sole proprietor for that business.
- Is a leased vehicle and in the name of the financial institution that owns it.
- Exceeds a certain weight or class, even if it is not used commercially or company-owned. Generally, any vehicle with a weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more is considered a commercial vehicle, regardless of use or ownership.
- Is used in the transportation of hazardous materials.
Note that a vehicle used for business may remain privately licensed depending on the amount of time it is used for business.
What Are Some Common Examples of Commercial Vehicles?
Among the commercial vehicles that most occupy public roadways are:
- Commercial vehicles
- Box trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Travel trailers exceeding 10,000 pounds
- Large vans (intended to carry more than 15 passengers)
- Heavy equipment (backhoes, bulldozers, large farm equipment, etc.)
- Gas and oil
- Dump vehicles
- Concrete mixers
- Toilet Trucks
- Dump Trucks
- Heavy Duty Trucks
- Moving Vans
Commercial Vehicle Accidents are on the Rise in Oklahoma
Accidents involving commercial vehicles often result in severe, life-changing injuries or death to passenger vehicle occupants.
On average, commercial vehicle crashes cause more than 70,000 injuries and more than 4,000 fatalities each year in the United States.
Oklahoma registers an average of about 5,000 commercial vehicle accidents annually, and that number is growing.
The Oklahoma commercial vehicle accident lawyer at The Law Office of Dakota C. Low discuss the hazards of large truck crashes and how an Oklahoma commercial vehicle accident lawyer can help injury victims pursue the financial security they need to cope with medical expenses and other damages.
Oklahoma Commercial Vehicle Accidents
In 2017, there were 5,540 crashes involving commercial vehicles in Oklahoma, a 9-percent increase over the previous year. These wrecks resulted in nearly 2,000 injuries and 120 deaths, both of which marked increases over 2016, according to a report by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
Nearly 5,000 accidents involving semis and other commercial vehicles occur in Oklahoma each year. Fatal crashes involving semis and other commercial vehicles are more likely to occur in rural areas and on highways.
Oklahoma’s State Highway 9 has seen so many commercial vehicles crashes that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pegs it as one of the 5 most dangerous highways in the United States. Other Oklahoma roadways with high truck accident rates include Interstates 35, 40, and 44 (especially the Turner Turnpike segment).
The size and weight of tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles make them especially dangerous in collisions with passenger vehicles. According to an NHTSA report, 14 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in Oklahoma in 2020 involved commercial vehicles.
Common Causes of Large Truck Accidents in Oklahoma
Although the number of injuries and fatalities related to large truck accidents in Oklahoma is increasing, the majority of these accidents are preventable. Most commercial vehicle accidents are caused by driver error or negligence.
In a report to Congress on the causes of commercial vehicle crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cited driver behavior as the main reason for more than 88 percent of large truck accidents.
Primary underlying factors included distracted driving, driver fatigue, and engaging in unsafe behaviors such as speeding.
Collisions between semi-trucks and passenger vehicles often result in severe injuries to passenger vehicle occupants.
Distracted driving most often applies to talking or texting on a smartphone while behind the wheel. In Oklahoma, all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, although adult passenger vehicle drivers are still allowed to talk on their cell phones while driving.
It is illegal, however, for commercial truck drivers to use any hand-held device while driving.
It’s dangerous for anyone to drive when exhausted, but the hazards increase exponentially when you’re behind the wheel of a large truck carrying heavy cargo.
Truck driver fatigue is the most common cause of trucking accidents in which the truck driver is at fault. A 2020 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that more than 20 percent of fatal commercial vehicle crashes involved a drowsy or fatigued driver.
Unsafe vehicle operation is another common cause of large truck accidents. Many truck drivers face tight deadlines that pressure them into making dangerous decisions, such as driving too fast for conditions or driving longer hours than allowed by the FMCSA, the latter of which can also lead to operator fatigue.
Who is Liable for Your Injuries in a Commercial Vehicle Wreck?
Commercial vehicle and truck accident cases can be complex because there are multiple parties that could be held liable for your injuries, including the vehicle’s driver, the company that owns or operates the commercial motor vehicle, or the vehicle’s manufacturer.
With so many potential contributing factors and parties involved, determining liability for a large truck accident can be challenging. If you were hurt in a collision with a large truck, it’s advisable to gather as much evidence as you can and contact an experienced Oklahoma commercial vehicle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Although most large truck crashes are caused by driver error, liability in truck accident cases isn’t always straightforward. Other factors in large truck accidents may include:
- Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo
- Vehicle defects or defective vehicle components
- Insufficient driver training
- Inadequate vehicle or trailer maintenance
Some large truck accidents are caused by defective vehicles or faulty vehicle components, such as tires or brakes.
At-fault parties in large truck crashes may include:
- The driver
- The trucking company
- The owner of the truck and/or trailer
- The cargo loading company
- The maintenance provider
- The vehicle manufacturer or vehicle parts maker
Companies are generally responsible for the actions of their employees. Unqualified management of a commercial vehicle fleet could lead to unqualified drivers. Employers may be liable for:
- Failure to properly train drivers
- Failure to maintain vehicle
- Negligent hiring practices
- Failure to verify proper driver licensing or certification
- Negligent supervision
Deciding who to sue (and where to sue) largely depends on the facts surrounding your case and how the accident was caused. An Oklahoma commercial vehicle accident lawyer with experience handling commercial vehicle accidents understands how to determine who the negligent party is.
The Law Office of Dakota C. Low has helped victims of commercial motor vehicle accidents stand up against large companies and corporations and get them the compensation they deserve. When up against a law firm with extensive legal and financial resources and a proven record of winning big cases, companies are more apt to offer an appropriate settlement amount.
When Can I Sue a Commercial Driver’s Employer?
As long as the truck driver is an employee of a commercial vehicle or trucking company, your lawsuit will seek damages from both the driver as well the company that employs the driver. Oklahoma law is very clear on this, stating that commercial vehicle companies are responsible for the negligent actions of their employees. In addition to being responsible for driver negligence, commercial vehicle companies are also responsible for ensuring the following:
- Their drivers have obtained and maintained proper licensing to operate a commercial vehicle
- Their drivers have not committed any disqualifying criminal offenses that would compromise their CDL
- Their drivers understand they are prohibited from using handheld devices while driving
- Their drivers are in compliance with hours of service regulations at all times
- Their vehicles are properly maintained and inspected regularly
Failure to adhere to these regulations or any others coded in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) can result in a trucking company being held responsible for your injuries. In some cases, your attorney may decide it is best for you to sue the trucking company only and not the driver. This is because you are seeking compensation for your injuries and any other damages. While you may want to bring the driver to justice, limiting your lawsuit to the company might be the most financially viable action and the most likely to help you in your recovery.
What Kind of Injuries Result from Commercial Vehicle Accidents?
Depending on the size of the commercial motor vehicle and the severity of the wreck, injuries can vary widely. For example, a crash involving an 80,000 lb. semi-truck and a passenger vehicle could result in catastrophic injuries or death. Common commercial vehicle accident injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries (such as whiplash)
- Cuts and lacerations
- Psychological and mental injuries
Injured in a Company Vehicle Accident? Contact Law Office of Dakota Low
Do not try to handle your company vehicle accident claim on your own. Typically, large companies have teams of attorneys whose only job is to limit the company’s financial liability in the event of a crash.
The Law Office of Dakota Low Has the Experience and Resources to Handle Your Company Vehicle Accident Claim
Commercial or company vehicles are cars, vans, trucks, and buses that are owned and operated by a company to be used by employees or agents of that company. Company vehicles are often used to carry work equipment, haul goods, or transport passengers, but may also be used for work-related employee transportation. Unfortunately, when employees drive irresponsibly, dangerously, and negligently, their life is put at risk.
Our Oklahoma commercial vehicle accident lawyer is dedicated to holding responsible parties accountable for their negligence and helping our clients recover from their injuries. They also have the expertise and resources to ensure that your claim is handled aggressively and effectively, from intake to resolution. Whether the responsibility for your crash rests on the driver, the company that employs them, or both, our Oklahoma commercial vehicle accident lawyer will identify all the negligent parties and will pursue all potential avenues for financial compensation.
Dakota Low can Answer your Commercial Vehicle Accident Questions
We have answers to difficult questions to help you make critical decisions, navigate the legal process and help you get justice.
Following a company vehicle accident, there are always more questions than answers. At The Law Office of Dakota C. Low, our Oklahoma commercial vehicle accident lawyer is here to answer any questions you have about your injury case. Call 405.601.8899 today.