Dealing with Uninsured or Underinsured Truck Drivers

Dealing with Uninsured or Underinsured Truck DriversIf you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured truck driver, it is important for you to know that you have options. While all drivers must learn to share the roads with large commercial trucks, they do not have to accept property damage and injuries caused by an accident with one. Therefore, regardless of whether the at-fault truck driver has insurance or not, you should still receive compensation for your losses.

What are my options after a collision with an uninsured or underinsured trucker in Oklahoma City?

After being involved in a truck accident with an uninsured or underinsured truck driver, you generally have two different options. These options are to either contact your own insurance company and determine if your policy covers your losses from the accident, or you can pursue a lawsuit against the truck driver or their employer. We will explain both of these options more in depth below.

Contacting your own insurance company after the accident

If the truck driver caused your accident, you would normally notify your insurance company about the accident, file a claim, and wait for the truck driver’s insurance company to offer you a settlement for your losses. However, if the truck driver does not have insurance or not enough insurance to cover your losses, it might be a good idea for you to talk with your own insurance company about them covering your losses from the accident. This could become complicated because it depends on what type of policy and coverage you have.

According to Oklahoma Statute §36-3636, Oklahoma gives all motor vehicle drivers the option to purchase Uninsured Motorist Coverage. While it is not a requirement, the law in Oklahoma suggests that you should seriously consider adding this additional coverage to your policy to protect yourself, your family, and anyone else listed on your insurance policy who may become injured in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver.

The statute explains that “Uninsured Motorist Coverage, unless otherwise provided in your policy, pays for bodily injury damages to you, members of your family who live with you, and other people riding in your car.” This type of insurance mainly focuses on individuals who are hit by an underinsured or uninsured driver, but it can also cover those who are struck in hit and run accidents. Therefore, if you have this type of coverage, your insurance company may help you pay for your medical expenses, auto mechanic fees, and other losses that you suffered from the accident.

Filing a lawsuit against the truck driver or the trucking company after the accident

Your other option is to file a lawsuit against the truck driver or the trucking company after the accident. Sometimes, individuals who have Uninsured Motorist Coverage still choose to pursue this legal route because their insurance company may not provide enough coverage for the damages. This is a common occurrence as accidents involving large 18-wheelers are typically traumatic and devastating, leading to catastrophic injuries and total loss of the vehicles involved. If you choose to file a lawsuit, your attorney will begin collecting evidence, building a strong case, and preparing to go to a trial if necessary.

Note: Truckers hauling freight need a minimum of $750,000 in general liability, but some brokers require more. If the broker fails to do its due diligence and hires a trucking company that breaks the rules, you may be able to name that broker in your lawsuit.

What if another party is liable for my accident?

An Oklahoma City truck accident attorney will look over the facts of your claim, investigate, and determine who is liable for the accident. After your attorney makes this determination, they will discuss with you the potential options of suing the truck driver, trucking company, or another liable party. At Cunningham & Mears, our truck accident lawyers are experienced and skilled in these types of cases, and we will always help you choose the best strategy for your case. Other parties that we may consider include:

  • Other drivers
  • Road owners or road maintenance workers
  • Truck cargo loading crew
  • Truck maintenance crew
  • The government
  • The owner of the truck/ leasing company
  • Truck or car manufacturer

Why would a truck driver be uninsured/underinsured at all?

Here are a few possible reasons why the truck driver may not have the proper insurance:

  • The driver believed that their employer would take care of their insurance: Truck drivers who are employed by companies (and even those who contract with them) may believe they are covered by the company’s insurance. As such, they may only have the bare minimum commercial insurance required, assuming their employer would cover them. Some trucking companies don’t provide coverage for drivers right away, and if the company failed to explain this, the driver may be caught unaware.
  • The driver chose to forgo coverage: Truck drivers may choose to simply forgo insurance. This may be because they wanted to save money. A truck driver may have forgotten to renew their insurance. As a result, their insurance is no longer valid, meaning that they are driving a truck illegally without knowledge of it.
  • The employer provides one type of coverage, but not another: Some policies cover general liability for crashes, but only if the driver is hauling goods. A trucker who is bobtailing to get to the next pickup, therefore, may not be covered under the insurance policy.
  • The injuries and losses exceeded the minimum requirements: Truck accidents can cause devastating injuries as well as substantial damage to vehicles. If there are multiple vehicles and injured parties involved, there just may not be enough coverage to go around.

If you are involved in an accident with a truck driver with inadequate insurance, please do not hesitate to reach out to a truck accident lawyer from Cunningham & Mears today. Our team will sit down with you and help you determine the best option based on the facts of your case. You may have choices you didn’t realize were available to you. We know and understand that you are likely frustrated, overwhelmed, and confused during this time, but we will do everything we can to ensure that the legal process remains as smooth and stress-free as possible for you. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in Oklahoma City today.