Who is liable when an independent contractor causes a large truck accident? What recourse do accident victims have to recover compensation? When an independent contractor is involved in a large truck accident, the driver may be liable, as can the truck company they are hauling freight for, or their insurer. Individuals injured in these accidents may be able to pursue compensation for personal injuries, property damage, or wrongful deaths from each of these entities.
Truck Drivers & Truck Accidents in the United States
There are more than 3.9 million commercial truck drivers in the United States. Of these, between 350,000 to 400,000 are classified as owner-operators. Many more are classified as "independent contractors." Nationwide, owner-operators logged more than 82,000 miles behind the wheel in 2018. Of these, nearly 63% were away from home for more than 151 nights that year. These factors increase the risk of involvement in a large truck accident.
In 2018, 4,136 people died in large truck accidents. Of these, 67% were occupants of cars or passenger vehicles, and 15% were pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists. This was a 31% increase over the number of people who died in large truck crashes in 2009. Nationwide, one in every nine fatal accidents involved a large truck.
Liability for Large Truck Crashes Involving an Independent Contractor
Owner-operators and independent contractors are responsible for the maintenance of their vehicle and their adherence to established regulations and safety requirements. These individuals are required to carry physical damage insurance, cargo insurance, and "bobtail" insurance for travel when they are not hauling a trailer. Current FMCSA regulations require drivers to carry minimum liability coverage of $750,000. However, as of last summer, the FMCSA was actively pursuing efforts to raise this to over $4 million.
When an owner-operator, or independent contractor, is involved in a collision, victims can pursue compensation from the truck driver or their insurance provider. Where it can get complicated, is when the truck driver isn't really an independent contractor, but rather is an employee of a trucking company.
In fact, many trucking companies misclassify these drivers to avoid liability, wage requirements, and workers' compensation laws. There are currently a number of class-action lawsuits in progress because of this. When an independent contractor is found to be a misclassified employee, then accident victims can pursue the trucking company for compensation to cover personal injuries, property damage, and wrongful deaths.
Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. Our firm represents clients who are injured by independent contractors in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, or Texas. We help clients understand their rights and pursue compensation from the independent contractor, trucking company, or insurance provider. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.