Independent Owner-Operator Truck Accidents

Crashes that involve large commercial trucks often cause catastrophic damage. When a large truck such as a tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler collides with a smaller vehicle, these accidents can result in serious, debilitating injuries or death.

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer, you need the help of an injury attorney who has experience in dealing with truck accidents and the issues that can arise in these cases. Determining liability often is the most difficult issue in truck accident cases. Independent owner-operator truck accidents that involve a driver who is also the owner of the truck may be more straightforward than other types of truck accidents where multiple parties can be held liable.

A truck accident injury claim is a complex process that can be daunting for you if you are already dealing with the emotional, physical, and financial trauma of a truck accident. Your injuries have cost you in terms of medical expenses, lost wages due to time away from work, pain and suffering, and additional burdens imposed on your family. To take care of the legal process, you need the help of an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney. Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. understands the difficulties faced by truck accident victims and will fight for your right to compensation for your injuries. Contact us today at (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Financial Responsibility of Owner-Operators

After a truck accident, one of the first issues that injured parties face is determining which parties are liable. This may be more complex when there are separate trucking companies, independent contractor drivers, or motor carriers with leases involved. However, if the driver of the truck involved is also the owner, then it is usually a more straightforward case for the injured party since the driver is liable individually and as the owner of the truck. Experienced truck accident lawyers will help you find out what assets and insurance policies are available to secure just and fair compensation for your injuries.

Owner-operators are required to have primary trucking liability insurance. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry and sets the requirements for establishing financial responsibility of truck drivers and owners through either the purchase of insurance or surety bonds.

Under the FMCSA’s regulations, drivers with trucks weighing more than 10,001 lbs. and carrying non-hazardous cargo must have at least $750,000 worth of public liability insurance. Many drivers carry more than the minimum insurance required to protect their personal finances since most accidents are catastrophic and can result in several million dollars’ worth of damages. If the truck carries hazardous materials, the driver may have to carry at least $5,000,000 depending on the circumstances.

The FMCSA will accept proof of financial responsibility for surety bonds purchased by owner-operators. The agency has some stringent requirements in place for surety brokers to be able to sell qualifying bonds to meet its requirements.

Other Insurance That May Be Available

Depending on the kind of accident involved, owner-operators may also have alternative insurance policies that injured parties can receive compensation from. Many owner-operators have non-trucking or contingent liability insurance for situations where the vehicle is on the road for non-commercial reasons. They could also have bobtail insurance for tractor-trailers when there is no trailer in tow. Additionally, there could be general liability insurance that would apply if the accident took place in a parking lot, rest stop, or while the owner-operator was loading or unloading cargo. Ultimately, if the owner-operator’s insurance coverage isn’t enough to cover your injuries, your attorney can help you secure compensation from other assets that the owner-operator may have.

Manufacturer or Loader Liability

Depending on the circumstances, there may be other parties that are liable for your injuries in a truck accident. If the accident is caused by a defect in the truck or one of its components, the truck manufacturer, maker of the component, or any other distributors involved may be held liable. Additionally, if the accident was caused by improperly loaded cargo or an overweight truck, then any third-party cargo loaders involved could also be liable for your injuries.

Establishing liability in a truck accident is a complex process that may require an in-depth investigation of the parties involved. Additionally, dealing with insurance adjusters and insurance companies is a stressful process that involves extensive negotiating in order to arrive at a fair and just settlement.

Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Can Help

At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., our Chicago truck accident lawyers have decades of experience in advocating on behalf of injured people. Our attorneys will help you gather and retain relevant evidence, analyze the facts, and determine who should be held responsible for your injuries. We will work with you throughout the process, including aggressively representing your interests in settlement negotiations and going to trial, if necessary.

Call our experienced attorneys today at (312) 236-2900 for a free, initial case evaluation.