According to data provided by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS), there were 5,575 semi-truck accidents reported in the state in 2021 alone. Tragically, 99 people were killed, and hundreds more were seriously injured in these commercial truck collisions. 

Who is legally liable for a truck accident? It depends on fault. Within this blog post, our Oklahoma City semi-truck accident attorney provides a comprehensive guide for the determination of fault (and liability) in a tractor-trailer crash claim in Oklahoma. 

Background: Oklahoma is an At-Fault Truck Accident State

Who is legally responsible for a semi-truck accident? In Oklahoma, liability for a motor vehicle crash—including a commercial truck accident—is based on fault. The party who caused the crash through their careless, reckless, or otherwise improper actions or inactions can be held legally liable for the collision. They would bear the responsibility for the damages suffered by others. A number of different parties may potentially be at fault for a semi-truck accident in Oklahoma, including truck drivers, trucking companies, truck manufacturers, and other motorists. 

Fault is Based on Negligence (Modified Comparative Negligence Standard Applies) 

Fault for a truck accident in Oklahoma is generally based on negligence. Broadly speaking, negligence can be best understood as the failure to act with the care that a reasonably careful person would use under similar circumstances. Given the size of commercial trucks, they pose an inherent safety risk. Truckers and trucking companies must take proper care. In the context of truck accidents, negligence can come in a wide range of different forms. Examples include: 

  • Speeding; 
  • Distracted driving; 
  • Undertrained truckers; 
  • Lack of proper truck maintenance; and
  • Truck manufacturer defects. 

Under Oklahoma law (Okla. Stat. Ann. Tit. 23 § 13), a modified comparative negligence standard is used to apportion liability for semi-truck accidents. You can still get money for your damages even if you were partly at fault for your crash—so long as your responsibility is less than 51%. For example, if you were 30% at fault for a semi-truck because you were speeding, you still have the right to seek compensation for the other 70% of your damages.

Investigation is Key to Establishing Fault for Semi-Truck Accident in Oklahoma

How do you prove trucker or trucking company negligence after a tractor-trailer accident in Oklahoma? The short answer is that you need comprehensive evidence. A proactive and detailed investigation is key. An Oklahoma City semi-truck accident lawyer can help. Some of the most common forms of evidence used to prove fault in these cases include:

  • Police Report: All truck accidents in Oklahoma should be reported to state or local authorities. The police report is a fundamental piece of evidence. It contains the officer’s observations at the accident scene, including any violations of law that might have contributed to the accident.
  • Photographs: Photographs can capture the accident scene from various angles, showing the positions of vehicles, road conditions, and any obstructions or signs. They provide a visual record that can help reconstruct the accident and identify contributing factors. Of course, videos can also be a very valuable form of evidence. 
  • Your Testimony: Your account of the accident is crucial. It offers a personal perspective on how the accident happened and the events leading up to it. Your testimony can highlight details that might not be apparent in other evidence
  • Eyewitness Accounts: Independent eyewitness testimony can also be a valuable form of evidence. Try to get the contact information for any eyewitnesses. 
  • Truck Company Records: These records can reveal if the trucking company neglected maintenance, overworked its drivers, or violated safety regulations. These records can be key to help establish negligence on the part of the trucking company. 
  • Truck Black Box Data: Modern trucks are equipped with electronic data recorders, or “black boxes,” which record data such as speed, braking, and driving time. The data can be pivotal in understanding the truck’s actions before the crash.

Schedule a Free Case Review With Our Oklahoma Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer

At McGuire Law Firm, our Oklahoma City semi-truck accident attorneys are standing by, ready to investigate your crash. If you have any questions about proving liability for a commercial truck accident, we are here as a legal resource. Call us now or connect with us online for your free, fully confidential case review. From our office in Oklahoma City and our office in Edmond, we handle serious semi-truck accident claims in Oklahoma County and all across the region.