Victims in truck accidents understandably go to trucking companies or employers right away for compensation for their medical bills and damages to their car or property. In some cases, however, the truck driver involved in the accident is an independent contractor. California has over 70,000 owner-operator truckers, making up a huge chunk of the estimated 350,000 independent contractors from all over the country.
If you or someone you know has gotten into a truck accident, get in touch with our truck accident attorneys in LA. Given the high chance that the driver involved might be an independent operator, you’ll want to have a lawyer who knows how to handle the difference between insurance claims against a truck company and claims against independent contractors.
It’s important to find out if the truck driver is working as an employee of a truck company, retailer, manufacturer, production facility, etc. Next is to establish that the accident happened within the driver’s scope of work (i.e., while they were on the clock, while they were en-route to a delivery or return trip). These are grounds for filing a claim against the employer or truck company that employs the truck driver at fault.
If, however, the company hired the truck driver as an independent contractor, they can pass all liability over to the truck driver. This can make personal injury claims complicated for victims: truck drivers have much less insurance coverage and financial capability than big companies.
If you think there is a possibility of holding the affiliated company or a third party partly liable for the accident (i.e., if the truck driver purchased brand-new tires that turned out to be defective), you’ll need an experienced truck accident attorney to build your case.
Underinsured Motorist Insurance Claim
Owner-operators of commercial vehicles choose to be independent contractors because they can get higher pay and enjoy more flexibility with their services. The compromise is that they will also carry all the responsibilities that the trucking companies do:
- Truck maintenance
- Regular engine and performance checks
- Insurance coverage
Understanding the risks, many long-haul independent contractors perform their due diligence before going on the road. But in case an accident happens and the truck driver-operator has little to no insurance, victims can still file for claims in two ways:
- File a claim against the truck driver responsible for the accident
- File an uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage claim against the victims’ insurance policies.
Both claims can proceed simultaneously. If you’re wondering why you need to file a claim from your own insurance policy, it’s because you might need immediate compensation for emergency medical care, hospitalization, and lost wages, to name a few.
Can your insurance company raise your premiums? It is a legitimate worry for motorists around the country, but not in California. Thanks to the state’s Proposition 103, insurance companies are prohibited from raising the premiums or canceling the policy of a client who files a UM/UIM claim from their insurance policy.
A Watchful Eye on All Fronts
Getting involved in a truck accident with an independent contractor can indeed be complicated. You could be battling to claim damages against the truck driver and their insurance carrier, and you could have a similar conflict with your insurer if you need to file a UM/UIM claim.
Our LA-based, truck driver attorneys at Haffner Law can give you valuable legal advice for all of these scenarios. We’ve spent many years upholding the rights of victims in truck accidents in California. You can count on our legal expertise and experience in these matters.
Have our fierce truck driver attorneys to negotiate with insurance companies and fight for the compensation you deserve. Talk to Haffner Law today.
(This is an attorney advertisement by Joshua Haffner)