Line One
Road Law
Maybe it wasn’t your fault

Jeff McConnell
James Mennella
attorneys at law

In this issue of Land Line, we’ll give you some basic information about accidents and what to do when you are involved in one. Here are some of the most common questions we’ve received regarding accident situations and what to do.

Question: I was involved in an accident and was given a ticket for improper lane change. I am fighting the ticket, but I was just sued by the other driver. What do I do now?

Answer: It is not uncommon in an accident situation that the other party(s) involved will sue you. Regardless of fault, plaintiff attorneys look at commercial motor vehicles as giant piggy banks out on the road.

Remember, when you’re involved in an accident, you need to notify not only the local authorities, but also your company and insurance carrier as well. If you are sued at a later date, your insurance company should be notified, and they will either settle your claim or dispute liability.

Attorneys can’t name your insurance company as the defendant in a lawsuit. So, don’t be surprised if you receive legal paperwork that has your name and the other party’s name on it. All you need to do is get copies of the paperwork to your insurance carrier so they can file an answer and assign one of their attorneys to your case. After all, that’s one of the benefits you’ll receive from having liability insurance.

Question: I got in a wreck and was given a ticket for following too close. The officer didn’t even want to hear my side of the story and said commercial drivers are always at fault. Is this true?

Answer: No. In a recent study by the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety, it was found that most four-wheelers don’t alter their driving behavior when going around or near large trucks. The study also reported that the action of car drivers contribute more to fatal car/truck crashes than the action of truckdrivers.

Unfortunately, many officers are quick to write tickets to commercial drivers with little or no accident scene investigation. In order to protect yourself, it is important to always be equipped with a box camera, notepad and pen. Be certain to take the time to write down exactly what happened, contact information of any witnesses to the accident and be sure to photograph the scene and all vehicles involved prior to the vehicles being moved.

Question: I was involved in an accident and was not given a ticket, but the word accident is showing up on my record. What is this about?

Answer: In most states, when you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident, an officer prepares an accident report. The accident report is filed and generally, the word accident goes on the record of everyone involved. It doesn’t always denote fault, but is primarily for record-keeping purposes.

Question: I’m an owner-operator but I’m not incorporated. Will being incorporated protect me from being sued if I’m in an accident?

Answer: No, simply being “incorporated” doesn’t prevent someone from suing you. But, if you are incorporated, you may be protected personally. Without getting too complicated, if you’re incorporated or a “limited liability company,” your personal assets may be protected should you be sued and have a judgment entered against you.

We hope you can use the information in this column to help with everyday, real-life problems you face on the road. We invite you to send us any questions or comments you may have regarding transportation law to Road Law, 1330 N. Classen Blvd., Suite 215, Oklahoma City, OK 73106; fax to (405) 272-0558; contact us through our Web site at or call us at (405) 272-0555. We look forward to hearing from you.