Is the trucker who caused your crash an owner-operator or an employee of a trucking company?

truck owner operator standing in front of 18-wheelerWhen the semi-truck drifted into your lane and cut you off, you were not thinking about who owned the truck and who would pay your damages. You were just praying to survive. Now that you are facing astronomical medical bills and possibly even a long-term disability, you need to know who is going to pay. Who you file a claim with depends on the employment status of the at-fault trucker and who is responsible for the liability insurance.

When the lawyers at Keller & Keller take a truck accident case, our goal is to allow our clients the time and space they need to recover while we deal with the nitty-gritty of the case. Rather than worrying about insurance policies and liability, make one call to us, and we will take it from there.

How Indiana Truck Drivers Are Insured Depends on Who They Work for

Commercial truckers can be employed in various ways, and the nature of their employment significantly influences insurance coverage in the event they are at fault in a crash. Regardless of who pays for the coverage, every trucker driving in Indiana is required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability coverage. However, many drivers opt for $1 million or more in coverage to protect their business and personal assets.

Common employment scenarios for commercial truckers and their implications for insurance coverage include the following.

Working for a Trucking Company

The majority of truckers—nearly 2 million people—on the road are employee drivers, meaning they work for a company and do not own their own truck. In this case, the company provides insurance coverage. If a driver is at fault in a crash, the company's liability insurance typically covers the damages and injuries, subject to the policy's limits. The trucking company may also provide additional coverage, such as cargo insurance, to protect against losses related to damaged or stolen cargo. Large carriers often do carry more liability insurance on their drivers, so sometimes, more money is available when you are in a crash with an employee driver. On the other hand, trucking companies also invest in teams of lawyers to fight paying out on claims, so an injured victim would be wise to get their own experienced representation.

Being a Self-Employed Owner-Operator

Some truckers own and operate their trucks as independent contractors. Self-employed owner-operators are responsible for securing their own insurance coverage, but they are subject to the same $750,000 minimum that employee drivers must carry. In the event of a crash they cause, their insurance policy, often referred to as primary liability insurance, covers damages and injuries. Additionally, owner-operators may opt for additional insurance coverage to protect their assets, including physical damage coverage for their truck and cargo insurance. In these situations, your truck accident lawyer will likely be dealing with the owner-operator’s insurance company to reach a settlement agreement.

Being a Contract Driver

Contract drivers are employed by trucking companies, but they are not full-time employees. Instead, they have contracts or agreements with specific trucking companies to provide services. In this scenario, the company typically provides primary liability insurance, and the driver is covered while operating the company's truck. However, the driver may need to secure additional coverage for their own assets and protection beyond the primary liability coverage.

Leasing a Truck to Run Your Own Business

Some truckers lease a truck from a trucking company and operate it as an independent business. In this case, insurance coverage varies. The leasing company may provide primary liability coverage for the truck, but the driver is usually responsible for additional coverage, such as cargo insurance, physical damage coverage, and non-trucking liability insurance. It's essential for the driver to understand the terms and limits of the provided insurance and secure any necessary supplemental coverage.

Leave it to Us to Figure Out Who Pays

In addition to figuring out the employment status of the truck driver, there are additional potential complications to consider when you have been injured in a truck crash. There could be multiple parties who are at least partially liable for the accident. A driver could own the truck cab but be hauling a trailer loaded and connected by another company. There could be several applicable insurance policies in play. With decades of experience behind us, our Indianapolis truck accident lawyer team will sort out the complications to get you the best possible outcome in your injury claim.

James R. Keller
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