Direct Action Against Insurance Company Limited in Trucking Cases

On March 12, 2012 a tractor trailer operated by William Chisom attempted to exit Interstate 35 in Noble County, Oklahoma.  For reasons unknown, Chisom backed the rig into the outer lane of Interstate 35 causing Cary Romsdahl to take evasive action to avoid an impact.  Romsdahl’s vehicle left the road and was later stuck by a second vehicle also attempting to avoid the tractor-trailer.

The details identify Chisom as a resident of Texas, and his employer (motor carrier) is currently unknown, however, if Chisom was employed by an out-of-state motor carrier, that may prevent a direct action against his insurance carrier.  If Chisom was employed by a company licensed in Oklahoma, a direct action may be available.

Why does Oklahoma provide more protection to out-of-state motor carriers and less protection to fellow Oklahomans?

In 2009 the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals held that due to a single-state registration statute, Oklahoma’s law permitting a direct action against a motor carrier’s insurance company must be limited to those motor carrier’s licensed and operating only within Oklahoma. See Fierro v. Lincoln General Insurance Co., 2009 OK CIV APP 62.