A federal court in Oklahoma offered guidance regarding the application of title 47 sections 169(A) and 230.21 of the Oklahoma Code to plaintiff’s directly suing trucking insurers, stating that the causes of action granted by these statutes applied only to insurers of drivers operating with a license in Oklahoma. Simpson v. Litt, 2017 WL 2271484 (W.D. Okla. May, 23, 2017).
The personal representative of the estate of a woman killed in an accident with a truck sued the trucker’s insurer. The insurer moved to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff could not name it as a defendant prior to obtaining a judgment against the trucker or his employer. The court laid out the general rule in Oklahoma that insurers of defendants cannot be sued directly by plaintiffs, but identified two exceptions to the rule predicated upon a motor carrier insurer having been statutorily required under the Oklahoma Code to file proof of liability insurance with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC). Section 169(A) applies to the transport of household goods with origins and destinations in Oklahoma while section 230.21 applies to motor carriers transporting anything else over the public highways of Oklahoma.
The court dismissed the claim under section 169(A) given an absence of allegations of transporting household goods or the trucker acting solely as an intrastate motor carrier. The court granted leave to amend the claim, but decided to preemptively explain its understanding of section 230.21 and its application to the facts. It noted the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals previously held Section 230.21 does not apply to interstate motor carriers. Fierro v. Lincoln Gen. Ins., 217 P.3d 158 (Okla. Civ. App. 2009) The court went further to explain that because these interstate carriers can operate under the Unified Carrier Registration System, they need not register their insurance information with the OCC, and the respective sections apply only to motor carriers required to register proof of insurance with the OCC.