Tractor Trailer and Commercial Vehicle Liability Cases

Because of their huge size, improperly maintained equipment and frequently impaired or road-weary drivers, thousands of individuals and families suffer death and serious injury at the hands of tractor trailer companies and large commercial vehicle operators. The firm has an outstanding record for exceptional and innovative results in handling these cases throughout the United States.

Large truck liability cases are more complex than simple automobile collision cases. There are highly technical state and federal regulations applicable to motor carriers and commercial vehicles which can form a legal basis for liability. The sheer size and physics of how these huge rigs operate make handling these cases unique. Commonplace deficiencies in equipment maintenance and inspection along with frequent breaches of duty in selection, retention and training of professional truck drivers, if proven, can greatly enhance the value of a claim. Proof of failure by trucking company or fleet management to implement and enforce a safety program can substantially increase the value of what might appear to be an ordinary case.

Brakes and other equipment on a large tractor trailer rig are often defective and not properly maintained. The owner may fail to install an anti-jackknifing device or retroreflective tape to make the vehicle capable of being seen at night or in other limited sight conditions. There may be a systematic pattern of failure on the part of management to operate its fleet in a safe manner. Professional truck drivers are often not properly trained and qualified. They and their supervisors habitually falsify their driver logs so as to drive in a physically or chemically impaired condition. We frequently handle cases where the central theory of liability is for failing to hire safe drivers which are legally qualified, failure to monitor those drivers and failure to remove drivers which evidence a pattern of unsafe or reckless conduct. Often, it can be proven that the root cause of a crash was not simply a mistake by a driver, but a pattern of management indifference to one of the above problems.

The root cause of a large truck catastrophe may not be evident at first glance. Proper handling requires a thorough investigation of the scene, vehicles involved, personnel involved, and careful review of applicable laws and regulations. Maximizing a recovery can require focusing the proof more on the management's failures than the truck driver's omissions. This can only occur if the case is properly investigated, developed and presented.

The simple fact is that when tractor trailer or large truck catastrophic occur they often result in death, brain damage, paralysis or other catastrophic injury. Regrettably, the insurance coverage available or assets of the company can be inadequate to fully compensate the victim or his/her family in a tragic case. In those circumstances, it is important to investigate other areas of legal responsibility such as the liability of the shipper, vehicle manufacturer or other related entities. The firm has been a pioneer in these innovative approaches and has lead in development of the law which allows direct recovery in certain circumstances from the truck company insurer, who frequently assumes safety responsibilities.

The firm has also obtained a number of verdicts which exceed the available insurance coverage in which the insurer was eventually required to pay amounts far in excess of the liability limits of insurance coverage afforded.

Aggressive prosecution and successful resolution of claims against a motor common or contract carrier or large commercial vehicle operator requires a thorough working knowledge and considerable experience in handling these types of cases. The firm has an outstanding track record dating back to the 1980's. In 1988 the firm obtained a verdict in a large truck case for $30,256,768.00 which was the largest jury verdict in a personal injury case in America that year. The firm has obtained dozens of verdicts and settlements in excess of $1,000,000.00 in these tractor trailer and large commercial vehicle cases. Verdicts and settlements in the amounts of $8,501,000.00, $5,000,000.00, $4,100,000.00 and $3,100,000.00 have been obtained by the firm in cases involving private carriers and carriers for hire.