Personal injury attorney Ken Shigley recently wrote about “chameleon” trucking companies. What is a chameleon trucking company? It is an unsafe trucking company that changes its name or re-registers to avoid liability or problems with its safety rating. The owners, equipment, drivers, and even address, usually stay the same. While the name on the truck may be new, the same reckless people are endangering our families on the highway!
Ken’s post reminded me of a recent truck driver deposition. In my case, a lady suffered life-altering, disabling injuries on an Alabama highway. At the crash scene, the truck driver refused to exit his truck and help the victim who was bleeding and barely alive. The lady survived only because a good samaritan stopped and helped until emergency responders could arrive. Although refusing to help, the trucker made numerous calls on his cell phone. In one call, he summoned the trucking company’s “rapid response” team to the scene. Did the rapid response team rush to the scene to help? NO! The rapid response team rushed to the scene to protect the company from liability.
In deposition, the trucker admitted crashing his truck on several earlier occasions. Each time, the crash was his fault. In one, he rear-ended another driver on the Interstate. In another, he hit a loading dock and seriously damaged a factory. In a third, he continued to drive in dangerous icy conditions. He crashed and knocked out local utilities to a community. That’s not all. In prior years, medical examiners had cautioned the company about allowing him to drive due to serious health issues. When I asked in deposition if he believed in following basic driver safety rules, he refused to say yes. Instead, he responded to questions asking whether he must follow safety rules by saying, “theoretically” and “in a perfect world.” The safety of our families on the roadway was not important to this driver. Did the trucking company remove this driver from our highways, even temporarily, after any of these past events? No. Did the trucking company retrain or reprimand the driver after any of these past events? No. The trucking company simply put him back on our highways with instructions to deliver the merchandise on time.
The trucking company did closely monitor this driver – but not for safety. A month prior to the terrible crash in my case, the driver was reprimanded and threatened with termination. What was the reason? The trucker arrived late with a delivery. The trucking company valued speed over safety.
Many trucking companies take safety seriously. But, a few do not. As Ken notes, the government does not adequately screen companies for important safety issues. Too many dangerous and unsafe truck drivers are allowed needlessly and continuously to endanger our families on the roadway.
The Blackwell Law Firm represents people across Alabama who have suffered a serious personal injury in a commercial truck accident. Commercial truck safety is an important issue for our families. At our firm, we carefully study important truck safety rules and the impact they have on our highways.