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. Our office has an outstanding record for exceptional and innovative results in handling these cases around the country.
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 retroflective 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, some drive in a physically or chemically impaired condition. Our office frequently handles cases where the central theory of liability is for failing to hire safe drivers which are legally qualified (negligent/tortious hiring), failure to monitor those drivers/employees (negligent/tortious retention), and failure to remove drivers which evidence a pattern of unsafe or reckless conduct (negligent/tortious entrustment). 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 case development requires a thorough investigation of the scene, the vehicles involved, personnel involved, and careful review of applicable laws and regulations. Maximizing a recovery can require focusing the proof more on the managementís failures than the truck driverís omissions. This can only occur if the case is properly and exhaustively investigated, developed and presented.
Based on sheer mass and weight, 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. Our office has been a pioneer in these innovative approaches and has led in development of the law which allows direct recovery in certain circumstances from the truck company insurer, who frequently assumes safety responsibilities to the extent that management either diminishes its duties to administer and enforce safety responsibilities or abandons them altogether.
Our office has also obtained a number of results which exceed the available insurance coverage in which the insurer was eventually required to pay amounts well 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. Our office has an outstanding track record dating back to the 1980's. Mr. Overby has obtained dozens of verdicts and settlements in excess of $1,000,000.00 in these tractor trailer and large commercial vehicle cases. Representative 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 in cases involving private carriers and carriers for hire along with numerous substantial results in cases not involving death or catastrophic injuries.