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What Victims and Their Loved Ones Need to Know About Litigating Against ABF Freight

Victims of accidents involving commercial trucks often assume that the process of holding the company accountable will be as straightforward as any other crash, but in fact it can be surprisingly complicated.

One thing that works to the advantage of companies like ABF in accidents involving their drivers is that they have significantly greater resources to devote to their legal defense than the average defendant. Combined with the complexity of these accidents, this makes taking on a company with the financial resources of ABF a significant task to handle alone. In this article, award-winning truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains some of the complexities involved in these cases and how to overcome them.


Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is ABF Freight?
  • How many accidents involving death or injury has the company been involved in?
  • How can the tight profit margins of a company like ABF motivate them to fight harder to avoid paying victims?

ABF Freight Quick Facts
Crash statistics courtesy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

What is ABF Freight?

ABF Freight, based out of Fort Smith, AR, is a subsidiary of ArcBest, the 13th largest trucking company in the United States. Government statistics indicate that the company operates 4,243 trucks and employs 7,229 drivers. In the most recent year, those vehicles traveled 339,687,350 miles, which is as far as two round trips from Earth to the sun. Their total revenues in the same period were around $2.8 billion, while their total profit was around $60 million, leading to a profit margin of 2%.

In the past two years of operation, ABF trucks were involved in 334 crashes, with 116 of those involving injuries and 9 in which at least one person lost their life. That's about one crash every other day. In the interest of fairness, these statistics, as reported by the federal government, do not assign blame for any of the crashes in question. While it would be imprudent to assume that all of them were caused by ABF Freight's drivers, it's at least equally unlikely that none of them were.

While it's difficult to make definitive statements based solely on these numbers, it's apparent that ABF Freight has had to handle its share of crashes involving death or injury. While most people can probably understand how handling a new truck accident every other day can be an advantage for a trucking company, one thing very few people who aren't involved in a large number of such crashes can appreciate is why trucking companies put so much effort into minimizing their payouts to victims.

How Can the Tight Profit Margins of a Company Like ABF Freight Impact Litigation?

Without any other background, the average person would probably expect that a trucking company, like any other business, is primarily motivated by profit, but beyond vague generalities like "businesses exist to make money," I don't think too many people grasp the full extent to which financial pressures motivate trucking company behavior. For instance, I noted earlier that with an annual net income last year of around $60 million and revenues of $2.8 billion, ABF Freight's profit margin is only 2%. That's an exceptionally tight profit margin, as flourishing companies generally have margins in the area of 8 to 10%. A margin as low as 2% generally indicates either poor management or that a company is in an extremely competitive industry. In the case of trucking companies, it's usually the latter.

Why does all of this matter for victims of accidents involving ABF Freight vehicles? Because even paying out on the accidents in which their drivers are actually at fault can quickly make a profitable company unprofitable. To illustrate this point, let's take the rosiest scenario possible: the official data indicate that when a commercial truck is involved in a crash, its driver is responsible for the wreck only one-third of the time. So, supposing that the average company has the same number of trucking accidents in a given year as ABF, we would expect to find them responsible for about 50 of them.

Given the sheer size of trucks, those 50 crashes are likely to result in very substantial, life-altering injuries. It's not uncommon for serious truck accident injury and wrongful death cases to result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in medical bills. If we leave aside any other losses and focus strictly on medical bills in those 50 hypothetical cases, the costs for the company could easily run into the tens of millions of dollars.

If our hypothetical trucking company had profits of only $60 million, like ABF Freight, it's easy to see how covering medical costs alone from crashes could potentially eat up most, if not all, of their thin profit margin. I'm not going to shatter anyone's world view when I say that executives of profitable companies tend to keep their jobs and do well for themselves, while those in charge of unprofitable ones often find themselves updating their LinkedIn profiles in the hopes of landing a new job.

You can only imagine the incentive it provides to the management of a trucking company to minimize payments to victims of their drivers' negligence when their job can potentially hinge on doing so. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorney's fees and other relevant expenses to contest these claims is a highly prudent investment when the alternative is being kicked to the curb.

While we extensively discuss the specific ways these companies attempt to avoid having to compensate the victims of mistakes made by their drivers, suffice it to say there's no more compelling motivation for doing so than believing that the continued viability of the company, or at least fulfilling the expectations of management and shareholders, are at stake.

Grossman Law Offices Has the Experience to Litigate Your Claim Against ABF Trucking

While staying profitable and (thereby remaining employed) is a powerful motivation for executives at companies like ABF Freight, it pales in comparison to what's at stake for truck accident victims and their families. Stacks of medical bills, the inability to work, and the lifetime of impairment that can result from a serious truck accident crash all mean victims of such incidents have a lot more riding on the success of litigation.

With so much on the line, victims and their families have turned to the expert truck accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices for more than 3 decades. We are honored by the trust they place in us to get the job done, and to hold trucking companies like ABF Freight, and their parent company ArcBest, accountable for their careless behavior.

If you've been hurt or lost a loved one in an accident involving an ABF Freight truck, please call 855-326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're available any time you are, day or night.


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