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What Victims Should Know About Holding Averitt Express Accountable After an Accident

While they may be tried under the same basic legal framework as those involving passenger vehicles, personal injury cases involving commercial trucks are generally far more complex. Without help from an attorney familiar with the legal strategies of trucking companies, even the strongest claim could falter.

In the end, what actually happened in a crash matters only to the extent that one side or the other can prove it with valid evidence and arguments. If you don't have the legal help necessary to obtain that evidence, turn it into an argument, and present both before a jury, even the flimsiest defense from a trucking company's attorneys has some chance of prevailing. Experienced truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains one such defense and how to overcome it.

Questions Answered On This Page:

  • What is Averitt Express?
  • What does the most current official data tell us about this company's accident rate?
  • How could the Act of God defense potentially enter into litigation involving the company?

Averitt Express Quick Facts
Crash statistics courtesy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

What is Averitt Express?

Founded in 1971, Cookeville, TN-based Averitt Express is currently the 32nd-largest trucking company in the U.S., with revenues of $1.2 billion in 2017. Primarily operating throughout the South, it offers a variety of freight transportation options, including truckload, less-than-truckload, and climate-controlled trailers.

The company owns slightly less than 5,000 tractors and 15,000 trailers, which are transported by about 4,500 drivers. That fleet traveled a total of around 370,000,000 miles in 2017. That's roughly the distance from the Earth to Jupiter.

In the course of traveling all that distance, drivers for Averitt have been involved in their share of crashes: 424 in the last two years, according to data from the federal government. Of those collisions, 144 resulted in some degree of injury and 13 led to someone's death. In the interest of fairness, it's vital to note that these figures do not indicate fault for any of these crashes, although simple probability would suggest negligence on the part of a company driver was the cause of at least some percentage of them.

Drivers for companies like Averitt have to contend, not only with tight deadlines, low profit margins, and other normal aspects of the trucking industry, but also some of the worst severe weather in the country. In addition to making a trucker's job harder, those weather conditions also open up a potential avenue for the company's defense attorneys that could make it harder for victims to hold it accountable.

The Act of God Defense and Commercial Truck Accident Litigation

We all recognize that there are some situations in which something terrible occurs leading to injury or death, yet there's no one to hold responsible. When that something terrible is the direct result of weather conditions or other natural phenomena, the law refers to it as an Act of God. In cases like this, the fact that forces beyond anyone's control were the actual cause of the damages can be used as a defense against claims.

To be clear, the simple involvement of bad weather as one of the factors leading up to an accident isn't enough for an event to be classified as an Act of God. The natural event involved has to be 1) natural, 2) unavoidable, and 3) unforeseeable. Such scenarios do sometimes occur, but rarely enough that this is a strategy defense attorneys resort to in far more scenarios than those in which it legitimately applies.

We can illustrate this point by imagining that a truck driver is traveling too fast for conditions on an icy road when he loses control of his rig and crashes into another vehicle. In this case, while the ice certainly contributed to the collision, the direct, avoidable cause of the driver's loss of control was his excessive speed, while the ice was simply a foreseeable aggravating factor that made that speed far more dangerous. All of this means that an Act of God defense wouldn't fit the circumstances.

The Act of God defense is just one of dozens of potential defenses that trucking companies have available to them that most people have probably either never heard of or don't fully understand. Having litigated hundreds of truck accident cases, our attorneys do.

How Grossman Law Offices Can Help You Overcome Dubious Trucking Company Defenses

The biggest mistake most people make after a commercial truck accident is failing to comprehend the nature of their legal situation. This isn't to say that most people aren't smart enough to understand what goes on in commercial truck accident law, only that they had better things to do than spend years studying this particular narrow aspect of our legal system. Our attorneys didn't.

The best way to make sure that your claim doesn't wind up getting lost in the procedural weeds is retaining a firm whose attorneys have successfully obtained settlements and judgments against one trucking company after another, with evidence gathered by accomplished truck accident investigators and compelling arguments before a jury. At Grossman Law Offices, that's just what we've done in hundreds of cases over almost thirty years.

If you're interested in learning more about how we can help you or just have questions we may be able to answer, feel free to call us at (855) 326-2000. If you have time to talk, we're available.

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