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Overcoming the Unique Complications of Litigation Against C & S Wholesale Grocers

After suffering the immediate consequences of a collision involving a tractor-trailer, the last thing on your mind is the challenges involved in obtaining the compensation you deserve from the company responsible. Unfortunately, while the legal complications involved can seem arcane and irrelevant, not taking them into account can badly damage your ability to hold accountable those responsible for your losses.

In the case of C & S Wholesale Grocers, the company's decision to self-insure for the costs of crashes involving its drivers doesn't just mean that the money you're attempting to collect comes from them rather than an insurance company. It also affects how litigation against the company is likely to proceed in a variety of unexpected ways. Acclaimed Dallas 18-wheeler accident attorney Michael Grossman discusses these complications and how victims can protect their interests.

Questions Answered by This Page:

  • What is C & S Wholesale Grocers?
  • How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
  • Why does the company's self-insurance model matter for victims?

C & S Wholesale Grocers Quick Facts
Crash statistics courtesy the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

What is C & S Wholesale Grocers?

Founded in Worcester, MA in 1918, C & S Wholesale Grocers owns the 91st largest private trucking fleet in the U.S., with just under 500 vehicles operated by about 600 drivers, which traveled more than 40 million miles in 2017. In 2018, the company generated $27 billion in revenue.

Over the last two years, federal government data indicates the company's semi-trucks were involved in 34 crashes, of which 9 led to injuries and 1 resulted in at least one person's death. To be fair, this data makes no indication of who was responsible for any of these incidents, only that a driver for C & S Wholesale was involved in some way.

One important fact that we can determine from public information is the source of payments they make to those injured or killed in crashes for which their drivers are found to be responsible. Where most companies engaged in commercial transportation rely on outside insurers to pay these costs, C & S Wholesale instead uses its own funds for any claims up to a million dollars. As we'll see, this can create a host of complications for victims.

How Could C & S Wholesale's Self-insurance Affect Your Case?

We hear from plenty of people in the commercial transportation industry who accuse us of being money-grubbing shysters who are out to get truckers and their employers. That's the furthest thing from the truth. We have no beef with the vast majority of drivers and dispatchers who follow the law, behave responsibly, and do important work for our country.

What we do have a problem with are people doing this important and dangerous work carelessly and with no appreciation for the potential consequences of their misconduct. While it would be nice to live in a world where that never happened, it doesn't seem like it's coming anytime soon. Like it or not, as long as there's stuff that needs to be moved and only people can move it, some of them will screw up and hurt others.

The federal government recognizes this reality, which is why it requires companies engaged in commercial transport to either self-insure or purchase minimum insurance coverage appropriate to the harms their large vehicles can cause. Nationally, this minimum is set at $750,000, with each state free to add their own requirements. (Our firm's home base of Texas, for example, adds $250,000 to the federal minimum requirement, for a total of $1 million.)

Because they'd prefer to focus on the business of moving goods and not the complications of dealing with insurance claims, most trucking companies buy policies from outside insurers. Just as they would look at our driving record when you or I were attempting to buy car insurance, companihes selling commercial policies evaluate a company's safety record, average experience level of its drivers, and other factors, and then either offer them a quote or decline to cover them based on what they discover.

When you're attempting to obtain compensation from a self-insuring company, the same entity responsible for paying the costs is also the one you're trying to prove is responsible for your losses.

Some companies, however, may decide they'd prefer to handle all of those responsibilities themselves, in return for not having someone else looking over their shoulders and second-guessing their decisions. This leads them to opt for self-insurance, in which they pay for any costs of collisions or other negligence up to a certain level. Negotiations or other responsibilities that would normally be handled by their insurance company are either handled in-house or outsourced to a third-party claims administration firm.

All of this creates a host of issues for you as you attempt the challenging process of holding self-insured companies to account. First and foremost, when a company's management knows that anything they pay you will be coming out of their bottom line rather than an outside entity's funds, they have significantly more incentive to aggressively contest any claims against them. This means doing everything they can to prevent you from obtaining the evidence you need and direct blame for the crash away from their employees.

In addition, while we know from experience that trying to negotiate with a commercial insurance company can be a challenge, they're at least people who handle claims for injury and death for a living. If the company involved is self-insured, you're likely to instead find yourself dealing with Shirley in their HR department. While we're sure she's a super lady, she's unlikely to have the background or training to understand all of the complexities of a commercial vehicle collision. And unless you have a subpoena compelling her to do so, she doesn't even have to return your phone calls.

Finally, when you're attempting to obtain compensation from a self-insuring company, the same entity responsible for paying the costs is also the one you're trying to prove is responsible for your losses. This creates an inherent conflict of interest that makes it even less likely that they'll compensate you fairly.

In short, when your case involves a self-insured company, it's that much more important to obtain the services of an attorney with experience litigating commercial vehicle accident cases. It's quite simply the only way to ensure that you won't be left at the mercy of the company's aggressive tactics and unreasonable offers.

Grossman Law Offices Is Ready to Hold C & S Wholesale Accountable

The special challenges arising from a company's decision to self-insure are just some of the many difficulties involved in trying to hold a company accountable after a tractor-trailer accident. Unless you have help from an attorney who's handled all of the ins and outs of these complex claims time and time again, you're likely to find that your case ends up foundering on the rocks of one procedural issue or another.

At Grossman Law Offices, our nearly 30 years of experience successfully litigating semi-truck injury and wrongful death suits gives us a knowledge of both the relevant law and the industry that not many firms can match. And we don't just go to the mat for you; we make sure to keep you in the loop every step of the way, from initial investigation to trial.

If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a crash involving a C & S Wholesale Grocers tractor-trailer, please call (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you may have.

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