Injured in A Crash Involving A CHS Vehicle? There Are A Few Things You Should Know
If you've recently been hurt in a collision involving a commercial truck, you may think that the process of obtaining compensation from the company responsible will be as straightforward as it would be if only passenger cars were involved. Unfortunately, things aren't that simple, largely because the amounts of money at stake are so much greater. This means any company involved in litigation related to a crash will fight as hard as they can and spend as much as necessary to avoid financial responsibility, even when they're obviously at fault.
This is even more true for companies specializing in transporting hazardous materials in tanker trucks, like CHS Transportation. Because the federal government requires them to insure their vehicles for much more than those moving other kinds of freight, they have even more incentive to aggressively contest any claims against them. Dallas semi-truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains how victims can overcome this resistance and hold CHS accountable.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is CHS Transportation?
- How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
- How do the increased insurance requirements of tanker trucks affect litigation against CHS?
What is CHS Transportation?
CHS Transportation is the transportation division of parent company CHS, an agricultural co-op whose current form incorporated in 2003. The parent company owns the 16th largest private fleet in the U.S., with 2018 revenues of more than $30 billion. It's fleet of roughly 7,000 vehicles driven by around 3,000 drivers traveled around 60 million miles that year.
Over the past two years, federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 51 crashes, of which 12 have led to injuries and 1 has resulted in at least one person's death. It's important to note, however, that this data doesn't allow any determination about responsibility for these events, only that a CHS vehicle was involved.
The company's specialization in transportation of liquid petroleum and other hazardous chemicals creates its own share of complications for those harmed in crashes with their vehicles, due to the increased motivation that the massive amounts of insurance on tankers can create for an insurance company.
How The Increased Insurance Requirements of Tanker Trucks Could Affect Your Case
While there are many steps companies can take to increase the safety of their operations, there's some degree of inherent risk that will likely always go along with transporting vehicles multi-ton semi-trucks down roads and highways. That's why federal regulators require that companies engaged in the business ensure their vehicles for at least $750,000, with many states adding their own coverage requirements.
However, for companies engaged in moving anything classified as "hazardous freight," like petroleum or anhydrous ammonia, the coverage requirements increase substantially, to $5 million. It may seem like this shouldn't matter, given that it's unlikely the costs of your injures will even approach such a number. But if there's one thing we've learned from our years of litigating tractor-trailer accident cases, it's that the costs of these crashes are always more substantial than victims initially expect.
As you may be aware if you've ever known someone involved in a car crash, insurance companies can fight pretty aggressively to avoid paying out on even relatively inexpensive policies of $30,000 or so. That amount may seem pretty small for a company worth billions of dollars, but if they don't fight back on every claim, those costs will eventually add up to something major.
If an insurance company is willing to fight back with that much vigor just for the sake of a few tens of thousands of dollars, imagine how much more resistance you'll face when your success at trial could saddle them with potentially millions of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and costs of ongoing recovery.
You may wonder why it matters how hard a company is inclined to fight back if it's obvious the commercial driver was at fault. This is a pretty reasonable question. It might seem like you should just be able to walk into a courtroom, tell your story of what happened, and collect what you're owed.
But thinking it through a bit more, such a system would be totally incompatible with justice. If you told your side of the story, the truck driver told his, and a judge or jury made a decision based on whose account they like better, it would be a dangerous situation for all of us. To avoid this situation, the outcome of any civil trial is instead supposed to be decided based on the evidence each side is able to obtain and present. (Things aren't quite that cut-and-dried in practice, but having as much evidence as you can get of what actually happened is still a key element of success.)
While this is certainly desirable from the standpoint of justice, it also creates plenty of room for an insurance company whose client is at fault to influence how you're perceived, prevent you from obtaining evidence, and otherwise compromise your case. When there's this much money on the line, there are very few ethical boundaries they won't cross.
Very few of us live perfectly saintly lives, nor should we be obligated to. But when an insurance company has enough money to hire expensive private investigators to find out about any less-than-perfect behavior in your past or get photos making it appear that your injuries aren't as severe as you claim, there's a decent chance they'll do exactly that.
You may think that you're fully capable of obtaining everything you need to prove your case on your own, but that would be a very risky assumption. In most cases, the vehicle itself, along with any on-board recording devices, will be removed from the scene as soon as an agent of the insurance company can get there, after which anything on it that might be bad for the defendant will likely be removed.
While these tactics are difficult to combat effectively on your own, an experienced semi-truck accident attorney knows exactly what steps to take to keep them from compromising your case. By presenting the full context of any material that could poison a jury against you, they can effectively counter anything an investigator can turn up. And by drafting a document called a letter of spoliation, they can punish the company for any evidence not properly preserved after notice of your suit is filed.
In short, while the significant amounts at stake in any case involving tanker trucks mean you may face more resistance than you otherwise would, obtaining qualified legal help will still give you a strong chance for success.
Grossman Law Offices Has The Knowledge and Experience to Hold CHS Accountable
The motivation that increased insurance requirements of tanker trucks can create for insurers can make these cases more challenging. But they just add to the many complications inherent to any collision involving commercial vehicles. That's why it's so important to not just hire an attorney, but to make sure you find one prepared for every stage of the legal process, from investigation to trial.
At Grossman Law Offices, we have nearly 30 years of experience successfully litigating commercial truck accident cases against companies large and small. And unlike other firms, whose goal is just to keep you out of their hair while they work, we're happy to keep you abreast of what's going on in language you can understand.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a CHS tanker truck, please call (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're ready to take your call whenever you need us.
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