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What Victims of Crashes Involving Cowan Systems Vehicles Need to Know

If you've been harmed by a collision involving a tractor-trailer, you may have already found obtaining compensation from the trucking company to be a confusing ordeal. While the tiny offers you're getting from the trucking company's insurer may seem like the most you can hope for, pursuing legal action, with the right help, will allow you to obtain compensation that actually makes you whole.

However, in any case of this kind, it's crucial to obtain qualified legal help as soon as possible after a collision, because only a thorough investigation can determine what actually occurred and obtain the evidence needed to prove the company's liability. When a company's lax maintenance practices may have contributed to a crash, it's even more important to have the investigative help that only an experienced legal team can provide. Dallas truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains how these questions affect litigation against Cowan Systems.

Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is Cowan Systems?
  • How many crashes involving injury has the company been involved in?
  • How could the company's maintenance practices affect litigation against them?

Crash statistics courtesy the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

What is Cowan Systems?

Baltimore-based Cowan Systems, founded in 1924 by W.T. Cowan with a single truck delivering ice cream, has grown to become the 66th-largest commercial transport company in the U.S., with 2017 revenues of just over $450 million. It specializes in full truckload transportation of general freight, beverages, and paper products.

The company's roughly 2,000 tractor-trailers and drivers traveled 175 million miles in 2017. Over the last two years, federal government data indicates its drivers have been involved in 156 reportable crashes, of which 57 have involved injuries. Thankfully, none of these collisions resulted in fatalities.

In the interest of fairness, it's important to note that this data isn't able to show who is at fault for any of these wrecks. While it's highly likely that some portion of the total were caused by the negligence of a driver for the company, there's no way of knowing exactly how many without more information.

Mechanical defects in the semi-truck involved are one potential cause of 18-wheeler wrecks that may not always be apparent until a thorough investigation has been conducted. While these are always worth looking into as soon as possible after a crash, the maintenance practices of Cowan Systems make it even more critical to do so if one of their vehicles is involved.

How Cowan System's Vehicle Maintenance Practices Affect Your Case

While government records can tell you a lot about a trucking company's safety record, sometimes the statements of their employees in friendly media outlets can also be a good way to find out more about their practices. In an interview, Cowan System's director of maintenance mentions that outside repair providers are responsible for the bulk of the maintenance on its vehicles.

At first glance, this may not seem like a noteworthy fact, but it could become highly significant if a mechanical issue with one of the company's tractor-trailers turns out to have caused the crash in which you were injured. If an outside provider was responsible for some or all of the maintenance on that tractor-trailer, the trucking company is likely to attempt to shift the blame for failing to correct the issue in question to them.

While the obvious response to this strategy would be attempting to recover from the outside repair provider, they're likely to claim in turn that the trucking company was actually responsible, because its employees failed to inspect the vehicle and insure it was in safe operating condition before a driver took it onto the road.

In Cowan Systems' case, there may also be some reason to be concerned about the effectiveness of their outsourcing strategy.

While these attempts to deflect blame may be successful if the plaintiff lacks the legal knowledge to combat them, an attorney with experience handling commercial truck claims can use all of the evidence available to determine which company or companies should be held responsible, and then compel them to do the right thing through a civil lawsuit.

In addition to the potential opportunity it presents for shifting blame, there may be some reason to be concerned about the effectiveness of Cowan Systems' outsourcing strategy. In addition to an out-of-service rate (percentage of a company's vehicles inspected and found unsafe to operate) of around 17% across their fleet, 34% of inspections revealed mechanical issues in violation of federal regulations, according to the most recent data. While not all of these breaches create inherent danger, many of them, such as issues with brakes and tires, certainly have that potential.

All this having been said, even if a mechanical issue does turn out to have caused a collision, proving it requires access to evidence acquired from both the trucking company's internal records (such as documentation of repairs and invoices for external repair providers) and the tractor-trailer itself. And because all of it is the property of the company, the only thing that can force them to hand it over is a valid subpoena compelling them to do so.

Another important legal step that should be executed as soon as possible is having an attorney draft and send a letter of spoliation to the company to deter potential destruction of evidence. This document lists all of the evidence needed to successfully pursue your claim and compels the company to preserve it under penalty of legal sanctions.

Grossman Law Offices Has The Experience to Level the Playing Field

The issues created by a company's reliance on outside repair providers is just one of the many issues that can come into play in the course of litigation related to a semi-truck crash. Given the many challenges you're already dealing with as a result of the collision, you shouldn't have to take on this massive legal burden on your own as well.

Fortunately, you don't have to. At Grossman Law Offices, we've been successfully litigating claims related to commercial vehicle crashes for almost thirty years, giving us a knowledge of both the transportation industry and the relevant law that's hard to match. The secret to our success isn't complicated: our seasoned crash investigators gather evidence from the scene and the trucking company, use that evidence to develop a compelling argument, and present it at trial. Our history of strong results for our clients says everything you need to know about how well this works.

If you've been injured in a collision involving a Cowan Systems 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 hear your questions and concerns.

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