Holding Darling Ingredients Accountable After A Crash May Be Harder Than You Think
Most of us don't think too much about where the grease and other waste products used for cooking come from. But at least some of it travels on vehicles owned by Darling Ingredients. While this is an important responsibility, like most commercial transporters, the company's drivers aren't immune from making mistakes on the road, and the consequences of those errors can be devastating.
When a vehicle moving liquid food products, like Darling Ingredients' tankers, does end up causing a collision, the unique aspects of these vehicles may be a contributing factor. While not every crash is caused by such factors, it's important to have help from an attorney who knows to look into them when investigating. Dallas semi-truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is Darling Ingredients?
- How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
- What are the potential implications for your case of Darling's specialization in liquid food products?
What is Darling Ingredients?
Founded in Chicago in 1882, Darling Ingredients currently controls the 44th largest private transportation fleet in the U.S. Its almost 1,400 vehicles, driven by more than 1,200 drivers, traveled almost 60 million miles in 2018. The company's operations generated more than $3 billion in revenue that year.
Over the last two years, federal government data indicates the company's tanker trucks have been involved in 65 crashes, of which 23 have led to injuries and 1 has resulted in at least one person's death. It's important to note that this data makes no indication of who was responsible for any of these wrecks. However, when there are this many reported incidents, it's pretty likely that at least some of them were the result of negligence on the part of the company's employees.
While drivers for Darling Ingredients are prone to the same risks as any other commercial drivers, there are also some dangers associated with the specific cargo they transport that don't apply for others. While such factors aren't the cause of every collision involving food product tankers, their potential contribution is certainly worthy of investigation.
How Factors Unique to Bulk Liquid Food Transport Affect Your Case
Most people probably think of tanker trucks and immediately connect them to transportation of oil or natural gas, but food products from high fructose corn syrup to rendered animal fats are also moved in such vehicles. Performed responsibly, it's entirely possible for this to be done both safely and efficiently, but the special challenges this kind of transportation presents require an additional level of care from drivers working in this sector.
These difficulties primarily stem from the fact that large amounts of liquid being carried in a tank will tend to slosh around. This means that taking turns or stopping too quickly can lead that liquid to move rapidly from side to side or front to back, increasing the likelihood of the vehicle rolling over or being unable to stop in time to avoid a collision.
Because companies that own tanker fleets are well aware of this risk, they generally expect drivers of tanker trucks to have more years of experience than your average trucker, involving this specific type of vehicle. And government regulators recognize the unique challenges involved in operating tankers by requiring additional certifications on a driver's commercial license to do so.
Well-trained tanker drivers attempt to mitigate this risk by taking turns more slowly than they otherwise would, leaving a greater following distance to avoid sudden stops, and using stab breaking techniques to reduce the risk of skids if a sudden stop is unavoidable. If a driver fails to follow these safety protocols and a crash results, both he and his employer can be held accountable.
There's also one important difference between tankers carrying fuel and those transporting liquid food products that further increases these risks. Fuel tankers contain barriers, known as "baffles" that divide the vehicle into compartments. These baffles reduce the amount of sloshing from front to back that liquids undergo, reducing the risks of it suddenly moving from one section to another.
However, tankers transporting liquid food products have to be kept at extreme levels of cleanliness for public health reasons and to avoid potential cross-contamination. Because the design of baffles, with their many small holes, makes keeping them this clean impossible, regulations forbid their use on tankers moving anything intended for human consumption. This means truckers operating these vehicles have to exercise even greater care to avoid crashes resulting from liquid movement.
While the extra certifications required undoubtedly help, drivers of tanker trucks are ultimately as human as anyone else when it comes to making mistakes, and they're also subject to the same time pressures from their employers as other truckers. The difference is that, when the driver of an ordinary semi-truck travels a little too fast or takes a turn more quickly than they should, their chances of being able to stop in time to prevent a wreck or avoid rolling over are significantly higher.
You might expect that, if a truck driver's careless operation results in a collision, there would be nothing the company could do to avoid liability. But the reality is that what actually happened in any given wreck is much less important than what you can actually demonstrate, and trucking companies know this better than anyone, which is why they do everything they can to direct blame away from their driver.
Suppose that a tanker driver fails to stop in time and collides from the rear with another car, causing it to slam into yours. Unless you have the investigative resources to prove otherwise, there's nothing to stop the company's attorneys from claiming that the car suddenly changed lanes in front of the commercial vehicle, and that was what actually caused the wreck.
To make matters worse, these strategies don't even have to remove all of the blame from the company's driver for them to successfully reduce what they have to pay out. Most states have what are known as comparative fault laws, which reduce the amount a defendant owes by the percentage of fault a jury assigns to the plaintiff. And in many states, including Texas, having more than half the responsibility placed on you could prevent you from obtaining any compensation at all.
All of this makes it vitally important to obtain the help of an attorney with extensive experience litigating commercial vehicle crashes, including those involving tanker trucks. They know how to conduct a full and complete investigation of the collision, beginning with a full digital reconstruction of the scene using the latest technology, allowing you to determine exactly what happened and convey a strong narrative of events to a jury.
Grossman Law Offices Has The Experience To Litigate Tanker Truck Accidents
The special complications of collisions involving food-grade tanker trucks are just a few of the hundreds of issues involved in any commercial vehicle accident claim. There are no shortage of attorneys out there who'd be happy to take your case, but given how much is at stake, it's important to make a careful and well-informed decision about who to trust with yours.
While we can't guarantee any specific results in your case, Grossman Law Offices' nearly 30 years of experience litigating crashes involving commercial vehicles gives us a knowledge of both the law and the industry that few of our competitors can match. And where other firms' goal is just to keep you out of their hair while they get down to business, we believe that you deserve to be updated about the progress of your case in plain English as often as your peace of mind requires.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a crash involving a Darling Ingredients vehicle, please call (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to hear your questions and concerns.
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