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Important Information for Victims of Crashes Involving Dean Foods Vehicles

If you or your family member have been injured in a collision involving a commercial vehicle, your primary concern is probably with getting the responsible party to pay for the medical bills and other costs of the crash so that you can move on with your life. While this is entirely understandable, it also means that the wide variety of issues that can affect your ability to successfully obtain fair compensation may not be foremost in your mind.

In the case of Dean Foods, this includes the company's use of outside maintenance providers. If an investigation reveals that an uncorrected mechanical issue caused the crash that harmed you, finger-pointing between Dean Foods and the outside repair provider may imperil your otherwise viable claim. Dallas semi-truck accident attorney and 2019 Texas Super Lawyer™ Michael Grossman explains how victims can overcome these evasions to hold Dean Foods accountable.

Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is Dean Foods?
  • How many crashes involving injuries has the company been involved in?
  • How could the company's use of outside maintenance providers affect litigation against them after a crash?

Dean Foods Quick Facts
Crash data compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

What is Dean Foods?

Founded in 1925, dairy company Dean Foods currently controls the 42nd-largest private fleet in the U.S., with roughly 1,800 semi-trucks operated by around 2,500 drivers, which traveled around 50 million miles in 2018. The company generated total revenues of almost $8 billion that year.

Over the past two years, federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 70 crashes, of which 30 have led to injuries. Fortunately, none of these crashes resulted in fatalities. While these numbers don't allow us to determine who was responsible for these wrecks, it's likely that the negligence of a driver for Dean Foods caused at least some portion of them.

What Dean Foods' Maintenance Practices Could Mean For Your Case

Knowing what happened in a given semi-truck crash can sometimes be a challenge in and of itself. Given the number of witnesses who may have viewed it from different angles, some of them potentially influenced by employees of the defendant, finding out the actual course of events demands a thorough investigation.

Even once the events themselves have been established, determining why things happened the way they did, which is equally important to proving your case, adds a whole other level of complexity. From overworked drivers to distraction by on-board devices, a variety of potential underlying factors can have similar end results. Because the first step in holding the responsible parties to account is establishing what actually caused a wreck (and local police generally don't have the resources to do so effectively) it's important to arrange for a through outside investigation as soon as possible.

Mechanical failure is one cause of collisions that often isn't as easy for local police to detect. While an attorney can determine whether a mechanical issue was present on a tractor-trailer using legal mechanisms, in cases where a company relies partially on outside repair providers, determining who was actually responsible for correcting the problem can be a bit more complicated.

If you know that you're responsible for something, but want to avoid having to pay for it, one way to do so is to shift the blame to anyone else you can find. In the case of a commercial vehicle case, that can mean either other drivers who were pulled into the wreck, the plaintiff themselves, or your outside repair provider.

Even in cases where a company uses an outside repair provider, their driver is still generally responsible for ensuring that their vehicle is in safe working condition before taking it out on the road.

Why does all of this matter for victims of crashes involving Dean Foods vehicles? According to an interview with the company's VP of transportation, the company only performs about 60% of the maintenance on its trucks in-house, with the remainder outsourced to external shops. If a vehicle that the company's techs worked on causes a crash due to a mechanical failure, establishing their fault is pretty straightforward.

On the other hand, if an outside repair provider examined the vehicle and missed an issue, it creates the possibility for mutual finger-pointing. When victims attempt to go after the company that owns the vehicle, their attorneys can deflect the blame to the outside provider. When they file suit against the provider, it can then defend itself by saying its client was responsible for ensuring the vehicle was in good condition before taking it out onto the road. In the back-and-forth between the two, the interests of victims can be lost altogether.

Fortunately, this situation ultimately isn't as complex as it may seem. Even in cases where a company uses an outside repair provider, their driver is still responsible for ensuring that their vehicle is in safe working condition before taking it out on the road. This means that the owner of the semi-truck and outside repair provider would likely share liability if an uncorrected mechanical issue turns out to be the cause.

Of course, as you might expect, unless you have physical access to the tractor-trailer that caused the crash, there's no way for you to prove that there even was a mechanical problem that could have caused it. And since the vehicle is the legal property of the defendant, they have no obligation to allow that access unless a properly drafted subpoena compels them to do so.

Grossman Law Offices Has The Experience to Protect Your Interests

The challenges of establishing liability for a crash when an outside maintenance provider is involved are just some of the many difficulties that can affect the success or failure of your commercial vehicle accident claim. Without the help of an experienced attorney familiar with every aspect of these complex cases, you may find yourself having to settle for far less than the actual costs you've incurred from this traumatic event.

At Grossman Law Offices, our nearly thirty years of experience litigating these challenging cases gives us a knowledge of both the legal issues involved and the industry as a whole that not every firm that accepts cases involving commercial vehicles can claim. And we pride ourselves on being a client-centered law firm, so we're always available to answer any questions you may have about your case in plain English, without jargon or evasion.

If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a Dean Foods semi-truck, 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 advise you of your options.

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