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Refrigerated Trucks, like those Operated by Frozen Food Express, Present Unique Issues for Victims

Most people mistakenly believe that when they're injured in a collision with a commercial truck, the trucking company will pay for any medical bills, lost wages, or other damages. Truck accidents are always complex legal situations and they only grow more complex when the trucking company that kills or injures someone is involved in a specialized part of the industry.

One company that deals almost exclusively in one of these niche areas of trucking is Frozen Food Express, a subsidiary of KLLM Transport Services. Shortly after World War II, Frozen Food Express helped pioneer refrigerated trucking. Most people probably think, "What's the difference between a regular trailer and one with a refrigeration unit? Truck crashes are truck crashes." The truth is that there are a couple of parts of refrigerated trucking that can impact efforts to hold the trucking company accountable for any injuries or deaths its drivers might cause.

Award-winning truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains.

Questions answered in this article:

  • What details can go overlooked in crashes involving refrigerated trucks, aka "reefers?"
  • How many crashes has Frozen Food Express been involved in over the past 2 years?
  • How do the unique issues reefers create impact my commercial truck accident injury or wrongful death case against a company like Frozen Food Express?

Frozen food transport quick facts
Accident statistics per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Frozen Food Express, at a Glance

Frozen Food Express is headquartered in Lancaster, Texas, just outside of Dallas. As one part of KLLM Transport services, the combined company represents the 38th largest trucking company in the United States and the 2nd largest refrigerated trucking company. With roughly $937 million in combined sales, it truly is a giant company.

FFE operates a fleet of 870 reefers, driven by 954 drivers. In 2017, this fleet hauled its temperature-controlled cargo almost 68 million miles.

Between 2016 and 2018, Frozen Food Express trucks were involved in 77 crashes, 30 of which resulted in at least 1 injury, with another 2 leading to someone losing their life. It's important to note that these numbers (compiled by the federal government) do not assign fault for the accidents. If an FFE truck was involved in the crash, it's included in federal numbers, regardless of who caused the collision. At the same time, it would be pretty remarkable if FFE drivers weren't to blame for at least some portion of these crashes.

Two Key Things to Look Out for in Reefer Crashes

As mentioned before, in order for victims to compel a refrigerated trucking company to pay for damages sustained in a wreck, that victim has to be able to prove in court that the trucking company or a driver acting on their behalf behaved negligently. The three most common causes of truck driver negligence are driver fatigue, intoxication by drugs or alcohol, and distraction.

In one little-noticed and rather unexpected way, reefers can contribute to driver fatigue. Here's how.

Most people can spot a refrigerated truck by the extra hardware attached to the trailer, between the trailer and the cab. This additional equipment is the refrigeration unit that keeps a constant temperature in the trailer, and enables perishable goods, like food, to be shipped long distances. The location of refrigeration units is quite practical--when the vehicles are in motion. However, when the truck is stopped, such as when a driver is on a break or resting, the refrigeration unit is right near the sleeping cabin in the truck. These refrigeration units make a bit of noise, just like any other refrigerator.

That's where the problem is. Try to imagine sleeping next to your own refrigerator, which is generally much quieter than those used on a trailer. While many people wouldn't have any issues, there's a substantial number of people whose sleep would be disrupted by the sound of the machine. For most of us, a bad night's sleep isn't the end of the world, but most of us aren't hauling 40 tons of truck and frozen food down the highway.

With proper sound mitigation, the effect of the refrigerator is quite manageable, but when the units aren't functioning properly, this can disrupt drivers' sleep cycles and lead to fatigue behind the wheel. So while the trucker's log shows that they should be well rested, the truth might be that they were kept up by a wonky refrigeration unit. This detail is so specific to reefers that many commercial truck accident investigators never even consider the possibility that it may contribute to a crash.

Another issue with refrigerated trucking is that the financial margins for this type of trucking are very slim. There have been numerous larger trucking companies that have tried to incorporate reefers into their fleets, only to find out that they're not really money makers, except in the right hands.

Anytime a trucking company has to deal with tighter margins than normal, it gives them extra incentive to minimize what they pay out to victims of their drivers' negligence. Trucking companies are always motivated to fight claims; companies operating with little financial wiggle room have this motivation in spades.

The key to not having a claim sabotaged or left to languish by a trucking company is to know what to look for after a crash and have help that is experienced in both investigating truck crashes and in holding trucking companies accountable. Grossman Law Offices makes sure that our clients get the help they need.

Find Out How Grossman Law Offices Can Make a Difference For You

Since our attorneys have litigated hundreds of truck accident cases over the past 3 decades, they have insights into the trucking industry and business practices that many less experienced attorneys may lack. This isn't to say there aren't plenty of fantastic attorneys at other firms, but most personal injury lawyers are lucky to have one or two truck accident cases in a career, while we handle dozens every year.

Call (855) 326-0000 today, if you would like to know how Grossman Law Offices can help you hold a trucking company, like Frozen Food Express, accountable for your injuries or the loss of a loved one. All consultations are free and we answer the phone, anytime, day or night.

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