What Victims of Crashes Involving Halliburton Vehicles Should Know
Whatever you may think about them, there's no denying that Halliburton has become a household name over the past two decades. As a major player in the energy industry, the company has been involved in a host of controversies, often culminating in massive lawsuits.
One such case, involving a Halliburton driver who was killed in a crash after receiving insufficient training, holds important lessons for victims of crashes involving the company's vehicles. Acclaimed Dallas semi-truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What are some key facts about Halliburton?
- How many crashes involving injury or death have the company's vehicles been involved in?
- What lessons does the Nichols case hold for victims?
What is Halliburton?
Founded in 1919, oilfield services company Halliburton is currently the 5th largest private carrier and the 8th largest energy company in the U.S., with 2018 revenues of $40 billion. Its fleet of almost 11,000 vehicles and 8,000 drivers traveled more than 45 million miles that year.
Federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 75 crashes over the last two years, of which 26 led to injuries and 9 resulted in fatalities. However high this number might seem, it's important to note that they aren't enough information to determine fault in any of these wrecks, only that a Halliburton truck was involved.
One case where there seems to be enough information in the public record to draw some conclusions about Halliburton's practices is Nichols v. Halliburton. While this case involved company employees, it still raises important questions about the preparedness of Halliburton drivers for the complex and dangerous work of oilfield transportation.
The Lessons of the Nicholson Case for Victims
Many people assume that, as a firm that litigates cases against trucking companies, we have an inherent bias against both commercial drivers and their employers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our issue is with the small minority of truckers whose careless behavior endangers others, and the companies that put them in unsafe situations.
The truth is that, in many cases, a company's negligence can be just as dangerous for their employees as it is for other motorists. That's why we've filed many civil suits against trucking companies when behaviors like failing to do proper maintenance or ordering a driver to travel without sufficient sleep resulted in the trucker being injured or killed.
A case involving Halliburton illustrates how a company's willingness to cut corners can expose both its drivers and the wider public to significant risk of harm. While this case solely involved employees, had the circumstances of the crash been different, the dangers it involved could easily have led to others being hurt as well.
The story of Nicholson v. Halliburton begins with Gary Nicholson being hired as a driver for Halliburton. Despite being relatively new to commercial driving, he was assigned to train another new driver, Scott Burgess. The two had set out in a tanker truck with Burgess at the wheel, when he lost control of the vehicle on a curved mountain road, leading it to overturn and resulting in Mr. Nicholson's death.
At first glance, this may seem like the kind of situation workers' compensation was designed for. However, given the facts demonstrated by Nicholson's attorneys, it's apparent that there was a strong case against Halliburton based on the legal concept of negligent training.
This means more or less what it sounds like: a company's failure to provide sufficient training to allow an employee to perform their job safely results in that worker being harmed. In Halliburton's case, evidence indicated that it violated its own policies regarding untrained drivers training others, failed to properly train new drivers on difficult terrain, and did so knowing the dangers that it created, due to prior crashes under similar circumstances.
To be specific, the plaintiffs alleged that Nicholson was a new driver himself, without any training on how to properly train someone else. In spite of knowing this to be the case, Halliburton assigned him a new driver to train. When he complained, the company allegedly told him to train the new driver anyway. To make matters worse, the trainee driver was expected to navigate a truck fully loaded with chemicals up and down the mountainous roads of West Virginia. Tragically, because the company ignored these warning signs, the new driver ultimately lost control, rolling the vehicle over and killing Nicholson.
Halliburton ultimately settled the Nicholson case for $765,679 without admitting wrongdoing. These events also took place more than 10 years ago, so it's entirely possible that they've reformed their training practices to prevent tragedies like this from recurring. But unless you're willing to stake your family's financial well-being on it, that's probably not a gamble you should take.
This horrific case reminded me of a similar one our firm recently won on similar grounds of failure to properly train their drivers. Our investigation uncovered internal company documents showing that the driver who caused the crash that severely injured our client had only been evaluated for 20 minutes before he was cleared to operate on the road. More shocking still, in the course of that brief evaluation, the employee performing it noted that the driver disregarded at least one stop sign. This remark proved damning, since the evidence showed that the same driver ran a stop, blocked a highway, and caused the crash that injured our client. It's one thing when a truck driver screws up and hurts innocent people, but it's another level of irresponsibility altogether when a company's failure to train them properly and heightens the risk of serious crash.
Both of these cases underscore the importance of having a thorough independent investigation conducted to determine whether the driver whose vehicle caused your injuries was properly trained and prepared for the heightened risks of driving a tanker truck.
While there was copious evidence demonstrating the negligence of Halliburton employees in the Nicholson case, the plaintiff's attorneys would never have been able to obtain it without filing a valid subpoena. This is true of any civil case: without the help of a lawyer able to make the necessary efforts on your behalf, you'll be without almost all of the evidence needed to prove that the negligence of the trucking company's employees caused your losses.
Grossman Law Offices Has the Experience to Protect Your Interests
If you found the behavior in this article shocking, you should know that it's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to trucking company negligence. We've seen just about every form of carelessness you can imagine contribute to a semi-truck crash, and there seem to be almost no lengths these company's attorneys won't go to in order to avoid responsibility after one.
But it doesn't matter how badly a company may have behaved unless you're able to prove that it happened and caused the harms you've suffered. That's why it's so important to have help from a firm with experience doing just that. At Grossman Law Offices, we've been successfully litigating injury and wrongful death cases against companies like Halliburton for almost 30 years, so there's nothing they can do that we aren't ready to counter.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a Halliburton tanker 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 take your call.
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