Important Information for Victims of Crashes Involving Imperative Chemical Partners Vehicles
We understand that the time after the tragic loss of a loved one in a collision with a commercial vehicle can be a difficult and confusing one. You may feel that it's too soon to even consider your legal options for holding the company responsible accountable. But our firm has learned from long experience that transportation companies start preparing their defense as soon as an incident like this occurs, so the sooner you take action to protect your interests, the better.
When Imperative Chemical Partners' employees cause a crash, the gap between their number of available drivers and fleet vehicles is a giant red flag, particularly because they're in the oil services business. It makes it even more important to have a full independent investigation conducted into the background of the driver responsible. Dallas semi-truck accident attorney and Texas Super Lawyer ™ Michael Grossman explains why.
Questions Answered On This Page:
- What is Imperative Chemical Partners?
- What does data regarding the company's number of drivers and vehicles suggest about their hiring practices?
- What lessons does a previous case handled by our firm hold for victims of the company's negligence?
What is Imperative Chemical Partners?
Midland-based oilfield chemicals company Imperative Chemical Partners was formed from the 2018 merger of three smaller companies specializing in various aspects of the Permian Basin energy industry. Official government records indicate that its fleet contains 172 vehicles, operated by 124 drivers, which traveled around 4 million miles in 2017.
The most interesting thing that stands out about these numbers is the difference between the number of drivers and number of vehicles. Because trucks sitting in a lot can't make them any money, most trucking companies try to keep enough drivers on staff to operate them all. When the numbers aren't roughly equal, a giant red flag goes up, because the possibility exists a significant number of employees may be hired and fired too quickly to register in official data, which makes it more likely that less-qualified drivers are being hired on for shorter durations. Whenever that's the case, it increases the risk of crashes and makes it vital to investigate the possibility of negligent hiring.
Why The Company's Staff and Vehicle Data Matters for Victims
Suppose that you're the head of a business involved in an industry, like oilfield services, where demand for your work tends to fluctuate with the price of underlying commodities. You want to have a fleet large enough to cope with the peaks, but you can't be sure that everyone you hire on will be needed when the inevitable valleys arrive. You can certainly still find people who will be willing to hop into a truck under those terms, but those with plenty of experience are likely to prefer positions on conventional long-haul fleets that offer them more stability.
So, given that you don't want to just leave your trucks sitting idle in a parking lot, and the drivers you might ideally prefer mostly aren't interested, who do you end up turning to? More or less whoever you can find, which often means drivers with less experience, advanced age, or a checkered driving history. While there's a certain amount of risk in taking these folks on, because of the liability you're exposed to if they're involved in a crash, you could easily calculate that the money to be made from having more vehicles on the road is worth it.
This may seem like a sound business decision to companies in this position, but whenever a company decides to prioritize their financial performance over public safety by lowering hiring standards, innocent people are likely to end up paying the price sooner or later. When they do, a cause of action (reason for suing) known as negligent hiring allows them to be held accountable in our civil justice system.
Despite the legal jargon-y name, this isn't a terribly arcane concept: companies engaged in commercial transportation have a legal obligation to undertake a background check of any drivers they take on to ensure they're qualified to operate commercial vehicles. This involves verifying that they have no disqualifying medical conditions, no history of intoxicated driving, and no previous citations for crashes caused by recklessness or inadequate sleep.
However, determining whether a company failed to conduct an adequate background investigation of the driver who caused a collision isn't as easy as you might think. This is because it requires access to driving and employment records, among others, all of which are the property of the company. They have no legal obligation to turn it over to you, and only a properly drafted subpoena, approved by a judge, can compel them to do so.
A Prior Commercial Vehicle Case Illustrates The Dangers of Negligent Hiring
I could go on and on with abstract discussion about negligent hiring in the abstract, but nothing drives the point home like a concrete example. A case we previously handled out in West Texas, involving a driver for a construction company who failed to yield and ended up blocking the road, demonstrates why it's so important to have a comprehensive investigation conducted after any crash involving commercial vehicles.
The incident occurred in the pre-dawn hours. An 18-wheeler was turning off a dirt road onto a main highway. There was a heavy fog in the area, which made conditions particularly perilous. In situations like these, safe truck drivers know that when you're making a left turn across a divided highway, you can't stop in the middle, because then your trailer will be blocking half of of the highway. But in this case, an unqualified truck driver did exactly that.
Tragically, an oilfield worker with a wife and young children, who was on his way home after a long shift, was driving down the road that the trucker had just blocked. Due to the fog and caked-on mud blocking the reflective tape on the truck's trailer portion that should have made it more conspicuous, this hard-working family man's life changed in an instant, as he crashed into it from behind at highway speeds.
This resulted in a chain-reaction crash drawing in multiple vehicles, including our client's, which led him to sustain catastrophic head injuries. In the course of our subsequent investigation, we determined that the at-fault driver had been fired from several previous companies for various infractions. We also found that the company they worked for at the time of the crash had certified the driver to operate during the day, at night, and in "changing weather conditions," all on the basis of a 20 minute road test. Now, you know as well as I do that the weather in Texas can change pretty quickly...but it doesn't change that quickly.
And none of this ended up being terribly surprising, because when we ultimately deposed the company's safety director, responsible for ensuring that new drivers are properly qualified and that their vehicles are safe on the road, we had to interview him from jail, where he was serving time for a drunk driving conviction. We were able to hold the company accountable, but if there's one thing this story illustrates, it's that putting the wrong person behind the wheel can irrevocably alter lives.
Grossman Law Offices Has The Experience to Take On Imperative Chemical Partners
The potential for drivers who haven't been properly vetted causing commercial vehicle crashes is just one of many possibilities that should be fully investigated after any collision of this kind. Given how much there is at stake for the company responsible, they're likely to pull out all of the stops to prevent you from obtaining any of the evidence you need and undermine your credibility.
At Grossman Law Offices, we've been successfully litigating wrongful death cases involving commercial vehicles for almost 30 years, so we've seen firsthand how painful it is to lose a family member under these sudden and traumatic circumstances. But we also know that companies like Imperative Chemical Partners see the value of your loved one's life as just another expense on their balance sheet, and one they'll do everything they can to avoid. You can be sure they have the resources to hire a veteran legal defense team, and you deserve to have someone who's ready to go toe-to-toe with them.
If you've lost a loved one in a crash involving an Imperative Chemical Partners commercial vehicle, we encourage you to call us at (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to advise you of your options.
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