What Victims Should Know About Litigation Against KeHE Distributors
Very few people are prepared for all of the potential challenges of attempting to obtain compensation from a trucking company after a crash involving one of their drivers. While some of the obstacles are fairly obvious, like the company's attempts to redirect blame onto other parties or challenge the validity of your injuries, others may come as a surprise.
To cite just one example, in the case of KeHE Distributors, the company's use of monitoring devices can be less of a smoking gun than you might expect. Obviously, equipment like on-board cameras can provide vital evidence of a truck driver's negligence that's difficult to refute. But recorded evidence can only be used to help your case if you're able to obtain it in the first place. Acclaimed Texas semi-truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is KeHE Distributors?
- How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
- How could the company's use of on-board cameras affect litigation against them?
What is KeHE Distributors?
Founded in 1953, natural and organic food distributor KeHE Distributors controls the 100th largest private trucking fleet in the U.S. and generated revenues of $5 billion in 2018. Its roughly 400 18-wheelers, driven by almost 600 drivers, traveled roughly 60 million miles that year. Owned by its employees, its operations attempt to strike a balance between profit and social responsibility.
Over the last two years, federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 50 crashes, of which 21 have led to injuries and 1 has resulted in at least one person's death. To be clear, gathering this data doesn't involve any determination of fault for these events. However, given the numbers involved, it's pretty likely that a KeHE driver's negligence caused at least some of them.
The company likes to publicize its use of on-board cameras, and understandably so. These devices appear to say "we have nothing to hide, and we're just as interested in rooting out bad drivers as anyone else." Unfortunately, when the rubber hits the road, companies with cameras installed will generally do whatever they can to keep victims from gaining access to it, knowing that it could end up being incredibly expensive if used against them.
How Does KeHE Distributors' Use of On-board Cameras Affect Your Case?
Trucking companies know the dangers of careless commercial drivers better than anyone, because they're the ones who'll potentially end up paying for their mistakes in the form of higher insurance premiums and costs of judgments or settlements. To reduce the risk of those outcomes, many firms have begun installing on-board cameras to monitor driver behavior.
These cameras come in two basic varieties: outward-facing cameras, which monitor the roadway area around the tractor-trailer, and inward-facing cameras, which record the driver's behavior in the cab. Judging by media reports, many more companies seem to have installed the outward-facing variety, and this is what most people are probably thinking of when they refer to "dash cams."
Because they primarily serve to exonerate them in the event of a collision caused by a passenger car, outward-facing cameras aren't terribly controversial. But inward-facing devices are often presented as an egregious breach of trust, as if simply having driven an 18-wheeler for a certain number of years should entitle someone to the benefit of the doubt in any controversy.
This concern might be more understandable, except that, while they're always recording, any type of onboard recording device only saves and transmits video in the event of a crash, when it captures the 30 seconds before and 30 seconds after impact. This means the only drivers who should be concerned about these kinds of recorders are those who regularly engage in other behaviors while driving. From viewing pornography to taking off a sweater, our firm has seen plenty of cases where driver distractions have created terrible consequences, and anything that helps to deter it is a positive development.
As much as on-board cameras help companies save money in cases where their drivers are falsely accused, they have the significant downside for them of providing largely incontrovertible proof of liability when one screws up. However, if they can keep plaintiffs from getting their hands on them, companies can effectively have it both ways, getting all of the benefits with none of the drawbacks.
This doesn't necessarily require anything as egregious and illegal as physically destroying the video in question. (Though it wouldn't be inconceivable for a sudden "data corruption" to wipe it out.) Because these videos, along with any other evidence related to the crash, are company property, they're under no obligation to turn it over until an officer of the court legally compels them to do so.
It's not good enough to simply tell the judge, "Can you please force them to hand over the evidence I need for my case?" Our civil justice system has extensive procedures in place that allow everyone involved in a case to withhold anything not germane to the claim. That means a judge won't force them to do so unless he receives a properly drafted subpoena outlining what evidence is needed. And creating one requires the help of an attorney with extensive experience litigating commercial vehicle accident cases.
Why Grossman Law Offices Is Your Best Option for Holding KeHE Distributors Accountable
The unexpected complications of a company's use of on-board cameras are just some of the hundreds of issues that can arise in the course of litigating a tractor-trailer accident case. Without the right legal help, the extensive legal resources available to companies like KeHE Distributors can easily protect them from the costs of compensating you fairly.
Grossman Law Offices has nearly 30 years of experience successfully litigating commercial vehicle accident claims, which means we're well-prepared for all of the many tactics that defense teams for trucking companies have at their disposal. We firmly believe that, when the facts are on our side, there's no machination or contrivance we can't overcome.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a KeHE Distributors 18-wheeler, please call (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're here to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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