Injured in an Accident With a Landstar 18-Wheeler? Our Attorneys Can Help
Landstar System is a trucking company without trucks. They find loads, dispatch drivers, Landstar System-affiliated owner-operators, and deliver those goods. Since these owner operators are sub-contractors and not employees, pursuing a claim against Landstar System when one of their owner-operators injures you is different from suing a traditional trucking company.
The attorneys at Grossman Law Offices can help you understand the intricacies of holding a company like Landstar accountable for your injuries or the loss of a family member in a collision.
Questions answered on this page:
- What makes Landstar System different from other companies?
- How does the unusual business model affect my injury claim?
- How can an experienced truck accident attorney help me hold Landstar System accountable for my injuries?
What Is Landstar System?
Landstar offers all of the services of most other trucking and logistics firms - truckload, LTL, air freight, flat-beds, intermodal transport, temperature controlled trailers, ocean services, logistics solutions, border crossings into Mexico and Canada, and international services. However, Landstar conducts its business differently than most major trucking operations.
The company doesn't employ truck drivers, but uses its network of owner-operators to move loads. Thus, Landstar owns tens of thousands of trailers, but practically no trucks. The owner-operators provide their own trucks and merely pick up the Landstar trailers before loading them with the cargo to be shipped.
Unlike other trucking companies, which operate through a "forced dispatch" system in which truck drivers are assigned jobs and given a delivery schedule that cannot be refused, Landstar agents, at least in theory, can choose what to deliver and have the option of finding freight loads directly from shippers. This business model helped Landstar generate $3.16 billion in revenue in 2017, which makes Landstar the 9th largest trucking company in the United States. That's no small feat, since they don't own a trucking fleet.
Landstar does business differently than almost every other large trucking company, which forces us to ask: how safe is this business model for other motorists on the road? According to Landstar, it's very safe, as the company claims that it has a safety-first culture.
Company policies seem to support this claim, as Landstar takes a number of measures to encourage safe trucking, including the Safety Thursday Conference call, which takes place on the third Thursday of every month and details a specific safety issue in detail. All owner-operators are invited to join in, and company executives, including the CEO, are required to take part.
To further its goal of operating safely, Landstar conducts background checks on new owner-operators and requires them to go through a rigorous orientation. Landstar also says that it expects all third-party contractors to meet stringent requirements. As a result of these actions, the company states that it has a 99 percent accident-claim-free delivery rate.
99 percent may sound great when you're talking about a restaurant getting your order right, or your cable television working, but when it comes to highway safety, that remaining 1 percent has the potential to injure hundreds, or even thousands of people given the scale at which Landstar System operates. For any other operator in the industry, an accident occurring on 1% of all trips would be an absolutely devastating number, but it can work for a company like Landstar System, because the contractor/sub-contractor business model adds a layer of legal insulation between Landstar System and those who are injured by its sub-contractors.
Can You Pursue Compensation from Landstar?
What happens in situations involving the 1% of deliveries that do not make it to their destinations safely? What if you were hurt or someone you love was killed in an accident with an owner-operator or independent contractor who was driving his own truck while pulling a Landstar trailer? Will the subcontractor have the assets to equitably compensate you on his or her own? Could you pursue compensation from Landstar itself, or just the third-party who owned the truck? The answers depend upon the situation and the state in which the accident took place.
In the state of Texas, laws regarding personal injury and wrongful death tend to be more pro-business, so plaintiffs (the injured) must show that Landstar was negligent in its hiring, training, or supervision of the owner-operator or third-party driver who caused your wreck in order to hold the company liable. While Landstar claims that it does a background check, safety screening, and ongoing safety education for all of its owner-operators, did it do so in the case of the truck driver with whom you got into an accident?
In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) requires trucking companies to do pre-employment and random drug tests on all truck drivers, and the FMCSA also limits the amount of hours a truck driver can spend on the road to 11 hours in a given day and 70 hours in a given week. Furthermore, the FMCSA requires trucking companies to adequately maintain their vehicles and keep detailed maintenance records to prove they have. Did Landstar take action to ensure that its owner-operators and third party contractors were following these procedures? If not, then Landstar may be held liable for the accident.
There are two common ways to successfully pursue a claim against a company like Landstar, which contracts out its jobs. One way is to establish that Landstar failed to fulfill one of the duties listed above.
Holding Landstar, rather than just its contracted owner-operator, liable for your accident requires victims to establish an employer-employee relationship between Landstar and the driver who injured them.
Without going too deep into the weeds of how this is done, the fact that Landstar classifies its drivers as contractors doesn't matter to the courts. Instead, courts look at how closely Landstar regulates the activities of its drivers. True independent contractors are granted a significant amount of latitude from their clients to accomplish tasks as they see fit, including the freedom to work when they feel like it and acquire and use the equipment that they feel best gets the job done.
Over the past 10 years, courts have routinely ruled that when companies dictate the type of trucks drivers have to use, mandate specific training, and pressure drivers to conform to a schedule, those drivers aren't independent contractors, but employees. Since companies share liability for the conduct of their employees, if an employer-employee relationship is determined to have existed, then the company is on the hook for any crashes that their drivers cause.
Large Trucking Companies Will Usually Fight Accident Claims
It should be obvious by now that trucking companies who don't actually operate their own trucks present unique legal challenges. While there is no such thing as an easy commercial truck accident injury or wrongful death case, some company's unusual business models make holding all parties accountable even more difficult. Landstar is one such company.
At Grossman Law Offices, our attorneys have been litigating truck accident cases for nearly 3 decades. We've dealt with cases involving negligent contractors, and have been able to help our clients hold the larger parent company who contracted out the job accountable for their role in the incident. To learn more about how we can be of assistance to you, call us now for a free consultation at (855) 326-0000 (toll free).
Related Articles for Further Reading: