Important Information for Victims of Crashes Involving Love's Vehicles
There's a regrettably widespread misconception that the process of obtaining compensation after a commercial vehicle collision is similar to what follows one involving passenger vehicles: filing a claim with the responsible party's insurance and waiting for them to offer a fair settlement. However, because the amounts involved in commercial policies are far more substantial, obtaining a fair resolution is virtually always an intense and highly adversarial process.
Holding a company accountable when their fleet has a strong reputation for safety, as with Love's Travel Stops transport division, Gemini Motor Freight. Because juries are often less inclined to award an appropriate judgment in cases involving these "safe companies," it's important to have the help of an attorney who can focus their attention where it belongs: on the commercial driver's negligence and his employer's responsibility. Experienced tractor-trailer accident attorney Michael Grossman explains.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is Love's Travel Stops trucking division?
- How many crashes involving injury or death has the company's fleet been involved in?
- What is the likely effect of a company's safety efforts on a jury, and how can you best combat it?
What is Love's Travel Stops Trucking Division?
Founded in 1964, Love's Travel Stops operates a chain of more than 500 truck stops throughout the U.S. Its trucking division, Gemini Motor Transport, is the country's 56th-largest private fleet, with almost 1,000 vehicles driven by roughly 1,400 drivers, and traveled just under 100 million miles in 2019. The parent company generated nearly $20 billion in revenue in 2018.
Over the last two years, federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 69 crashes, of which 18 have led to injuries and 3 have resulted in fatalities. While this data doesn't allow us to draw any conclusions about responsibility for these events, it's likely that at least some percentage were likely the result of a Gemini driver's negligence.
While, as these numbers illustrate, it's almost impossible for any company to be perfectly safe when moving 40-ton vehicles across the country, Gemini Motor Transport appears to take many steps to reduce the likelihood of collisions across its fleet. Even if these measures aren't entirely successful, they can greatly affect how a jury perceives the company, making it more challenging for victims to obtain the compensation they deserve.
How Could the Company's Extensive Safety Measures Affect Your Case?
Because we have to effectively counter them to obtain a just resolution for our clients, our firm is familiar with all of the strategies that defense attorneys for trucking companies rely on to protect the companies they represent. Some of these are what you'd probably expect them to do in their position: coming up with creative counter-narratives that redirect the blame for what happened elsewhere or questioning the extent of your injuries. But others may seem a bit more outlandish.
One example of these less obvious tactics might be called the "safe trucking company" argument. This essentially involves presenting as much evidence as possible in support of the idea that the trucking company makes safety a high priority. While this strategy in and of itself probably won't get the defendant completely off the hook, it can be successful in reducing the amount of damages awarded, particularly when combined with some of the others mentioned above.
I raise this subject with regard to Gemini Motor Freight in particular because they would appear to be a prime candidate for this argument. While obviously any number of wrecks is too many, the company has managed to reduce its rate of crashes to 0.3 per million miles in 2018, less than one-quarter the national average for commercial fleets. 76% of its drivers received a bonus for having no accidents, tickets, or fuel-related incidents in 2018.
They accomplish this through a variety of safety practices, including a mandatory two weeks of safety training with the company before driving for them, quarterly safety meetings and regular manager ride-alongs. The company also uses technology to track driver behaviors that increase the risk of crashes, like speeding and sudden deceleration, so that managers can make appropriate interventions when necessary.
To be clear, by discussing all of these efforts, I don't mean to in any way excuse the company of responsibility for the harm their drivers have caused you or members of your family. But their defense attorneys will likely present this information in an attempt to do exactly that. This probably seems as illogical to you as it does to us: why would good behavior in general excuse a driver's carelessness in particular case?
But presenting a company as safe can potentially be effective because it plays on a fundamental truth of human nature. Our primal sense of fairness naturally wants to reward the innocent and punish the guilty. This means that the more confusion a defense team can create to muddy the waters between the two states, the less inclined a jury will be to hold the company properly accountable.
Admittedly, judges instruct juries to base their decisions solely on the facts of what happened and the law. But the fact remains that their decision on who bears responsibility for alleged negligence, and how those harmed should be compensated, if at all, is theirs alone, and anything they hear can potentially influence the end result.
If they feel as though the case they're evaluating involves a generally responsible company with one driver who made a serious mistake, there's at least some chance that they'll place less fault on them, ask for a smaller award, or both. (In some states, a plaintiff's recovery is reduced by the degree of fault assigned to them, making these effectively the same thing.)
This is a more serious problem than it might appear, because many states, including Texas, operate under the principle of modified comparative fault, with either a 50 or 51% bar, meaning that if the plaintiff is found more than half responsible for the events in question, they can't recover any compensation. In a few other states, any amount of fault being assigned to the plaintiff has the same effect.
All of this means that, if you want to ensure that you actually recover damages that properly compensate you for both your current and future losses, it's important that you obtain the help of an attorney who can overcome any effects a company's safety practices may have on a jury. The most effective way to do so is keeping the jury's focus on the negligence of the individual driver and their employer, with the help of evidence obtained through judicial subpoena and a compelling narrative of the case.
Grossman Law Offices Knows How to Hold "Safe Companies" Accountable
The challenges of obtaining fair compensation from a "safe trucking company" are just some of the hundreds that any semi-truck accident case will likely involve. You can be sure that the well-funded opposition you face will have no trouble keeping up with these difficulties, which is why it's so important to have legal help with the ability to push back effectively on your behalf.
At Grossman Law Offices, our nearly 30 years of experience successfully litigating commercial vehicle accident cases gives us a level of familiarity and prowess that not every firm willing to take on these cases can match. Because we work on contingency, you won't owe us anything unless we're able to obtain a recovery in your case, and we'll always try to be straightforward with you as circumstances change.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a Love's Travel Stops vehicle, we encourage you to call our office at (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help. We're here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you may have and advise you of your options.
Related Links for Further Reading: