Important Information for Victims of Crashes Involving Marten Transport
When the average person is involved in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, they often want to avoid having lawyers involved if at all possible, and may think it would be easier and less expensive to simply handle their case against the trucking company on their own. That isn't always the best idea even when only passenger vehicles are involved, but in crashes involving commercial vehicles, it can easily result in otherwise strong claims coming to nothing or a settlement for pennies on the dollar.
While any crash involving a commercial vehicle brings its share of complications due to the financial incentives of a large trucking company and the tactics they inspire, those involving Marten Transport have their own unusual set of considerations: those arising from the nature of their fleet, which focuses on low-temperature transport of perishable goods. Dallas truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains how this may affect your case against the company.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is Marten Transport?
- How many crashes involving death or injury have the company's vehicles been involved in?
- How do considerations unique to refrigerated tractor-trailers play into litigation against Marten?
What is Marten Transport?
Founded by Roger Marten in 1946, Wisconsin-based Marten Transport has since become the 6th-largest carrier of perishable foods and other consumer packaged goods, and the 48th-largest U.S. trucking company overall, based on its 2017 revenues of about $700 million. Tractor-trailers in its fleet number just under 3,000 and are operated by around 2,500 drivers, who together traveled a total of around 400 million miles that year.
Over the last two years, federal government data indicates that drivers for Marten have been involved in 301 crashes, with 88 leading to injuries and 8 resulting in fatalities. To put these numbers in context, it's important to note they don't make clear who was at fault for any particular collision. However, given how many have occurred, it seems likely that at least some portion were the result of a Marten driver's negligence.
Unique Issues for Litigation Involving Refrigerated Tractor-Trailers
Because Marten's fleet is almost exclusively comprised of refrigerated vehicles (or "reefers") used for transportation of goods that need to be kept cold while in transit, the technology that allows those temperatures to be maintained over long distances is a unique potential contributor to accidents.
To be more specific, the diesel engines that maintain the frigid temperatures on these semi-trucks happen to be located pretty close to the sleeping berth where drivers usually get their rest. If you wouldn't want to sleep right next to your refrigerator or deep freeze (which are still substantially quieter than the engines in question,) you can probably appreciate why this can be a less than ideal state for optimal rest.
One driver on a trucking forum with experience driving reefers mentions that the amount of noise generated by the cooling engines is partly a function of how well or poorly the engine doing the cooling is maintained, with less regular maintenance leading the engine to generate more noise.
Obviously, it's difficult to reliably evaluate to what extent this might be the case across an entire company's fleet with access only to publicly available information, but given the predictable effects of insufficient or low-quality sleep on a truck driver's performance, how well a given cooling engine was maintained is something that any truck accident attorney worth his salt would want to investigate.
Trucking while fatigued is a major problem for the trucking industry, as it is a significant contributor to crashes involving tractor-trailers. Of the roughly 5,000 people killed and 150,000 injured each year in such incidents, at least 1/5 can be attributed to fatigued operation by a commercial driver.
Another aspect of refrigerated freight that can lead truckers to operate under conditions of insufficient sleep is the high emphasis on speed and meeting deadlines. While this is obviously highly valued in trucking involving all kinds of freight, it is absolutely vital when transporting refrigerated goods, as, even when kept chilled, they are more perishable than reams of paper or pallets of cereal.
Because spoiled vegetables or meat represent a total loss for the company receiving the shipment, and a driver whose cargo arrives too late to be salable may face major consequences, there's even more pressure for drivers transporting refrigerated freight to deliver their cargo as rapidly as possible. Since there's no way to reduce the amount of traffic they encounter, the most obvious ways remaining for drivers to make faster deliveries are speeding and reducing sleep.
The more intensely drivers are exhorted to make their deliveries on time, the more likely they are to cut the amount of sleep they get to dangerous levels. Combine this with the engine noise from the reefer's cooling system discussed earlier, and the risk of a crash from a poorly-rested driver becomes even greater.
While these contributing factors may make it more likely, the only way to know, and, more importantly, to prove, that a driver's exhaustion from poor or insufficient sleep was actually the direct cause of a crash is with a thorough, independent investigation, gathering vital evidence from sources like an in-cab video recorder or engine control modules, which together can indicate the behavior of both the semi-truck and its driver before a collision.
Whether driver fatigue turns out to have been the cause of a crash or not, victims still have very little chance of holding a company like Marten accountable for its employees' negligent behavior without persuasive evidence supporting a compelling narrative that can establish the liability of the commercial driver and his employer.
Grossman Law Offices Has the Experience to Litigate Your Claim Against Marten
The unique contributions of reefer truck generators and associated sleep issues to crashes involving this sub-type of vehicle demonstrate why it's so important for victims to have experienced representation from a firm familiar with just about every possible factor that could affect the success or failure of a commercial truck accident claim.
At Grossman Law Offices, we've been litigating cases involving tractor-trailers, refrigerated and otherwise, for almost thirty years, so we're prepared to help you through every stage of your case, from initial investigation to successful settlement or trial. We're proud to have helped hundreds of people hold companies like Marten Transport accountable, and we're ready to do the same for you.
If you've been injured or lost a family member in an accident involving a Marten Transport semi-truck, call 855-326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help. We're available 24/7 to answer your questions.
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