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Important Information for Victims of Crashes Involving Melton Truck Lines Vehicles

Technology has allowed humanity to make incredible advances, in domains from medicine to the corporate world. Yet all that advancement hasn't come without significant costs. Similar trade offs apply to the incorporation of safety devices on commercial vehicles: even as they help to prevent collisions, they can also complicate efforts to hold the trucking company accountable.

In the case of Melton Truck Lines, which makes extensive use of various safety technologies across its fleet, victims could potentially find those devices either a blessing or a curse, depending on whether they have the help of an attorney able to effectively use the evidence it leaves behind. Dallas semi-truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains why.

Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is Melton Truck Lines?
  • How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
  • How could the company's extensive use of safety technology affect litigation against them?

Crash statistics from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data

What is Melton Truck Lines?

Founded in 1954, Tulsa-based Melton Truck Lines, which specializes in transportation of construction materials, grain, and hay, is now the 92nd-largest commercial transportation company in the U.S., with 2017 revenues of just under $270 million. Its roughly 1,300 drivers and tractor-trailers traveled around 130 million miles that year.

Over the last two years, federal government data shows that Melton vehicles have been involved in 134 crashes, including 46 that led to injuries and 1 that resulted in at least one person's death. To be sure, this data can't tell us who was at fault in any of these collisions. On the other hand, it's highly likely that at least some of them were caused by a Melton driver's negligence.

How Melton's Use of Safety Technology Affects Litigation

While it doesn't excuse commercial drivers whose negligent behavior leads to crashes, there's no denying that trucking is one of the more dangerous occupations out there, with government surveys regularly placing it in the top 10 in terms of fatality rates. To reduce that inherent risk, as well as save money on insurance and litigation costs, many companies have installed a host of safety technologies on their vehicles.

Melton Truck Lines has done fairly well in this respect, with a survey by a leading industry publication showing that they make use of all of the major on-board safety devices currently available. These include lane departure warning systems to wake sleepy drivers if their vehicles drift, brakes that can activate autonomously before a rear-end collision, and even in-cab video monitoring to detect distracted driving.

Make no mistake, it's certainly a good thing for a trucking company to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to safety, and having these devices on board Melton's 18-wheelers will hopefully reduce the risk of injuries or deaths from a collision. On the other hand, no technology can entirely compensate for the possibility of human error, and when a crash does happen despite those efforts, a company's use of safety technology can actually make it more difficult for victims to hold them accountable.

You might think, "Why should it matter what technology a company had installed on the truck? It was still their driver's mistake that hurt me!" We'd certainly be inclined to agree, but in the end, what matters is what a jury believes, and the image of a company committed to safety that this technology creates can easily skew how 12 random people see a crash and make the arguments of the defendant's attorneys seem more plausible.

While they may be instructed not to consider their personal opinions of the plaintiff or the defendant when deliberating, it's simply human nature for jurors to look to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. That means they may well be inclined to be more lenient towards a trucking company that seems to be making safety a priority and appears to have just had one bad driver who acted carelessly than they would be to one with a pattern of recklessness and misbehavior.

Safety technology inevitably leaves evidence behind that can be used to prove your case.

To make matters worse, depending on the laws of the state where the collision occurred, a jury doesn't have to believe the trucking company was entirely blameless in a crash for your case to be compromised. Through what are known as comparative fault statutes, many states reduce the amount awarded in civil suits in proportion to the percentage of fault a plaintiff incurs. Others reduce that amount to zero if the plaintiff has more than half or, in the case of a few states, any liability for the crash.

In short, having any significant portion of the fault placed on you as a consequence of the various strategies a company's attorneys have at their disposal, including their image of safety, could result in your receiving substantially less compensation than you deserve. That means being left to deal with both many of the costs you've already incurred, and any you may incur in the future, largely on your own.

Countering this "safety effect" requires you to present enough evidence of what happened in your specific crash to override whatever positive impression a jury may get about the company in general. Among other things, this includes data from any in-vehicle recording equipment, which can show whether the 18-wheeler's driver was distracted or nodding off shortly before the crash.

However, as with any other evidence that might be relevant to your claim, the data from this in-vehicle equipment is only useful to your case if you're able to obtain it from the trucking company. And given that they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by handing it over to you, they won't do so just because you ask.

Fortunately, the civil justice system doesn't leave you totally without options in this situation. By getting help from an attorney able to properly draft a legal subpoena, you can compel companies like Melton to hand over any evidence relevant to your case. If they refuse to do so, they may be subject to fines, a citation for contempt of court, or sanctions that will make it more likely for your case to succeed.

How Grossman Law Offices Can Help You Even the Odds

If you're like most people, you probably hadn't considered the ways in which on-board safety technology could be a double-edged sword for your case. But considering that this is just one of the many potential issues that can arise as your commercial vehicle accident claim proceeds, obtaining the help of an attorney who's familiar with this area of the law is an important first step to holding companies like Melton accountable.

At Grossman Law Offices, we've been successfully litigating these complex claims for almost thirty years, giving us both the legal and practical knowledge required to prevail. Our professional investigators and attorneys will ensure that you have both convincing evidence and strong legal arguments on your side when you go up against the trucking company.

If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a Melton Truck Lines semi-truck, please call 855-325-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions.

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