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What Victims Should Expect from Litigation Against Pilot Flying J After A Collision

If you want to avoid being taken advantage of, it's important to be judicious about where you place your trust. And looking at their prior behavior is usually the best way to evaluate someone's trustworthiness, whether it's a person or a business. This is especially true for victims of crashes caused by a commercial vehicle, because deciding whether or not to trust the promises of the company responsible could mean the difference between receiving fair compensation or pennies on the dollar.

In the case of Pilot Flying J, there's even less reason than there might otherwise be for someone harmed by one of their vehicles to take their word when they promise to "take care of everything." In light of recent accusations of major fraud by top executives of the company, there's little reason to expect them to do the right thing in your situation. Semi-truck accident attorney and Million Dollar Advocates Forum™ Member Michael Grossman explains how victims can protect their interests.

Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is Pilot Flying J?
  • How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
  • What do recent fraud accusations against the company's former management suggest for victims?

Pilot Flying J Quick Facts
Crash statistics from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data

What is Pilot Flying J?

Founded in 1958 in Gate City, VA, Pilot Flying J operates the largest chain of truck stops in the country, with 2017 revenues of more than $20 billion. It also controls the 33rd-largest private transportation fleet, with roughly 1,000 trucks and almost 2,000 drivers, which traveled more than 120 million miles that year.

Federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 105 wrecks over the past two years, with 31 leading to injuries and 7 resulting in fatalities. While it's impossible to say for sure how many, the law of averages dictates that at least some of these events were likely caused by a Pilot driver's negligence.

While Pilot Flying J has been successful enough to be purchased by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in 2017, the company has also made headlines for legal proceedings against several former executives in connection with fraud worth tens of millions of dollars. Although those involved may no longer work for the company, the suggestions it makes about its corporate culture are nevertheless troubling, and should give victims pause before believing their promises.

Why The Fraud Charges Against Pilot Flying J's Former Management Matter

It's a challenging time to be managing a billion-dollar business. Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to demonize your hard work. To make matters worse, you aren't even getting as much for yourself as you might like. So why not find a way to skim a little off the top and hope no one ever finds out?

This at least seems to be the thought process of the many senior executive involved with the wide- ranging and long-running scheme to defraud drivers who purchased diesel fuel at Pilot Flying J locations. Without getting too deep into the weeds, it worked like this: Pilot offered trucking companies discounts on each gallon of gas their drivers purchased, then paid them a rebate slightly less than than the agreed-upon amount, hoping the management wouldn't be financially sophisticated enough to notice the difference.

While the amount shaved off was only a few cents at a time, it ultimately added up to millions in illicit proceeds. And because the company determined commissions for its executives and sales staff based on the company's apparent profitability, goosing revenues in this fashion also meant a substantial increase in their compensation.

The legal questions raised by this matter, which ultimately cost customers almost $60 million, have now been pretty well resolved: those responsible were convicted and the company ultimately paid $177 million in civil and criminal fines. Although the guilty parties may have departed, one has to wonder if the kind of corporate culture that would encourage such abuses has been completely extirpated, particularly given that the CEO present when it occurred is still at the helm.

It's risky to trust your family's financial well-being to a company with a documented history of failing to honor its word.

Of course, it's fair for you to wonder why any of this misconduct should be of interest to you as the victim of a Pilot driver's carelessness. It's not as though fraudulent behavior from years ago could have contributed to a company driver taking his eyes off the road or attempting an ill-advised lane change.

On the other hand, companies like Pilot Flying J are practiced in turning any situation to that advantage, and that includes collisions where one of their fleet drivers is at fault. If the behavior of other trucking companies we've litigated against is any indication, you're likely to hear offers from their employees to take care of all your expenses, in return for your signature on a simple contract. What they don't tell you is that this document is actually a waiver, releasing them from any responsibility for the crash, and once you sign it, you won't be able to get a dime from them, no matter what you do.

Conversely, you may find them promising to get back to you with a strong offer once their investigation is complete. This stalling tactic is intended to run out the clock, with the hope being that by the time you finally get around to hiring an attorney, the statute of limitations (time limit for filing suit) on your claim will have almost expired. Since most personal injury lawyers won't take a case unless they have enough time to finish their investigation, the more time that's elapsed between the crash and your first call to us, the better it is for the company.

In short, it's never a good idea to trust a company to "do the right thing" when that could entail them paying out millions of dollars. And it's even more risky to trust your family's financial well-being to a company with a documented history of failing to honor its word. If you want to make sure that those responsible for your losses are held properly accountable, it's important to ensure you have the help of a legal team whose record proves they deserve your trust.

Why You Can Trust Grossman Law Offices to Have Your Back

Even knowing that the obstacles in your way require legal help to overcome, it can be hard to know who you can rely on. So many firms claim to be the best, hold up sledgehammers in ads, or use other spectacular tricks to get your attention. Our firm doesn't go in for that kind of showboating, because we think our record of success and clients who swear by us speaks for itself.

At Grossman Law Offices, we have almost 30 years of experience successfully litigating semi-truck accident injury and wrongful death cases, so you can count on us to pursue yours with the care and dedication it deserves. With the evidence obtained from a thorough investigation, presented at trial in a compelling narrative, there's no amount of legal trickery that will enable Pilot Flying J to evade accountability.

If you've been injured or lost a loved on in a collision involving a Pilot Flying J vehicle, please call (855) 326-0000 to learn how our attorneys can help you. We're here 24 hours a day 7 days a week to hear your story and advise you about your next steps.

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