What Crash Victims Should Know About Litigation Against Pitt Ohio Transportation Group
If you've suffered injuries or the loss of someone close to you in a collision involving a vehicle affiliated with Pitt Ohio Transportation Group, you may have a lot of questions. Is the company obligated to pay for my property damage and medical expenses? Can I trust them to do the right thing?
Surprisingly, under our legal system, the answer to the first question is a definite "no." Unless you're able to prove that a person or company caused your losses, there's nothing to compel them to pay anything for your damages. And our long experience litigating cases against trucking companies suggests they'll do everything they can to avoid being held responsible for their employees' negligence, even when it involves a driver who shouldn't have been on the road in the first place. Truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains how this applies to claims against Pitt Ohio.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is the Pitt Ohio Transportation Group?
- How many accidents involving death or injury has the company been involved in?
- How could Pitt Ohio's potential hiring issues impact litigation?
What is Pitt Ohio Transportation Group?
The company known today as the Pitt Ohio Transportation Group originated in 1979 in East Liverpool, Ohio, under the name Pitt Ohio Express. It has since grown to become the 46th largest trucking company in the U.S., incorporating several subsidiaries along the way, including Dohrn Transfer, US Special Delivery, and ECM Transport. The company, which accrued revenues of $715 million in 2017, transports truckload and less-than-truckload freight throughout the East, South, and Southeastern U.S.
Pitt Ohio owns a fleet of around 1,900 trucks and 5,300 trailers, operated by around 5,000 drivers, which traveled around 164 million miles in the most recent year on record. In the course of that travel, its vehicles were involved in 158 crashes, of which 54 involved injuries and 7 led to a person's death.
In the interest of fairness, it's important to note that the federal government agency that gathers these numbers only determines the number of incidents and the consequences, and does not make a finding of fault for any particular crash. That being said, it's almost certain that a Pitt Ohio driver was at fault in at least some amount of the total.
One factor that can lead to commercial truck accidents are questionable standards for hiring drivers. Evidence suggests this may be an issue for Pitt Ohio in particular. While not all federal regulations are in place because they serve a useful purpose, those regarding the qualifications of commercial truck drivers are in place for a good reason, and if a driver who can be shown not to have been properly qualified causes a crash, it could strengthen the case against Pitt Ohio.
How Pitt Ohio Transportation Group's Hiring Practices May Affect Litigation
It would be easy to just assert that there's a problem with Pitt Ohio's hiring practices, but we aren't in the habit of making baseless allegations, so let's let the numbers tell the story. Data from the government's BASIC rating system evaluates carriers on various safety factors on a 1-100 scale. One of those categories, Driver Fitness, evaluates the extent to which drivers for a company are unfit to operate a commercial truck for a host of reasons. Pitt Ohio's score in this area is 44, 10 points worse than the national average of carriers.
These numbers aren't derived from subjective judgments made by inspectors. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration, the agency regulating the industry, derives scores in the Driver Fitness category based on the number of evaluated drivers found to be unfit to drive "due to lack of training, experience, or medical qualifications."
More specifically, in addition to having to acquire and maintain a valid commercial driver's license, operators are required to be 21 or older, be physically healthy enough to safely operate their truck, and not have a criminal record involving the use of illicit substances, driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident, or another felony involving a commercial vehicle. Drivers can also be disqualified for violations of out-of-service orders on themselves or their vehicles, stemming from poor maintenance or working in excess of mandated hours.
To be fair, this data doesn't tell us how many drivers working for Pitt were found to be unqualified, but any amount is obviously too many. How does this happen? The most likely answer is a longstanding shortage of qualified truck drivers across the industry, now estimated at between 60,000 and 100,000 drivers.
While one answer to this shortage is attempting to entice new entrants to the occupation with bonuses, increased pay, and flexible schedules, many companies have gone with the more cost-effective option of instead lowering their hiring standards and hoping they don't get caught.
If, as I mentioned earlier, we aren't able to know what percentage of the crashes Pitt Ohio's drivers were involved in where the responsibility falls on them, it's equally impossible to know what portion of those wrecks were the result of an unqualified truck driver being allowed behind the wheel. But given that many safety directors surveyed indicated that the worst 10% of drivers are responsible for 50% of collisions, it's a major risk factor worth investigating.
Because it isn't something one can demonstrate solely based on the fact pattern of a crash, the only way to determine and prove to a jury that a driver shouldn't have been operating a semi-truck at the time that it occurred is with documentation, such as records of prior safety violations, failed physicals, or criminal convictions.
With the exception of criminal conviction records, all of these documents are either the property of the trucking company or otherwise not accessible, absent a document called a subpoena, requested by an attorney and signed by a judge, that lists the evidence needed for your case and compels the entities in possession to turn it over.
Grossman Law Offices Has The Knowledge and Resources to Handle Your Truck Accident Claim
An unqualified truck driver causing an accident is just one of the many scenarios that could potentially arise in the course of commercial truck accident litigation, and all of them entail an amount of complexity that could overwhelm anyone, especially someone attempting to recover from the devastating consequences of these types of crashes.
You shouldn't have to handle a situation as complex and demanding as a civil suit against a trucking company on your own. And while it's important to hire an attorney, it's even more essential to hire one with a long record of success. At Grossman Law Offices, we've been successfully litigating accidents involving commercial vehicles for almost thirty years, and won multiple awards for obtaining judgments in the millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. Whatever the size of the defendant, we're ready to hold them accountable on your behalf.
If you've been injured or lost a family member in an accident involving a Pitt Ohio vehicle, please call us at 855-326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're available 24/7 to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have.
Related Articles for Further Reading: