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What Victims Need to Know About Claims Against Prairie Farms Dairy After A Crash

After being harmed by a semi-truck collision, you might expect the trucking company to act as an honest broker, realize that one of their drivers made a mistake, and pay compensation appropriate to the losses you've suffered. But as a firm that's sued these companies time and time again on behalf of the injured , we can tell you that they generally approach civil claims more like gladiatorial combat than a cordial negotiation. This is largely because the profit margins for these companies tend to be pretty tight, meaning they have to fight to cut costs wherever they can, including legal judgments against them.

For dairy companies, like Prairie Farms Dairy, the challenges facing that industry are likely to only intensify the perceived financial pressures of a civil suit. That means you're likely to face the full measure of tactics available for pushing back against your claim, and if you want to achieve a fair outcome, you need someone in your corner who can defend you against them and advance your case effectively. Semi-truck accident attorney and 2019 Texas Super Lawyer™ Michael Grossman explains how victims can protect their interests.


Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is Prairie Farms Dairy?
  • How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
  • What impacts could the troubled state of the dairy industry have on litigation against Prairie Farms?

Crash statistics obtained from public records of the Federal Motor Carrier Administration

What is Prairie Farms Dairy?

Founded in 1938, dairy cooperative Prairie Farms Dairy delivers milk products using the 57th largest private commercial fleet in the U.S. and generated $3 billion in revenue in 2018. The company's roughly 800 vehicles and 900 drivers traveled more than 20 million miles in 2017.

Over the last two years, federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 32 crashes, of which 8 have led to injuries and 1 has resulted in at least one person's death. While these numbers don't allow us to draw any solid conclusions about who was responsible for these incidents, there's a decent chance that at least some of them were the result of a Prairie Farms driver's negligence.

While no company wants to have to pay the massive costs associated with an injury or wrongful death suit, the extent to which they fight back against a claim can also vary somewhat based on their situation. For Prairie Farms Dairy, the recent troubles of the dairy industry may have them feeling threatened enough to defend themselves with everything they have, and that should be cause for great concern.

Why the Troubles of the Dairy Industry Could End Up Being Yours

If you've recently switched from traditional milk to oat or almond substitutes, you're not alone. Whatever the reasons, whether health, distaste, or simply a desire to save money, more and more consumers are abandoning this former household staple. While that may be good news for our bodies, it's very bad news for dairy producers, with one major organization of dairy farmers seeing their total income drop more than a billion dollars from 2018 to 2019. Stories in major media outlets abound of small farms shuttering across Wisconsin and other states with large dairy economies.

The most prominent sign of trouble occurred when Dean Foods, the largest dairy company in the U.S., recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While some of the company's difficulties undeniably stemmed from poor management, declining consumer demand also played a role. Although Prairie Farms is a privately held company that doesn't have to release public information about its financial performance, the troubled economic fundamentals for dairy as a whole mean those in charge are likely to be in a panicked mood.

If we're prudent, when you or I find ourselves facing a looming financial challenge, we're likely to prepare by cutting back our expenses and building up our savings. Well-managed companies behave in much the same way, except that their attempts to cut back often don't come in the form of fewer movie theater trips or dinners out, but in attempts to reduce the amounts they have to pay out in civil litigation.

What makes the cost of litigation such an attractive target for businesses facing a challenging environment? For the most part, the expenses a company incurs to transport its goods are relatively fixed. As the management of a major company, you can only cut the size of your fleet so much before the resulting lack of capacity becomes more expensive than it's worth, and payments for fuel and insurance are largely outside your control.

Your obligation to prove that the defendant actually caused the harms you've suffered gives the company plenty of opportunity to undermine your ability to do so in various ways.

It might seem to you that the company's concerns about their industry are more or less irrelevant in this situation: it's their fault, so they'll have to pay up, right? But this isn't quite how the law works. The underlying events that actually occurred are only significant if you're able to prove them according to the rules of our civil justice system. And that can be incredibly difficult to accomplish without an attorney's help.

At first, it might seem unfair that you should have to go through the expense and trouble of hiring legal counsel when the defendant is obviously in the wrong. But looking at things from a broader perspective, imagine if you and the company both came up and made your case, with their representatives spinning out whatever wild embellishments or outright lies they can come up with to shift the blame elsewhere, and a judge or jury were tasked with deciding for themselves which story they found more believable. Without much verified evidence to go on, they could end up reaching a decision based on how nervous you appeared when testifying or some other arbitrary factor.

While there are very good reasons for it, your obligation to prove that the defendant actually caused the harms you've suffered with concrete evidence does give the company plenty of opportunity to make it harder for you to obtain it. Just for starters, they can remove their vehicle from the scene, repair any mechanical issues, and wipe the engine control module to remove any evidence of hard braking or other careless behavior before the crash. (With the help of an experienced semi-truck accident attorney, you can ultimately obtain sanctions against the company for this or similar behavior.)

Once the trial actually begins, you can expect the company's attorneys to do all they can to undermine your credibility and reduce the jury's sympathy for you. They may try to argue that your treating physicians weren't properly qualified to diagnose your injuries, that the damage was actually the result of a preexisting condition, or that you somehow contributed to the wreck through your own carelessness.

The good news is that all of these strategies have one thing in common: companies don't resort to them unless they know their employee was at fault for what happened. And when that's the case, there's always evidence that proves it, which no amount of spin or dubious accusations can overcome. However, because that evidence is the property of the defendant, you can't obtain it for use in your case without a valid subpoena approved by a judge. Drafting one properly is a complex task that requires the help of an experienced commercial vehicle accident attorney.

Grossman Law Offices Is Ready to Hold Prairie Farms Dairy Accountable

The challenges posed by taking on a company whose industry is facing significant financial challenges are just some of the hundreds which could potentially arise in the course of any commercial vehicle accident litigation. Unless you have legal help that knows how to overcome all of these potential obstacles, your success is far from guaranteed.

At Grossman Law Offices, we have almost thirty years of experience successfully litigating injury and wrongful death cases involving commercial vehicles, against companies in all branches of the transportation industry. That means we're ready to fight back against whatever a company like Prairie Farms can throw at us, putting you in the strongest position possible to receive the compensation you deserve.

If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a Prairie Farms Dairy vehicle, please call (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're available any time, day or night, to give you advice about your next steps.


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