Texas Badge

Have You Been Injured or Lost a Family Member In A Crash Involving a Roadrunner Freight Carriers Truck?

Unlike standard car accidents, where it's sometimes possible to get fair compensation without being a lawyer, commercial truck accidents are several orders of magnitude more complex. When the vast majority of practicing personal injury attorneys have a difficult time successfully litigating commercial truck accident cases, what chance does the average person who's just suffered a catastrophic injury have of ensuring that their case prevails? Acclaimed truck accident attorney Michael Grossman discusses in greater detail this question and others relevant to the victims of 18-wheeler collisions.

Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is Roadrunner Freight Carriers?
  • How many accidents have Roadrunner's drivers been involved in?
  • Why is the independent contractor-employee distinction important for accident victims?

Roadrunner Transportation Systems Quick Facts
Crash statistics courtesy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

What is Roadrunner Freight Carriers?

Roadrunner Freight Carriers, Inc. is the largest subsidiary of parent company Roadrunner Transportation Systems, Inc. Other companies under the Roadrunner umbrella include: Roadrunner Temperature Controlled, Roadrunner Intermodal Services, and Active Aero Group. Over the last two years, the parent company's 3,183 trucks and 2,195 drivers have driven more than 153 million miles. Its total revenues in 2017 were $2 billion, while its net income represented a loss of about $91 million.

Regarding the company's fleet, it's worth noting that only 1,361 of its trucks are actually owned by the company and driven by its employees, while 2,264 are under the control of owner-operators, which Roadrunner treats as independent contractors. The significance of the distinction may not seem especially apparent now, but as we will detail later on, it can mean everything for the victim of an accident.

According to records from federal regulators, employee drivers for all of Roadrunner Transportation Systems' various subsidiaries were involved in 189 reported accidents, with 62 of those resulting in injuries and 6 leading to deaths. To place the company's accident statistics in proper perspective, it's important to note that the government data does not make a determination of fault in any given crash.

However, it's worth noting that these statistics represent only those accidents involving trucks owned and drivers employed by Roadrunner proper, not those involving independent drivers contracted with them. While, for a company of its size, 189 crashes in a given year would be considered a nearly miraculous safety record, those numbers leave out any crashes involving the two-thirds of Roadrunner-affiliated trucks driven by independent contractors.

Depending on whether the driver involved in a crash is classified as an independent contractor or an employee, a victim may need to sue either Roadrunner itself or the contractor's trucking company. Without someone in a victim's corner who knows how to determine and demonstrate to a jury which classification is appropriate, they could find their chance for justice denied on a technicality.

The Significance of the Independent Contractor-Employee Distinction

From the outside looking in, determining whether someone providing transportation services should be classified as an employee or an independent contractor may seem like it should be a fairly straightforward process. However, when we look at the incentives for a company to have someone on their payroll as an employee vs. hiring an independent contractor, it's easy to see how quickly the waters can become muddied.

The main benefit of employees is that a company has the ability to exercise greater control over their actions. Employers can tell their employees what tasks to perform, when to perform them, and how they should be completed. This control comes at a price. Employers are on the hook for both whatever employee benefits they provide, and any expenses employees accrue when and if they screw up.

As a consequence, it sometimes makes sense for employers to forego the control they're able to exert over an employee in exchange for the cost savings that come from using independent contractors. Of course, in many cases, things become more complicated than this explanation would imply, because the management of a company, wanting to have the best of both worlds, misclassifies workers who are functionally employees as independent contractors.

In the trucking industry specifically, this entails managers telling their "independent contractors" when they have to work, what equipment they're required to use, and the conditions under which they have to haul their loads. If that state of affairs sounds like it describes an employee, that's because it does.

The way that all of this impacts truck accident injury victims is that when such employees in all-but-name screw up and kill or injure someone, the trucking company is able to wash its hands, claim the driver was an independent contractor doing their own thing, and assert that the company is therefore not responsible for any crash the driver caused.

The reason the law holds employers responsible for the actions of their employees is that employers, through the procedures and guidelines they set up, are in the best position to prevent their employees from behaving dangerously while on the job. It also stands to reason that when a trucking company treats its independent contractors like employees, the company's decisions and policies, if insufficiently prudent or laxly enforced, can lead to accidents. Thankfully, the determination of whether a driver is an employee or an independent contractor isn't the trucking company's to make, but a question of fact that our legal system leaves up to juries.

Inexperienced truck accident attorneys, who might only handle one or two of these kinds of cases in a whole career, might inadvertently damage a client's case by taking a company like Roadrunner at its word that an independent contractor is properly classified as such, instead of carefully investigating the issue for themselves. This hurts victims, because it lets a potentially liable party out of their lawsuit, when the whole purpose of truck accident litigation is to hold wrongdoers accountable for the harms they inflict.

Grossman Law Offices Has The Experience To Handle Every Aspect of Your Case

Potential misclassification of employees as independent contractors is just one of the dozens of complex factors which, if not properly handled, can impact the success or failure of truck accident litigation. A company with as significant a presence as Roadrunner has a wealth of legal resources at its disposal to defend itself from the just claims of victims.

If you or a family member have been killed or injured by their negligence, you deserve no less. At Grossman Law Offices, we've been helping level the playing field for plaintiffs in hundreds of truck accident cases over the course of almost thirty years. In that time, our truck accident injury and wrongful death attorneys have seen just about every argument that trucking companies can make.

To find out how we can put that experience to work for you, call us at (855) 326-0000. We're available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Related Articles for Further Reading: