What Victims Should Know About Litigation Against Sanderson Farms
A lack of investigative resources often leaves people injured in crashes involving commercial vehicles at a disadvantage when pursuing legal action. Without experienced help, it's unlikely they'll even be able to determine what actually happened in the crash, much less prove it to the extent the law requires. Having the right representation also enables you to tell a jury an understandable, compelling story about how a company's behavior contributed to a wreck and the harms you've suffered as a result, which is essential to obtaining fair compensation.
In the case of crashes involving Sanderson Farms vehicles, it's especially important to arrange for a thorough investigation, given the company's behavior in a prior case, where a driver drove well over their mandated hours of service. Fortunately, the intervention of an attorney was eventually able to resolve the matter in the plaintiff's favor. Dallas semi-truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains why that's so important.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is Sanderson Farms?
- How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
- What does a past case involving the company suggest for victims?
What is Sanderson Farms?
Founded in 1947, Sanderson Farms is currently the third-largest producer of chicken products in the U.S., and operates the nation's 90th-largest commercial transportation fleet. Its roughly 600 semi-trucks and drivers traveled more than 25 million miles in 2018, helping the company generate more than $3 billion in revenue that year.
Over the last two years, federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 27 crashes, of which 9 have led to injuries and 5 have caused fatalities. It's important to note, of course, that this data doesn't say anything about who's responsible for any of these collisions. But given the numbers involved, it's quite likely that a Sanderson Farms driver is to blame for at least some portion of them.
While there's not much public information about the actual events of these wrecks, there is one case from a few years ago that may suggest a significant issue with the company's safety practices. It involved a truck driver who had been working for almost thirty hours over his mandated limits when his 18-wheeler crashed into a woman's car from behind, causing severe injuries to her infant child.
Why A Case Involving A Sanderson Farms Driver Matters for Yours
It's an uncertain world, and it can be hard to know who to trust. While it's not foolproof, examining how people and companies have behaved in the past is one way we make the process easier. Although it's certainly possible for companies to improve after being caught engaging in dubious practices, that usually requires both significant consequences and real willingness to change.
For Sanderson Farms, the bad behavior in one case is hard to dispute. While it's hard to determine whether or not the negative consequences they suffered were sufficient motivation to improve, it's safest to err on the side of caution and not assume that to be the case. (Full disclosure: all of this information is in the public record and our firm was not involved in any aspect of this case.)
The relevant events occurred in November 2013 in Waco, TX. A woman driving a passenger car was waiting to turn onto Timberview Lane from Highway 340. Joshua Frank Perkins' Sanderson Farms semi-truck then struck her vehicle from behind, injuring the woman and her 2 children, who were 2 years old and infant-age, respectively.
While the woman and her older son suffered relatively minor injuries, the younger child sustained a fractured skull, collapsed lung, and massive brain damage. These injuries left him with severe brain damage and significant lifelong incapacities: at 3 years old, he is still unable to speak, walk, or crawl.
After the plaintiff (referred to only by her initials in the complaint) obtained legal help, her attorneys' investigation determined that Mr. Perkins had been working hours well over the legal limits for commercial drivers in the week before the collision. Despite presenting shifting accounts of what actually happened to police, they also discovered he had told his girlfriend about falling asleep behind the wheel just before the wreck.
This case illustrates why the federal agency that regulates commercial transportation, the FMCSA, limits drivers to 60 hours of on-duty time in a 7-day period. While not all time considered "on duty" involves driving, the level of risk that this occupation involves demands a level of care and attention that simply isn't possible without adequate rest. When drivers or their employers allow them to work beyond mandated limits, drowsy driving and even falling asleep behind the wheel is often the result, with potentially tragic consequences.
It would be easy to pin all of this on the individual driver. One might argue that they ultimately make the decision to either keep driving or stop for a rest break if they don't feel safe doing so. But this view betrays a lack of understanding about how trucking actually works. In theory, drivers are permitted to refuse instructions to continue if they feel unsafe, and forbidden from being punished or fired for doing so. In practice, they know that drivers who don't play ball with their dispatcher's demands are likely to find new loads being offered to someone who will and that those who complain often end up looking for new jobs with a black mark on their records.
This implicit coercion is one reason that trucking companies, like other employers, are held legally responsible when their employees' carelessness kills or injures someone. Unless they're working as independent contractors, drivers of commercial vehicles, including Mr. Perkins, simply aren't able to drive over their HOS limits without their employer knowing and either implicitly or explicitly approving.
However, this case also illustrates the importance of obtaining the help of an attorney able to conduct a comprehensive, independent investigation into your crash. Because Mr. Perkins presented so many shifting statements about what happened, the plaintiff in this case would have had no way of determining or proving the true course of events without help.
We should note that these events took place almost six years ago, which is plenty of time for Sanderson Farms to better ensure their drivers and dispatchers follow HOS regulations. But assuming that they've actually done so, and that driver fatigue from overwork played no role in the crash that harmed you, would be a risky and potentially expensive gamble.
Grossman Law Offices Has The Experience to Litigate Your Claim Against Sanderson Farms
When trying to hold a company the size of Sanderson Farms accountable after a collision involving one of their vehicles, an overworked driver's exhaustion is just one of the many potential causes that a thorough investigation might uncover. And that investigation is just the first step of a long and complex process, with every step presenting new opportunities for the company's defense team to avoid liability.
While there are many attorneys who claim they're the best choice to take on your tractor-trailer accident claim, not many of them can claim our nearly thirty years of experience successfully litigating them. We have a history of strong results for our clients and have even been rated among the top ten firms in America for client satisfaction by a leading trade organization.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a wreck involving a Sanderson Farms vehicle, please call (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call.
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