What Victims of Crashes Involving System Transport Vehicles Need to Know
Most people injured in a wreck involving a tractor-trailer have never been involved in one before. This means that they're likely to underestimate how complex and challenging the legal process of recovering the costs of their injuries from the trucking company can be.
While these cases all share some degree of similarity, unique attributes of the specific company involved can also come into play. In the case of System Transport, the extent of its insurance coverage may affect how aggressively the company attempts to fight claims against it. 18-wheeler accident attorney Michael Grossman explains how victims can overcome whatever strategies the company might deploy to hold it accountable.
Questions Answered On This Page:
- What is System Transport?
- How many collisions involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
- How could the company's substantial insurance coverage affect claims against them?
What is System Transport?
System Transport is the primary operating subsidiary of Trans-System, Inc. based in Cheney, WA, which is the 91st-largest trucking company in the U.S. The parent company's roughly 1,000 semi-trucks and 1,100 drivers traveled around 100 million miles in 2017, generating $271 million in revenue.
Over the last two years, data from the federal government indicates that those vehicles have been involved in 96 crashes, of which 18 have led to injuries and 3 have resulted in fatalities. It's important to note that this information doesn't show who was at fault for any of these wrecks, although it's likely that at least some number of them were caused by a careless employee of the company.
While almost every trucking company's drivers are involved in collisions that lead to others being injured or killed, not all of them are as well-insured for the ensuing losses as System Transport, which maintains an insurance policy of $5 million. And when an insurance company has that much money on the line, it's likely to fight that much harder to avoid paying claims.
How Trans-System's Substantial Insurance May Affect Your Case
While some commercial transportation companies are safer than others, there's an inherent risk involved in vehicles as large and heavy as 18-wheelers traveling down our nation's roadways, which is why federal and state governments mandate that companies carry certain minimum amounts of liability insurance to cover losses from any crashes caused by their drivers.
Federal law requires a minimum of $750,000 in insurance, while most states have their own requirements for companies based within their borders. For example, the state of Texas, where our firm is based, requires an additional $250,000 in coverage, for a total of $1 million. Companies carrying hazardous freight have much higher requirements as well.
Given the costs involved, most companies aren't eager to purchase more insurance than they have to, but some trucking companies opt for the cost certainty of more insurance. Trans-System is one of those companies and carries $5 million in liability insurance. While that may mean that there's more available for victims to collect from after a crash, it also means their insurer is likely to be more motivated than they otherwise would be to defend any claims against them.
To see how being so heavily insured can affect the behavior of an insurance company, just consider how hard they fight in ordinary car crashes, where they may only have $60,000 or so on the line at worst. Now imagine that they're instead insured for hundreds of times that amount, and you'll have some idea of what to expect after a crash with a Trans-System 18-wheeler.
You may wonder why this matters, since there's nothing that the insurance company can do after the fact to change what actually happened in the collision. While this is true, a civil suit is not necessarily decided based on what actually took place, but on one side's ability to convince a jury that their presentation of events is more likely to be accurate.
Because of this, an insurance company's legal team doesn't have to go back in time and "undo" the negligent behavior of the driver responsible for your losses. All they have to do is prevent you from obtaining the evidence you need to prove your case, successfully impeach your credibility, and offer an alternative theory that they hope you won't have the legal resources to disprove.
The foundation of any successful civil suit is evidence, and most of it is in the hands of the trucking company, which has every interest in getting to that evidence quickly, tampering with it if they can, and keeping it out of your hands if they can't. While there are ways to compel them to hand over whatever you need to prove your account of events, all of them require the help of an attorney with experience handling claims involving commercial vehicles.
While keeping evidence safely under their control is one effective way for a company to resist accountability, it's not the only one available. For example, if the pain from your injuries varies from day to day, and you post pictures on social media of you having fun with your family on a day when it isn't as bad, an investigator for the insurance company might attempt to use it against you, suggesting that you couldn't possibly have been as badly injured as you claim.
Finally, even if the facts of the case aren't in their favor and their investigations don't turn up anything that can undermine your credibility, the insurance company's legal team always has the option of presenting an alternative theory of events that puts some or all of the blame for what happened somewhere other than the semi-truck's driver.
We've seen many seemingly absurd stories deployed for this purpose. They've included phantom vehicles that mysteriously appeared just to cut off the tractor-trailer before vanishing over the horizon and brakes on an 18-wheeler that allegedly failed just in time for it to strike our client's car from behind, yet were in perfect condition by the time we examined them.
These alternative theories may seem too implausible to be effective, but they don't have to completely exonerate the company's driver, as long as they shift some amount of blame away from them, and preferably onto another party who's not available for questioning. Depending on the comparative fault laws of the state in which your crash occurred, a defense attorney's success in doing so could greatly reduce the amount you're able to collect for your injuries.
Again, the only way to combat these desperate tactics is to obtain the help of a commercial vehicle injury attorney who knows exactly what evidence is needed to prove your case, and how to legally compel the trucking company to turn it over for your use. With that vital resource in hand, an attorney who knows what he's doing will be able to put together an argument that will either convince the company to come to the table, or hold them accountable at trial.
Grossman Law Offices Has The Experience to Protect Your Interests
The effects of significant insurance amounts on a company's level of resistance to your claims are just one of the many complex issues that can affect the success or failure of litigation after a semi-truck crash. To protect your interests, it's important to have the help of attorneys who know how to overcome the distortions and evasions of the other side.
At Grossman Law Offices, we have almost 30 years of experience litigating commercial truck accident injury and wrongful death cases, which means we've seen and overcome just about everything that trucking companies and their insurers are capable of. Whatever the circumstances of your case, we're ready to do the same for you.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a crash involving a System Transport 18-wheeler, please call 855-326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're available whenever you are, day or night. And you won't owe us anything unless we resolve your case successfully.
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