What Victims Should Know About Litigation Against Trimac Transportation
If you've suffered the often-severe consequences of a tractor-trailer collision, you're probably struggling to deal with a host of difficulties as a result. Unfortunately, making sure the trucking company lives up to their legal obligations by compensating you fairly may prove to be one of the biggest challenges you face.
While any crash involving commercial vehicles involves its share of complexity, going up against companies based in Canada, like Trimac Transportation, adds its own unique challenges. Commercial vehicle accident and wrongful death attorney Michael Grossman explains.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is Trimac Transportation?
- How many accidents involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
- How could the company's base of operations in Canada affect your ability to obtain compensation?
What is Trimac Transportation?
Based in Alberta, British Columbia, Trimac Transportation transports oil and natural gas, as well as various dry bulk products, throughout North America. It is currently listed as the 56th largest trucking company operating in the U.S., with 2017 revenues of just over $575 million.
Trimac's fleet of around 1,000 company-owned semi-trucks and about 800 owner-operated vehicles traveled a bit over 60 million miles in 2017. Over the last two years, federal government data indicates those trucks have been involved in 74 accidents, with 23 leading to injuries and one resulting in at least one person's death.
It's important to emphasize that this data alone can't tell us who was at fault for any given crash. However, given the numbers involved, it's highly likely that at least some percentage were caused by the carelessness of a Trimac driver.
After finding out the company is based in Canada, the average person not well-versed in the law may wonder whether it can still be sued in American courts for a crash. Fortunately for victims and their families, the law does allow them to do so. However, it's definitely important for them to have the help of an attorney to avoid the disadvantages of the trucking company trying the case elsewhere.
How Could Trimac's Canadian Incorporation Affect Your Case?
The question of where a company can be legally sued for injuries caused by their employee falls under the area of the law known as jurisdiction. You may recall this term from TV shows about law enforcement, where it refers to which agency has authority to investigate and prosecute a particular crime.
Questions of jurisdiction are also involved in civil suits, although in that situation they instead relate to which court is permitted to hear a particular case. Generally speaking, where the incident causing someone's losses occurred in the state where they reside, this is a fairly straightforward issue: the proper forum to hear their suit is a state court where the injury occurred.
However, in cases where a company, like Trimac, is incorporated in another country, the situation can become a bit more complicated. While there are a host of ways in which a foreign company can be placed under the authority of U.S. courts, all of them require the help of an attorney with extensive knowledge of both personal injury law and the law of jurisdiction as it applies to such cases.
The theory of minimum contacts, which states that a company is subject to the jurisdiction of a state's courts if it conducts business activities within the state, provides one avenue for an attorney to argue for keeping litigation in the U.S. These business activities could include filing paperwork to become a company with its secretary of state, selling goods within it, or bringing property into the state. While the determination of whether a company had minimum contacts in a given state is ultimately a question of law to be decided by a judge, it's likely that the activity of transporting freight through it for profit would qualify.
Although there may be a compelling case to be made in favor of maintaining venue in the U.S., no legal argument does you much good unless you're able to present it as the law requires. Trying to litigate your case on your own, or hiring an inexperienced attorney who's never handled a case involving a foreign defendant, could result in a ruling on jurisdiction that severely compromises your ability to obtain fair compensation from a company like Trimac.
Even if the theory of minimum contacts would suggest that claims against a foreign company should be heard in U.S. courts, the company's lawyers could still offer their own argument to move a case to a Canadian court, based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens.
This essentially involves the company arguing that having to litigate the case in an American court would be excessively burdensome, or that it would involve excessive inconvenience on the part of its witnesses. While these arguments are fairly easy for a well-prepared attorney to refute, they can still potentially succeed if not met with adequate resistance.
You may wonder why it's so important to ensure that venue remains here. Leaving aside the inherent advantage for a trucking company's attorneys in litigating a case on their home turf and under their own nation's law, personal injury claims in Canada are also subject to a significant cap on an important category of civil compensation, a restriction not present in most of the U.S.
To understand why a cap on these damages is such a major issue, we need to go back to legal basics for a minute. A core purpose of our civil justice system is making victims of negligence whole to the greatest extent possible. To accomplish this, it allows for two common types of damages to be awarded: economic damages, which compensate victims for objective, quantifiable costs, like medical bills and lost wages, and non-economic damages, sometimes called "pain and suffering" damages. These are awarded for more subjective, but still very palpable losses, like being deprived of your spouse's company and help for the rest of your life.
As challenging as it might be, try to imagine what kind of price you would put on all of the support and joy your spouse or child brings to your life. They may not have been generating wages from working, but the value of what they brought to your life is still massive, to the point that a jury can only do its best to approximate it when determining how much compensation to award. Now consider that the Canadian civil justice system caps all of the damages you would receive for being forever deprived of that loved one at $300,000, and you may have a better idea of why it's so important to ensure your case is litigated here. Suffering the loss of someone close to you due to the negligence of a commercial vehicle driver is terrible enough, without also having that life devalued by an arbitrary damages cap.
While there may be a compelling case to be made in favor of maintaining venue in the U.S., no legal argument does you much good unless you're able to present it as the law requires. Trying to litigate your case on your own, or hiring an inexperienced attorney who's never handled a case involving a foreign defendant, could result in a ruling on jurisdiction that severely compromises your chances of obtaining fair compensation from a company like Trimac.
Grossman Law Offices Is Prepared for Every Complication of Your Case
If you've already suffered the terrible consequences of a commercial vehicle crash, you've got more than enough on your plate without also trying to take on the hundreds of complex legal issues these cases can potentially involve. You deserve legal help that will make sure the compensation you receive isn't subject to the vagaries of the Canadian justice system or the trucking company's attempts to avoid responsibility.
While it's easy to find an attorney who will take commercial vehicle accident cases, it's much harder to find one with as much experience handling them as Grossman Law Offices. Over almost 30 years of practice, we've successfully litigated hundreds of such claims, involving a wide variety of circumstances, and won significant verdicts for our clients. We're ready to put that experience to work for you and your family.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a Trimac Transportation tanker truck, please call 855-326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions.
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