What Victims of Collisions Involving Tyson Foods Vehicles Need to Know
Most people injured in collisions involving commercial vehicles are totally unprepared for the resistance they face as they try to obtain fair compensation from the trucking company. The sad reality is that these companies know they have a significant advantage in legal knowledge and experience over the average person injured by their drivers, which means they have no incentive to offer them a fair deal.
In the case of Tyson Foods, the story of one civil case involving the company should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone harmed by their drivers. It involved a clearly negligent trucker, failures of oversight, and an intractable resistance to settlement that led to the company being sanctioned by the court. Acclaimed Dallas attorney Michael Grossman explains.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is Tyson Foods?
- How many crashes leading to injury or death has the company been involved in?
- What does the company's behavior in the Brumfield case suggest for victims?
What is Tyson Foods?
You're probably familiar with Tyson Foods from purchasing their chicken products at the grocery store. But what you may not know is that they transport it to stores using the 11th-largest private trucking fleet in the country. With more then 2,400 trucks driven by 2,500 drivers, it traveled more than 170 million miles in 2017. The company generated a total of $38 billion in revenue that year.
Over the last two years, federal government data indicates the company has been involved in 189 crashes, with 66 resulting in injuries and 6 leading to fatalities. Although this information alone doesn't show who was at fault for any of these wrecks, when this many occur, it stands to reason that at least some of them were probably caused by a Tyson driver's carelessness.
While the details of most of these incidents aren't matters of public record, one that is creates significant questions about how Tyson is likely to approach cases against them after a collision. While the Brumfield case ultimately ended in a substantial award for the family of the young man killed by a Tyson driver's negligence, the company's unreasonable behavior on the way to that resolution came as a shock to both judge and jury. (It's important to note that our firm was not involved in any aspect of this case.)
The Lessons of Brumfield v. Tyson Foods for Victims
Even when they learn that they can't just file a claim with the defendant's insurance and be reimbursed, victims may still make the mistake of assuming that a trucking company will act as a reasonable participant in negotiations, and that eventually, they'll be able to reach a fair settlement.
While this can sometimes be true, especially if you have legal support on your side able to bring a strong case to the table, it's generally safer to assume that they'll instead act unreasonably enough that going to trial will be the only way to reach a just resolution. The Brumfield case provides a good object lesson to illustrate this point.
In May 2004, Daniel Brumfield's pickup was traveling on a two-lane highway, in the opposite direction from Dale Friesen's Tyson semi-truck, when Friesen's vehicle moved into the westbound lane, attempting to pass other vehicles in a marked no passing zone. The 18-wheeler then collided head-on with Mr. Brumfield's truck, resulting in his death on impact.
Mr. Brumfield's parents filed a wrongful death suit against Tyson Foods, alleging damages of $10 million. In mediation (negotiation between plaintiffs and defendants to avoid a trial) the company offered $200,000, an insultingly low amount for parents who had lost their son. Negotiations went back and forth for almost two more years before the suit finally went to trial, with a jury ultimately awarding the family $7 million in damages.
The judge in the case also awarded pre-judgment interest (payment for the time elapsed between the filing of a claim and the payment of a judgement) citing Tyson's failure to make a good faith settlement offer and attempts to stonewall the plaintiff's requests for evidence. He based the ruling on his belief that the company's offers were "well under a rational evaluation of what the case was worth" and even lower than its own attorneys' estimates for fair compensation.
There are a few important lessons here for those harmed in a crash involving Tyson vehicles. First and most importantly, there's no crash scenario damning enough for a company to just decide there's no defense they can offer, throw up their hands, and pull out their checkbooks to make victims whole.
Even when a case seems open and shut, the company's defense team have years of experience finding ways of trying to blame the wreck on you or your loved one. The 18-wheeler may have been blocking the road, but what if your car was traveling too fast? You and your passengers may have seen the semi-truck enter your lane, but that's not how its driver or the witnesses his employer leaned on will tell the story.
The bottom line is that, like Daniel Brumfield's family, the only way you can have a strong chance of obtaining fair compensation for your losses in a commercial vehicle crash is obtaining the help of an experienced semi-truck accident attorney who can do what's necessary to hold the company accountable.
Grossman Law Offices Has The Know-How to Help Your Case Succeed
We know you've suffered a lot as a result of being involved in a commercial vehicle wreck. While we're sympathetic to the pain you've endured, just presenting an account of your losses won't ensure you receive compensation from those responsible unless you're able to prove their liability to the extent required by law. And that requires legal help able to take on all of the challenges required to do so, including getting the evidence you need from a company with no incentive to provide it.
At Grossman Law Offices, we've been successfully litigating commercial vehicle accident cases for almost 30 years, so we're ready to deal with all of the complications raised by these complex claims. Our independent investigators will determine what actually happened in the crash, while our attorneys have the legal knowledge to effectively counter whatever defenses or evasions a trucking company may throw our way.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a Tyson Foods semi-truck, 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 answer your questions.
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