Resolving You Western Express 18-Wheeler Crash Is Harder than You Think
Victims of collisions involving commercial trucks often assume that the process of holding the company accountable will be as straightforward as any other crash involving passenger vehicles, but in fact the legal struggle to do so can be surprisingly complicated, even if the actual events seem straightforward.
Because the law places the burden on the injured party to prove that the driver or his employer caused the harms they suffered, acquiring the evidence necessary to do so is crucial to obtaining fair compensation, particularly in cases where mechanical failure contributed to the collision. In this article, award-winning truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains why this may be of special concern in crashes involving Western Express semi-trucks.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is Western Express?
- How many accidents involving death or injury has the company been involved in?
- What does the company's high out-of-service rate mean for litigation against them?
What is Western Express?
Founded in 1991, Nashville, TN-based Western Express is currently the 58th-largest trucking company in the U.S., with 2017 revenues of more than half a billion dollars and net income of around $40 million. It specializes in transport of manufacturing materials, solid waste, beverages and paper products.
The company retains a fleet of around 2,500 tractor-trailers and employee drivers, who together traveled a bit over 300 million miles in 2017. That's further than two round trips from the Earth to Mars.
Over the past two years, federal government data indicates the company's drivers have been involved in a total of 637 wrecks, with 196 leading to injuries and 10 resulting in fatalities. While these statistics don't show who was at fault for any of these crashes, based on the sheer numbers, it's highly likely that at least some portion of the total are the result of carelessness on the part of a Western Express driver.
How Could Western Express' High Out-of-Service Rate Affect Your Case?
Tractor-trailers are complex machines with lots of moving parts, and that means lots of potential points of failure that can lead to a crash. These can include everything from faulty brakes that prevent a semi-truck from stopping in time to avoid a rear-end collision to tires with worn-out tread that suddenly blow out and send the vehicle into the oncoming lane.
The only way to prevent these kinds of collisions is for the company that owns the trucks to keep them properly maintained. By looking at a company's out-of-service rate, or the percentage of its vehicles ordered out of service because a federal inspection found them unsafe to operate, we can quickly evaluate the effectiveness of their maintenance practices. The standard required for semi-trucks to be taken out of service is a pretty high bar, and many people would probably be surprised by the number of mechanical issues a vehicle can have before it's ordered off the road.
While obviously vehicles that aren't in service don't present a danger, the higher a company's out-of-service rate, the greater the likelihood that there are other 18-wheelers in its fleet with mechanical problems severe enough to cause collisions related to mechanical failure, even if they haven't yet been discovered.
Given that the average out-of-service rate across all commercial transportation companies sits at an appalling 20%, when a company's rate is even higher than the average, like Western Express' 24.3%, it's reasonable to wonder whether they're being as careful as they should be about keeping their 18-wheelers in safe operating condition.
You may still wonder how a company's out-of-service rate matters to you as someone injured by a commercial truck crash. Simply put, if a high out-of-service rate can signal an underlying issue with a company's maintenance of its vehicles, it also increases the likelihood that a mechanical issue with the semi-truck that caused your crash contributed to what happened. If that turns out to be the case, it's important that you have the evidence needed to prove it, and that means getting the legal help required to get it from the trucking company, as well as properly introduce it in court.
Ultimately, the only way to determine whether an uncorrected mechanical problem caused a semi-truck crash, is with a thorough inspection of the tractor-trailer by an experienced commercial truck accident investigator. While this is an important first step, proving that a company's failure to perform proper maintenance contributed to the defect also requires access to a many of the company's internal documents. Because trucking companies are required to provide annual reports of maintenance performed on each vehicle, obtaining those reports will allow your lawyer to determine what maintenance was (and wasn't) performed.
However, what all of these pieces of evidence have in common is that they're the legal property of the trucking company. And because their management know how much they stand to lose if it's successfully used against them, they won't just hand documents over at your request. Only a properly drafted subpoena can compel them to do so, and that means getting help from an attorney that knows how to create one that will meet with a judge's approval.
Grossman Law Offices Has The Experience and Passion to Protect Your Interests
A crash caused by mechanical failure presents its own share of unique complications, and those are just a few of the many legal challenges involved in pursuing a commercial vehicle accident claim. Trucking companies have plenty of experience defending their financial interests, which means victims without adequate legal help will have little chance of obtaining a judgement that properly compensates them for their losses. But with one decision, you can make sure that doesn't happen in your case.
At Grossman Law Offices, we've been successfully litigating personal injury cases involving commercial vehicles for more than 25 years. We believe in keeping our clients in the loop and making sure they understand not just what we're doing, but why. From thorough investigation and gathering of evidence to using it effectively to counter the opposition's case, our extensive experience with every stage of semi-truck crash litigation allows us to consistently produce strong results for our clients.
If you've been hurt or lost a loved one in an accident involving a Western Express 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.
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