Are there significant differences in jury awards against work van and truck drivers as opposed to regular car accidents? Yes
Our blog has explored a number of the issues facing car accident victims in Georgia over the last five years. Likewise, I have written extensively about how tractor trailer crashes are worlds apart in complexity. One variety of accident defendant that we have not discussed are crashes caused by company vans and work trucks. How are they different?
As we have discussed before, the federal regulations controlling tractor trailers are voluminous and many small and mid size trucking companies fail to enforce the Hours of Service requirements that ensure drivers get enough sleep. Especially among smaller trucking companies we see hiring violations and poor maintenance programs. A good example is the case we are currently litigating against a used car dealership where they failed to maintain the brakes on a car hauler.
Clearly many of the federal motor carrier regulations do not apply to commercial work vans. There are no hours of service issues and few industry wide maintenance rules. Logically that would lead one to believe that crashes caused by work trucks are not as complex or as valuable as trucking crashes. This is not the case.
Thousands of companies, great and small, deploy fleets of work vans across Georgia on a daily basis. The majority of these drivers are careful and conscientious but given the sheer numbers, there are far too many crashes and even though work vans don’t weigh the 80,000 pounds that tractor trailers do, they weigh 11,000 to 20,000 pounds, far more than a passenger car. When it comes to car accidents, physics wins every time. So the first factor involved in work van accidents in Georgia that tends to drive value up is weight differentials.
The second factor flows from the fact that many mid and small size companies take a casual view of safety. There are few inspection programs, human resources often does a slip shod job and hires drivers with terrible driving records. In several cases we are working on, the drivers had multiple high speed speeding tickets and GPS records showed that had the company simply monitored the printouts, it was apparent that the driver sped on a regular basis. When juries find out that crashes were foreseeable and preventable, they lose patience with corporate defendants.
These truths result in discovery that reveals patterns of unsafe behavior and that leads to much higher jury verdicts. If you have a claim against commercial work van operator, please call us to discuss the proper lines of inquiry that can ensure that the full value of the case is being explored.