At Crosley Law, we deal with trucking companies that cut corners in the name of higher profits all the time. Federal and state regulations about driver screening and hours of service limits get broken regularly. We’re used to it.
But in a recent case, we were so shocked and troubled by what we discovered about a major Texas trucking conglomerate that we filed a formal complaint with federal authorities. The story was even picked up by KSAT Investigates.
At Crosley Law, we serve more than just our clients. We fight hard to keep negligent trucking companies accountable because of the clear danger they pose to the motoring public. We’re proud that, in this case, we not only got a great settlement for our client Alejandro*, but also were able to bring reckless trucking company practices to light.
*Name changed for confidentiality.
A Winter-Weather Truck Crash Causes Permanent Injuries
Alejandro, a truck driver himself, was driving his truck down I-40 E, just east of Little Rock, Arkansas, through heavy snow and ice. It was during the February 2021 winter storm, one of the worst to hit the Southern U.S. in decades. However, the road was passable, and visibility was good.
While driving forward safely and slowly at a constant speed, Alejandro was rear-ended by another semi-truck driver, Israel, who had lost control of his vehicle in the icy conditions. Although Israel had snow chains for the truck’s tires, he hadn’t put them on at the time of crash. (Israel’s truck also smashed into a third vehicle before coming to a stop.)
Alejandro briefly lost consciousness at the scene and reported feeling dazed. Although he was able to walk away from the crash, he suffered from significant back pain, neck pain, and headaches in the days and weeks that followed. He returned to work a week later, but continued to experience difficulty twisting and sitting, and struggled with insomnia.
After several months of persistent neck pain and arm numbness, Alejandro saw a spinal surgeon who discovered two herniated discs. He has needed several treatments to help him manage his symptoms, including steroid injections, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and chiropractic care.
Unfortunately, the damage to Alejandro’s spine is likely permanent and he will need ongoing treatment to manage his pain for the foreseeable future.
Crosley Law Investigation Reveals Shocking Work Hours Violations
Crosley Law attorneys Shawn Mechler and Steven Nuñez discovered many troubling things during the investigation of this case. But the flagrant disregard for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service regulations was arguably the most shocking.
Israel worked with another driver as a two-person team. He would spend 10 hours behind the wheel, then switch out and sleep in the cab’s “sleeper berth” while the other driver took the next 10 hours.
This in itself isn’t illegal. However, Israel admitted that he would typically be on the road for two months at a time—10 hours on, 10 hours off—without a single day off. Federal regulations limit truckers to a maximum of 60 hours of drive time over 7 consecutive days, and 70 hours over 8 consecutive days. Israel’s schedule put him way over those limits.
But that was far from the only work hours violation we discovered.
At the time of the accident, Israel’s truck had just made a run from Laredo to Little Rock—a 750-mile journey that would typically take 12 hours or more even in perfect weather. But according to Israel, heavy snow and icy roads between Dallas and Little Rock forced him to slow to roughly 30 miles per hour. Also, according to Israel, he’d made the entire journey nonstop—there had been no driver change during the run nor had there been a mandatory break after 8 hours of driving.
Federal regulations limit drivers to no more than 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour period after a minimum 10-hour break. But the journey Israel described would have easily taken 18-20 hours (or more) to complete. The math did not check out: either Israel was driving way too fast for conditions, driving way longer than allowed, or both.
Crosley Law attempted to confirm Israel’s testimony by checking the driving hour logs from the journey. However, they no longer existed. Unfortunately, trucking companies are only required to keep logs for a limited time before they can legally be destroyed, even if they might contain evidence proving wrongdoing.
We were able to confirm that hours of service violations were a constant problem at the trucking conglomerate, with at least 101 documented violations in the past two years between the two companies they directly operated: DX Xpress and Directo Express.
Crosley Law Fights for a Fair Settlement—and Public Safety
The trucking company consistently denied any wrongdoing, right up until the end. Because the hour logs had already been destroyed, the trucking company insisted we had no proof that any rules had been broken.
However, the devastating testimony from their driver, as well as the thorough preparation of attorney Shawn Mechler, attorney Steven Nuñez, and the Crosley team, eventually convinced them to settle the case rather than risk going to trial.
We obtained a six-figure settlement for Alejandro, an amount that fully covered his past medical costs and will give him the financial stability he needs to pay for his ongoing care needs.
However, the trucking company’s appalling lack of concern for innocent motorists and unwillingness to take responsibility for their recklessness meant we had to do more.
Unfortunately, we were unable to get the trucking company to commit to increasing safety protocols (such as installing front and rear dash cams on every vehicle) as a condition of the settlement. So, after the case concluded, we filed a formal hours-of-service complaint with the FMCSA, which confirmed that the trucking company’s noncompliance with the law had been identified and was being addressed.
We also were grateful that KSAT Investigates chose to report this story and help us raise public awareness about trucking companies like DX Xpress and the serious threat they pose to public safety. By shining the light on this irresponsible behavior, we can increase the pressure on government to improve our laws, and on trucking companies to do the right thing.
Truck Crash? Call Crosley
Righting wrongs is what drives us—all day, every day. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a crash with a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle, call Crosley Law today.
Our experienced truck accident attorneys understand the complexities and challenges that come with these types of cases. It’s best to get started as soon as possible so we can preserve critical evidence before the trucking company can conveniently get rid of it.
To request your free consultation, call us today at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or complete our easy online contact form.
Collier, D. and Saunders, J. (July 19, 2023). Lawsuit over semitruck crash reveals issue of truck driver working 2 months without day off. KSAT. Retrieved from https://www.ksat.com/news/ksat-investigates/2023/07/19/lawsuit-over-semitruck-crash-reveals-issue-of-truck-driver-working-2-months-without-day-off/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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