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FAQ Friday – How we handle trucking accident cases versus auto collisions

Herrman and Covich talk about commercial vehicle accidents and why they most likely occur. Our last Instagram winner is also announced, along with information on our scholarship. If you liked this video, please like and subscribe to our channel.


Greg: Hello everybody, welcome again to another frequently asked question Friday with Daniel Covich. You guys may remember he is our recurring lawyer that comes probably more than anybody else now. I appreciate it. So today Daniel wanted to talk about commercial trucking cases and how they are handled differently than a regular auto collision case, you wanna tell us how that is named?

Daniel: You bet, regular passenger vehicles, when they're in an auto crashes, it's usually private person versus private person, usually there's someone at fault for the accident and the only regulation we really have is we have to all have valid driver's license and insurance, trucking industry is known to be heavily regulated and the trucking regulations are in place to make sure that these large trucking companies keep their equipment safe and maintained and that these drivers are not overworked and that they don't put in too many miles across the roadways in Texas across the United States.

Greg: Is there anything we do differently when we get a car wrecking case?

Daniel: Absolutely, there is moving evidence and just from the law of physics usually a lot of times there's very little damage to an 18-wheeler and there can be tremendous damage to yourself or a passenger, so what that means is that these trucks can technically keep moving and they all have black boxes on them similar to airplanes, when the airplane goes down and that black box has data such as the speed immediately before the collision, crash event, for example, whether or not the driver was belted and the record has this material. The trick of it and the needle that we treat very well here at Herrman & Herrman is understanding that we've got to file a temporary restraining order or social restraint order. That data, the more the vehicle is used or the truck keeps getting used, it just kind of rules over that data and you could actually compromise and lose that data. On top of that, a lot of these trucks are interstate, they go state to state so you have a crash on a Tuesday and that truck could be in Florida or Montana by Thursday and you've lost the ability to respect that vehicle to do the data download and to just eyeball the equipment in general, so it's very important that we get to the truck very fast.

Greg: So whenever the truck leaves the state can we not get an injunction against the company to keep them from moving any further, so they can stop and we can go download it?

Daniel: We do that often and we ask them to basically just freeze it wherever it is and that usually, once you follow a restraining order, that stops them from making money using one of these multi-clock trucks that gets their attention, you get a callback and then they'll try to work with you because they want to get that truck back on the road if they can as soon as possible, so that does get the truck company's attention pretty quick if it already left the state. We can stop it pretty quick, oftentimes, if it's a fatality Texas DPS is pretty good or it can be very good, and also getting a data download from the truck if they think if it's an obvious fatality. The other thing that is very different for these truck cases versus private vehicles is there's a requirement of certain conditions where the drivers must be drug alcohol tested following a significant crash and that has to happen within 48 hours. If a lot of times it's not there, and when it's not there when they drug test the driver, it's from our point of view, is oftentimes intentional and that's a big red flag that there was a problem with this driver. So that's the other thing that, if we're not in litigation, we can't get that material, we can't find out the status of that driver.

Greg: Okay, I know you want to be asked about the regulation of the truck industry.

Daniel: Well, the truck industry is heavily regulated and there are both maintenance drivers, most the maintenance of the vehicles and the drivers are heavily regulated. There is a whole slew of what is considered qualified drivers are both federal-state driver regulations, and a qualified driver must have through a checklist of about fifteen items that must be in their file, and if those items are not in their file, then they are, by statute, an unqualified driver and oftentimes what we find in Herrman & Herrman when we get into these cases and we start pulling out these blank documents (because we have every single under documents) we have the form what they're supposed to have, if it's missing, then we take the position that at the end of the accident, time of the accident, at my federal estate statute, that driver was not qualified to drive a commercial vehicle it on that day and that's very important and these regulations are there for a reason. The number of fatalities from the federal statistics from the Department of Motor Vehicles of Transportation and in 2014 there were over thirty thousand deaths nationwide in 2015 thirty-two thousand in 2016 thirty-four thousand. But what's scary about these fatalities, is that the number keeps going up despite the lawsuits, despite the injections, the numbers of fatalities keep going up and that's a bad thing, it needs to stop. I think all of us have been scared by these very large commercial vehicles.

Greg: Do you have theories about why the number of deaths keeps going up?

Daniel: I think there are multiple reasons, I think the main one is that overall we have been seeing for years a decrease in federal regulations of any industry just under the current administration, good bad or ugly, and so I think that there is less actual regulation enforcement and I also think that there are a lot more miles being put by these trucks. There's a direct correlation between the number of trucks a company has that have millions of miles that they cover across the United States and there were fatalities that they caused, so I think these drivers are putting too many hours, there's there's regulations on hours of service (twelve hours on, six hours off) and that's being violated, it's very commonly violated and oftentimes it's not the truck drivers fault, it is the company pushing these men and women way too hard.

Greg: There's one party that just talks back getting rid of regulations all the time, roll back regulations, that's what's choking America, choking the economy in America. But these regulations are put in place for good reasons.

Daniel: They came around for a reason, I mean somebody just didn't decide that they wanted to regulate the trucking industry for no reason, he came up because there was a problem in the first place, with these trucking regulations we have found if the regulations are not enforced, these trucks are in very bad condition, the brakes are in very bad condition, it's just not safe, these men and women are pushed way too hard. A lot of us have been up against not only a single trailer but a double trailer where you have two trailers, and the truck driver and then the unit that has a huge amount of material going down the road, you cannot stop. The regulations are there to protect all the people, they're there to protect you and your children, your parents, your loved ones. This is the one industry where regulation and enforcement of regulation are very needed and very important, and I often find that, while the criminal enforcement is good, their agendas are very different than ours. They may or may not do a black box download, they really don't care for purposes of the criminal investigation about course and scope, whether or not somebody's working for a certain company, and what the history of that company is, it doesn't matter to them. What matters to them is that event is a very important thing and they're very good at what they do, but they've got blinders on, and that's all they do and what we do at Herrman & Herrman is to look at a much broader picture of the company to see what they're doing across the US over two three, four, five year period and that's a much broader investigation done by the state agencies.

Greg: You know there were over 17,000 people injured last year by commercial trucks just in Texas, in 2017 there were several amounts of people killed and there was a one single deathless day in Texas last year. And for commercial vehicle accidents, not a single day and that's the risk.

Greg: Alright and finally, truck company versus truck driver which is the problem?

Daniel: The truck company, these drivers are men and women, oftentimes, are really just trying to make a living and one of the things that we see is the motivation. They are literally told time to keep two sets of logs, among them, there are the logbooks that actually show the number of miles they've done and what we've done here in Herrman & Herrman, we enjoy the chess game. You look at Texas to California and how many hours on versus how many hours off and you calculate the number of hours that they're supposed to be on and not supposed to be driving off like it's the off hours and they have to be doing 140 miles, now the only way that they could have taken that off time and made it in the time period is that they got from Texas to California as if they're going 240 miles.

Greg: Now well, what does that mean?

It means that they drove great, they're off status since they complied with the required stats, they're supposed to be resting now. They're driving but the logs say otherwise, the other problem is that these companies pay these men and women by the load so it's to their economic benefit and they're just trying to play their roles like everybody else, but to see their economic benefit to do as many loads as possible in a day or a week so there needs to be more streamlined regulation. You look at the amount of money that these companies make versus the money that they spend on training or on resting their drivers, it's minuscule, so maybe one percent of the profits aspect do the right.

Greg: Well, thank you, our time is up. Thank you for that Daniel let me just make a couple of announcements: The first one is our Instagram Instagram winner is Amanda Ala, nice, please Amanda get over the office you can reach out to us on Facebook or you can call the office what's that or Instagram, come by and get your gift card. Secondly, I want to mention our scholarship again, the deadline to enter is December 1st, 1st prize is $2500, second prize $1500, third ties $1,000. Anybody can enter you just have to write an essay so please go online that scholarship page herrmanandherrman.com/scholarship.

Greg: Again you know we're tired of people from California, New York and other places, we'd really like the local people entering and winning so you just have to write an essay and we'll certainly help you with school so you know please avail yourself of opportunity to win the money and lastly, again, I want to talk about voter registration. I mentioned this every week, but I think it's getting really critical, I think this is going to be the most important election of our lives there are people saying that if Republicans went back the House of Representatives, you know that's kind of it for our democracy because Trump's never going to get impeach he's never going to get indicted and he's never gonna leave office he's already said that he may have to postpone to 2020 elections because there's so much voter fraud which we know is complete BS but that's what's probably coming next is he'll they can't bring these elections for Facebook and Twitter and breaking into voting boxes they they will probably just postpone the 2020 elections indefinitely which means Trump becomes a dictator which I think we can all see that that's what he really wants he wants, absolute power, and I think it's very likely to happen, so the only really to stop this is to have the Democrats take over the House of Representatives so they can actually impeach Trump and get them out of office. So if you're as disgusted with Trump's behavior and his, you know selling out to Vladimir Putin and putting over with US intelligence agencies tell them, we know Putin got something on them we just need to get that guy out of office before he the alt-right tries to take over take over America.

Greg: So please even though you think you're registered to vote, go double check because you may not be, Texas encourages people from the voter rolls that have them voted in a while and as you recall we talked about last week the US Supreme Court upheld at Ohio did it, and so you know you may have been purged from the voter registration rolls. I told y'all two years ago people here went to vote and they thought they were registered a little mold Election Day they're not registered they can't vote, so don't just assume your register to vote, we put that link up again y'all can check to make sure you're registered, if not now's a good time to go register to vote, don't wait till the last second cuz you're gonna run out of time.

Greg: Go ahead and check now, it's going to be September here in a few weeks so you're running out of time and then just finally I will now be here the next two Friday so we will see you guys again and I guess three weeks so thank you very much Daniel thanks for being here again appreciate it and see you in three weeks same time Gingka