Schneider National Carriers, Inc. is a logistics company that moves large loads of cargo for other companies all over North America. Like most shipping companies, Schneider relies heavily on the use of tractor-trailers on public roads to do business, so when the company or its employees make mistakes, it’s easy for the outcome to be a catastrophic accident affecting innocent bystanders.
If you’ve been involved in a Schneider National truck crash, or lost a loved one to a Schneider truck crash, you’re probably struggling to cover a lot of sudden expenses while juggling the practical and emotional aftermath of the accident. You might be wondering what your rights are, and what order to tackle things in. Many survivors ask if Schneider truck drivers have a bad accident record, or if their case was just terrible luck. Others want to know how much insurance Schneider trucks carry and what it will cover.
This isn’t a time when anyone should have to make life-changing decisions, but unfortunately, what you do in the hours, days, and weeks following a Schneider truck accident does affect your likelihood of getting a fair settlement that covers your losses. One of the most important steps you can take at this time is selecting a lawyer experienced in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits involving Schneider trucks, so they can help you avoid mistakes that might stop you from getting the compensation you deserve.
Below, we’ll discuss commercial truck accidents, why they happen, and Schneider National’s legal responsibilities to accident survivors. If you’d prefer to speak directly with a qualified Schneider National truck accident lawyer in Georgia, just give us a call, or reach out through the chat function for a free consultation.
If You’ve Been Involved in a Serious Schneider National Truck Accident, You’re Not Alone
Any company that puts enough vehicles on the road for enough time will eventually, by rule of odds, be involved in some accidents. More often than not, it isn’t the truck driver’s fault. However, most companies with large fleets still don’t put enough focus on effectively preventing accidents, or even consistently complying with federal regulations.
As reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Schneider National has been cited 2,216 times for unsafe driving, 679 times for hours of service violations, 3,722 times for vehicle maintenance issues, 8 times for drug and alcohol infractions, and 44 times for driver fitness concerns during the two-year period ending March 26, 2021.
All of these types of violations can seriously endanger the public. They can include things like ignoring traffic signals, driving too long without rest, driving without properly maintained brakes, driving intoxicated, and even driving without a license. All trucking companies have a responsibility, not just to refrain from encouraging these unsafe practices, but to actively prevent them from happening.
If you were injured by a Schneider National driver who was violating any safety protocol, either voluntarily or under pressure from superiors, the company is liable for the damages.
Truck Accident Survivors Rarely Receive Adequate Compensation Without Representation
When a company is involved in an accident, its first priority is generally to minimize its own costs. Large companies like Schneider National have entire departments devoted to this effort, and they’re used to dealing with the aftermath of tractor-trailer accidents. They’ll assess the most likely outcomes and do whatever gives the company the best odds of paying out the least.
In some cases, this means refusing all responsibility and hoping the incident will simply go away. In others, it means offering the victim or their family the smallest amount they think will be accepted, in exchange for giving up their right to sue for more. These offers are meant to sound impressive to a layperson, but rarely cover all the expenses associated with a truck accident, let alone provide further compensation.
How much, if anything, a trucking company will offer you after an accident depends on exactly what happened and how likely they think they are to be found liable, but also on how likely they think you are to press the issue. Having a lawyer to handle interactions with the company on your behalf signals that your case is one to be taken seriously. Beyond that, a good truck accident lawyer can help you gauge what reasonable compensation would look like, negotiate for it, and if necessary, fight for it in court.
Schneider National in particular has a history of lowballing victims and fighting hard to avoid admissions of responsibility, even when said victims have representation. In March of 2010, a husband and wife were visiting family in California when they were struck by a Schneider National tractor-trailer in traffic. According to their account, the Schneider truck crossed into their lane, collided with their vehicle, and sent it spinning across the freeway, where it struck the median and was struck by another car. The wife suffered permanent, paralyzing spinal injuries. Schneider’s last offer to the family before the trial was $250,000. In court, Schneider National was found 100% responsible for the accident and ordered to pay over $36 million.
A few years earlier, a woman died in another Schneider truck accident. She was the driver of another vehicle in the crash. Schneider fought to avoid paying compensation for pain and suffering by claiming that her injuries were so severe that she would have died instantly. Her heart and one of her lungs had been lacerated. A witness, however, described seeing the woman gasping for breath in her last moments. This testimony was ultimately deemed relevant and admissible.
A qualified Schneider National truck accident attorney will be able to anticipate and respond to these kinds of moves by the company, to make sure you receive compensation that acknowledges the true depth of what you or your loved one have been through.
Schneider National Has Been Repeatedly Sued for Its Treatment of Workers
It’s common for truck drivers to be placed under extreme financial, practical, and verbal pressure to move cargo as quickly as possible, no matter what. Many are paid solely for their productivity and not for their time, often to the point of making less than minimum wage for skilled and demanding work. Typical work schedules are much more than 40 hours per week, sometimes more than double that many.
“Common” and “typical” are, of course, not the same thing as fine, safe, or even legal.
Aside from the obvious harm these business practices cause to truckers and their families, being exhausted or in a hurry while behind the wheel is extremely dangerous, not just to the individual, but to everyone on the road. In fact, in the case of truck drivers, it’s much more dangerous to others, because big rig tractors offer a fair amount of physical protection to those inside, but can easily tear through other, smaller vehicles.
How a trucking company treats its workers has a direct impact on public safety, and though Schneider National routinely denies any wrongdoing, it has also repeatedly paid out settlements in labor disputes.
In California, Schneider National has been named as a defendant in three class action lawsuits over the past seven years regarding its treatment of workers. The first was brought by warehouse and dock workers alleging wage theft, and was settled for $21 million in May of 2014. The second was brought by truck drivers alleging the same, and was settled for $28 million in October of 2016.
The third was brought by drivers again, this time alleging misclassification as private contractors instead of employees, again resulting in underpayment. This last allegation is relevant to survivors of Schneider truck crashes, not just because underpaying drivers can endanger public safety, but because driver classification can also become an issue in personal injury suits. We’ll go into more detail on how below.
Trucking Companies Are Responsible for Accidents Caused by Their Employees, and Often Their Contractors
In addition to following specific labor and safety regulations, all companies have a general responsibility to avoid putting the public in needless or unreasonable danger. They are also legally responsible for what their employees do at any time when those employees are working for the benefit of the company, or on the company’s instructions.
So, when a Schneider National employee causes a truck accident and hurts someone, Schneider National is liable for the damages, even if there were no specific rules broken at any time.
If the driver behind the wheel of a Schneider National truck is classified as an independent contractor, that makes things more complicated, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Schneider is free from liability. If Schneider National did anything that made the contractor more likely to have an accident, such as failing to maintain a company-owned truck the contractor was driving, Schneider could still share liability in the accident.
Also, as noted above, some Schneider contractors may actually be misclassified employees. If it can be proven that Schneider was wielding an employer’s level of control over the driver, that means Schneider would also have an employer’s level of responsibility for that driver’s mistakes.
Shipping companies like Schneider are much more likely to be able to pay survivors an adequate settlement than individual truck drivers are, and the companies also play a larger role in defining the culture of the trucking industry and how it prioritizes safety. For the sake of both helping survivors and incentivizing the industry to do better, a good truck accident lawyer will examine every way in which the shipping company could have contributed to an accident, and make sure these issues are addressed in court.
The Stoddard Firm Has Qualified Schneider National Truck Accident Attorneys
Personal injury and wrongful death suits following commercial truck accidents are a specialized area of law. The common strategies and obstacles are quite distinct from those associated with other traffic accidents, or other types of personal injury and wrongful death suits, so it’s important to choose an attorney who’s familiar with truck accident cases, and preferably with the specific company involved.
The Stoddard Firm has extensive experience in all areas of law relevant to commercial truck accidents. If you’ve been injured by a Schneider National truck, or lost a loved one to a Schneider truck crash, we can walk you through every step of the legal process and make sure you get the best, most complete compensation possible.
We’ll handle interactions with Schneider for you, so you don’t have to deal with the pressure to take the blame or accept less than you deserve. We’ll obtain the data from the truck’s onboard equipment and make sure it’s preserved as evidence. We’ll examine Schneider’s relationship with the driver, the truck, and the cargo, and uncover any illegal or reckless corner-cutting that may have led to your accident. We’ll also work together with your doctors to estimate the likely long-term cost of your injuries, in terms of bills, lost income, and lost enjoyment, and make sure that the judge and jury understand the full scope of your loss before settling on a sum.
To get started talking to Schneider National truck accident lawyer in Georgia today, just call 678-RESULT, or reach out through our online chat function.