If you’ve been recently injured by an Old Dominion Freight Line truck, or lost a loved one to such an accident, you’re most likely facing a frightening combination of expense and uncertainty, wondering which of those expenses, if any, will eventually be covered.
Like any other large company that moves cargo across public roads, Old Dominion Freight Line sometimes causes accidents, and like any other large company of any kind, it has intricate internal systems for keeping costs down. As such, it will pay each accident victim, or their family, as little as it can to resolve each claim. By seeking out a good truck accident law firm in your area, you’ve already taken the first step toward getting the settlement you deserve.
Below, we’ll talk a bit about what causes Old Dominion Freight Line truck accidents, what makes them unique, and what the company’s responsibilities are.
Whenever you’re ready to talk to an Old Dominion Freight Line truck accident lawyer about the specifics of your case, just reach out to The Stoddard Firm by phone or chat for a free consultation.
Old Dominion Freight Line Truck Crashes Can Be Attributed to Many of the Same Causes as Other Tractor-Trailor Crashes
The majority of large truck accidents are caused by other drivers’ mistakes. Truckers themselves are statistically safer-than-average drivers, but the accidents they do cause are usually symptomatic of deeper problems with the industry.
As of February, 2021, Old Dominion Freight Line has committed a total of 1,804 recorded violations over the past 24 months, as reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Broken down, these violations consisted of:
- 586 unsafe driving violations
- 150 hours of service violations
- 16 driver fitness violations
- 933 vehicle maintenance violations
- 119 hazardous materials violations.
While it’s easy to focus solely on the unsafe driving violations, like speeding, ignoring traffic lights, and driving while distracted, all five of these categories pose a serious danger to the public, and all of them are the company’s responsibility to mitigate.
Hours of service violations include driving without observing legally mandated rest periods. Driver fitness violations include things like driving with a suspended license. Vehicle maintenance violations can include all manner of safety hazards from missing lights to inoperable brakes. We’ll discuss hazardous materials violations in more detail below, but the threat they represent to other drivers is obvious.
It can be difficult to comprehend how such serious safety violations can be so commonplace, but like most safety failings, the dangers of the trucking industry come down to math. Freight companies are motivated to move as much freight as possible, as fast as possible, and they typically place extreme pressure on their drivers to do exactly that. Things like vehicle maintenance and adequate rest for drivers cost time and money that companies don’t want to spend.
Holding companies like Old Dominion Freight Line fully financially accountable whenever someone gets hurt not only gives the injured individual the resources they need to recover, it also helps creates a financial incentive for better safety procedures in the future.
“Failure to Stop” Is a Running Theme in Old Dominion Freight Line Truck Accidents
While the basic phenomenon of tractor-trailer accidents is much the same throughout the trucking industry, certain patterns do emerge within individual companies. One of the more disturbing trends among Old Dominion Freight Line truck collisions is the driver failing to stop for obstructions.
In 2006, a man was struck by an Old Dominion tractor-trailer in Georgia and killed. The man was standing in the way of highway traffic at night, but other vehicles in front of the Old Dominion truck had successfully swerved to avoid him. The occupants of the car immediately in front of the Old Dominion truck reported that the truck driver was following too closely, enough so to cause them concern before they even saw the man standing in the road. During the subsequent court proceedings, the truck driver admitted that he had been cited for following too closely in the past.
More recently, in September of 2019, an accident with injuries brought traffic to a stop on a California highway. A truck that was waiting behind the accident was then rear-ended by an Old Dominion tractor-trailer that failed to stop. The impact pushed the truck into the back of a third truck in front of it, which in turn struck a car. The driver of the middle truck was killed, and the driver of the car was seriously injured.
Old Dominion Freight Line is liable for damages caused by poor handling of its trucks, even in the most isolated of incidents. However, multiple similar incidents are often an indication of an underlying problem that could have been addressed sooner, but wasn’t. Catching these patterns can be helpful for establishing negligence.
Old Dominion Freight Line Trucks Often Carry Hazardous Materials
In contrast with companies that use tractor-trailers to carry their own products, like Coca-Cola, or to carry lots of small packages with third-party products, like UPS, Old Dominion Freight Line is a service that transports medium-to-large shipments of other companies’ goods.
As a result of this business model, Old Dominion Freight Line trucks transport a wide variety of cargo, including significant quantities of hazardous materials. Hazmat-bearing trucks always present an extra danger when they’re involved in accidents, more so when they’re loaded and driven by people who don’t specialize in handling a specific type of hazmat. As noted above, mishandling of hazmat does make up a noteworthy portion of Old Dominion’s FMCSA violations.
Even when hazmat does not cause additional harm to the people directly involved in an accident, it can create unsafe conditions for bystanders and responders and keep roads unusable for longer. For example, in February of 2019, an Old Dominion truck in Texas crashed into a car, killing the two men inside, injuring the truck driver, and causing a chemical spill that required specialized cleanup.
A little under a year later in California, an Old Dominion Freight Line truck crashed into another tractor-trailer that had already overturned on the freeway. Two people died, and the Old Dominion truck’s cargo of cigarette lighters caught fire.
Then, again less than a year later, another Old Dominion Freight Line truck collision caused a fire on the Brent Spence Bridge — a major traffic bottleneck in Kentucky. The cargo, potassium hydroxide, burned so hot that the fire took hours to contain, and the bridge was still too hot to allow for an inspection hours after that. Local officials reported that the bridge might remain closed for weeks.
Since hazmat spills and safety violations are another recurring issue with Old Dominion Freight Line, you have an especially strong case if you’ve been injured in an incident like these.
Old Dominion Freight Line Is Responsible for Minimizing Danger to the Public
All companies have a basic responsibility to make sure that their activities don’t present an unreasonable hazard to others. Tractor-trailers have a lot of destructive potential, so when companies like Old Dominion Freight Line choose to use them, they must anticipate the dangers and do what they can to keep them to a minimum. That includes thorough vehicle maintenance, driver vetting and training, and enforcing policies that put safety first.
Even when a company does all of these things perfectly, and a driver harms a bystander through a mistake that no one could have anticipated, it’s still the company’s responsibility to cover the cost of that mistake. This is because, when a driver is performing work for a company, the company gets to dictate that driver’s actions and then reap the benefit of those actions. Therefore, the company should also be responsible for any unfavorable consequences of those actions, should they arise.
Whether your Old Dominion Freight Line accident case is a bizarre one-in-a-million chance, or something as simple and sadly common as being struck by an Old Dominion tractor-trailer in traffic, it’s always worth pursuing a fair settlement.
What to Do If You’ve Been Involved in an Old Dominion Freight Line Truck Crash
Although truck accidents and car accidents have important legal differences, the procedure for dealing with them starts more or less the same:
- Stop all vehicles and move to the side of the road if it is safe to do so.
- Do not make any comments regarding fault.
- Exchange information, being sure to get the truck driver’s company insurance rather than personal insurance information.
- Call for emergency services if needed, or schedule a medical exam at your earliest convenience.
- Document the incident with pictures and notes on what you remember.
- Engage qualified representation, and decline to answer questions from the driver’s employer or insurer yourself.
This last step, finding a qualified truck accident lawyer, is a bit more complicated than finding representation after a car accident, but it’s even more important to take care of in a timely manner.
The Stoddard Firm Has the Specialized Knowledge and Experience to Handle Old Dominion Freight Line Truck Accident Cases
If you’ve been injured by an Old Dominion Freight Line truck, choosing the right truck accident law firm is one of the most important things you can do to secure your future. While there are plenty of lawyers who can help you get what an insurance company owes you after a regular car accident, truck accident lawyers need a very specific combination of skills to get their clients fair compensation.
As well as often being more physically damaging, commercial tractor-trailer accident cases are more complicated than car accidents, because the liability isn’t limited to the at-fault driver and their personal insurance provider. Usually, the liability falls on the freight company and/or that company’s insurance provider, but there are many factors that can influence this, including the ownership of the tractor and its trailer, the driver’s employment status, and whether the driver was actively hauling a shipment at the time. If improperly packaged or stowed cargo contributed to the accident, the company that produced or loaded the cargo may also share responsibility.
Trucking companies like Old Dominion Freight Line also keep records and use data collection equipment that wouldn’t factor into an ordinary car accident case. This extra potential evidence can help you prove what happened, but only if you have a truck accident lawyer who knows how to have it preserved and admitted.
The experts at the Stoddard Firm are closely familiar with all aspects of commercial tractor-trailer accident cases. We have expertise in the associated areas of traffic law, personal injury, wrongful death, employer liability, and product liability. We also excel at establishing the severity of our clients’ injuries, to make sure they’re fairly compensated for the full effect those injuries will have on their lives.
If you’re ready to discuss a strategy with a lawyer for suing Old Dominion Freight Line, give us a call at 678-RESULT or reach out through our online chat function.