As a Georgia 18-wheeler accident lawyer, I was disturbed to read recently that trucking companies in our state and elsewhere are still on the road despite a clear federal order to shut down for safety reasons. According to the Associated Press, a report by the Government Accountability Office shows that hundreds or even thousands of “motor carriers” — trucking and bus companies — that were ordered to shut down because of safety violations stayed in business by simply changing their names. These “reincarnated” companies use different names but the same addresses, owners and contact information. As of late July, the GAO said, more than 500 reincarnated carriers were still on the road. Georgia is one of at least nine states with the rogue companies.
All in all, the GAO found at least 1,073 trucking companies and 20 of 220 commercial bus companies that had changed their names after an order to shut down or pay thousands of dollars in fines. The safety problems with the original companies included failure to test drives for drugs and alcohol; use of unsafe vehicles and equipment; and failure to have a valid license. GAO investigator Greg Kutz said the reincarnated companies pose a public threat because they dodge their legal obligations to fix the safety problems that got them in trouble in the first place. In fact, the GAO said the number of reincarnated companies may be higher than its report estimated, because it looked only at exact matches between names and addresses, not partial matches or very similar information.
As an example of the dangers of these reincarnated companies, the AP cited a bus crash in Texas with multiple fatalities, caused by a blown tire. The bus company involved, Iguala BusMex, was owned by Angel de la Torre, former owner of Angel Tours Inc. Angel Tours had been ordered out of service two months before the crash after an “unsatisfactory review.” Iguala BusMex was waiting for a permit from the federal government when the bus crashed in August of 2008, killing 17 members of a Vietnamese-American Catholic group. The Iguala BusMex bus that crashed had a retreaded tire installed on its steering axle — a violation of federal regulations.
As a Metro Atlanta bus accident attorney, I am very concerned about the potential safety problems posed by these reincarnated companies. Federal safety regulations are in place to protect other drivers from serious accidents caused by mechanical failure or irresponsible driving by motor carriers. When companies openly break those rules — to cut costs or out of simple carelessness — they put their own truck drivers and everyone around them at serious risk. In a crash between large vehicle like a tractor-trailer and a passenger car, simple physics and well-documented statistics say the truck will always crush the smaller vehicle, endangering the lives of everyone inside. That is, innocent people almost always pay the price when trucking companies cut corners on safety.
At the Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle, we represent victims of these terrible accidents and their families. I understand that no lawsuit can ever reverse the effects of a terrible accident — but after nearly 15 years as a Gwinnett County big rig accident attorney, I also know that victims often face serious practical and financial issues after a bad accident. Catastrophically injured people may be away from their jobs for weeks or months; some may never be able to work again at all. This deprives the family of an income right when high accident-related bills begin to arrive — for a new car, for time in the hospital and for continuing care the victims may need. We help victims recover those costs from the wrongdoers who caused them, through aggressive negotiations with insurance companies and, if necessary, Georgia trucking accident lawsuits.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one to an unsafe trucking company or its driver, you have the right in Georgia to hold them legally responsible for their actions. To learn more about your legal rights and your options at a free consultation, please contact P. Charles Scholle online or call 1-866-972-5287, toll-free.