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Proposed Bill Seeks to Protect Trucking Companies Earning Huge Profits at the Expense of Crash Victims

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By Patrick Giese

Families driving on our highways would be surprised to learn the lengths owners and operators of semi tractor-trailers will go to avoid responsibility for death and serious injuries caused by their agents’ negligence.

In May 2014, a bill was introduced [1] in the U.S. House of Representatives that would limit or shield liability for unsafe trucking companies.  It comes as no surprise that the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) supports the bill.  That entity works to allow giant trucking companies to reap massive profits while escaping liability for their negligence behind complex trucking agreements and clever lawyering.

To avoid liability in the event of a serious wreck, trucking companies often play a “shipping shell game” by setting up a house of cards operational shell. [2]  Often the party designated the “carrier” has no real assets and is essentially just a “paperwork” company that uses its operating authority from the Department of Transportation as a vessel for truckers to haul freight.  Some companies even attempt to hide from liability by identifying themselves as “brokers” or “third-party logistics providers” but are still commonly held responsible for negligence committed by their agents.  This proposed bill would allow companies like these to shirk their obligations entirely by providing a complete shield from liability for their torts.

This measure by large corporations and their insurance carriers serves to generate profit at the expense of those injured or killed as a result of negligence.  Unconcerned with safety, it has become a common refrain within the trucking industry “...to compete based on service and based on price, not based on safety.” [3]

Our roads are dangerous enough without massive trucking companies endeavoring to shield themselves from their negligent conduct in the name of profit.  Tell the bill’s sponsors, Representatives John Duncan, Erik Paulsen, and Rodney Davis, that safety should be more important than profit.

[3] - Tom Sanderson, CEO of Transplace, Board of Directors of ASECTT; transcript of Stifel Nicolaus Conference Call “Why CSA Is Not Fit for Shippers and Brokers to Use,” on December 20, 2011, at p. 16.
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