Trucking companies have to comply with lots of safety regulations, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) works with police departments and other agencies to enforce those regulations. While you probably won’t be surprised to hear that some unethical, fly-by-night trucking companies knowingly break regulations so they can squeeze out a bit of extra profit, most of us assume that at least when the bad guys get caught, the jig is up.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. A small but significant number of trucking companies violate regulations and exploit loopholes to sustain unsafe practices that put ordinary drivers in danger. And sometimes, these companies continue to flout the rules after they’ve been caught multiple times.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how trucking companies get away with this behavior, what authorities hope to do about it, and how you can fight back if you or someone you love has been affected.
What Are Chameleon Carriers, and Why Can’t Government Agencies Spot Them?
Most trucking companies comply with government regulations for highway safety and business practices. However, a few “bad apple” companies don’t, and their negligence often leads to deadly crashes on our roadways.
When the FMCSA investigates these companies and finds proof of their negligence, the companies receive heavy fines and other serious penalties. However, rather than deal with these consequences and fix the safety violations, some companies simply close up shop and then reopen under a new name.
When this happens, the trucking company’s poor safety record often doesn’t follow it through the name change. The company gets a fresh start, which its owners inevitably use to keep up the same dangerous and unethical behaviors. Even worse, many chameleon carriers successfully change names multiple times.
The consequences of this problem are serious. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), chameleon carriers are involved in up to 18 percent of severe truck crashes.
How Is the Government Addressing the Chameleon Carrier Problem?
So why are these companies able to get away with it? Unfortunately, the government agencies that approve applications for new trucking companies are understaffed and overworked, and they struggle to comb through the tens of thousands of applications they receive each year to try and spot chameleon carriers.
Instead, the agencies enter a small fraction of those applications into an electronic system that looks for links to previously existing companies that had safety violations. While this step is better than nothing and may spot a few chameleon carriers, it allows far too many to slip through the cracks.
Recently, the GAO suggested improved data analysis on all new applications from freight carriers. In response, the FMCSA implemented a system for trucking company applications that screens all new applicants for chameleon characteristics. In 2016, this system flagged about 80,000 applications out of about 900,000 total, and the agency ultimately rejected many of those applications.
How an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Unfortunately, chameleon carriers continue to find new and creative ways to disguise themselves and slip under the government’s radar, and they’ll likely continue to succeed as long as regulatory agencies lack the resources to keep up with them.
If you or a loved one suffers serious injuries because of one of these companies’ negligent behavior, it’s critical to contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer right away. An attorney should be able to listen to your story and assess your case at no cost to you, and if they take your case, they should be able to investigate the crash quickly to make sure all the evidence gets uncovered and preserved.
However, the unscrupulous owners of chameleon carrier companies know exactly what they’re doing, and they usually have experience dealing with lawsuits and liability issues. That’s why it’s important to get in touch with an experienced attorney who can level the playing field, and to do it fast — before the chameleon carrier and its insurance company can get a head start.
Contact Atkins & Markoff for Help if You’ve Been Injured in a Truck Accident in Oklahoma
At Atkins & Markoff, we have the resources and experience to handle complex truck crash cases. We’re here to listen to your story, and we’ll fight relentlessly to get you justice and compensation if we’re able to take your case.
If you’ve been seriously injured or even lost a loved one in a crash involving a tractor-trailer or other large truck, contact Atkins & Markoff today by calling 405-607-8757 or by filling out our quick and simple online contact form. We’ll get back to you right away.
Your initial consultation is free, and we handle all personal injury cases on a “no-recovery, no-fee” basis, so you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we get you a settlement or win your case in court.
Government Accountability Office. (2012, March 22). Motor carrier safety: New applicant reviews should expand to identify freight carriers evading detection (GAO-12-364). Washington, D.C.: Government Accountability Office. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-364
Straight, B. (2018, March 8). Data helping insurers, government crack down on chameleon trucking companies. Freight Waves. Retrieved from https://www.freightwaves.com/news/insurance-and-risk/chameleon-trucking-companies
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.