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Trucking companies causing crashes are skirting penalties by “reincarnating”

Written by Steve Gursten Posted August 22nd, 2012

How “chameleon motor carriers” are reappearing as new companies after causing too many accidents

There’s a serious truck safety crisis in the U.S., where motor carriers cut safety corners in exchange for a bigger bottom line and cause deadly crashes. Then, to avoid punishment, or after they have a safety violations record that’s too ugly, they reopen under a new name.

We’ve seen lousy mutual funds do this for years —  but mutual funds with lousy records don’t kill innocent people.

The problem is that these “chameleon carriers” are getting away with it.  And then the cycle repeats at the expense of innocent drivers.

Truck accident lawyers refer to these trucking companies as “chameleon carriers,” because they change their colors (name, identification numbers, etc.), yet it’s the same people driving the same trucks at the end of the day.

Truck Roundtable member Joe Fried, based in Atlanta, Georgia, came across an interesting article on insurancejournal.com that discusses how this problem is rampant in Georgia: How Georgia Trucking Companies Escape Safety Scrutiny:

“The barriers to starting a trucking company are low, according to a review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that found problems with industry oversight. Carriers that stay within Georgia’s boundaries face no minimum insurance requirements. Interstate trucking companies can be dispatching rigs for up to 18 months before getting a safety review, while those that don’t cross state lines may never face one.”

For example, in 2008, a Georgia truck company, Devasko Lewis, was involved in an Alabama crash that killed seven people. Federal officials put Devasko Lewis out of business. But a few years later, it registered again, and inspectors found a 129 violations in only five roadside inspections. Needless to say, the Department of Transportation shut the company down. The owner pleaded guilty to “illegally operating a trucking firm” and is awaiting sentencing.

Georgia was one of the states that was identified in a May 2012 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office as having an issue with chameleon carriers.

When trucking companies open under new names after they’ve hurt and killed people in crashes — and are allowed to do so — they’re not held accountable and the cycle continues.

At the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, our lawyers  have helped too many people who’ve been hurt by  these reincarnated chameleon carriers.  It’s a game, where it appears on the surface that these companies  have a fairly clean safety record. But dig a little deeper and you will find a history with many safety violations, truck accidents and people who’ve been killed in preventable truck crashes.

Attorneys who only handle one or two truck accident cases a year often do not know to look for this type of history.

Related information:

Who is liable in truck accidents? 

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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