Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

Who are the Typical Independent Contractors Driving Large Trucks?

What happens when an independent contractor causes a large truck accident? What experience does the typical independent contractor have under their belt? The reality is that a significant number of "independent contractors" are in fact operating as employees of larger carriers. When an independent contractor accident occurs, it does not absolve either the driver or the carrier from liability for the accident. Violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules (FMCSR) are common and can involve complexities where multiple parties may be liable for a large-vehicle accident. Many independent contractors are working under the DOT number and authority of another commercial motor carrier who ships goods and property across the country. This always brings up issues of negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, negligent retention and negligent dispatch.

It is estimated that up to 66% of long-haul commercial truck drivers in the United States are classified as independent contractors. Data gathered by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) in 2015 showed that there were more than 350,000 owner-operators, or independent contractors, registered in the United States. While officially classified as independent contractors, most of these operators operate under the DOT numbers issued to larger carriers. On average, these drivers log more than 101,000 miles per year and typically spend 200+ nights per year hauling cargo. This places them at considerable risk of becoming involved in a fatality or injury causing large-truck accident. Brad Pistotnik Law and its founder, Bradley A. Pistotnik have sued large trucking companies and motor carriers for years. Brad has written a book called Truck Accidents Kill! We know and understand trucking injury cases.

Internal surveys conducted by OOIDA show that the average independent contractor has 26 years of experience, with most becoming owner-operators around the age of 37. Most own just one truck and one trailer. Of these, 66% have no loans or liens against the vehicle, and 95% operate their vehicles without the use of another driver or assistant. Not all truck drivers are bad, but many are fatigued, not properly trained, overworked and have mandatory delivery on time schedules that causes them to work over the maximum hours of service rules.

Only 37% of vehicles operated by independent contractors are equipped with an Electronic Logging Device (ELD's). Only 33% have a GPS tracking device/system on board the vehicle, but 70% operate their vehicle with a speed limiter installed by the carrier that has an average maximum speed of just 66 MPH. Nationwide, 38% operate "dry vans," while 21% operate refrigerated units. When motor carriers do not use ELD's they are saving money by not spending the costs associated with ELD's and may be held liable for punitive damages in many cases.

Alarmingly, 20% of independent contractors polled by OOIDA indicated that carriers had encouraged or persuaded them to alter loading/unloading logs as off-duty time in violation of federal regulations, and that approximately 20% had audited or changed the driver's logs. This is more of the norm for truck drivers and many logs that I review have driver's not counting loading time in the hours of service logs. These alarming statistics caused the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue new rules regarding the installation and usage of ELD's. The first deadline requiring the installation of these devices on commercial vehicles passed in December 2017.

Since then, it is estimated that the FMCSA has collected millions of dollars in hours of service fines from independent truck drivers and carriers violating these new rules. As of April 2018, drivers and carriers who violate these new rules can be put out of service. Ultimately, these new rules were implemented to help reduce the risk of an independent contractor accident and the growing number of drowsy driving accidents involving large truck operators. The rules only are working if they are enforced. Many state agencies do not conduct appropriate enforcement when an accident occurs and evidence is lost. Moreover, it is believed that the rules will have a significant impact in reducing the number of fatalities and personal injuries caused by drowsy truck drivers throughout the country.

Brad Pistotnik Law represents clients in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, Florida, Missouri, and Illinois who experience an independent contractor accident involving a large vehicle. We also work on car accidents, motorcycle accidents and large truck accidents or fleet vehicle accidents. Whether the accident occurred in Wichita, Overland Park, Greensburg, Baldwin City, Larned, Papillon, Ogallala, Scottsbluff, Beatrice, Ada, Moore, Wichita, Newton, McPherson, Kingman, Pratt, Hutchinson, Garden City, Ulysses, Satanta, Liberal, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Grand Island, Lincoln, Independence, Enid, Tulsa, Edmond, Peoria, Stillwater, Arlington Heights, Alton, Joliet, Springfield, Miami, Dallas, Waco, Sugarland, Grand Prairie, Harlingen, Pensacola, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Houston, McKinney, Bonner Springs, Leavenworth, Pittsburg, Lawton, Manhattan, Wellington, San Antonio, or elsewhere in these states, our team works to secure the compensation our clients need to recover from an accident involving a semi-truck.

We are Brad Pistotnik Law. ® We are Abogado El Toro. ® Hire the real Brad. ® Call in the Bull. ® We are the Bull Attorneys! ™ Call us at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. You can call from Western Kansas at 620-THE-BULL. Our main office location is at 10111 E. 21st St. N., Suite 204, Wichita Kansas 67206. Our Garden City office is at 3102 E. Kansas Avenue, Suite 100, Garden City, Kansas. We always give free consultations and we answer the phone 24/7 and on weekends and holidays for free legal consultation.