Modern society depends on the transportation industry. They haul the goods we need across the country each and every day. Most trucking companies play by the rules and provide us this crucial service. Unfortunately, a small but significant minority of trucking companies game the system. They’ve been dubbed “chameleon trucking companies,” “chameleon carriers” or “reincarnated carriers” and they put everyone’s lives in danger.
In our last blog, we discussed how insurance minimums haven’t been increased in over 30 years. This sometimes makes it difficult for victims to get the full settlement they deserve. This is especially problematic if trucking companies are willing to overlook safety protocol if they feel confident that they can just reopen under a new name when something goes wrong (hence, the label of a “chameleon” company).
A dramatic example of this problem took place in Ithaca, New York, involving a Washington company. In June, a tractor trailer spun out of control and ran into a restaurant, scattering people on the corner of Aurora and East State Street. Tragically, a pregnant 27-year-old woman was killed, and several others were injured. The accident left the corner of the four-story building looking like it was part of a war zone.
The attorney of one of the plaintiffs is citing a number of violations by the truck driver and the company. Police had already ticketed the driver for having a defective brake-limit device and for an “over-length vehicle.”
The truck, which was transporting vehicles, was owned by an outfit from Spokane, Washington. The problem is, federal records show the company is not authorized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to operate as a carrier. On top of that, the FMCSA sent the company a notice that their insurance coverage was set to expire on August 4 and that it had to provide proof of insurance coverage. No proof was provided, leading to an “involuntary revocation” of its authority to operate across state lines.
What kind of company would operate so recklessly and without care for consequences? One that is operated as a chameleon carrier. Police first identified the trucking company under a different name. But it was later discovered that due to a poor safety record, the company was dissolved. The same owner is listed as the officer or agent for the current company.