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Truck Accident in Cali

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Errol V.'s Comment
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I didn't join this discussion because I as busy popping popcorn. And there were plenty of competent replies. (I did reply to a question about mirrors.)

The real bottom line is that whenever your truck is moving, you need to look where you are going. Mostly this is a no brainer, but: if you are changing lanes, you are moving sideways. That's where those mirrors come in, and you need to be thinking of blind spots.

Mr Lionheart did what you're supposed to do: check the right lane before he moved into it. But it seems he didn't watch where he was going, when he started moving sideways. He put on his turn signal, but most of us have experienced this: that lane-change turn signal merely tells a hot-shot driver to use that lane to get past the slow-ass truck before the truck moves over.

Finally, and this is obsessive overkill, I found this comment:

California courts have held in numerous instances that part of the duty of a reasonably prudent driver includes keeping a lookout for other vehicles, objects and hazards in the road. To this end, Leeper v Nelson (1956) 139 Cal.App.2d 65 stated: “All drivers of vehicles on a public highway are required by law to keep a vigilant lookout ahead so as to avoid, if reasonably possible, a collision with any other vehicle or person lawfully upon such highway."

But I couldn't find the actual "Pay Attention" statute.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
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Forgive me for posting one more comment on this thread, but I think this whole conversation was so worthy for folks who genuinely want to learn about being successful out here that I decided to go back through it and read the whole progression of it for my own learning and benefit. I was pleasantly surprised by Lionheart's second sentence in his initial post...

Since I am a rookie driver, I was wondering if one of you seasoned road warriors can enlighten me and maybe point me in the right direction.

I think we did exactly that!

Thanks to all who contributed to this conversation. A bee gathers it's pollen from many different sources, but it all goes toward the final production of the honey that keeps the hive alive. You've all contributed to a very educational thread that ended up being as rich as raw honey. There's some great stuff in here.

Vendingdude's Comment
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For the moment, I'll resist commenting directly on the squall here. My question is about the accuracy of the post.

Lionheart, you say you were headed south on I 15, a few miles before the pass. Then you talk later about beginning the climb. When you are headed south, you are headed for the descent, not the climb. Plus there are no trucker lanes that open up to right on this stretch. And no jersey walls on this part either.

If you were headed northbound, there are a few places where the right lane disappears and merges left, but not where a truck lane opens. After the scales the right lane IS the slow lane and stays that way all the way up the pass. There is no truck lane created here either, no jersey wall, and the road is five lanes wide.

Anyway you could clarify the location a bit so I can picture better how your accident might have happened?

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Bud A.'s Comment
member avatar

OK, one last post from me. I was inspired by Brett, Pat, Errol, G-Town, and Old School to re-read this whole thing. (I always try to imitate the experienced drivers, and especially Old School and Pat M. because they are my flatbedding heroes. Yes, I'm 54 years old and still imitating people. Some might think it's kinda sad, I suppose, but imitation is one of the best ways I know to improve myself.)

Anyway, one thing struck me after reading all this again. Lionheart's original question was, what can he do to get out of paying the $50 per week toward the total debt of $2,000 that Stevens has charged him for this incident? That question was addressed in passing, but we all sort of got focused on the underlying issue of liability. And as OS pointed out, we rightly refused to answer the original question without addressing the underlying assumption, since he was at fault and so owes Stevens whatever it cost them.

But I think maybe we didn't make that connection explicit enough, since Lionheart didn't get it. He said, "The fact is, I received no notification, due process or even a phone call as to the status of the case, nor their stance. This is UNPROFESSIONAL."

Then a little later he said, "Does that mean I would lose in court? NO! And that is what my whole rant was about. ABOUT THE LEGAL SIDE OF IT."

Then, "I ADMIT I should have looked again. That is not in question. But since I didn't, now I have to explore the legal side. If I am found NOT AT FAULT, does Stevens have the RIGHT to take my money? THAT was the original question."

Finally, "All I was wondering was if Stevens had the right to take my money without due process. For all I know, they could even be double-dipping. I figured someone here could enlighten me on any rights or recourse I may have. I guess I was wrong."

So, even though these points were addressed in various ways, I would like to make it explicit and put it all in one place. I don't work for Stevens, nor do I know anyone who does outside of this forum, but the old manager in me wants to show that Stevens did right by him. I'm not buying that Stevens is run by buffoons. I'm betting that if I started working for them, I'd get along just fine and probably even like it there quite a bit.

So first, it seems Lionheart did have due process, since he mentioned a meeting with the safety director. That was his chance to explain what happened and I'm sure he did, and probably gave more information to the safety director than he did here.

Since all we know is that they met, we can't say that the company explicitly explained to him exactly what was going to happen, but I'm betting the safety director let him know he wasn't going to be fired, or this thread would have started in November.

I'm also guessing that he may have explained to Lionheart that he might be on the hook for the deductible, but I don't know that for sure. (I'm assuming the $2,000 is the sum of a $500 deductible for the truck and $1,500 for the car that was wrecked. Or maybe the other way around. Or maybe $1,000 each. In any event, it looks a lot like the sum of two deductibles to my eyes.)

Let's say he didn't tell Lionheart that he was going to be on the hook fiancially for this. Maybe he hadn't made up his mind whether he was going to fire him yet, or maybe the insurance claim hadn't been settled yet so he didn't have the information and didn't want to speculate.

The question is, did Lionheart get due process? Yes, he did. He had an opportunity to present his side of the story to the management of the company. And not just any manager, but the most relevant and knowledgeable manager, since safety directors are generally intimately involved in settling claims on behalf of the company.

Now, did Stevens have the right to take his money? You bet. He wrecked another car with their truck. And there is no question in my mind that at some point during the onboarding process when Lionheart started working there, he signed some sort of agreement that said words to the effect of, "If I wreck the truck, I agree to pay the deductible on the insurance policy, except maybe if it's obvious that it wasn't my fault."

We all know where he stands on the topic of his fault, but we also know the safety director disagreed and told him so to his face. More due process requirements met. More managerial fairness observed.

Then there's the question of whether they were double-dipping, since obviously a little crunching against a jersey barrier couldn't possibly do $1,800 damage to a new Audi A4.

Let's just ignore the double-dipping comment. Stevens has no chance of making money on this deal, especially collecting $2,000 over the course of 40 weeks at zero interest, so unless anyone thinks it's impossible that this wreck caused at least $2,000 damage to a $100,000 tractor and a $35,000 car, it's best just to ignore that innuendo.

All that is left is the lack of a phone call. Did the safety manager owe him one? We know he met Lionheart and heard his side of the story. We know the manner in which Lionheart likely presented his side of the story.

Would you call him? Or would you return his calls asking for an explanation of why he had to pay back Stevens?

Let's give Stevens the benefit of the doubt, OK? I think they're a pretty good company to work for, from what I've heard in this thread. I'd hate for us to allow them to be slandered here.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Vendingdude's Comment
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Bud A. That was awesome. You saved me a lot of time to type essentially the same thing. Kudos!

Farmerbob1's Comment
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As a Stevens driver, I have two actual answers to the questions that the OP was asking.

First:

I am not entirely certain if it would be appropriate in this specific case, but Stevens DOES have a process where an in-house panel of senior active Stevens drivers currently on the yard can be convened to review cases of internal Stevens issues. I think it's called a driver review panel, and it's used to determine preventable vs. non-preventable when it's not a clear-cut scenario. In this scenario, it seems clear-cut that it is preventable, but the review panel might be able to be convened at the driver's request. I'm not entirely certain. The opinion of the senior drivers would almost certainly match what we've already seen here.

Second:

In terms of the expense, Stevens is self-insured. Provided that they do not take you to court because they think you intentionally damaged something to cost them a large amount of money, the maximum they will deduct from you for a single incident is $2000. Screw up several times, and the $2000 maximum is per incident. I vaguely remember signing the document saying that they are allowed to deduct if you damage something via a preventable accident.

These two things are intertwined. I believe it was discussed in Grad Class. The driver panel and the deductions for preventable damage were part of the same discussion, as the driver panel can negate a finding of preventable by Stevens. My understanding was that driver panels almost never differ in opinion from Safety, because senior drivers are frequently consulted in weird cases, but it has happened. In this case, I'm confident Safety's ruling of preventable wouldn't be overturned.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

And interestingly enough, if he were to get fired from Stevens it would almost certainly cost him far more than $2,000. I mean, that's only about three weeks pay for a rookie and even less for an experienced driver. If you were to get fired for an accident, how long would it take to find your next job? What would it pay? How long would it be before you started receiving paychecks?

That $2,000 bill isn't as bad as losing your job over an accident.

Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

"Thanks to all who contributed to this conversation. A bee gathers it's pollen from many different sources, but it all goes toward the final production of the honey that keeps the hive alive. You've all contributed to a very educational thread that ended up being as rich as raw honey. There's some great stuff in here."

"If even one potential new driver gets what we were trying to get across, I say we did our job."

Old School and Pat M., I haven't earned even "newbie" status yet, I'll get that when I begin trucking school in March, but I'm learning tons every time I log onto this site. You got your points across by the end of the first page; heck, by the second reply. But I kept reading because of what O.S. mentioned, the wealth of contributions from veteran drivers. You just can't pay for the advice you guys so graciously give out. A big THANK YOU to you, Brett, for not making this a 'paid' or 'subscription' type of site. I appreciate you. Lionheart and the two in the car are all very fortunate the accident wasn't any worse, but I'd wager that myself and anyone else who has been reading this thread will not make the same mistake under similar circumstances.

Vendingdude's Comment
member avatar

"2) Are you speaking to us with the same respect we're giving you? See, sometimes we look like we're being jerks but in reality I'm here in the background deleting all the cussing, filth, and nasty insults we're getting thrown at us. I can tell you that in this thread right here there was maybe two comments from the OP that I didn't have to edit out a bunch of filth. Like when he says, "Can't you guys understand that?" what he really said was, "Are you f'in a'holes that f'in stupid that you can't get it through your thick skulls?" So I remove the filth and it comes out, "Can't you guys understand that?" and when I don't respond with the kindness of a monk after being cussed out by some idiot who almost killed two people it looks like I'm the bad guy. It happens!"

Thanks for posting this Brett. I was willing to give the guy a break. Maybe. Like 10% chance. Now I don't give a ......

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