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Worst driving record competition

December 27, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan trucker’s driving record shows 40 license suspensions, 5 drug crimes, 2 drunk drivings and 1 operating while impaired

From time to time, I’m going to put some of the really egregious driving records I see online. I’m doing this because I’m tired of seeing how dangerous truckers repeatedly get jobs in Michigan – jobs that they couldn’t get in other states that have punitive damages – and then go on to kill or seriously injure people.

Punitive damages acts as a deterrent. Punitive damages are additional monetary damages awarded to a personal injury victim when the defendant (trucking companies in this case) acted with recklessness, malice or deceit.

The threat of being sanctioned with punitive damages stops trucking companies in Michigan from giving jobs to truck drivers who have demonstrated they are unsafe. Without the threat of punitive damages, “grasshopper” truckers – truck drivers who have caused so many bad truck crashes or killed or injured many people – can hop over to a non-punitive damages state like Michigan and still find employment.

Take this guy. Here’s the actual driving record from the State of Michigan Bureau of Driver and Vehicle Records.

This driving record is from a real case that a lawyer in my office is handling. This Michigan-based trucker had his commercial driver’s license suspended at least 40 times, was caught for five drug crimes, two OWIs, driving while impaired and a slew of other trucking violations.

Can you believe he was still able to drive in this state, and given an 80,000 pound truck to drive with this kind of record?

The worst part is, I’ve seen so much worse as a Michigan truck accident lawyer for nearly 20 years. Hence, today I’m starting my periodic worst driving record competition, where I will be periodically putting up real driving records from real accident injury cases that I or the other personal injury lawyers in this firm are handling.

This particular trucker had all of these serious violations under his belt from 1996 until 2010, when it looks like his license was finally revoked for good.

I originally was not going to name the defendant, but why not? The purpose of this blog is safety, and besides, this record is so bad, people would think I am making it up otherwise.

This abhorrent driving record serves as a great example of the dangerous consequences of what happens when Michigan does not have punitive damages laws, and trucking companies are free to hire dangerous and unfit truck drivers like this one, essentially without consequences. Oh, the insurance may go up, but there is no punishment. There is no deterrent or “big stick” to prevent really bad and dangerous behavior that threatens the public.

Let’s just give him an 80,000 lb tractor-trailer to drive and let’s see what happens.

When this guy causes a terrible truck accident, all the insurance company has to do is settle within the trucking company’s insurance policy limits. The driving record will almost assuredly never be brought out in the courtroom, because his defense lawyers will admit liability. And then the trucking company can go on doing business and causing more truck accidents due to cutting corners on safety.

There is no way this truck driver would ever be behind the wheel in a punitive damages state.

Here’s a list of some of his offenses:

o Drug crimes
o Operating while impaired by a controlled substance
o Operating while intoxicated
o Giving false info to a police officer
o Fleeing and eluding an officer
o Driving while license suspended
o Violation of safety belt law
o License plate and registration violations
o Equipment violation
o Failed to signal
o Failed to display a valid license

Punitives in situations like this one would save a lot of lives and prevent a lot of people from being seriously hurt, because it would give these companies, that clearly don’t care otherwise, a financial incentive to hire safe drivers – and not the ones they can hire cheap because they can’t get a job anywhere else.

Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law and one of the top truck accident lawyers in the country. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group, and has received the top-reported jury verdict in Michigan for a truck accident case. Steve was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his work to promote national truck safety.

Related information to protect yourself:

Things to know after a Michigan truck accident

Drug abuse among truckers

Find a lawyer for your truck accident case

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases
throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit. Call (248) 353-7575 to speak with one of our truck accident lawyers today.

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