Knight Transportation is a large trucking and freight company headquartered in Phoenix Arizona. Knight has a fleet of 4,000 tractors, 8,000 trailers, and 3,500 company drivers logging several hundred million miles each year. Knight Transportation is primarily a full truckload (FTL) carrier.
Within the trucking industry there are 3 types of carriers: (1) full truckload, (2) less than truckload; and (3) parcel. Full truckload carriers like Knight transport large, full trailer loads. FTL companies contract an entire trailer-load to a single client. These are the biggest cargos. At the other end of the spectrum are parcel carriers like UPS who small packages. In the middle are less than truckload (LTL) trucking carriers, such as YRC Freight, who transport loads that are bigger than parcels but not full trailers. In terms of accident rates, the parcel carriers like UPS get in the most accidents while FTL carriers have the lowest accident rate.
Merger with Swift Transportation
In 2017 Knight Transportation merged with another big trucking company, Swift Transportation. The merged company, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc., is now the largest full truckload carrier in the United States with a fleet of 23,000 tractors and 77,000 trailers. Despite the merger, however, Knight and Swift continued to operate as 2 separate and distinct brands under common ownership. The Knight and Swift brands are now 2 independent divisions within the merged company. Each has maintained its own separate operations.
With millions of miles traveled every year, Knight Transportation trucks end up in a lot of accidents. Between April 2018 and April 2020 Knight Transportation trucks were involved in 10 accidents resulting in fatalities and over 200 accidents causing serious injuries. Knight uses both company drivers as well as independent owner operators who are not company employees. This means that that Knight does not always have direct liability in accident cases. However, both company drivers and contract drivers are covered by large commercial truck insurance policies. These policies typically have coverage limits of $1,000,000 which is more than enough for all but the most serious accident cases.
Value of Truck Accident Cases Against Knight Transportation
Accident cases against big trucking companies, like Knight, have a higher average settlement value than normal auto accident cases. There are several reasons for this. First, Knight trucks are bigger and heavier than regular vehicles, so they cause more damage in accidents. As a result, claims adjusters for Knight are accustomed to dealing with larger dollar amounts. Knight drivers also carry big commercial insurance policies, with limits of $1 million or more. This means there is usually more than enough coverage for accident claims.
The second reason Knight accident claims have a higher value is that big trucking companies do not get the benefit of jury sympathy when a case goes to trial. Legally the identify of the defendant is not supposed to impact how much damages the plaintiff is entitled to. But in the real world who the defendant is makes a big difference. In a normal auto case, juries are sometimes reluctant to award large dollar amounts because they have sympathy for the at-fault driver. This is especially true if the defendant is a little old lady, or nice volunteer worker. When the defendant is a big trucking company like Knight Transportation, however, jury sympathy is not an obstacle, so verdicts tend to be higher.
How a Good Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you have an accident case against Knight Transportation, hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer is critical. Accident cases against big trucking companies like Knight are much different than typical auto tort cases. Big truck cases are more difficult and complex than regular car accident cases. For starters, there are complicated federal and state regulations that apply in truck accident cases. Many car accident lawyers are not familiar with these laws and regulations.
Another major difference with big truck cases is the type and complexity of information that can be used to resolve liability disputes. Most Knight trucks have black box systems that log drive data such as speed, location, rate of acceleration and other key points of information. Also, drivers for big truck companies have safety and compliance records that plaintiffs can use. These can be very valuable tools for a plaintiff in litigation, but only if your lawyer knows how to get them in discovery and the most effective way to use them to support your claim.
Knight Transportation Verdicts & Settlements
Below are summaries of recent verdicts and reported settlements from truck accident cases against Knight Transportation. These are provided for information purposes only.
- Ohio 2018 – $105,000 Verdict: Knight truck driver hit another big truck that was parked for the night causing plaintiff to suffer herniated discs that ultimately required fusion surgery to correct. Knight admitted liability but disputed the severity of plaintiff’s alleged injuries. The case went to trial and the jury awarded $105,000.
- California 2016 – $443,000 Verdict: Middle-aged male plaintiff was side-swiped by defendant Knight Transportation driver. The Knight driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident and later charged with DWI. The driver had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, but Knight hired her without any drug testing. Plaintiff alleged cervical disc damage and spinal nerve encroachment requiring back surgery to correct. Knight took the case to trial on damages and the jury awarded $443,000.
- Louisiana 2016 – $70,000 Verdict: Defendant Knight truck driver was backing his truck out when he hit plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff alleged soft tissue injuries to his neck, back and shoulder as a result of the collision. Knight disputed both liability and the alleged damages and took the case to trial where the jury awarded $70,000 in damages.
What is the Average Settlement in Truck Accident Cases Against Knight Transportation?
An average settlement in a serious truck accident case against Knight Transportation is around $70,000 to $105,000. The average jury verdict amount in accident cases against large commercial trucking companies is $510,000. The potential value of a specific case against Knight will depend on the severity of the plaintiff’s physical injuries.
Do Knight Transportation Truck Drivers Have a Bad Accident Record?
Knight Transportation truck drivers have a slightly lower accident rate per mile compared to other major trucking companies. Knight drivers average 100 serious injury accidents and 5 fatal accidents a year. Knight tends to hire new, less experienced drivers right out of training school.
Does Knight Use Independent Contractor Drivers?
Yes. Most Knight Transportation truck drivers are company employees. However, Knight also uses “independent owner operators” to fill out its driver needs. These drivers are not company employees, but rather independent contractors who own their own rig and work for Knight on a full or regular basis. If you get in an accident with one of these drivers, Knight may not have direct liability.
Does Knight Have any Subsidiaries?
Knight Transportation is the largest trucking company in the world because it recently merged with Swift Transportation. So technically Knight is a subsidiary of Swift but the two companies are operated separately for the most part. Other Swift/Knight subsidiaries include Barr-Nunn Transportation and Abilene Motor Express.
Contact Miller & Zois About Knight Transportation Accident Cases
Miller & Zois has a track record of success in big truck accident cases. We have recovered millions on behalf of clients in truck accident cases. If you have a potential case against Knight call us today for a free consultation.