Over the past decade, the legal landscape for trucking companies has been rattled. The phenomenon of “nuclear verdicts” — colossal jury awards, often exceeding $10 million, are reshaping the dynamics of litigation. These mammoth decisions impact both plaintiffs and defendants. They place a particularly heavy burden on trucking companies that are facing rising costs across
In a recent legal battle, Werner Enterprises Inc. found itself facing an uphill struggle as it sought to appeal a staggering $100 million verdict resulting from a 2014 fatal crash. The case highlights the significant challenges trucking companies can encounter in the legal arena, underscoring the need for experienced legal counsel and preparedness.
This saga traces its legal origins back to a 2018 trial in Houston, Texas. In this trial, a Houston jury delivered a verdict that still stands as one of the largest monetary judgments ever awarded against a motor carrier. The heart of the case revolves around a tragic accident in which a pickup truck, driven by a friend of the plaintiff, lost control on a slick interstate. The pickup truck crossed the highway median and collided with a Werner tractor traveling in the opposite direction.
Werner Enterprises’ legal journey began when it appealed the initial jury verdict in October 2018 to the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston. However, after years in the legal system, the appeal was ultimately denied in a 5-4 decision.
Werner’s objections centered on several key points, including the jury’s determination of negligence by the driver and the company, certain evidence admitted in the case, and the jury’s award of future medical care expenses for the plaintiffs.
Read more about the case at Transport Topics.
Why It Matters
This case has broader implications for the entire trucking industry. Werner Enterprises argued that the state court of appeals’ denial effectively imposes a legal duty on all Texas motorists to anticipate that vehicles on the other side of a divided highway may lose control and cross directly into their path. This, Werner argued, makes drivers 100% responsible for almost any accident if they fail to foresee and avoid such remote possibilities.
Werner Enterprises emphasized that the facts of the accident were undisputed: their driver, Shiraz Ali, was in control of his vehicle, safely traveling at a speed below the limit when the plaintiff’s vehicle entered his lane unexpectedly, leaving him no time to prevent the collision.
How Hughes Lawyers Can Help Your Trucking Operation
At Hughes Lawyers, we understand the complexities of trucking and transportation law. We have a proven track record of representing large carriers and trucking companies and helping them protect against nuclear verdicts. Our experienced legal team can provide you with the guidance and representation you need to navigate these challenges effectively.
If you’re a trucking company facing legal challenges or want to proactively protect your business from potential costly verdicts, reach out to Hughes Lawyers today. Let us hear about your case and develop a strategy to safeguard your company’s interests. Don’t wait until you’re facing a legal battle; take action now to protect your future. Contact Hughes Lawyers, where your peace of mind is our priority.