What “Nuclear Verdicts” Mean for Trucking Safety and Risk Management

Posted by HLL Admin

Steven J. Hughes

We all hear “it” on a regular basis—those of us who work directly in, or represent, the transportation industry. “People just don’t like trucks.” In my 34 years of trial experience, however, I have found that juries can still be “fair” to trucking companies. Especially in evaluating cases when accidents result from simple, in-the-moment, human mistakes. 

What jurors cannot accept are accidents that arise from a series of repeated and or compounded mistakes. Such situations can make it appear to jurors that the trucking company is willing to overlook the safety of the motoring public in exchange for a payday.

Strict Safety Guidelines and Documentation can Protect Your Business

Consider the 2021 case from Nassau County, FL that resulted in a billion-dollar verdict. Cases like these make it crystal clear that jurors in that case simply could not stand for the horrible prior driving record of one of the two commercial drivers involved in the successive accidents leading to the fatality. 

Trucking companies must ask: is the load, route, or customer (revenue) worth it to put a driver on the road that might just put the safety of everyone he or she encounters on the road and the existence of the truck company at risk? The answer must be a resounding “no.”

As legal representatives of the trucking industry, we must advise our trucking clients that stringent compliance with hiring and retention guidelines applied to drivers is the only way to manage a transportation company. Those very guidelines, along with the FMCSA, are the roadmap by which plaintiffs will seek to dismantle the company for that company’s failure to comply with its own rules and guidelines. Further, we must let the company know early in the case when it looks like it may be facing a “nuclear” situation following an accident, even when that is likely not what the client may want to hear, so an early resolution can be pursued.

Contact Hughes Lawyers, LLC and tell us about your case. We provide emergency response and crisis management services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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