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Trucking lawsuits often involve tricky tactics from plaintiffs

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2021 | Firm News

In Kentucky and throughout the United States, truck companies need to be aware of the risk they face for expensive lawsuits after one of their drivers has an accident when traveling back and forth across the country. Deliveries are a crucial part of the supply chain and are a boon to the economy. Still, these vehicles are on the road for long stretches, travel at significant speeds, are heavy and must navigate all types of inclement weather. This lays the foundation for accidents. A problem that often arises is if those who claim to have been injured in a collision seek exorbitant payouts for accidents that do not warrant it. Understanding somewhat questionable strategies plaintiffs and their representatives might use is necessary for an effective defense.

The “Reptile Theory” is a problem for trucking companies

Jury verdicts after a trucking accident can be massive with incomprehensible payouts. Because the legal advocate’s payment is generally contingent on the size of the verdict, there are certain strategies that are used to maximize it. In the eight years from 2010 to 2018, statistics assessed by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) showed a nearly 1,000% spike in how much companies were ordered to pay plaintiffs from more than $2.3 million to nearly $22.3 million. This is considered due to the “Reptile Theory.”

As the case moves forward, the trucker may be asked questions that imply he or she did not know the rules or had insufficient training before getting on the road. This way, the truck company will be viewed as negligent and it could automatically increase the amount of the award. Due to this, truck companies are encouraged to make sure their drivers are current on their training, know the rules for such fundamental issues as how long they can stay on the road in one sitting and have the proper licensing.

Companies are also wise to encourage driver feedback between employer and employee so safety can be improved if there are lapses that could make the trip riskier. An upcoming symposium from prominent truck companies is expected to provide insight as to safety techniques and shielding companies from vulnerability to the Reptile Theory. For example, one company focus its hiring on finding the right candidates and training them in a manner that focuses on safety as a second nature. Other tactics are installing newly released safety enhancements like SmartDrive from Omnitracs to provide drivers with a dashboard giving them information in real time. Companies that have manuals expressing how drivers should behave is also useful to ensure there are few openings to overtly blame companies for a driver error and radically raise payouts in legal filings.

Having a viable defense is imperative after truck crashes

Truck companies are naturally vulnerable to blame when there is an accident with one of its fleet members. Even with that, payouts that are out of proportion should be avoided if possible. Having experienced assistance with crafting a trucking defense is essential. Part of that is knowing how plaintiffs try to maximize the payout. From the outset, it is useful to have guidance with how to proceed and a fundamental part of that is a strong defense.