According to the Institute for Legal Reform, a division of the United States Chamber of Commerce, businesses of all sizes should be alarmed about the rise in so-called nuclear verdicts.
The Chamber of Commerce’s position is generally that businesses deserve additional legal protections from costly lawsuits.
The current definition of a “nuclear verdict” includes any verdict where a jury awards an injured victim more than $10 million.
In the previous decade, from 2010-2019, the dollar amount of these verdicts increased significantly. In 2010, the median verdict was over $19 million, but by the end of the period, the median was over $24 million. This increase outpaced inflation.
Of the 1,376 verdicts the Institute examined, 22.8% were related to an auto accident. While the Institute’s report did not break down the numbers further, there can be little doubt that many of these verdicts involved commercial trucking accidents. Product liability claims and medical malpractice cases also ended in nuclear verdicts with higher frequency.
What are my options for heading off a nuclear verdict?
These large verdicts are appropriately named. The financial equivalent of a large bomb, they can absolutely devastate a transportation business.
Frequently, a nuclear verdict will leave a company which until that point thought it had adequate insurance coverage instead holding the bag for millions of dollars. In the worst case scenario, bankruptcy may be the only feasible option after a nuclear verdict.
This is why it is so important for Kentucky trucking companies to do what they can to make sure they pay only for the damages they are actually responsible for by understanding their legal options.
Many times, nuclear verdicts happen because a jury feels that they have to send a message about safety to a trucking company.
A good defense for a responsible trucking company can help a jury understand that despite everyone’s best efforts, accidents do happen.
Generally responsible trucking companies should pay for the accidents their drivers cause, but not out of proportion and certainly not as if they deserve to be put out of business.