The legal climate throughout the country remains difficult for transportation companies that maintain large fleets.
On the one hand, insurance premiums have been on the rise over recent years. For a transportation fleet, the cost of insurance can cut deeply into a budget and could endanger what may already be tenuous profit margin.
On the other hand, one reason the cost of insurance has increased is that juries seem more and more willing to award so-called nuclear verdicts against transportation companies.
A nuclear verdict could leave a trucking firm responsible to pay tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to victims of accidents.
Risk managers at major trucking companies may feel caught between a rock and a hard place.
They may have to opt for less insurance coverage or higher deductibles in order to stave off the rising costs even firms with a good safety record might face. On the other hand, nuclear verdicts make the need for insurance or other protection more pressing.
A trucking company’s safety program is an important prevention tool
One of the best steps a risk manager can take is to insist that the company have and enforce a thorough safety program designed to prevent accidents.
Transportation businesses may feel like they cannot afford to be picky about the drivers they hire. To the control, while the job market is tough right not, they may not be able to afford to not be selective.
The best prevention against a nuclear verdict is not to have an accident in the first place. The best way to do prevent accidents is to make sure that only properly qualified drivers are operating safe and reliable equipment.
Should a fleet trucking company be sued, it also important that a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional handle the case.
Many plaintiffs’ attorneys have spent years honing their skill at convincing juries to award huge verdicts which, from the trucking company’s perspective, might seem unfair.
Risk managers of trucking fleets have the difficult job of protecting their businesses from liability without sacrificing other important interests. A comprehensive legal defense strategy is an important part of achieving the right balance.