WASHINGTON, June 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The just-released report from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) claiming "nuclear verdicts" in the trucking industry require changes to the tort system is grossly misrepresentative of reality, according to a leading non-profit trucking safety organization. Chris Spear, the American Trucking Association President has stated that nuclear verdicts are "strangling" the trucking industry.
Nuclear verdicts are described as verdicts in excess of $10 Million.
"Negligent trucking companies have destroyed families," said Michael Leizerman, co-founder of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, the safety-focused non-profit with more than 700 members. "Good companies with good drivers rarely kill families, maim motorists, and destroy lives. When they do, they admit fault and settle. Nuclear verdicts are the result of nuclear injuries—paralysis, brain damage and death, when the truck company has acted extremely recklessly—sometimes with impunity—and refuse to be accountable. Verdicts aren't strangling the trucking industry. Bad trucking companies are strangling the trucking industry."
ATRI claims that major verdicts are out of control and forcing trucking companies out of business. It's just not true, according to the experts at the ATAA.
"Nuclear verdicts are a result of the way truck crash cases are defended," said attorney Joe Fried, ATAA's co-founder. "The public is tired of baseless denials of obviously dangerous conduct and bad truck companies. The way the public responds is with these large verdicts. it is rare to see a nuclear verdict when bad conduct is admitted."
ATAA research reveals that not one motor carrier has declared bankruptcy after a nuclear verdict.
"The real problem is that insurance minimum limits haven't been updated in over 40 years. Taxpayers end up paying for the lifetime care of trucking victims when at-fault motor carriers should pay," said Leizerman. "Large truck companies don't have to pay the few $10 million+ verdicts, they have insurance to cover this. But the trucking companies with only minimum insurance can't pay for the harm they cause."
There is often insurance to pay these verdicts. The ATRI report notes that, as a result of large verdicts, "insurance companies are more selective in who they insure." This is exactly how the tort system is supposed to work to keep everybody safe. If a company isn't performing required drug tests, for example, then insurance companies shouldn't give them insurance and allow them to be on the road, since the federal government has insufficient staff to monitor all motor carriers.
The ATRI report states that Plaintiffs won all trials when false log books, bad driver history, drug use, leaving the scene or failing to call 911 were key components of the case.
Addressing these underlying problems is the core of ATAA's continued efforts to help save lives and, in turn, reduce the number of large verdicts.
"When trucking companies do what they're supposed to do," said ATAA's education chair Andy Young, "everyone gets where they're going alive and there is no need for litigation. But when trucking companies fail to follow FMCSA guidelines, regulations, and just plain common sense, people get hurt or killed. Time and time again, the only way trucking companies change their ways is through the fear of a major verdict."
"Bad trucking companies can't bring back the loved ones their drivers have killed," said Leizerman. "The worst of the worst truck companies will knowingly continue unsafe practices unless they know they will be held responsible with large verdicts when they are at fault.
Learn more about the ATRI inaccuracies here.
SOURCE Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys