It’s not just nuclear verdicts that cause issues for the trucking industry. Smaller truck accident settlements and verdicts are on the rise and cost trucking companies a lot of money between the payouts, lost time in court, and the rising insurance rates.
The Cost of Smaller Truck Accident Settlements and Verdicts
Much of this rise in smaller verdicts is due to increased scrutiny on the trucking industry. Truck drivers are seen as having a bigger burden to maintain safety because they are driving vehicles that can cause more damage in an accident. It’s for this reason that trucking companies big or small need to know how to protect themselves from potential lawsuits.
The Negative Perception of The Trucking Industry
A negative public perception of trucking companies has had the biggest impact in this increase in smaller truck accident settlements and verdicts. Even small companies are seen as large corporations with little concern for the average person. This negative perception has led to tighter industry restrictions and a target on the industry for plaintiff attorneys.
Since these smaller settlements and verdicts are usually under $1 million, attorneys have an easier time processing multiple cases. Some firms can have up to 300 cases open against trucking companies at one time. Many are soliciting victims of trucking accidents to file claims with their firms to increase these numbers.
These plaintiff attorneys will go after minor accidents, but they seek settlements as a quicker payout than going through the litigation process. This means companies are often paying five times what the accident cost the victim.
What Leads to the Highest Payout on Smaller Verdicts?
The impact smaller truck accident settlements and verdicts was recently studied by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), and they discovered the top five accident causes that lead to the highest average payouts under $1 million.
These causes were poor driver history, phone use, hours of service violations, falling asleep at the wheel, and equipment failure in that order. The average payouts were:
- $680,333 (poor driver history)
- $629,375 (phone use)
- $564,531 (HOS violations)
- $543,343 (falling asleep at the wheel)
- $503,641 (equipment failure)
Each of these issues can be connected to poor hiring or training practices by plaintiff attorneys, and this leads juries to hold trucking companies responsible for driver mistakes on the road. This in turn leads to higher payouts to victims and law firms.
Certain factors can affect the level of payout beyond these accident causes. For instance, states such as California, Michigan, New Jersey, and North Carolina have the largest national averages for verdicts.
The severity of the injuries can also increase payment sizes. This trend may have some to do with the fact that severe injuries and fatalities often lead to settlements. Settlement costs tend to be 37.7% larger than verdict sizes in a truck accident case.
Protect Yourself with a Solid Safety Training Record
Your best defense against smaller truck accident settlements and verdicts is a solid, verifiable safety training record. Make sure your drivers are thoroughly trained in common defensive driving and CSA BASICS to show your dedication to safety.
Start drivers out right with orientation training that ensures they will be ready for the road. Maintaining an ongoing training schedule through the year will help them keep safety top of mind so you can reduce costly accidents.
Make training part of your corrective action as well. Deal with issues that come up on the road before they lead to something more severe for your company. Make sure you keep all records of safety training so you can prove your record in court and to your insurance provider.
Online Training Saves Time and Money
An ongoing safety training program can seem daunting, but an online training management system like Trucking 52 makes the process simpler, faster, and less costly. Drivers can train at their own convenience, so you don’t have to pull them in and disrupt their schedules.
The Trucking 52 system allows you to track progress and keep up with necessary documentation, so you always know where your safety training record is. This system was developed to allow non-fleet companies access to the same training as larger companies at a price they can afford.
Check out how easy training can be with Trucking 52. Schedule your free demo today.