You are leaving risk-strategies.com
By accessing this link, you will be leaving Risk Strategies website and entering a website hosted by another party. Please be advised that you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of Risk Strategies website. We encourage you to read and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site you are entering, which may be different than those of Risk Strategies.
Nuclear verdicts, meaning exceptionally high jury awards, continue to be on the rise in the commercial transportation industry - both in prominences of occurrence and absolute dollar amounts. As a result, insurance rates are rising in tandem, and the risk of transportation businesses not being able to afford their insurance has grown higher than ever.
While it has become commonplace to assign blame to aggressive plaintiff’s attorneys for pursuing high-dollar litigation, companies themselves are providing these attorneys and their clients with all the courtroom ammunition they need. To protect themselves from the fallout of nuclear verdicts, commercial transportation companies should focus on trying to diffuse the situation before it even begins.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused an explosive rise in the popularity of e-commerce, amplifying many long-standing issues in transportation. Labor retention issues and shortages, and the lack of underwriting capacity from insurance companies, have been in the spotlight since the beginning of the global health crisis.
As companies raced to keep up with unprecedented demand, operational policies and procedures that enforced safety regulations often went by the wayside. The pursuit of profit put blinders on to the types of negligence that create situations directly leading to both litigation and nuclear verdicts.
Cutting corners can be tempting, but it can also lead to costly legal headaches. Meeting the current industry challenges head-on is the best way forward.
By prioritizing safety and clearly documenting your efforts, you benefit both the business by reducing incidents, and your defensible position when accidents do occur. A well-documented, consistent, and demonstrated focus on safety can change the common rhetoric found in nuclear verdict cases where grossly negligent operations provide fuel for a high plaintiff payout. A defense that can show this business did everything it could to ensure safety can help shift the perspective toward the company’s mitigation strategies.
While incidents that result in major injury or death have the potential to spark nuclear verdicts, taking the following steps can drastically lower the chances of a significant nuclear fallout scenario:
A business that is willing to do what it takes to help “disarm” the nuclear verdict bomb before it begins can have a lasting impact on commercial transportation as a whole. Other companies following suit will provide a similar benefit, leading to safer practices across the industry. Lessening the impact of lower nuclear verdicts both in frequency and payout will help to stabilize an insurance market that has struggled to keep up with this dramatic shift in courtroom settlements.
Want to learn more?
Find me on LinkedIn, here.
Connect with the Risk Strategies Transportation team at transportation@risk‐strategies.com.
Email me directly at bpaulozzi@risk‐strategies.com.
The contents of this article are for general informational purposes only and Risk Strategies Company makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein. Any recommendations contained herein are intended to provide insight based on currently available information for consideration and should be vetted against applicable legal and business needs before application to a specific client.