Newly released research by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) verifies that the number of large verdicts against trucking fleets, as well as the size of the awards, has increased dramatically.
ATRI’s research is partially based on a newly created trucking litigation database that provides detailed information on 600 cases between 2006 and 2019, with 26 cases awarding more than $1 million in the first five years of the data and close to 300 similar cases in the last five years.
“This issue has had a stifling impact on motor carriers and industry stakeholders, well beyond those involved in a truck crash,” said Rob Moseley, founding partner with Mosely Marcinak Law Group.
According to the research, from 2010 to 2018 the size of verdict awards increased 51.7% annually at the same time that standard inflation and healthcare costs grew 1.7% and 2.9%, respectively. ATRI surveyed and interviewed dozens of attorneys, insurance specialists, and motor carrier experts to generate a qualitative analysis to explain why the litigation landscape has changed, as well as provide recommendations for modifying pre-trial preparations, litigation strategies, and mediation approaches. The report also shows how large verdict awards impact both safety and insurance.
“Runaway verdicts are increasing in both size and numbers. This study documents a frequency in excessive awards that, while not surprising, tells us that the trial system has gotten completely off track. Foundational changes are needed in the way we determine non-economic and punitive damages,” said Clay Porter, partner at Porter Rennie Woodard and Kendall.
The report, Understanding the Impact of Nuclear Verdicts on the Trucking Industry, is available for download on ATRI’s website.