COVID-19’s Effect on Commercial Trucking

We ask CLM members and fellows about the commercial trucking environment.

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How has the commercial trucking risk/claims environment changed since states began implementing responses to COVID-19?

“The workers’ compensation claims community is poised and waiting for policy changes and clarifications by the states concerning compensability of COVID-19 claims by job type. In the meantime, it is of utmost importance for employers to report all COVID-19 claims to their claim handlers for thorough, timely investigations.” Lori Ilgenfritz, Account Principal, Gallagher Bassett Services. CLM Fellow since 2019.

“The implementation of state lockdowns has resulted in less traffic, which, in turn, has led to fewer accidents and claims. The pandemic has also resulted in increased positive media coverage for the transportation industry. While the plaintiffs’ bar continues to look at trucking companies as targets for litigation, the rest of the country is recognizing their drivers as ‘road heroes’ and the ‘backbone of the country.’” Kevin D. Smith, Founding Partner, Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman LLP. CLM Member since 2009.

“Plaintiffs may analogize the pandemic to the reptile theory argument that trucking companies’ conduct is an immediate danger to the safety of the community. However, the defense will have strong arguments that trucking companies are not a target as they are ‘heroes’ and that plaintiffs’ own personal responsibility must be assessed.” Jim Foster, Partner, Cassiday Schade LLP. CLM Member since 2009.

“Besides the expected decrease in motor vehicle accidents stemming from the various stay-at-home orders, I am paying close attention to whether the FMCSA’s March 18, 2020 emergency declaration, which provides hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial truck drivers who deliver goods to support emergency relief efforts during this pandemic, will impact claims alleging driver fatigue.” Michael Brink, Supervising Claims Attorney, National Interstate. CLM Member since 2014.

71.4%
Percent of all freight tonnage transported over the road.
Source: American Trucking Associations (ATA)

88,000
Number of trucking jobs lost in April 2020, representing about six percent of the entire trucking workforce.
Source: Spireon

6%
Percent of truck drivers and utility workers who are 65 and older, and therefore at greater risk from COVID-19.
Source: FleetOwner

28%
Estimated percent of commercial truck crashes stemming from “traffic flow interruption.” Claims for these types of accidents are expected to decrease during the pandemic due to lighter road traffic.
Source: Milliman

70
Number of hours a driver can be on-duty in an eight-day period (60 hours for a seven-day period). The FMCSA has suspended this rule for drivers transporting emergency relief during COVID-19.
Source: FMCSA

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About The Authors
Phil Gusman

Phil Gusman is managing editor of CLM magazine, a publication of the CLM. He can be reached at phil.gusman@theclm.org.

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