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Has the Public Perception of Truckers Changed?

CLM members and fellows share their thoughts on the public perception of truckers and its impact on claims

July 20, 2021 Photo

Has the improved public perception of truckers noticeably

impacted the transportation claims/litigation landscape, and, if so, how?

“As we get to the other side of COVID-19, truck drivers and companies will still be perceived as ‘heroes’ and essential, leading to fewer nuclear verdicts. There will be an added importance to personalize the trucking company at trial, which should help to thwart plaintiffs’ attorneys’ reptile theory attacks.” -Jim Foster, Partner, Cassiday Schade LLP. CLM Member since 2009.

“It remains an open question how long the public’s goodwill for the trucking industry’s pandemic response will last. A prudent attorney will prioritize educating jurors about the industry’s work to meet drastic shifts in consumer demand while managing equally drastic disruptions in the supply chain, and underscoring how drivers’ sacrifices in particular have laid the foundation for a swift national recovery.” -Wyeth Burrows, Partner, Wood Smith Henning & Berman LLP. CLM Member since 2018.

“The public’s perception of truckers has changed for the better, similar to the way firefighters became more appreciated after 9/11. Fewer cars on the road have meant fewer trucking-accident claims in the near term, but I expect the public’s newfound appreciation for the work truckers do to translate into more favorable juror perceptions of truckers.” -Scott A. Davis, Partner, Koeller Nebeker Carlson & Haluck, LLP. CLM Member since 2005.

“As courts start to reopen, the effectiveness by defense counsel to better posture motor carriers that otherwise performed well during the pandemic is still being gauged by the industry. Truckers performed admirably during COVID-19, but it’d be naïve to believe juries will forgive truckers who disregarded safety, hiring, and training processes.” -Keith Dunlap, Senior Vice President, Transportation Practice Leader, Gallagher Bassett. CLM Fellow since 2012.

2%

Percent increase in large trucks involved in fatal accidents from 2018 to 2019.

Source: National Safety Council

$3.1 million

The mean verdict dollar amount across 600 verdicts of $1 million or more over a 14-year time period.

Source: American Transportation Research Institute Database

11%

Percent of motor vehicle crash deaths caused by large truck crashes in 2019.

Source: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

51.7%

Annual percent increase in the size of verdict awards against trucking fleets from 2010 to 2018,
compared to 1.7% annual growth in standard inflation and 2.9% annual growth in health care costs over that same period.

Source: American Transportation Research Institute

 

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About The Authors
Phil Gusman

Phil Gusman is senior managing editor of CLM magazine, a publication of the CLM.  phil.gusman@theclm.org

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