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No, Nuclear Verdicts Don’t Happen to “Just Anyone”

Est. 3 min read

Nuclear verdicts are on the rise and an increasing number of fleets have been forced to shut down after juries hand down eight-figure rulings. 

While this has become common knowledge for any fleet, the little-known fact is that nuclear verdicts don’t just happen “randomly.” There are countless fatal, crash-related trials each year that don’t result in a nuclear verdict, so what’s the common factor that unites all nuclear verdict cases?

The defending fleet was found negligent.

How a Jury Defines “Negligence”

Before a jury makes a decision on whether a fleet failed to prevent a crash due to negligence, the judge will read the legal definition of negligence for them to base their decision on. Each state has its own definition of negligence, but they are generally worded to say “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”

In plain English, negligence means “Failing to do what a reasonable person would have done” to prevent an event.

The problem for fleets is that this definition is purposefully vague so that juries can apply it to a wide range of cases, and a good plaintiff’s attorney can easily weaponize this definition to target your fleet. In the discovery phase of a legal proceeding, they will ask for all your driver data and employee handbook, and they will comb through any policies and procedures available on your website. They will then pinpoint any inconsistencies and argue that you failed to take action a reasonable safety manager would have taken, leveling a charge of negligence.

How to Bulletproof Your Fleet Against Negligence

It’s impossible to predict the outcome of a jury trial, so nothing will ever guarantee you immunity from a nuclear verdict. The simple fact of the matter, however, is that in the event of a major crash, some fleets have a 50% chance of suffering a nuclear verdict and others have a 5% chance. You want to be the fleet with a 5% chance.

Fleets face a firehose of data everyday, so it’s understandable that they sometimes fail to spot risk in their driver data. The problem for these fleets is that a good plaintiff’s attorney will not make it sound so understandable. They will spend time deeply analyzing the data handed over to them in discovery and will make it seem like you should have easily spotted the signs of a crash that were buried under your mountains of data.

The best way to avoid a nuclear verdict is not to have less technology. Whether you’ve organized your data or not, that data still exists, and a plaintiff’s attorney will be given access to it. The key is to not let yourself get buried under your data

You have to invest in a platform that will pull in data from all your third-party systems, analyze that data with industry-leading artificial intelligence (AI), and empower you to act on the insights hidden in that data. 

The Idelic Safety Suite is the only platform to do just that. Because Safety Suite has more third-party integrations than any other driver management platform and analyzes your driver data with AI technology, you can truly understand your driver risk and never miss a key alert or indicator. You can also seamlessly assign training to at-risk drivers and fully manage your professional development plans and escalation process to completion every time.

When on trial for a crash, you want to be able to say you invested in the industry-leading driver management platform and acted on the insights you discovered. You want to be able to say you did everything you could.

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