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The Advantage of Going on Offense Against Your Liability

Est. 2 min read

Fleets in all sectors of the trucking industry have been feeling the pressure of rising Nuclear Verdicts. In the past decade alone, the number of verdicts over $1 million has increased by 335%, all while the average size of a crash-related verdict has increased by 967%. In response to this, fleets have had to rethink their policies, procedures, and risk management to reduce their liability. One strategy fleets should consider: Going on offense.

What Does It Mean to Go on Offense Against Your Liability?

In today’s trucking world, a reactive approach to risk management simply won’t cut it. “Going on offense” is the practice of evaluating the potential sources of liability within your fleet and proactively addressing any risk found. Some common sources of liability include:

  • Complex policy handbooks that are difficult to follow
  • Driver data that a fleet did not have or did not act on
  • Language used in job postings for driver positions
  • Conversations between drivers and managers

An offensive approach to risk management would entail rigorously examining these materials on a regular basis, identifying failures to follow procedure or act on driver data, and taking steps to ensure these mistakes are not repeated.

Why Could Fleets Benefit From an Offensive Approach to Liability Reduction?

In a Nuclear Verdict trial, the plaintiff’s attorney will often employ “reptile theory,” a strategy that tries to claim a fleet does not make safety their highest priority and is a threat to the public. Plaintiff’s attorneys will look for evidence within a fleet’s data, procedures, or communications that they are negligent with safety and risk management to prove it.

By taking an offensive approach to risk management, fleets can demonstrate to a potential jury a number of things:

  • They are proactive with their safety practices
  • They have made safety and risk management high priorities
  • They are always looking for ways to improve their safety

In doing so, a fleet can potentially defuse a plaintiff’s attorney’s claim that they do not care for the safety of the motoring public, which is key to defeating reptile theory in court.

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.

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