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Trucking firms face threat from ‘nuclear verdicts’

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Firm News

Trucking companies are facing increasingly high costs when they are found liable for the negligent acts of their drivers in personal injury lawsuits. Some have referred to the problem as “nuclear verdicts.”

In response, lawmakers in different states, including Texas, either have taken steps or are considering steps to limit verdicts against trucking firms.

In the industry, many consider a nuclear verdict to be an award of more than $10 million in compensation. Some recent cases have far exceeded $10 million.

A jury in another state awarded a family $1 billion in compensation, including $900 million in punitive damages. In Texas, a jury recently awarded $730 million to a victim’s family.

If they stand, verdicts of this size could cripple a trucking company even if the company thought it had adequate insurance.

These verdicts present other problems as well. Even the threat of a nuclear verdict could compromise a Dallas-area trucking company’s legal position such that they feel like they have to agree to pay much more compensation than they really should.

Furthermore, nuclear verdicts impact insurance companies, so it may get harder for trucking firms across northern Texas to get the coverage they need at a reasonable price. Overall, nuclear verdicts present a significant risk to the trucking industry.

Dallas-area trucking firms need to have a strategy to avoid runaway verdicts

Runaway jury verdicts sometimes are hard to avoid, but they do not just happen in a vacuum.

Usually, plaintiffs’ attorneys have thought carefully about their legal strategies and about how they can make their clients’ cases more compelling. Juries tend to award huge verdicts when they feel especially sorry for a victim or angry at a trucking company.

To avoid nuclear verdicts, trucking firms need a well-developed legal strategy of their own, implemented from the moments immediately following an accident. They should have their attorney-led response team ready to process the accident scene and thoroughly inspect the vehicles involved. They will need to understand their options and what they, and the other side, can or cannot do during a trial.

Deans Stepp Law has the experience to guide trucking companies through this process, from investigation to trial, and understands all of the options and tools available to best position its clients to avoid a nuclear verdicts and excessive settlements.