ATRI trucking nuclear verdict report is wrong

TOLEDO, OH (TruckingNewsNow.com) — The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) report stating verdicts against trucking companies in excess of $10M, otherwise known as “nuclear verdicts,” are hurting the trucking industry is wrong.

semi truck fire
A semi-truck on fire in Oregon (Courtesy Oregon State Police).

The non-profit trucking safety organization “ATAA” says bad trucking companies need to be penalized — and that so called “nuclear verdicts” are only returned by jurors when trucking companies are grossly negligent.

“Negligent trucking companies have destroyed families,” said Michael Leizerman, co-founder of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, the safety-focused non-profit with more than 700 members. “Good companies with good drivers rarely kill families, maim motorists, and destroy lives. When they do, they admit fault and settle. Nuclear verdicts are the result of nuclear injuries—paralysis, brain damage and death, when the truck company has acted extremely recklessly—sometimes with impunity—and refuse to be accountable. Verdicts aren’t strangling the trucking industry. Bad trucking companies are strangling the trucking industry.”

ATRI claims that major verdicts are out of control and forcing trucking companies out of business. It’s just not true, according to the experts at the ATAA.

“Nuclear verdicts are a result of the way truck crash cases are defended,” said attorney Joe Fried, ATAA’s co-founder. “The public is tired of baseless denials of obviously dangerous conduct and bad truck companies. The way the public responds is with these large verdicts. it is rare to see a nuclear verdict when bad conduct is admitted.”

ATAA research shows that not one motor carrier has declared bankruptcy after a nuclear verdict. 

The ATRI report states that Plaintiffs won all trials when false log books, bad driver history, drug use, leaving the scene or failing to call 911 were key components of the case. 

Addressing these underlying problems is the core of ATAA’s continued efforts to help save lives and, in turn, reduce the number of large verdicts. 

“When trucking companies do what they’re supposed to do,” said ATAA’s education chair Andy Young, “everyone gets where they’re going alive and there is no need for litigation. But when trucking companies fail to follow FMCSA guidelines, regulations, and just plain common sense, people get hurt or killed. Time and time again, the only way trucking companies change their ways is through the fear of a major verdict.”

“Bad trucking companies can’t bring back the loved ones their drivers have killed,” said Leizerman. “The worst of the worst truck companies will knowingly continue unsafe practices unless they know they will be held responsible with large verdicts when they are at fault.

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