Modern Day Trucking Litigation: Exposing Both the Physical and Corporate Cause of the Catastrophic Wreck

by: Prince, Glover & Hayes Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Part 3:

Evaluation of Potential Claims

If it is obvious the accident was caused by driver negligence, or some defect with the truck, strong considerations should be given to making contact with the injured parties…this is commonly referred to as the “empathic approach” to handling a claim and its only appropriate in cases of obvious liability.  If the claim is defensible, or there are some doubts as to the liability outcome, an aggressive defense-oriented approach should be adopted.

Don’t waste time negotiating prior to suit being filed.  Time is on their side.  Evidence cools off.  Witnesses are lost and memories fade.  Many times, while your client is convalescing, valuable evidence is slipping away, being either quietly destroyed by the normal course of business by the transportation carrier or deliberately being destroyed in light of it being unfavorable.  Time expires on federal requirements to preserve or retain critical documents and other incident related data.  With the imposition of the risk managment or s.w.a.t. team approach, there is a good c hance that if the transportation company was interested in settling they would have already made efforts to do so long before your presence in the situation.  Also, with effective discovery and a willingness to expose the transportation company’s willingness to make profit a priority over the safety of those traveling our roadways, almost every case is substantially worth more a year after filing.  If, for some reason, the case warrants negotiating before the case filed, send a letter to the company, the driver and the insurance liability carrier requesting them to preserve all driver’s logs, invoices, gas receipts, bills of lading maintenance records, weigh station tickets, satellite data regarding truck location, Qualcom data regarding instructions to the driver and of course electronic control module data.


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