Tag Archive for: litigation

Premier Safety Culture Advice

The turning point in trucking lawsuits often lies within the deposition and discovery phase. You and your attorney will set the tone during discovery that carries through the rest of the case. This article contains premier safety culture advice from top leaders in the trucking industry.

One of the biggest factors that can determine the outcome of the lawsuit is the existing culture of safety in your company.

What is Culture?

Let’s break it down.

Culture is a collection of beliefs or systems held common between a group of people. Widespread groups could be as big as a country or even worldwide.

Language is an example of culture. English is the cultural language in the United States. While there are many different languages spoken in the states, it is the most commonly used between this particular group of people.

Culture can also refer to much smaller groups, even within your own immediate family. Think about your traditions, your habits, or even inside jokes between the people closest to you.

For example, during Thanksgiving dinner (which is also a cultural example), let’s say a particular family will only accept cranberry sauce in the shape of a can. If homemade cranberry sauce simply will not do, the family has created a traditional culture featuring cylindrical fruit spread with lines imprinted in the side.

Silly, yes. But a clear example of how culture shifts between groups, as some families may find homemade cranberry sauce the only option. Once a culture is set and accepted by a group, it can be longstanding, even with no real foundation.

What is Safety Culture?

If you are reading this, you are likely already aware of what “safety” means in the trucking industry. For those of you who work in the safety department, this concept is woven into the fabric of your career.

But for those who think safety only refers to the safe operation of motor vehicles, you may be fascinated by this conversation. While truck drivers are expected to always drive safely, safety as a culture refers to so much more.

In trucking, safety personnel are responsible for:

Fleet-wide safe driving, clear communication, ongoing training, technology, data analysis, performance, reviews, coaching, corrective action, accountability, maintenance, federal regulations, time management, documentation, accident response, hiring and retention, orientation, and proper background check before the driver is even hired.

This is a snapshot of the job description of a safety professional. Good safety directors have policies and procedures in place to keep control of all aspects of safety. Great safety directors make sure their employees stick to their safety protocols daily.

Unbeatable safety directors make sure their company cares. That is safety culture. If a safety director can make every person in the company passionate about safety, a culture of safety will form. This culture of safety impacts everything from the company’s reputation to insurance renewal rates, even legal liability.

Why is Safety Culture Important?

A culture of safety starts when you hire the right team, hire the right risk manager, and you hire the right lawyer. Building the right team starts with you. Look for people that will be part of the safety culture you create.

Strong safety culture has even been the determining factor in some nuclear verdict lawsuits. Trucks are a big-ticket target for personal injury attorneys.

Why? Here are two scenarios. Both will take place on the same highway. Both accidents occurred under the same driving conditions, under clear skies, sunshine, and no visibility obstructions. The only difference is the day of the occurrence and the victims.

Scenario 1: A drunk driver in a beat-up, rusted, uninsured Chevy 2-door sideswipes the rear panel of a minivan on the highway. The minivan spins across two lanes of traffic and skids off the highway into a row of trees in the median.

All passengers were injured and taken to the hospital. One suffered only scratches and a stiff neck, but x rays of the other passengers revealed multiple broken bones.

Scenario 2: An 18-wheeler is traveling down that same highway, entering his 12th hour of driving that day. The driver of a giant SUV becomes distracted by an incoming text message.

The driver does not realize the trucker ahead indicated intent to change lanes a hundred yards back.

The truck driver uses the clear chance to slowly move into the other lane and never connects with the SUV.

The SUV driver, finally looking up from their phone, panics at the unfolding scenario, overcorrects the steering, and drives into the median into a row of trees.

The airbag deploys and the SUV driver is left with severe back and neck injuries that require surgery.

Which Case Would Win?

In scenario #1, the drunk driver was clearly at fault. The family may choose to sue the driver for putting them through so much pain and suffering. They may have difficulty finding a lawyer to take the case because:

  • 1. The drunk driver has likely received an intoxicated citation, meaning justice was served.
  • 2. The drunk driver was uninsured and driving an old, low-value vehicle. There is no insurance to cover the cost of a settlement.
  • 3. Even if they win the case, they will likely never recoup the verdict award.

Attorneys will pounce on the chance to try scenario 2, however, since trucking companies are required to hold at least $750,000 in coverage.

Technically, the truck driver was not at fault but was operating outside of federal regulations by driving over 11 hours that day. Even if the driver was alert and operating safely, that one detail can mean a nuclear verdict is coming.

Safety Culture Risks


Trucking has its fair share of newcomers; young drivers who did not grow up around trucking. It may be more of a job to them than a career. For a safety director, simply knowing that your company hires less experienced drivers can be a liability.

On the one hand, you can mold those drivers into proper truckers. Their lack of preconceived ideas gives you the opportunity to hire and train them based on your expectation.

The risk, however, lies in their lack of experience and perhaps their desperation to find a decent-paying job rather than their dedication to trucking.

When you bring them on, you must look for people who take pride in their work that you can build a long-term relationship. The longer they are with you, you build confidence in their performance.


A majority of trucking companies are turning to technology to make their drivers better, reduce CSA scores, and prevent accidents. Since so many companies now employ regular training, the lack of a training system can be a liability.

Learning management systems are the ideal software solution for trucking companies. Mobile accessibility is a game-changer since truckers can participate from anywhere. Now, truckers can receive training individually from their phone rather than being routed into the terminal for safety training.

Training your drivers on a regular basis proves that you are focused on safety and being proactive. The jury will see that you are taking steps to prevent accidents, rather than only responding to them.


If you have a strict termination policy in place, make sure you follow it, especially if your policy includes the words “always” or never. If you get sued for an accident that included rare circumstances, these words can wrap you up in court.

For example, your best driver could be involved in an accident while talking to their dispatcher on a hands-free device. Even if this is the first offense for a 20-year veteran, you may have to consider termination. Especially if your policy states: “Drivers will never use mobile devices while operating a vehicle.”

If you get sued for the accident, plaintiff attorneys will research your policies during discovery. If you failed to terminate that driver, ignoring your own policy, you will be in a bad spot.

They will blast you on the witness stand in front of a jury. A great attorney can paint you as an evil monster and get the jury to turn against you. This is the Reptile Theory tactic. Read more about Reptile Theory in our eBook: Avoiding Nuclear Verdicts.

Avoiding Nuclear Verdicts eBook

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Who You Need on Your Team.

Internally, you need a dedicated risk-safety individual who will stand up for you but has the temperament to handle drivers, the motoring public, lawyers, etc.

Find someone who is familiar with all the regulations, is safety-conscience, takes pride in your company. This person will represent everything your company stands for.

You will need to find the right insurance adjuster and broker, preferably a trucking expert. Your risk assessor will work with them directly to report accidents as soon as they occur. Your insurance company should advise you on accident best practices, what to document, and even how to act at the scene.

You will also need an attorney with extensive knowledge of the trucking industry. Billboard lawyers will not settle for a new bumper for their client. They want your whole company. Your attorney should be likable, personable, and partners with your risk assessor. If your attorney does not appeal to the jury, it can hurt your case.

Infinit-I Workforce Solution protects your company from nuclear verdicts.

Read More!

55 Things We Learned from an Expert Insurance Underwriter


Every trucking company knows the risk involved with hauling an 80,000 lb. machine down the highway. Don’t feel hindered, however, by the mountain of liabilities. Simply be prepared. Below are the weaknesses that prosecuting attorneys will try to take advantage of in the event of an accident.

Driver Fatigue

Every decent truck driver knows to pull it over when they are feeling tired. They know the risks of driving while fatigued. But how often do they actually pull over when they should?

Truckers juggle many pressures while on the road: Traffic congestion, highway construction, dispatcher’s expectations, etc.

Take a look at these messages between a truck driver (grey) and their dispatcher (blue):

Driver Fatigue

A good dispatcher would see the warning signs. The driver didn’t sleep well last night. This dispatcher should have asked about the driver’s ability to safely perform that day. Instead, the dispatcher was concerned with their own performance. Perhaps, feeling the pressure from their own manager. The conversation continues below.

A good dispatcher would see the warning signs.

The driver has now admitted to being fatigued, asked to pull over, and coerced into rolling anyway. The driver could nod off again, injuring or even killing themself or other innocent bystanders.

This conversation is now recorded and creates the kind of paper trail that prosecuting attorneys love. They would use this conversation to prove to a jury that your company chose to further the load over the safety of the public.

A delicate balance must exist between management, dispatchers, and truck drivers. Each must be aware of and truly understand mounting pressure and weighing the risks. While is it is a fine goal to want every load delivered on time, it should not be achieved at the expense of safe driving.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can take many forms. According to the CDC, distractions are categorized as visual, manual, and cognitive.

Distracted Driving

Driving an 18-wheeler takes intense focus and coordination. Any of the things listed above could bring about a life or death situation for your driver or the people around them.

Train your fleet not only the signs of distracted driving, but they should also be aware of the potential outcome severity. Visual demonstrations can be assigned fleetwide to prove the importance of maintaining proper attention to the road.

Let’s say your driver is eating a big, greasy cheeseburger while driving down the highway.Let’s say your driver is eating a big, greasy cheeseburger while driving down the highway. After driving over a small pothole, the driver drops a pickle on the tractor seat. The driver leans over to place the burger onto the passenger seat and begins the pickle search.

At the same time, traffic up ahead has abruptly slowed, causing some cars to swerve or pull on the shoulder. When your driver finally finds the pickle and returns their eyes to the road, it is too late. The driver locks up the breaks, jackknifes the trailer, and bumps into 4 cars that were leading the way.

In a scenario where your driver has an accident due to distracted driving, an attorney will look for any reason that it was the company’s fault. In the event of a lawsuit, the prosecuting attorney will consider:

  • – What policies do you have in place?
  • – Cell phone usage while driving
  • – Eating meals/snacks behind the wheel
  • – Volume restrictions on the radio
  • – Have the drivers been properly trained on these policies?
  • – When was the last time a driver was trained/re-trained on this topic?

Driving Under The Influence

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime whether a truck driver or civilian, 18-wheeler or 4-wheeler. Truck drivers, however, hold much more responsibility. The more you communicate with your employees about your drug and alcohol policy, the more likely you are to be protected in court.

Pre/Post-Trip Inspections

A proper pre-trip inspection is the ultimate proactive measure a driver can take. If your drivers aren’t properly trained, it might be difficult to spot a faulty brake line, damaged mud flap, or a loose lug nut.

Inexperience or Improperly Trained

A proper post-trip involves over 50 points of inspection. Expert drivers might be able to recite all the inspection points from memory, but that skill should not be expected. Provide all your drivers with DVIR checklists. Since these are required to be on file for 90 days, you should require your drivers to fill one out every day, for every load, even if it passes inspection.

Inexperience or Improperly Trained

Perhaps the most important base to have covered. Do you drivers know how to avoid accidents? Do you drivers know what to do in the event of an accident?

You probably have policies in place that explicitly instruct drivers what to do if they get into an accident. Our recommendation is to send this policy out to your fleet at least once a quarter. Test them on the material. Require their signature. Your attorney will easily establish your credibility if you have these documents available.

Review the Webinar

Infinit-I Workforce Solutions presented an exclusive webinar in late July featuring Attorney Peyton Inge. Peyton specializes in defending trucking companies after an accident occurs. You can review the past webinars as well as the rest of the FastForward series.

Get your free training management demo. Infinit-I Workforce Solutions will protect you in a courtroom. Give us 30 minutes to show you how.

Free training management demo


The dawn of the Coronavirus pandemic brought about a shift in behaviors like the country has never seen. The variance from normal created nationwide shutdowns, self-isolating citizens, and a dramatic spike in unemployment rates.

As fear of the unknown spreads across the country, one thing remains the same;

Trucking companies must keep rolling.

Truck drivers hold the responsibility of supplying the world with all its luxuries and, more importantly, basic needs. Most everything we use daily was made available to the consumer because of a truck driver. But now, grocery stores are struggling to keep products on the shelf. Consumers are buying more groceries and household items to comply with quarantine mandates.

Truck drivers are overwhelmed with the task of keeping the supply lines moving despite the ongoing pandemic. In normal operating circumstances, they haul consumer goods from the shipper to the receiver as efficiently as possible.

The COVID-19 National Emergency has created setbacks the country could have never anticipated. The panic buying trend cause truck drivers to work overtime. They have had to figure out how to cover more miles and deliver more product than they could before the pandemic.

The Department of Transportation anticipated the struggle and stepped in to offer relief from a few strict regulations. Drivers are now allowed to operate longer hours, drive with expired licenses, and operate without a valid physical.

Impact of Social Distancing

In addition to the relaxed regulations, drivers have also been enjoying the perks of empty highways and low traffic density. Work Zone activity increased because construction crews can work more efficiently without traffic congestion.

A decrease in the number of accidents/incidents can cause truck drivers to feel a false sense of security. As the public begins to reenter the community from quarantine, traffic volume will begin increasing at a significant pace.

“Don’t let your success of today lay you into complacency for tomorrow. For that is the worst form of failure.” -Og Mandino

More frequent work zone activity, increased traffic, and complacent truck drivers are a recipe for disaster. Even though the regulations are relaxed, trucking companies can still be sued for accidents and incidents. You may have a driver who is legally allowed to operate over hours, but when an incident occurs, your company and your driver will still be held liable.

Defensive strategy

The best thing any trucking company can do for their drivers is to continue their training from rookie to retiree. Most importantly, enrich your safety culture by creating awareness within your workforce. Trucking companies experience a unique challenge in continual education, however, because their fleets are rarely available to gather for safety meetings.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute conducted a study on whether truck drivers at fault in accidents than passenger cars. Their research concluded that out of 8,309 accidents, the passenger vehicle was at fault 71% of the time.

The study showed that, professional drivers were only at fault in 16% of fatal car/truck crashes. It is evident that trucking companies are defensible in court, even in fatal crashes, because the fault usually lies with the passenger vehicle.

Today’s technology allows you to tackle this problem by delivering training courses online. Drivers can still participate no matter where they are located. In the unfortunate event you end up in court, a plaintiff might ask you about your digital training class. Their stance will be that there is no way to prove participation since the training courses were not administered by an actual person.

Protect your company and your drivers by providing training and assessments that secure their acknowledgement. Test them on their retention whenever possible and always get their signature.

If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen.


Be proactive

Take an assessment of your company and look at areas that need to be strengthened. If you find yourself in court, an attorney will do the same. They will attempt to destroy your company’s credibility by exposing potentials for weakness.

Relaxed DOT regulations mixed with an under-trained workforce could mean the end of your company. A quick internet search returned several articles touting exactly how to sue a trucking company. The information is readily available, trucking companies are an easy target, and the “billboard attorneys” are hungry.

Mark Rhea, a trucking industry expert, describes his experience being involved in defensive litigation for a previous employer.

“Our truck was entering a construction zone. He was following the proper procedures per his training. He checked his mirrors as he was merging to make sure he could safely get in the lane. He looked back to the front and all the cars in front had halted to a stop. We rear ended someone.

In court, the deposition plaintiff’s attorney was loaded with facts and figures. He asked if I knew how many fatalities are caused by trucks ever year. If I knew how many injuries occurred because of big trucks.

Of course, I knew the numbers were up there, but I didn’t know the exact percentages like he had researched. He was trying to diminish my credibility.

Then he began asking about our training program. He was trying to prove we didn’t properly train our drivers. It was very uncomfortable for everyone involved. Fortunately, I was able to provide documentation that our driver had received specific training courses. The wreck was not for oversight or lack of preparation; it was simply an accident.” – Mark Rhea (April 17, 2020)

Trucking Companies – To Do List

As the economy reopens, traffic will resume. Accidents will become more frequent as more drivers are utilizing the roadways. Litigation will resume, if not explode. Do not get a false sense of security while the traffic is low. Prepare your company for legal defense in the following ways:

  • – Encourage open communication
  • – Educate drivers on exemption qualifications
  • – Continue to provide proper training
  • – Document everything

Document everything a driver is provided from the very first day of orientation. Your defense attorney will want to see proof of the driver’s qualifications, CSA scores, training record, etc. Having these documents readily available in court will make you more defensible and solidify your credibility.

The logistics industry is susceptible to court action because of the danger involved in operating tractor trailers. Accidents and incidents are inevitable; relaxed regulations make them more likely. Remember, your company is not released from liability just because a driver qualifies for an emergency declaration waiver.

Even though we are adapting to a national emergency, attorneys will not cut any slack. You can, however, take the necessary steps to make your company more defensible in court.



National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW)

NWZAW is a nationwide effort between state DOTs, road safety organizations, government agencies and private companies like Infinit-I Workforce Solutions. Its purpose is to bring safety to the forefront of your mind, especially when you encounter work zones.

Why is it important?

Everyone has experienced driving down the highway on a beautiful spring morning, trying to make the best of your commute. The air is crisp, the sun is shining. You turn up the radio as you watch the trees dance in the wind. You were so distracted by the passing landscape that you didn’t notice flashing lights warning of construction ahead.

And BOOM! Stop and go traffic.

The heavier the vehicle, the longer it takes to stop. Hopefully you became aware of the situation before rear ending the stopped car in front of you. And hopefully you didn’t lock up your breaks trying to avoid a collision.

A scenario like this is the reason National Work Zone Awareness week has become so significant. Accidents can happen in an instant, without warning. And some have found themselves staring at a busted windshield and deployed airbag before they ever even knew what was happening.

It is easy to become complacent when you travel the same route often. Muscle memory takes over and our brains filter out details of little significance. You might even find yourself at your destination with no recollection of getting there.

Sometimes, however, a new work zone can pop up overnight.  Some might reroute traffic and close lanes, making the roads we often travel unfamiliar. The annual campaign takes place in early spring, when road construction activities are at their highest. The goal is to make all drivers aware of the need for elevated caution in areas of road work.

Who does it affect?

The answer is simple. It affects every single person on the roadway: Professional drivers, commuters, motorcyclists, pedestrians, construction workers.

Construction workers?  Absolutely. Road workers put themselves in harm’s way performing necessary road work. They are especially vulnerable to work zone crashes because they do not have the protection of a vehicle.

How are truckers impacted?

Always pay close attention to speed limit changes. A traffic violation in a construction zone will have a huge impact on your CSA score. It is one of the most severe infractions. Not only will your traffic fine be doubled (in most states), speeding will also earn you 10 CSA points.

The likelihood of a trucker being involved in a fatal crash is higher than most civilian drivers simply because of the amount of time they spend behind the wheel. In 2018, 34% of fatal work zone related crashes involved the death of a professional driver.

How often do you perform these common causes of work zone accidents?

  • – Improper following distance
  • – Distraction or inattention
  • – Failure to use “lean and look” method when merging
  • – Excessive speed
  • – Ignoring blind spots

Safe drivers always make it a habit to be aware of their surroundings, especially in work zones. Traffic patterns can change instantly. Cars and trucks speed up and slow down with the flow of others. Commuters tend to become impatient and can begin driving erratically.

“Confusion, frustration, merging/distracted four-wheelers, speed limit changes, narrow lanes, and hundreds of attorneys hoping you make a mistake. Work zones are dangerous, it’s that simple.”

-Mark Rhea, President Lisa Motor Lines

In 2017, there were 18,000 work zone crashes that involved a tractor trailer. These resulted in about 4,000 serious injuries. About 25% of those injuries involved a pedestrian or construction worker.

Always treat work zones as if there are workers present. Just because you don’t immediately see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Keep these best practices in mind every time you take off:

  • – Slow down and use the right lane when possible.
  • – Use hazard lights so the traffic behind you knows there is a slowdown ahead.
  • – Be careful of bottlenecks, drivers tend to cut in line at the last second.
  • – Focus – Keep your eyes on the road but be aware of peripheral action.
  • – Do not become distracted by phones or ELDs. It can wait!
  • – Pre-plan so you are familiar with your route.
  • – Perform a thorough Pre-trip inspection, ensure your tractor trailer is safe to operate.
  • – Expect the unexpected – always.

For more best practices from the DOT best practices

How can I participate?

  • – Start the conversation with truck drivers, construction workers, and dispatchers you know. National Work Zone Awareness Week intends to spread awareness across the nation. Learn more at NWZAW.org.
  • – Wear orange on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. It acts as a visible reminder and shows support for families who have lost loved ones in work zone crashes.
  • – Slow down. Delivering your freight intact is just as important as delivering on time. No load is worth your life or the lives of others.
  • – Refresh yourself on your safety training. In the event of an accident, always follow your company’s accident protocol.

Remember, we are all in this together. Sharing the road means sharing the responsibility of each other’s safety.


The U.S. Department of Transportation is reviewing its drug policies in light of marijuana legalization. And it looks as if the policies are about to get tougher.

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Proper Records are Key to Mitigate Risk

The trucking industry can be a risky business. Every business has moving parts, but the moving parts for the trucking industry weigh several tons and are rolling down the road at 60+ mile per hour.

You also have the financial risk that includes millions of dollars in cargo, plus significant health and safety hazards to deal with. These risks can lead to devastating financial losses if you are not careful.

So, how can you manage and mitigate risk associated with your industry? The best answer is improved safety practices and proper documentation.

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What are your biggest risks in the trucking business? Apart from road conditions, hazardous freight, and unpredictable passenger vehicles, your biggest risks are financial. How do you make wise choices, mitigate costs, and stay on the black side of your ledger? Discover how the key to risk mitigation is frequent training and documentation.

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If you’re in the trucking business, you definitely want to stay out of the courtroom. But with millions of tons of truck on the road every day, that’s hard to guarantee. Driver training, maintenance, and good management help you mitigate that risk as much as possible. But what are you to do when one of your drivers fails to live up to regulations, and the worst occurs? This is where the Infinit-I Workforce Solutions steps in to protect you and help mitigate legal trucking liability.

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