Tag Archive for: mitigate liability


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.



The financial effect of the Coronavirus pandemic has been widespread among the citizens and businesses of the United States. As many people are being temporarily laid off, the economy has taken a swift downturn. Most people are only purchasing essentials.

Many businesses have been forced to close their doors because of the loss of revenue. Some may be closed for good.

Are you covered?

Let’s take a look at how the trucking industry will be affected by insurance costs after the national emergency.

Trucking companies may resort to cutting costs to recover from the economic slowdown we have experienced over the last several months. They must be careful, however, as some cost cutting measures could lead to diminished safety for their drivers. Decreasing staff could mean that drivers will have to run longer hours, leading to frequent driver fatigue.

It will also put more wear and tear on the trucks and trailers. There might even be delays in installing safety technologies like in-cab cameras or online training. These situations bring about increased claim activity.

How does that affect your company?

Insurance companies have to maintain a delicate balance between inflow of premiums and what claims they can afford to pay out. Just like in the trucking industry, if that balance is interrupted, the company has to adapt to stay afloat.

Insurance companies will experience changes in their loss ratio, which means will be paying out more than usual in relation to the premiums they receive. Those covered might see an increase in premiums and renewal costs as insurance companies try to recover from the additional losses.

If the loss ratio changes too drastically, underwriters may begin performing risk assessments on existing clients. They will be very selective about who they choose to take on as insureds. It may be difficult to find coverage for companies with a higher risk for accidents/incidents.

Underwriters are already cautious about making decisions when it comes to premiums, coverage, and renewals. The COVID-19 situation can have a serious effect on their current insurable metrics. Future determining factors are likely to include conditions to coverage based on in-cab cameras, safety culture, and availability of online training.

Responsible carriers will actively manage their risks. Investing in safety is the only way to win. Carriers who cut back on safety efforts to save money are setting themselves up for failure. Insurance providers may have to resort to raising their premiums or charging a higher down payment.

How should you respond?

Communicate your efforts with your current insurance partner. Let them know you have a plan on how to survive during the crisis. Include that you are focused on safety. Even though there are social distancing requirements right now, your safety training cannot be put on hold.

Find ways to adapt to the situation if safety remains a big concern. Technology allows safety training to be delivered directly to your drivers, wherever they are, through an online platform. Your current insurers will keep that in mind when performing your risk assessments.

While it is important for your insurer to be aware of the safety measures you are taking, it is just as important for your drivers. They will enjoy the convenience of taking online orientation, remote training, and monthly training classes from anywhere. And employers can retain their peace of mind knowing they are still focused on safety, even during trying times.

What factors affect a risk assessment?

Risk assessment factors usually fall into these two categories:

  • Tangible – things that are quantifiable such as loss run, miles, commodities, CSA scores, etc.
  • Intangible – things that are difficult to measure like company culture, awareness training, technology usage, security, etc.

What might a loss control professional ask about the intangibles?

Intangibles are difficult to measure. The amount you are charged will be up to your insurer’s discretion. Your best bet is to be prepared and make sure your drivers and employees are up to date on safety training. To give you an idea, here are some questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic they might ask:

  • Did you continue safety training through the pandemic?
  • How did social distancing requirements affect your orientations?
  • How did you lead safety efforts working remotely?
  • How did you help your drivers through this time?
  • How did you manage the waivers issued by the DOT and FMCSA?

Make sure you retain records of everything provided to every driver. The only way to prove that your company has a solid focus on safety is to have documented records. The documentation should be readily available in case you need to show that all drivers are adhering to your policies.

Are we at risk of losing our business due to insurance coverage issues?

Short answer: yes.

There are many examples of trucking companies hanging up their keys because of insurance costs. If premiums increase too drastically, it can become impossible to remain operational. Here are a couple of examples of that happening:

  • Carney Trucking – Insurance premiums doubled for this flatbed carrier. They had to close their doors after 27 years in business.
  • 101 Transport – This Wisconsin based carrier ceased operations after a 70% increase in premiums.

Is there anything I can do to protect my company?

Yes. That’s the good news! As always, be proactive in managing your risk. Your insurance broker needs to see your safety-focused efforts.

Remember that if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.

Always keep a record of what training was performed, when it was performed, and make sure your drivers sign everything. For years, “billboard attorneys” have been attacking the trucking industry, encouraging the general public to sue truckers.

And they are ruthless when it comes to safety.

During the pandemic, truckers have been running with relaxed regulations when carrying designated items. If an incident were to occur while a driver is over normal hours, a lawyer might view this as preventative. They could say the driver was negligent and possibly fatigued because he isn’t used to this much road time.

Document everything!

In case of litigation, your best defense is proving your company’s focus on safety. Always be proactive with your safety training and awareness programs. Make sure your drivers are familiar with all your policies (drug/alcohol testing, incident reporting, etc.).

Most importantly, you must be able to prove they have been provided with proper safety training and equipment. Eliminate all reasonable doubt. Carriers need to focus on documenting training and information exchange, especially for upcoming insurance renewals.

Let’s say it again: If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.



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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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A distinction you often hear about in trucking is between accidents and incidents. The distinction is important because prevention and resolution are managed differently for each, and it’s important to learn how to keep associated costs under control. We’re here to help with these 3 tips for improving incident management.

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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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