May 9, 2019 | 3:48 AM
A Verdict by Any Other Name is Insane
Its hard to stay focused on one segment of news with all the nonsense in the air. When I made the decision to get back on the keyboard, the focus on trucks was intentional. Yes, I sell truck insurance. Yes, I have a radio show that talks about trucking news and legislation. Yes, I have a soft spot in my heart for truckers. It goes back to childhood.
But that’s not the reason I try to laser in on transportation right now. Good, bad, or otherwise, I like this thing called America and Western Civilization and right now it is under attack. Not from leftists (I know I’ll get email on that) or any of the other political nonsense that fills cable TV and radio airwaves. That garbage may influence and/or change it, but it does not truly threaten to end it. Not yet, at least.
No, right now the real threat is from lawyers. Personal Injury ones to be specific. How, you ask? Well, they are on the verge of killing trucking as we know it. I mean end it – fine. They threaten the ability for trucks to move goods and since 100% of the goods in the US are moved by trucks (70% in origin, 30% in secondary), we are talking about stopping shipping of food, fuel, and other nice oddities. Don’t know about you, but I kind of enjoy some degree of food.
Can’t be, you say. Well, let me elaborate. Trucks require insurance per federal law to move goods around the good ole US of A. Right now, truck insurance is at an all time high for premiums. Rates are so high that trucking companies cannot afford the insurance and are packing it in. When trucks cannot afford insurance, they close. If they close, that is less trucks to move goods. Less trucks to move goods drive up prices on goods and reduces the supply. Make no mistake, the cost of insurance factored into the closing of 2 large trucking companies this year with New England Motor Freight and Falcon Transport.
The are many factors leading to increased insurance costs – distracted drivers, demand for “faster freight” & less experienced drivers in trucking causing the frequency of accidents to increase, as well as sloppy insurance claims handling. However, cause numero uno is lawsuit payout and insurance companies beginning to re-think this thing called truck insurance. The genesis of this is fairly recent with the influx of a new finance arm into lawsuits called lawsuit financing. This was introduced by none other than George Soros. George has figured out a way to destroy America and he does not have to pay another politician a dime.
Lawsuit financing has enabled lawyers in ways they never dreamed of. In years past, they had to evaluate a case, predict a possibility of success, and decide if they want to invest their money in a case. In fairness, there were (and will still be) cases were people got screwed over on their claims from insurance companies – insurance companies bear a high degree of culpability in this. However, the pendulum has now swung in the other direction in such a manner that a sector of the economy is threatened. That sector allows you and me a great standard of living.
Here is how it works: an accident occurs and lawyers now have access to software to let them know the drivers, passenger, and insurance company involved. They contact the party that was hit and get representation. Mind you, this is for the more juicy injuries. Whiplash is down on the list. They tell the person they can get them an “advance” on their settlement so they can feel better now. No paperwork, no disclosures. One little issue – if they lose, the person pays the money back at loan shark rates of 100% or more. Since it’s an advance and not a loan – no usury laws apply. The best thing for the lawyer is they don’t have to put their money into the suit. This means they can file more suits! Oh happy day!
With more money in their pockets, lawyers have spent time on devising better strategy on how to soak insurance companies and trucking companies. Insert the NUCLEAR verdict. A nuclear verdict is one where a court awards an amount outside of insurance policy limits, but the insurance company still has to pay. How does that happen? A lawyer gets a carrier charged with bad faith in the lawsuit. Now, I know what you are thinking – damn insurance company should have paid the claim! When that occurs, I am right there with you. But that is not the case in the majority of claims. When the lawyers get representation, they send the insurance company a demand for policy coverage details. No carrier is going to send it over, as it is basically an admission of liability. However, by NOT doing this, they are subject to potential bad faith claims with juries.
My final reason for loathing lawyers – they have figured out how to take logic and reason out of a lawsuit. In the 2018 case Werner Enterprises V Blake, trucking company Werner Enterprises was hit with a $90 million (90 FREAKIN MILLION) verdict for killing a child in an accident that occurred in West Texas in 2014. Here are the facts – the Blake’s were driving on one side on 820 in inclement weather going in one direction. The Werner truck was on the other side of the highway, divided with a median, going the opposite direction, meaning they were travelling towards each other. The Blake vehicle lost control, hit the median, and came across and hit the Werner truck. Those are undisputed facts. So why was Werner tagged?
The lawyers for the Blake family got the Safety Manuals from Werner Transportation and determined that the driver in the truck was in violation of company safety by being on the icy road with the amount of experience they had. Had the driver not been driving, the Blake’s would not have hit the truck. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP! Did someone consider that maybe another vehicle would have been there instead of the Werner truck? Would they have been guilty of driving in the path of a vehicle looking for a wreck? Doubtful, as this is targeted at trucking companies.
There is a reason we call this a nuclear verdict – the fallout has been like a nuclear bomb. This case is one of many just like it around the US in the last 2 years where trucking companies are being held responsible for accidents that no reasonable person could find them liable for. Safety manuals and potential violations are replacing accident site facts. Insurance companies are scurrying like cockroaches in the kitchen when the lights go on. Several insurance companies have left the trucking sector. More will follow. Reinsurance companies are pulling back from trucking risks. What this means is less options for truckers with dramatically higher and unsustainable prices for their insurance.
So how does this impact you and me? Well, if those trucks cannot find or keep insurance, they either self insure or they shut down. Only 10% of the trucking companies self insure, the rest are too small to afford that risk. In what is otherwise a solid economy with great numbers, trucking companies are quietly biting the dust. If trucks quit rolling…… Use your imagination. How long can you last on Ho Ho’s and crackers when the food and gas stop rolling? IF you think the government can help, think again. There are 2.3 million trucks in the US that keep civilization rolling. The feds or state governments don’t have that. Hell, they contract with the private sector for emergencies. If you want an example of how bad things can get and how quick, look back at Brazil in 2017 when they had a trucker strike.
Not a fan of the personal injury lawyer.
How about you?
Darren Yancy has always been a self-starter and hard-working individual. He knows the value of a dollar and through diligent perseverance has achieved the American Dream.