Why Every Trucking Firm Needs to Have a Good Lawyer on Speed Dial
Today, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on why every trucking firm needs to have a good lawyer on speed dial. As most of you know, primary auto liability provides legal defense against auto-related injuries and property damage. Trucking is a complex business that involves dealing with multiple parties: drivers, shippers, brokers, government, other motor carriers.
Below are examples of situations where you need to seek the help of an experienced transportation attorney.
Recovery of Losses by Negligent Third Parties
We recently had a situation where a client’s trailer was damaged by a tow company, while the unit was being towed. The towing company declined to accept liability, and damages were equal to our client’s physical damage deductible (therefore our client was unable to recover from his own insurance carrier).
Taking our advice, our client’s attorney filed a lawsuit against the towing company, forcing them to respond and defend themselves. Two weeks later, the tow company offered a settlement to cover 75% of our client’s damages.
Most of our clients utilize the services of owner-operators. I cannot emphasis this enough: have your attorney review your independent contractor, vehicle lease and lease deduction agreements to ensure that they are: 1) compliant with FMCSA rules, 2) “tested” to withstand various legal challenges and 3) the right legal documents for your situation. In the past, we’ve had clients that used the Internet to search for these agreements! A good transportation lawyer can assist you with preparation, construction, and negotiation of contracts, including brokerage and interchange agreements.
Defense for Employment Practices and Employee Injury Cases
Trucking companies often operate in multiple states. Therefore, they face challenges in ensuring that the entire staff understands and complies with all applicable employment and labor laws. We have a trucking company with drivers from 17 different states! In the event of an injury, the driver can choose to seek benefits in one of four states: his state of residence, the resident state of the trucking company, the state where the injury took place, or the state in which he was hired. Imagine the legal nightmare for the fleet owner! A good lawyer can develop an aggressive strategy to minimize your risk and comply with different state labor laws and regulations.
Defense for Third Party Actions
In the event that a third party’s negligence causes losses for your business, a good transportation attorney will take decisive action to help recoup your losses. The attorney can also assist with developing alternatives to litigation, when trial is not in your best interest. In today’s legal climate, I will strongly advise you to retain an experienced transportation attorney to review your contracts and advise on strategy to reduce your legal exposure arising out of your operations as a motor carrier.
We can provide the following types of truck insurance:
• primary liability
• physical damage
• motor truck cargo
• occupational accident
• workers compensation
• general liability
• broker bonds