The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released a follow-up analysis to its 2020 hallmark report on The Impact of Nuclear Verdicts on the Trucking Industry. The new report investigates the impact of verdicts and settlements under $1 million on the trucking industry.
During its research on nuclear verdicts, ATRI determined that a different plaintiff litigation model is impacting the industry: small cases. The research used a new ATRI dataset of more than 600 cases resulting in either a settlement or verdict award of less than $1 million. The report provides rich insight into key crash characteristics and litigation factors that contribute to substantial payments to plaintiffs.
This study showed that settlement payments are approximately 37.7 percent larger than verdict awards, and 393 percent more likely to occur in incidents involving a fatality. Additionally, incidents involving a severe injury were 217 percent more likely to settle and 199 percent more likely to result in payments to plaintiffs over $600,000. The average deductible or retention for fleets with 100 to 1,000 power units is $242,857, more than 50 percent of the average payment found in this study.
The mean payment size in the dataset from 2007 through 2019 was $427,336, with a median value of $400,000. Payment size distributions were generally normal, with a maximum of $999,000 and a minimum of $4,199:
Average payment size varied considerably by the state in which the case was venued. Of the 38 states represented in the small verdicts and settlements dataset, California, New Jersey, Missouri, New York, and Virginia had the highest average payment sizes. The average New Jersey payment size is $569,022 and the average New York payment size is $482,383.
The report provides an overview of the small litigation landscape in the trucking industry as well as strategies to assist carriers and attorneys in preventing more costly litigation outcomes. This a must read for anyone in the trucking industry.