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Predatory Tactics in Trucking Lawsuits

If you are in or outside of the trucking world, you’ve probably heard plenty of stories about “nuclear verdicts” and enormous payouts by trucking businesses involved in an accident. As trucking lawsuit verdicts continue to climb, you should be aware of litigation trends and predatory practices by attorneys.

Ambulance Chasers

Ambulance Chasers, also known as, “runners” or “cappers” are exactly what they sound like. After an accident occurs, law firms will send “runners” to immediately secure a new client for their business. Firms engaging in this type of practice typically use police scanners or paid insiders to discover where and when accidents occur and may even show up at the scene of the accident.

Runners may use unscrupulous tactics such as promising grandiose payouts (while locking clients into agreements), pretending to be a witness and suggesting their law firm, volunteering to call a tow truck to get personal information, visiting the injured person's hospital room, or sending letters without obtaining their information legally.

Fortunately, states are beginning to crack down on ambulance chasing and implementing laws to prevent the practice by fining lawyers or sentencing them to jail time if they are caught using runners or cappers.

Lawsuit Abuse

Trucking lawsuits have quickly become a magnet for nuclear verdicts and unethical behavior. Trucking verdicts, on average, have increased from $2.31 million to $22.3 million in a decade and may continue to rise. Unfair proposals for case settlement are filed against trucking businesses while trial attorneys drive up damages through phantom medical billing and other unethical practices. High verdicts are leading trucking businesses to turn off their engines and file for bankruptcy.

Third-Party Litigation Funding

High-profile cases in the trucking industry have drawn the attention of investors interested in getting a piece of the pie. Third-party litigation funding refers to an arrangement in which a party outside of the lawsuit helps fund it in exchange for a share of the settlement. Wealthy financiers and attorneys typically split the rewards from the lawsuit. This practice is extremely secretive and difficult to measure, but it is allegedly a $5 billion industry in the US.

Reptile Theory

You’ve likely seen one of those corny or unnecessarily violent trucking accident commercials put out by big law firms to paint truck drivers as the clear enemy. This tactic is also known as using Reptile Theory. Essentially, Reptile Theory is when lawyers try to shift public or jury perceptions of the defendant (truck driver) by using media, propaganda, or intentionally focusing on the acts of the defendant instead of the plaintiff’s injuries. This theory derives from the psychological concept regarding the “reptilian” region of the mind which is extremely sensitive to danger. Predatory lawyers position truck drivers or trucking businesses involved in lawsuits as bad actors. .

In other words, lawyers will focus on the defendant as a danger to society and suggest that the verdict should represent an appropriate punishment to prevent future damages, rather than focusing on fair compensation for the plaintiff's injuries. This aggressive practice could amount to defamation in certain cases

How are these trends and practices impacting the trucking industry?

As trucking lawsuit verdicts continue to cost insurance companies millions, they have handed that bill down to trucking businesses through rising insurance premiums creating even more challenges and expenses for business owners.

As mentioned, litigation is costing truckers their businesses and their livelihoods, which in turn puts us all at risk. Unethical practices by lawyers in trucking lawsuits are pushing essential small and large trucking businesses out. And we need truckers to keep the world moving.


You can learn more about this topic in our book, How To Start, Drive, and Accelerate a Trucking Business.

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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. Contents may not be relied upon as a substitute for the FMCSA's published regulations. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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