In August 2021, a Florida jury awarded a $1 billion verdict in a wrongful-death trucking case. This is just one of many "nuclear verdicts" that have been awarded in recent years, and they are becoming more and more common.
Not only is the frequency of these cases on the rise, but the size of the verdicts is also increasing. From 2010 to 2018, the average size of $1-million-plus trucking verdicts increased by nearly 1,000%, from $2.3 million to $22.3 million.
With verdicts like this becoming more and more common, it's no wonder that insurance premiums for trucking companies have been rising. In fact, the cost of commercial truck liability insurance has increased by nearly 50% over the last ten years.
How AI dash cams can exonerate drivers
There is no easy solution to this problem, but one thing that can help is the use of AI dash cams. AI dash cams can be used to exonerate drivers who are not at fault in an accident, as well as to provide evidence in cases where liability is not clear.
AI, or artificial intelligence, is already being used in a number of different industries. And it's no surprise that it is now being used in the trucking industry as well. These services use AI to automatically detect and record unsafe driving behaviors.
AI cameras can not only exonerate drivers, but also improve driver safety, addressing the root cause of many accidents. These cameras can be used to monitor driver behavior and provide real-time feedback to help drivers avoid unsafe behaviors.
While AI dash cams are not a silver bullet, they can certainly help to reduce the number of accidents and the size of verdicts. And that can ultimately lead to lower insurance premiums for trucking companies.
The way it works is that these cameras learn from large data sets of millions of hours of driving. They can identify patterns and trends that human drivers may not be able to see. The cameras are constantly recording, and the footage is stored in the cloud.
While the trucking industry is a ways off from AI-powered self-driving trucks, AI dash cams are a technology that is available now and can have a significant impact.
The Costs of Settlements
It's not just the size of the verdicts that is a problem, but also the cost of settlements. Even when a trucking company is not found liable, the cost of settling a case can be significant.
There are several costs associated with settlements, including reputational damage, litigation expenses, and the impact on morale. And these costs can quickly add up.
In the event of a fatal accident, the reputational damage can be significant. The company's name is likely to be mentioned in news reports, and there will be an investigation by the authorities. This can all lead to a loss of business and an increase in insurance premiums.
Litigation costs can also be substantial, even when the case is ultimately settled out of court. There are the costs of hiring lawyers and investigators, as well as the cost of lost productivity as employees are forced to deal with the legal process. The average cost of a semi-truck accident exceeds $3.6 million for a fatal accident.
And then there is the impact on morale. When a company is involved in a settlement, it can be a very stressful time for employees. This can lead to absenteeism and a decline in productivity.
It's important to remember that settlements are not just about the money.
Trucking Verdict Bankruptcies
Trucking companies across America are feeling the financial pinch of large jury verdicts in crashes involving their drivers. For one, an Illinois-based trucking company was ordered to pay $10 million in damages after one of its drivers was involved in a fatal crash. The company has now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In Arkansas, another trucking company was forced to close its doors after a jury ruled against it in a multimillion-dollar case involving a fatal truck crash. The company's credit line was frozen and its insurance costs doubled as a result of the ruling.
And in Kentucky, a trucking company is facing bankruptcy after being hit with lawsuits totaling more than $330 million following a fatal crash involving one of its drivers. The company's assets are only a fraction of that amount.
These cases highlight the financial risk that trucking companies face when their drivers are involved in serious accidents. AI cameras can help exonerate drivers and protect companies against costly verdicts. Not only do they provide clear video evidence of what happened, but they can also help identify patterns of dangerous driving that may have contributed to the accident.
Trucking companies cannot afford to ignore the potential of AI cameras. With the increasing frequency of large jury verdicts, they need all the help they can get to protect themselves against financial ruin.