In the super-heated trucking industry, a shortage of qualified drivers and fierce competitive forces motivate carriers and drivers to take short cuts and violate the regulations. All too often, the result is a predictable and preventable tragedy. Each year, about 4,000 people are killed in crashes involving large trucks. This shocking number of deaths is equal to all of the passengers in 10 fully loaded 747s. Yet the carnage on the roads continues unabated, year after year.
When a trucking company is called down to the courthouse to be held accountable for a crash involving one of its trucks, the company invariably argues that the crash was merely the result of one particular driver’s momentary lapse in judgement, and not the result of any systemic breakdown in the company’s safety procedures. The company’s motivation is easy to understand. If the company is right, then the jurors do not need to award punitive damages to punish the company.
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