Omnitracs' Road Ahead blog

Is Video Your Best Witness in the Courtroom and on the Road?

I recently led a Transport Topics webinar titled Video Safety: Your Best Witness in the Courtroom and on the Road.  Hundreds of people attended and many questions arose:

  • Do I need to revisit my data retention policy? Does video increase my preservation obligations?
  • Am I required to coach drivers on risky behaviors, like close calls and speeding?
  • Who is the right person to testify about the technology?
  • When the accident data is unfavorable, how do I address it?
  • Can I require independent contractors to use the video safety program?
  • Does not having advanced technology make me liable for “Failure to Invest?”
  • Am I obligated to invest fleet wide?

It quickly became obvious that this is an important topic. Even though the number of accidents are declining, the severity of claims are up and insurers are exiting the market. Carriers have to protect themselves. But why?

Several reasons exist but the most prevalent are:

  • Recent tort reform in other industries has made trucking claims the “promised land” for the plaintiff’s bar
  • Plaintiff’s attorneys are keeping cases out of Federal Court
  • Motor carriers and their insurers are making unwise decisions on “when to hold them and when to fold them”

To help fleets combat these issues, I offered ten ways they can effectively manage big claims. You can see the complete list by watching the on-demand webinar, but here are my top three:

  • Get the right documents retained post-collision and get the right experts retained right away.
  • Be respectful of the plaintiff and the process. Don’t fall in love with your own narrative of the case.
  • Settle the case when you can – and should. Don’t let your principle topple your principal.

Remember – it’s not a matter of IF an accident is going to happen. But, WHEN it will happen. It’s better to be aware, be prepared and be ready to share when an accident happens.

Jay Starrett is a Trial Attorney with Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary. Named one of the best law firms in 2017 by U.S. News and World Report, Scopelitis serves the legal and business needs of the transportation industry on a full-service basis. Its attorneys are experienced in regulatory compliance, litigation, insurance, labor and employment, highway accident defense, workers’ compensation and more. With more than 5,000 clients, Scopelitis represents over 90 motor carriers that are currently listed in Transport Topics’ Top 100.