Providing Essential Services
“If the freight’s there, it’s got to move. If people are going to eat, the trucks are gonna move. If they need medical supplies, the trucks are gonna move. If we stop, the world stops.”
Those are the words of 57-year-old trucker Ron Applegate, one of the individuals on the frontlines of our nation’s commercial transportation industry. On any given day, these men and women provide an essential service, ferrying the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the products that fill our homes from one destination to another.
As COVID-19 has proven, that service is more critical now than ever.
We’ve recently taken a closer look at a growing cottage industry that is driving litigation against commercial trucking companies. The increase in nuclear verdicts in litigation involving commercial vehicle accidents has created a corresponding increase in insurance costs for trucking companies. Because transportation costs are a meaningful component of the retail prices of consumer products, the costs of unnecessary lawsuits and unreasonable verdicts are ultimately borne by consumers.
But the Tort Tax is only one consequence of the spike in trucking litigation. In some cases, companies have been forced out of business because they are unable to handle the significant increase in insurance costs and the ever-increasing risk of litigation.
Decreased truck capacity is especially alarming in our current crisis. As the past couple of weeks have proven, every one of us depends greatly upon having a robust commercial trucking infrastructure. We have all seen photos of empty grocery store shelves across the country. State officials and retailers have assured us there are ample supplies of products, but the challenge remains in getting them from distribution centers to stores as quickly as possible to meet the demand.
Without the commercial transportation industry, the entire supply chain breaks down.
TLR is studying the root causes of this issue in Texas and developing reforms that will help ensure commercial transportation operations can, well, keep on trucking. Whether it’s a time of crisis or business-as-usual, we simply cannot allow lawsuit abuse to continue targeting one of the most essential functions in our society.