WASHINGTON – Many in the trucking industry are heralding the proposed Highway Accident Fairness Act as a way to improve the safety of truckers and motorists on the nation’s highways.
Led by Representatives Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Garret Graves, R-La., the recently introduced bill would also “better protect trucking companies from the financial burdens of defending against or settling fraudulent insurance claims resulting from staged collisions,” according to a news release from Cuellar’s office.
The release further stated that truckers are often “the target of staged collisions, which puts both civilian and truckers in serious danger. The trucking companies and local law enforcement are then subject to significant financial burdens from the emergency response and litigation fallout. This bill closes these loopholes and ensures that highways remain safe economic and civilian transit corridors.”
Indeed, a report earlier this year by the American Transportation Research Institute showed that once “uncommon and unsophisticated,” fraudulent activity targeting motor carriers and commercial drivers is now a “serious and pervasive threat to the trucking industry.
Fraud against trucking companies often comes in the form of staged accidents in which “entire teams involving medical and legal stakeholders as well as fake victims and spotters often work together,” the ATRI report noted.
Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, thanked Cuellar and Graves for their efforts, calling the measure a “common-sense bill to curb rampant lawsuit abuse against the trucking industry.”
“Staged accidents, third-party litigation financing, and disproportionate nuclear verdicts are perverting civil justice into a profit center, jeopardizing highway safety and adding more costs and strain to our nation’s supply chain,” Spear said. “This legislation would restore balance and fairness to the system and help ensure justice drives accident litigation – not profiteering and windfalls.”
Specifically, the Highway Accident Fairness Act of 2021 would:
- Assure fair and prompt recoveries for highway accident victims with legitimate claims;
- Provide for federal court jurisdiction over interstate cases of national importance;
- Maintain stability in the movement of interstate commerce and protect the public from the safety hazard of staged collisions;
- Provide transparency when litigation finance companies invest in highway accident lawsuits as a profit-making opportunity;
- Protect motor carriers and insurers from the financial burdens of defending against, settling or being found liable for fraudulent claims that result from staged collisions; and
- Protect law enforcement agencies from expending resources dealing with the aftermath of staged collisions.
“Highways are a significant component of our economic supply chain,” Cuellar said. “Every single day, goods flow across states to get food on shelves and products in homes. We must commit ourselves to keeping these transit corridors open and safe all year round.
“That is why we must pass this important legislation protecting our truckers from staged collisions that cause dangers for civilians on the road and economic problems for trucking companies provided an essential service. Thank you to Rep. Graves and the American Trucking Association for their support.”
Graves said that in his state, drivers pay some of the highest insurance rates in America.
“This is unacceptable, and the solutions don’t require rocket science,” he said. “Our bill will prevent criminal rings from further increasing the cost to drive and do business in Louisiana. One $4.7 million settlement caused all of our insurance rates to go up. Our legislation cracks down on fraudulent claims, increases safety on the roads, and will help to lower insurance rates for drivers. Thanks to Rep. Cuellar for joining the effort, the American Trucking Association, and all those supporting.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.