Nonchalance-Prescription for Bad Results in Sports and After Accidents

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In accident response, as in sports, nonchalance is a prescription for bad things to happen. No accident should be taken for granted in today’s litigious environment.

How many times in sports have you seen it? An athlete makes a “routine play” without focus and intensity with a regrettable result. Whether it’s drifting under a fly ball in baseball or to touch up an icing, a lack of focus and intensity results in an error, turnover, or even an injury.

Bottom line—in sports, there is no routine play. The minute an athlete “nonchalants it”, something bad will happen.

It is the same with a commercial vehicle accident. A rush to judgment that your driver is not at fault and nothing needs done exposes your company for bad things to happen. A snap judgment that it was the other guy’s fault, you don’t have to do anything, and you can close the file makes you vulnerable later to an aggressive and creative opponent.

You have an advantage that no billboard advertising attorney possesses—immediacy. You know about the accident before anyone else. Failing to act promptly and to the full extent needed squanders this valuable advantage.

Not all accidents warrant a nuclear response. However, every accident requires a thoughtful analysis and appropriate level of response to prevent it from becoming a nuclear meltdown.
Various factors guide you in what level of response is required. What is the extent of injuries? The more serious the injury, the more likely a plaintiff’s attorney will take the case and invest time and money for an expert to conjure a basis for your company to be liable.

What are the mechanics of the accident? You need to consider whether the way the accident occurred can be manipulated to give the plaintiff’s an opening for an argument as to liability.

Where did the accident occur? The regrettable reality is that in today’s world, there are locales that are more litigious. An accident in or near such a location is a red flag for a potential suit later. Even if not in the litigious location, you may well find your company sued there with the argument that it has jurisdiction based on your company doing business there.

In these scenarios or such locales, you need to self-analyze your accident from the opposing perspective. In effect, you have to reverse engineer your position from the perspective of the plaintiff. If you were trying to profit from this accident, how would you do it? Then plug those holes.
Do you need an accident reconstructionist to document the scene and damage? An adjuster to take statements from witnesses? Or have the adjuster canvas the area for surveillance cameras that would record the accident and absolve your driver?

Close the gaps and protect against exposure. You can crank up the full defense later provided you immediately addressed any potential weaknesses.

The key—don’t give an opening to sue to someone who is at fault because you came to snap judgment that your driver wasn’t at fault and packed it in. As in sports, your failure to act with focus and intensity can lead to disastrous results.

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Doug Marcello, a shareholder with the law firm of Saxton & Stump and chief legal officer of Bluewire, is a trucking defense attorney with a CDL. He had represented trucking clients across the country, having been specially admitted for cases in 35 states. Doug received the 2018 Leadership Award of the ATA Safety Council.

He has served on the advisory board of the American Trucking Research Institute. Doug is a member of numerous trucking organizations, including a board member of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association and member of the American Trucking Associations Safety Council as well as trucking law organizations including TIDA and Transportation Lawyers. He has written numerous articles concerning trucking safety and defense which can be found at You can also find his interviews and presentation on his YouTube channel and podcast, “TransportCenter”, on iTunes.

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