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When Fleet Goes to Court (And When It Doesn’t)


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Release date: 9/5/2019

(Excerpted from FLEETSolutions Sept./Oct. 2019 - Vol. 12, No. 5)

If you are an organization that manages vehicles — from small sedans for the sales team to heavy-duty trucks for
interstate transport — you’re going to have to contend with a crash. Even the most conscientious company is at risk because, after all, they are sharing the roads with others who may not be.

Shari Goggin, Senior Litigation Counsel at Fee, Smith, Sharp and Vitullo LLP, knows this well. As an attorney, she has represented many companies from the investigation stage through jury verdict and appeal up to and including the Illinois Supreme Court and U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She has experienced more than 95 jury and bench trials involving vehicle liability.

With that level of insight, one might ask why a company would take the risk of running vehicles that are not optimized
for safety — or hire drivers that should not be behind the wheel. Why would they roll the dice, especially in the wake of so many other organizations that took the gamble and lost?

“Human nature,” Goggin said. “People tend to think that [not being on top of it] always has to do with the expense of
upgrading or training, and it’s really not. In my experience, it is because the implementation isn’t there.”

Best Intentions - In addition to driver attention behind the wheel, the back end — organizational preparedness — also requires due diligence. “I think all of my clients have good intentions,” Goggin said. “They want safe, quality drivers; good training; and good equipment. The problem is on the opposite end where it all needs to be implemented while the day-to-day business operations still need to occur. That will take precedence and the implementation [of sound policies] tends to get shoved to the side.”

Urgency tends to be the culprit in making organizational mistakes. “My bigger clients need drivers, and depending
on the urgency for those drivers at that moment, they may hire drivers that don’t necessarily fulfill all of their requirements. They have to get the goods from point A to point B, and so they fudge,” Goggin said. “They hire someone that may not have three years of driving experience. They’ll balance out some prior accidents that show
up on the motor vehicle records, all to get the job done.”

“This is true for hiring, for safety training, for technology ... for everything,” she noted.

Read the full article here.