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37 Brief 23 (2007-2008)
Limiting Liability for Trucking Accidents by Uniting Safety and Claims Departments When Addressing the Preventability of Accidents

handle is hein.journals/tbrief37 and id is 25 raw text is: By Donna L. Burden
In most trucking companies, both a safety department and a claims or risk management
department can be found. Each department has different functions and goals for the
well-being of a company. However, when determining whether an accident was pre-
ventable, a disconnect between these departments may often severely affect the litiga-
tion defense of the company that both departments strive to best serve.

n this article, I highlight this
disconnect and propose solu-
tions enabling both depart-
ments to complete their
responsibilities successfully for
the company. These solutions pro-
vide a company with a cohesive
strategy for evaluating and manag-
ing driver risk while best position-
ing it to avoid the impending
allegations of liability based on
driver negligence. In most cases, a
much better synergy between the
two departments is vital to preserv-
ing the company's ability to moni-
tor the safety records of its drivers
and for protecting itself from
unnecessary liability.
The Role of the
Safety Department
Given the substantial amount of
regulation of the trucking industry
and the increased number of com-
mercial vehicles on America's
roadways, trucking companies
inevitably face an array of traffic
violations, violations of Depart-
ment of Transportation regula-
photo by Michael Winokur/Getty Images

tions, and accidents. Safety man-
agement combines risk evaluation
and management, with the goal of
reducing losses now and in the
future. To do this, persons in inter-
nal safety departments must
remain current with all federal,
state, and industry regulations. In
addition, safety managers must also
work with customers to identify
loss exposures and to offer tech-
niques to mitigate and alleviate
these situations.
That a trucking company needs
to evaluate drivers is obvious, and
the best way to do so is to monitor
the number of collisions in which
drivers are involved, the loss of
product associated with their driv-
ing, and the number of violations
of federal and state regulations that
they have accrued. Perhaps the
most important of these is a dri-
ver's accident record. Although
each accident affects the driver's
overall safety record, the preventa-
bility of the accident, from the dri-
ver's perspective, is often the most
important factor in quantifying the


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