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Trucking and Transportation

As a preferred choice for legal representation and business counsel irrespective of geography, the veteran lawyers on LeClairRyan's Trucking and Transportation Industry team are skilled trial counsel and recognized leaders for their depth of knowledge in the spectrum of legal issues our transportation clients face every day.

We represent national, regional and local motor carriers, logistics providers, freightliners, trucking manufacturers and product distributors as well as their insurers in litigation arising from incidents involving personal injuries, wrongful death, property damage, cargo and freight claims, business interruption and products liability. We also serve as national coordinating counsel for commercial motor carriers, represent the insureds of Canada's largest trucking insurance firm, and provide criminal representation for traffic offenses.

Our team consistently tries cases to verdict and achieves favorable and quantifiable results for our clients, even when confronted with the most difficult circumstances and severe time constraints. We also appreciate the vastly different circumstances—from human error to product inadequacy—that transportation matters typically involve.

Rapid Response Team

Recognizing the strategic necessity of immediate action, we are first-responders for national trucking companies and insurers in several states, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia. The moment a client contacts our team about an incident—from a catastrophic commercial motor vehicle accident to a hazardous material spill—we get involved.

By successfully coordinating and managing investigations, tracking witnesses and ensuring the prompt and accurate collection of evidence, our attorneys maximize clients' strategic advantages. Conversant in the latest data download and recovery technologies, we maintain strong networks of investigators, police contacts and other expert resources and work with highly regarded accident reconstructionists and engineers.

Full-Service Representation

Members of our team appreciate the on-the-ground market realities affecting our clients' businesses and stay informed of the latest litigation and industry trends. We also understand the intricacies of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation regulations as well as state laws and regulations applicable to trucking and transportation companies and insurers.  In addition to defending casualty and product claims against transportation clients, we provide legal counsel on matters including:

  • Cargo and freight claims
  • Contract preparation, review and negotiation (e.g., broker-carrier, shipper-carrier and owner-operator agreements)
  • Commercial transportation insurance and insurance coverage matters 
  • Campaigns to maintain non-union status
  • Labor and employment issues
  • Misclassification of employees and contractors
  • Equipment leases and acquisitions
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Risk management
  • Hazardous materials
  • Transportation brokers
  • 3PLs and 4PLs
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Commercial disputes
  • Business structuring and organization
  • Federal and state regulatory compliance
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Notices of Claims
  • U.S. Department of Transportation safety audits
  • Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) claims
  • Document preparation (e.g. bills of lading, tariffs, rate and load confirmations, and warehouse receipts)

In addition, our attorneys are knowledgeable of the Connecticut Judicial Branch Complex Litigation Docket, which is intended to expedite the resolution of various matters involving multiple litigants, legally intricate issues or claims for damages that can total millions of dollars.

Industry Insights

Decades of experience handling transportation legal issues and acquiring hands-on training enable us to provide clients with the perspective of an industry insider. One of our team's co-leaders has successfully completed the Practical Transportation Training Institute for Litigation Attorneys conducted at the MayFlower Transit Training Center for Drivers. The training included practical experience driving a tractor trailer as well as classroom instruction on motor carriers and drivers' operations.

Another member of our team formerly served as senior vice president of legal affairs for UPS Freight in Richmond, Virginia, and vice president of corporate public affairs for UPS in Washington, D.C. He also has years of experience serving as general counsel for Overnite Corporation and Overnite Transportation.

We are also active participants and presenters in numerous industry trade groups and professional associations, including:

  • Trucking Industry Defense Association
  • Transportation Lawyers Association
  • American Trucking Associations
  • Product Liability Advisory Council
  • American Bar Association Commercial Litigation Transportation Litigation Committee
  • Defense Research Institute Trucking Law Committee
  • Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association
  • Virginia Trucking Association
  • Virginia Transportation Accountability Commission

Moreover, members of our team have been recognized by Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in transportation and personal injury defense, amongst other practice areas.

Trucking and Transportation Discovery

LeClairRyan's Legal Solutions Center offers clients the experience and depth necessary to help individuals and businesses involved in trucking and transportation litigation navigate all aspects of modern discovery. We ensure our clients have access to a strategically leveraged combination of skilled discovery professionals, secure processes and cutting-edge technologies. By utilizing project teams to offer cost-effective, tailored approaches to each client, the discovery professionals LeClairRyan partners with create world-class, custom solutions for projects of all sizes.

Representative engagements:

  • Jury verdict for only $15,127 in tractor-trailer rear-end case in which the pretrial demand was $1.4 million. Plaintiff underwent three surgeries to correct bi-lateral thoracic outlet syndrome and claimed $89,000 in past medicals, $44,000 in past lost wages, $840,000 in future medicals, and a 30 percent reduction in future earning capacity. Liability was admitted. Defense called no witnesses or experts.
  • Settled a brain-injury case for slightly more than the expected cost of trial after the plaintiff increased the ad damnum to $10 million in the middle of the case prior to our entry into the matter.
  • Obtained verdict for defendants in two companion cases involving a multi-vehicle accident that occurred with black ice on the highway. Plaintiff lost control of his vehicle along with others prior to defendant's truck approaching. Used the special defense of sudden emergency to our advantage at trial.  Plaintiff's lawyer asked the jury to award her $875,000. 
  • Represent Canadian trucking companies in accident cases involving significant bodily injury and property damage resulting from the use of tractor trailers on long-haul multi-state assignments.
  • Represent taxi owners and limousine companies in actions resulting from operation and use of vehicles in urban settings.
  • Jury returned a plaintiff's verdict of $500,000 and also returned defendants' verdicts on all the recklessness counts that were directed against our clients. Case involved a collision between a box truck and the plaintiff's tanker truck in snowy and icy driving conditions. Jury found 25 percent comparative fault on the plaintiff's behalf even though this was a case of certain liability against defendants. Plaintiff's medical bills were $115,000; past lost wages were $58,000; and future lost earnings were $380,000. In closing argument, plaintiff's counsel asked the jury for $1.7 million. 
  • Defended an insured trucker in litigation involving significant property damage to a state-owned toll bridge that resulted in the loss of use and income to the state.
  • Obtained defense verdict in representation of a transit bus company in a wrongful death case in which the bus driver made a right turn out of a mall and ran over a pedestrian.
  • Won a motion for summary judgment in a negligence case against a national trucking company involved in a highway accident and diesel fuel spill. Two hours after the truck jackknifed, the plaintiff crashed into a fire truck that was parked across the center and right lanes as part of emergency personnel's traffic pattern.
  • Secured dismissal of a case against a waste disposal carrier based upon exclusivity of Virginia's Worker's Compensation Act.
  • Reviewed primary and excess policies involving an insured moving van line carrier, agent/operator and independent contractor/driver in a multi-million dollar property damage and bodily injury case concerning the duty to defend and indemnity obligations.
  • Arbitrated a case involving an elder care van service in which the standard of care exercised by the van operator/patient care attendant when placing handicapped passengers in the van was at issue.
  • Negotiated favorable settlement of adverse liability truck accident claim during trial.
  • Obtained settlement for a fraction of the demand in a case involving a company truck that struck another tractor while travelling on the highway.  Plaintiff's truck allegedly pulled out onto the highway from the shoulder of the road without any lights and was encountering operational problems.
  • Obtained a five-figure settlement—significantly less than the plaintiffs' initial demand of $450,000—in defense of a national trucking company whose driver was traveling 50 mph on a 25 mph ramp when he lost control of the tractor trailer, hit and went over a Jersey barrier, dropping about 40 feet below. Accident caused injuries to another driver and allegedly his wife.
  • Obtained dismissal of claim on special plea of worker's compensation board in a case in which a fork lift operator was severely injured when the truck pulled away from the loading dock while plaintiff was entering the back of the trailer.
  • Defended a large North American transportation company in a case involving a fatality, a significant brain injury and other personal injuries. Despite plaintiffs' allegations that the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol and that brakes on the truck did not function at all, the jury returned a verdict finding negligence but no causal connection between the negligence and the accident. The case subsequently settled for an undisclosed sum, considerably less than the nearly eight-figure demand.
  • Obtained dismissal of subrogation claim for reimbursement of medical expenses and property damage.
  • Secured early discontinuance of questionable liability trucking accident suit.
  • Represented a commercial vessel operator in a passenger drowning case.
  • Represent an international specialty gas producer in trucking accidents.
  • Represent a national trucking company in motor vehicle accidents and environmental disputes. 
  • Represented a national car and truck rental company in property damage and personal injury matters.
  • Obtained defense verdict in a tractor-trailer accident case in which plaintiff claimed significant ongoing pain from a collision with defendant's tractor trailer. 
  • Obtained settlement below the plaintiff's proven medical expenses despite clear liability of client truck company in a rear-end collision. 
  • Obtained a jury award of $39,000 for plaintiff, who was seeking $600,000 at trial, in a case in which a truck driver ran over a young girl who was a successful dancer, crushing her foot and ankle. The medical expenses were $64,000.
  • Represent a national pizza company in property damage and personal injury matters arising out of transportation accidents.
  • Defended a trailer leasing company concerning a personal injury matter and an indemnification claim against its lessee.
  • Judge returned a verdict of $423,000 for the plaintiff in a truck accident case in which defendant's tractor trailer, in slow moving traffic on the highway, rear ended the plaintiff's pick up truck. Trial pivoted around the numerous damages claims being made.  Plaintiff underwent two spine surgeries.  His total claimed special damages were $710,000 without accounting for past, present and future pain and suffering.  The plaintiff's last stated demand prior to trial was $925,000. 
  • Represented a national waste management company in a multiple catastrophic personal injury claim.
  • Won a motion for summary judgment in a case involving a Canadian trucker who brought an 18-wheel tractor-trailer fully loaded with new kitchen cabinets to a condo project in the United States.  A temporary worker was inside the trailer unloading it when some of the cabinets fell on him, resulting in a broken neck and permanent quadriplegia. Summary judgment awarded on the basis that the trucker did not load the cabinets and was not responsible for unloading.
  • Defended a bus company in connection with a serious personal injury claim by a quadriplegic alleging his wheelchair was not properly secured.
  • Represented a local bus company in a claim brought by a student, alleging harassment and battery from other students, which the driver failed to stop.
  • Obtained defense verdict on behalf of a motor carrier in a cargo claim matter brought under the Carmack Amendment.
  • Obtained a settlement well below $100,000 in a wrongful death action against commercial motor carrier whose driver's conduct caused the death of plaintiff's decedent.
  • Obtained favorable resolution on behalf of a major national motor carrier of a claim brought under the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA).
  • Obtained defense verdict in case where a tractor trailer was turning right from the left land and crushed plaintiff's vehicle travelling in the right lane.
  • Obtained summary judgment, affirmed on appeal, on behalf of motor carrier sued by a plaintiff injured by the client's allegedly defective tractor trailer.
  • Obtained an order for dismissal on behalf of a motor carrier (before any discovery took place) of plaintiff's wrongful death action arising out of a head-on collision between the client's tractor trailer and decedent's vehicle.